It’s back to class for those of us who teach in medieval studies, and my medievalist colleague Dorothy Kim, Assistant Professor of English at Vassar College (pictured in 2014), wants to make sure you understand the stakes.
The medieval western European Christian past is being weaponized by white supremacist/white nationalist/KKK/nazi extremist groups who also frequently happen to be college students.
That does sound bad. But, wait, it gets worse!
Don’t think western European medieval studies is exceptional.... ISIS/ISIL also weaponizes the idea of the pure medieval Islamic past in their recruiting rhetoric for young male Muslims. If the medieval past (globally) is being weaponized for the aims of extreme, violent supremacist groups, what are you doing, medievalists, in your classrooms? Because you are the authorities teaching medieval subjects in the classroom, you are, in fact, ideological arms dealers. So, are you going to be apathetic weapons d…
I have never met Dorothy Kim. I do not know why she decided to make me her target in January 2016. Since it is clear that many even in our field of medieval studies do not know – or are refusing to admit that they know – what she has been saying about me on social media, I will show you.
On June 5, 2015, I posted a short blog post, listing three “cheers” that I suggest we talk about as products of Western, a.k.a. European, a.k.a. “white” civilization. I entitled it “Three Cheers for White Men.”
On January 18, 2016, I learned from friends on Facebook that Dorothy Kim had found this post and was encouraging her friends in the Society for Medieval Feminist Scholarship Facebook group to condemn me for posting it. Here is her initial post:
In response, I wrote a long series of blog posts clarifying what I had meant in praising “white” men for idealizing chivalry, consensual marriage, and women’s full participation in our representative democracy. These posts are linked in the original “Thr…
Well, that was an exciting past several days! I hope for those that were following the thread on the Medieval Feminist Scholarship Facebook page that Dorothy Kim so generously started this past Sunday about last summer's post, that at least some of what I have said in my "footnotes" on chivalry this week has been helpful in clarifying where I was coming from in suggesting my original "talking points." I still have several more, perhaps indeed, many more posts that I think need writing in order to develop properly my critique of our current scholarly and public conversation on the role of the European Christian tradition, including its ideas about women and what it means to be fully human, but I want to pause for a moment here and address something else.
When I wrote that post last summer and uploaded it with its intentionally provocative title, I knew very well what I was doing. I was issuing a challenge, throwing down a gauntlet, declaring to the world a…
1. When white women (see Marie de France and Eleanor of Aquitaine) invented chivalry and courtly love, white men agreed that it was better for knights to spend their time protecting women rather than raping them, and even agreed to write songs for them rather than expecting them to want to have sex with them without being forced.
2. When white men who were celibate (see the canon lawyers and theologians of the twelfth century and thereafter) argued that marriage was a sacrament valid only if both the man and the woman consented, white men exerted themselves to become good husbands rather than expecting women to live as their slaves.
3. When white women (see Christine de Pizan, Mary Wollstonecraft, and the suffragettes) invented feminism, white men supported them (see John Stuart Mill) and even went so far as to vote (because only men could vote at the time) to let them vote, not to mention hiring them as workers and supporting their education.
You saying my side chanting blood and soil
But all I got here is my little foil
A pair of docs are you and me
But mine’s attached to a rosary
So watch me drop some theology
I got psalms in my palms
And songs on my tongue
Got a Virgin for a mother
And a jester for a brother
So tell me to my face
What you got in your digital space?
I see you Savanarollin’ on a quest
Givin’ Caucasians that impossible test
And I got to know who’s the supremacist nation?
See, my queens don’t care about complexion
Every piece on their board is gettin’ redemption.
Yo. This ain’t about you and me
But about our Blessed Mom, Mary
So put down your quill
And face the academic skill
Then look up to see
She will pray for thee.
– DJ Berzerk The Madonna Scroll, Field Museum, Chicago No, I am by no means skilled enough in rhyme-speak to have composed these lyrics. Written for me by a Bear friend as a gift after yesterday’s blogging duel.I understand that they are meant as a kind o…