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Author Topic: Inclusivity FAQ  (Read 5197 times)

SunflowerP

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Inclusivity FAQ
« on: March 14, 2015, 12:42:39 am »
Inclusivity FAQ

Given the increasing awareness of matters of marginalization, appropriation, and inequality in the pagan community and the world, it is expected that these issues may well come up.  For those people who are not following the places where these topics are being routinely discussed, we know that these are not necessarily familiar situations for you, and we would like to offer some help and guidance.

It is important to remember: these discussions are not off-topic.  They are, often, integral to various people’s lives, and in many cases integral to their practice of religion or their personal religious obligations.

Subjects that have come up that are relevant to these topics include: rituals at major pagan gatherings which have excluded trans women, or which have not been honest about their intent (such as accurately describing something as a “menstruation ritual”); discussion gatherings for PoC at large gatherings like PantheaCon;  satires of racist perspectives that not only came across as targeting racial minorities but inspired white pagans to comment that they really wanted to attend; disabled pagans starting to speak out about rituals and gatherings that are located in inaccessible locations, which ban hearing aids, wheelchairs, and other assistive devices as “unnatural”, or which are held in locations in which ambient noise makes it impossible to follow conversations; and pagan religions being founded that are rooted in other than majority-culture assumptions about who is participating.  There have been several recent publications on the subjects of race in paganism and cultural appropriation, and the topic is recurring on pagan news blog The Wild Hunt.

In short: these conversations are happening everywhere, and that includes here.

Someone said that a word I used was racist, sexist, ableist, or otherwise prejudiced in some way.  What do I do?

   The best first response is to say, “Thank you, I wasn’t aware of that.  I’ll try to do better,” and carry on.  Everyone makes mistakes sometimes.  (And if the statement about that word was made in error, someone will almost certainly be along presently to nitpick it.  That’s how we roll.)

You are not being called racist, sexist, ableist, or some other thing when this is pointed out; it is not about you, but rather what you said.  Nobody has perfect knowledge of these things.  It’s best to consider it a part of regular discussion and debate.

If you want to better understand the issues involved with that word, you can likely find resources with your preferred search engine.  Alternately, check lower down in this FAQ, as we have gathered some resources for people who wish to delve further into these things.

People keep saying that my posts are difficult to read or understand.  What’s going on here?

   As the rules note, the Cauldron is an international forum, and because of this we expect posts to be written in conversational English so that they are readily accessible to an audience that includes people whose second language is English, as well as people with various language-related disabilities.

If you are prone to posting long chunks of text, you can put in two returns every few lines to break things up.  Also, please trim down your quotes so it is clear what, specifically, you are responding to.  You might consider using bold or italic to add appropriate emphasis to your messages.

This is also why the rules state that you should not change the colour or font of your posts.  We would disable this feature from the software if we could, but we do not have that option.  If you use size adjustments, do so sparingly, and be aware that you may be interfering with those people who use software that adjusts the size of text because of their visual impairments.

If you are in an ongoing conversation with someone who expresses these difficulties, you might also consider asking them what will help them, specifically, keeping in mind that that only applies to that individual.

People are complaining about my use of social justice terminology.

   You cannot assume that everyone is familiar with your specialized language for discussing these sorts of issues, nor can you demand that someone learn your jargon before engaging them in conversation.

Please try to discuss things without the use of jargon, or, if you need to use specialized terminology to keep things from getting entirely clunky, provide plain language translations of those terms and/or a link to a relevant glossary.  This should help prevent discussions from getting derailed into arguments over use of unfamiliar language, as people will be able to follow along with the conversation.

The staff of the Cauldron considers this an accessibility issue.  Especially given that we explain pagan jargon when people are unfamiliar with it, non-pagan jargon should never be assumed to be understood.

People keep yelling at me over something I said!  This has to be against the rules!

   Please, if you feel that you are being subjected to a pileon, report the matter to staff so that we can review the situation.  If we agree that the situation is getting out of hand, someone will post a cooldown reminder.

Please remember that people do not necessarily read to the end of the thread before composing a post, and may not have seen that others have responded to the same point already.  Also, this remains a discussion and debate board, and what looks like a pileon to you may look like a robust debate to others if you do not report your concerns using the official staff channels.

I posted about my beliefs and people are telling me that they’re bad beliefs.

   This is a discussion and debate forum.  That does not mean that you get to choose what people will or will not want to discuss and debate.  If your beliefs are based on factual inaccuracies, people will point them out; if your beliefs are such that they perpetuate things that people think create problems in the world, people will point that out as well.

