Gods, Radicals, and Respectability Politics

godsandradicalsI’m happy to say that I am involved with a new website, godsandradicals.org. This site was started by Rhyd Wildermuth, inspired by a recent conference presentation he did with Alley Valkyrie on pagan anti-capitalism (in particular, check out their pagan anti-capitalist primer). Of course I signed on early to help out, as a writer and a we’ll-see-what-else-is-needed. The site went live recently, and the first real article, by Jason Thomas Pitzl, went live today, and it’s a great one. Respectability Politics: Act Like The System So That The System Will Listen? addresses the very question of what it means to be both radical and respectable, in the context of the neopagan movement start in the 1980s during the “Satanic Panic.” His conclusion makes a lot of sense:

The truth, of course, is that most people simply do not care about us, our struggles, or what we think. That’s a hard pill to swallow, but there it is. I slowly realized that all of our work to be sensible, safe-seeming, and sharp-looking has barely dented our (alternately silly and scary) image with the general public. Have we made some small in-roads in some small areas? Of course, and those are to be welcomed, but you don’t overturn centuries of oppression, propaganda, weaponized folklore, and moral panic, with a nice tie and a winning tag-line.

I agree with him, and I find the notion of respectability politics framed in this way to be self-contradictory. For me, authenticity is a big part of respectability, and by becoming less authentic (by adopting appearances and behavior patterns of the dominant culture at the expense of one’s identity), one in fact loses respectability.

A great start to this site, and I can’t wait to see where it goes in the coming months. I’m still working on my first article for the site, I will certainly be updating you dear readers regularly as things progress.