I read this article on Thought Catalog last night and it really rang true for me. The author talks about question shaming and how his question about the term faggot got him attacked by commenters until he told them he was gay and then he was given the answers to the question he originally posed.
This concept of “question shaming” is one that I am becoming more and more aware of, especially since I started asking about things like cultural appropriation. When I ask about cultural appropriation I am racist; when I ask about why certain groups are re-appropriating certain terms I am racist; when I ask about circumcision in religions I am sexist. It really seems that we cannot ask questions that pertain to a particular group without being a part of it, and I truly don’t understand why.
If we want a more understanding, culturally competent society then shouldn’t we encourage education? If I don’t understand why one group can use a certain “negative” word within itself but no one else can does that really make me prejudiced? There are certain conversations that I find myself unable to have without other people getting upset or offended. I normally don’t say anything particularly rude or offensive – generally it’s a “how come X?” or “what makes you believe Y?” I have worked very hard to try and make my tone neutral in these conversations – not judgmental or aggressive – because, frankly, I normally don’t have a side. I may be opinionated but I often find myself swaying back and forth in different debates.
My only “agenda” is to get a logical answer to the question of “why” or “what” or whatever other question there is. For some reason asking people to explain these things is upsetting. Please understand I am not asking people to explain things like why they believe in god, or how they know there is a god, etc. I tend to stay away from basic religion debates because there are no known “facts” to support anyone’s belief. No my questions range from things like “why is immigration bad?” to “why is circumcision in babies okay?” and everything else in between.
Beliefs like this are normally based on something, the same way that the word faggot is being re-appropriated for a reason. There is no reason why it is bad for a person to simply ask why.
If someone ever questions a view you have or a certain behavior of a group you are a part of, try to not be defensive or angry and shame or attack the person for asking; take this as a moment to educate a person who is eager to learn more. We shouldn’t be attacking people who are trying to understand another’s view. Rather, we should be embracing them and using that moment to gain a mutual understanding of another’s world.