For example, if your belief is that pagans only worship female deities, then you will have people who will argue with you about that as factually incorrect and people who will argue with you about that because of its social implications, even if your intent when making your post was for something unrelated to that topic.  If you do not want that belief investigated, the only means you have to prevent it being discussed and debated is not to post it.

It is very unlikely that anyone is telling you your beliefs are bad.  It is more likely that they are telling you either that your beliefs are not based on fact, or that your beliefs have consequences out in the rest of the world that they consider worth weighing.  If the discussion goes on long enough it is also entirely likely that people aren’t talking to you at all, but rather investigating and exploring the set of issues that has been brought up by what you said.

Why are people upset that I’m asking them to explain why something was a problem?

   People often get upset about being asked to perform free work.  None of these issues are specific to the Cauldron and many of them have extensive webpages and discussions out on the web, which you can likely find using the search engine of your preference.

Additionally, someone who has had to deal with the problems of marginalization in much of their life is probably tired of dealing with the problems created by that marginalization, and it is very valuable for people who want to understand the nuances of those issues to invest their own time rather than demanding that other people do their research for them.

Some links that may be of immediate interest:

What is this pronoun thing all about?

   Just like some people prefer to be referred to as “she” and some people prefer to be referred to as “he”, there are people with other preferences.  Those preferences may be listed in their profile and as an option in the sidebar (if you are accessing the board through the web).  As a matter of courtesy, it’s very nice if you can use people’s preferred referents.

Some people use alternate pronouns because of security concerns and not wanting to give away personal information online.  Some people use alternate pronouns because they feel they are in some way more accurate.  It is not appropriate to insist that someone explain why they use alternate pronouns, though some people may be willing to discuss it if asked politely.

You may at times get a response saying “I prefer something else, if you could please remember that”.  If you can’t remember or can’t see the pronoun field for someone, the generic “they” is always acceptable on the Cauldron.

Nonbinary.Org’s Wiki page on Pronouns may be of interest for further reading.

What is this “spoons” thing?

   “Spoons” is a jargon term for the ability to act and get things done in the context of a chronic illness.  It is reasonable for abled people to assume that getting some things done is basically trivial, and does not require budgeting.

People with disabilities tend to have to evaluate what they are able to do much more closely, so as not to go “over budget” and become incapable of doing anything.  Other people have also adopted the metaphor for managing dealing with hostile environments (sometimes choosing other silverware drawer items, such as forks, so as not to steal the “spoons” meaning from chronic illness sufferers).

The original essay that created the jargon term is titled The Spoon Theory.

What does “trigger” mean?  What are trigger warnings?  What should I be doing about this?

   A trigger is something that causes an involuntary reaction involving distress or discomfort, up to and including flashbacks.  Common triggering subjects include detailed discussion of violence, rape, assault, child abuse, and personal injuries.

If a thread is clearly titled in a manner that indicates it may contain that sort of content, you do not need to warn for it.  If you are adding this kind of content to a thread, consider using the spoiler tag to enclose it and mention briefly why you have concealed the contents so that people can choose or not choose to read it.

If you link to materials off the board, provide some information about that link.  Keep in mind that some people cannot easily read PDF links, interact with flash programs, or watch videos (and that watching a video is a much higher time investment than reading text).  If there are flashing images in whatever you’re linking to, it would be a decent thing to do to warn about that, as those can trigger seizures in epileptics.  If you are linking to something with big pictures of spiders, please mention that; the people with spider phobias will thank you.

What about other accessible content issues?
   
   Videos and images (while sometimes very useful) often don't work well in a text-focused discussion without some additional information.

If you're posting an image, it's great to describe it. One option is an alt tag. This tells people who use screenreading software what's in the image. To insert alt text in an image you're linking, use the following code (or add alt=your text to the image links you get by clicking the insert image button.)

Code: [Select]
[img alt=alt text]http://url[/img]
Here are some examples of useful alt text that describes an image and context:
  • Photo of an athame, double edged with a black handle, with runes inscribed on the hilt.
  • Cartoon of a cat, looking very dubiously straight out at the viewer.
  • Image of Jean-Luc Picard face-palming.

Alternately, you can describe the image in the text right before or after the image. This can also be really helpful to people who might not be familiar with what you're talking about. On an international forum like the Cauldron, not everyone is familiar with the same cultural references, memes, or why you might be including that image in a particular conversation.

Videos are also complicated. Some people may not be somewhere they can watch a video. Others may find watching videos difficult (due to hearing impairments or concerns about migraine and epilepsy triggers, as above) or just disruptive to how they go through the forum.

