I follow a lot of people on twitter--people I've found or been connected to through mutual friends or acquaintances--who know a whole lot more than I do about stuff I'm interested in. (If y'all are reading this, you know who you are.) As weird as it may seem, I'm learning immense amounts in 140-character chunks, about theology, gender, feminism, anti-racism, intersectionality...I may have a PhD in Theology and Science but what you really learn in doing a degree is just how much you still don't know. And so my twitterfeed is a constant stream of blessing and wisdom and angry hope.
More than once recently I've followed exchanges on the issue of "tone policing." I've had my own run-ins with this, of course, as has I bet pretty much anyone who's attempted to participate in a difficult conversation from anything other than a position of privilege relative to the topic.
Nowadays, however, this issue has more than simply personal resonance with me, as I am so keenly aware of the burden of appropriate "tone" in my representation of an organization that is so much more than simply me. If I miscalculate as JTB, well, I can take responsibility for that as myself. If I miscalculate in representing gal328.org--that's different.
I've been blogging here at "rude truth" since 2005. And because this thing started--as I've said before--as an exercise in finding my "voice" the archive is in some ways a record of my experimentation in constructing it. And it's not always pretty. I am not a pretty girl.
I've done some cussing from time to time, is what I mean. The tone police can go wild on my archive.
While there's nothing I can do--or really want to do--to change any of that, it now feels like a potential liability for gal328.org. And so you'll notice that I've changed some things on the "about" page, to make it clear for everyone that in this space, as JTB, I represent only myself.
So this forms the context in which I've been following these recent conversations on tone and tone policing. I've been working on the fly, following my instincts, worrying about how to get it right, and these conversations have given me a way to analyze the issue more intentionally.
In particular, the twitter exchange between Rachel Held Evans and others a couple days ago, following some tone policing in the commentary of the recent CT article on modesty, captures the issues involved and provides a real-time snapshot of a bunch of smart people processing these things together. It prompted me, once more and for at least the fourth time, to try to write this blog post. But before I could get this done in a satisfactory way, I needed a way to process the issue that drew on all the wisdom of my twitterfeed.
So I made my first story at storify.com: "I don't like your tone, young lady!" And if you've made it this far in this post, good news: the real stuff is there. You need to go read it, because it's there that you'll find the links to the real wisdom on this. Be blessed.