If you link to a video, and especially if it's the main content of what you're saying, please describe the video briefly along with the video link or embed. Give a sense of the length, topic, and if relevant a particular point that relates to what you're discussing.

Example: 15 minute video from a historian discussing the temple of Vesta. Discusses ritual practices starting about 7:30.

Repeated persistent inclusion of videos without this information as your only or primary contribution to threads may lead to warnings (and if continued, banning) under our "don't be annoying" rule.

So.  “Shaman”.  What the heck?

   The word “shaman” is an anglicisation of a word originating in the Tungus language of Siberia and entering the English language in the seventeenth century.  It has been used for some time to discuss the religious/spiritual workers of various minority ethnic groups, usually tribal and animistic, which share certain similarities.

Some people are concerned about the use of the word because it overstates the similarities between those groups extensively, and because it is at some level impolite to refer to one group’s religious authorities by another group’s terminology.  There are also concerns about whether or not it is appropriate to use a particular minority group’s word to describe one’s own practices when not a member of that minority group.  For these reasons, the word has fallen out of use in some areas of academia, though it is still current in others.  There are also people out there who are commonly termed “plastic shamans”, who have learned some of the trappings or ritual structures of indigenous practices (often Native American) and are basically selling them at a markup to Western tourists; unfortunately, a lot of the tribal influence in modern paganism comes by way of these people.

There exist modern Western constructions that name themselves “shaman”; if referring to one of those groups it is appropriate to specify which group they mean, such as “Harnerian shaman” or “core shaman” (these are two different terms for the same thing) or “Northern Tradition shaman”.  It is worth noting that these groups may have greater or lesser similarities to the traditional practices that are usually referred to by the word “shaman”, as discussed in this article, which also mentions that the stereotypical patterns of “what a shaman does” do not hold over all societies described by Westerners as having shamans.

The term “neo-shaman” acknowledges the differences between modern constructions and traditional tribal practices, and is reasonably widely used.  Some people use “shamanistic” to refer to practices that have historically been lumped in and termed as “shamans” so that they can make reference to that without claiming that they are shamanic practices.  People will also often refer to specific cultural terminology if they are from or affiliated with cultures that have terms for those roles.

Given that most people who are spirit-taught in some way are building their own path, there is also a great opportunity here to come up with words that are specifically personal to you and what you’re doing.  Some suggestions for words or phrases that other people have used include:  “spirit worker”, “worldwalker”, “walker between the worlds”, “liminalist”, “practical/practicing animist”, “tranceworker”, “hedgerider”, “hedgewitch” or sometimes even just “witch”, and “technician of the sacred” for a more general term.

So.  “Gypsy.”  What the heck?

   “Gypsy” is a word applied to the Roma (or Rroma) people, who are an exceptionally persecuted minority in the areas where they live.  The Roma were among the victims of the Holocaust, and are still routinely driven out of places they live, have their children taken away from them, and are subject to extreme levels of violence.

The word derives from the false belief that the Roma people originate in Egypt.  It is also the derivation of the word “gypped”, which depends for its meaning on the idea that the Roma people are more likely to cheat and swindle.  While there are individual Roma who will use the word to refer to themselves, it is best to take their lead on that.

It has been adopted to mean something like “bohemian” and refer to a particular style of fashion, neither of which are actual representations of the Roma people.  They instead derive from a sort of happy-go-lucky Hollywood misrepresentation of the Roma people which erases their actual identity and any awareness of their persecution in order to have a reference for brightly-painted horse-drawn wagons.

Some other word has been identified as a slur and I don’t get it.  This is just normal language where I come from.

   This happens, yes.  One of the things about casual language is that it often picks up that sort of usage and keeps it along.  Now you know that some people find it hurtful, and you can decide what to do from there.

You are not required to change your use of language to remain on the Cauldron.  However, that does not mean that there will not be consequences for you continuing to use words that people consider slurs.  Basically, there will be people who don’t like you very much, and will react to you from that point of view.

Or, more pithily, the phrase “That’s so lame” is the “That’s so gay” of a different generation, and the parallels are exactly as they would appear to be.

My friend uses that word!  We use it together!  How can you say it’s inappropriate?

   Just because your friend uses the word with you around does not make it appropriate to bring into a more general situation.  Reclaiming language is a thing that people do, and subcultures differ, but words that have been used to hurt others are bombs, and sometimes they explode.  Your friend may have reclaimed that word for themselves, or be part of a community that uses it, but that does not mean that other people from their subgroup have done the same, nor does it mean that it will necessarily go over well from an outsider.

Similarly, just because it’s appropriate for you to use “honeybunny” with your partner does not mean that you’ll be wanting to call just anyone that.  You and your best mates may have raised “yo mama” jokes to a high art form, but that doesn’t mean that someone who isn’t part of your social circle there is going to react nicely to you coming up to them and insulting their mother.

Remember that context is part of the social use of language.
« Last Edit: June 25, 2017, 01:13:58 pm by Jenett »
I'm the AntiFa genderqueer commie eclectic wiccan Mod your alt-right bros warned you about.
I do so have a life; I just live part of it online!
“Selfishness is not living as one wishes to live, it is asking others to live as one wishes to live.” - Oscar Wilde
"Nobody's good at anything until they practice." - Brina (Yewberry)
My much-neglected blog "If You Ain't Makin' Waves, You Ain't Kickin' Hard Enough"

SunflowerP

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Re: Inclusivity FAQ
« Reply #1 on: March 15, 2015, 08:15:25 am »
Quote from: SunflowerP;173030


 
Hopefully I've fixed the formatting problem that was occurring for Tapatalk users. If there are still formatting issues that interfere with readability, please let us know! (One easy way to do this would be by using the 'report post' button, and using the 'message' box to describe the problem you're seeing.)

it took a while to track down the problem and figure out a probable fix; thank you for your patience.

Sunflower
TC Forum Staff
I'm the AntiFa genderqueer commie eclectic wiccan Mod your alt-right bros warned you about.
I do so have a life; I just live part of it online!
“Selfishness is not living as one wishes to live, it is asking others to live as one wishes to live.” - Oscar Wilde
"Nobody's good at anything until they practice." - Brina (Yewberry)
My much-neglected blog "If You Ain't Makin' Waves, You Ain't Kickin' Hard Enough"

SunflowerP

  • Host
  • *
  • Join Date: Jun 2011
  • Location: Calgary AB
  • Posts: 8275
  • Country: ca
  • Total likes: 256
  • Don't teach your grandmother to suck eggs!
    • View Profile
    • If You Ain't Makin' Waves, You Ain't Kickin' Hard Enough
  • Religion: Eclectic religious Witchcraft
  • Preferred Pronouns: sie/hir/hirs/hirself
Re: Inclusivity FAQ
« Reply #2 on: June 25, 2017, 02:16:52 pm »
What about other accessible content issues?
   
   Videos and images (while sometimes very useful) often don't work well in a text-focused discussion without some additional information.

If you're posting an image, it's great to describe it. One option is an alt tag. This tells people who use screenreading software what's in the image. To insert alt text in an image you're linking, use the following code (or add alt=your text to the image links you get by clicking the insert image button.)

Code: [Select]
[img alt=alt text]http://url[/img]
Here are some examples of useful alt text that describes an image and context:
  • Photo of an athame, double edged with a black handle, with runes inscribed on the hilt.
  • Cartoon of a cat, looking very dubiously straight out at the viewer.
  • Image of Jean-Luc Picard face-palming.

Alternately, you can describe the image in the text right before or after the image. This can also be really helpful to people who might not be familiar with what you're talking about. On an international forum like the Cauldron, not everyone is familiar with the same cultural references, memes, or why you might be including that image in a particular conversation.

Videos are also complicated. Some people may not be somewhere they can watch a video. Others may find watching videos difficult (due to hearing impairments or concerns about migraine and epilepsy triggers, as above) or just disruptive to how they go through the forum.

If you link to a video, and especially if it's the main content of what you're saying, please describe the video briefly along with the video link or embed. Give a sense of the length, topic, and if relevant a particular point that relates to what you're discussing.

Example: 15 minute video from a historian discussing the temple of Vesta. Discusses ritual practices starting about 7:30.

Repeated persistent inclusion of videos without this information as your only or primary contribution to threads may lead to warnings (and if continued, banning) under our "don't be annoying" rule.

Hey, everyone. Just to let you all know that the Inclusivity FAQ has been edited to include the above new section!

Sunflower
I'm the AntiFa genderqueer commie eclectic wiccan Mod your alt-right bros warned you about.
I do so have a life; I just live part of it online!
“Selfishness is not living as one wishes to live, it is asking others to live as one wishes to live.” - Oscar Wilde
"Nobody's good at anything until they practice." - Brina (Yewberry)
My much-neglected blog "If You Ain't Makin' Waves, You Ain't Kickin' Hard Enough"

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