Dear Adelyn #001: What to do when people ask questions

Adelyn Stormborn is a meta-activist who lectures activists on activism. Her interests include doilies, Grolsch, MMA, anime, draconic culture, hydroquinone, re-appropriating life-hacking, n+=>2wave politics, The Matrix Trilogy and unsolicited editing. Advice in her column is free, otherwise she’d teach you, but she’d have to charge. In her introductory column, she answers a young activist on what to do when the people you’re talking social justice at respond with unexpected questions.

If you have a question for Adelyn, you can leave it in the comments. If you’re lucky, she’ll ‘splain an answer in another guest post.


“Dear Adelyn,

I’ve pretty much memorized the contents of all of the approved electronic pamphlets, being able to recite them on demand, and even list rules in reverse alphabetical order. Unfortunately, none of this memorizing has prepared me for the lived experience of talking at a person who lacks my wokeness. It’s even worse when talking to old people – e.g. those who like the vinyl I like, but back when first released; it’s as if they’ve spent all their years memorizing dishonest questions designed to undermine the education I’m trying to give them.

I was talking to this second wave feminist, and she asked ‘how do you know that?’; ‘what do you mean by “epistemology”?’; ‘why are you assuming I think gender is a binary?’ It was so rude of her to talk like that, I could barely speak. I was literally shaking. I mean, everyone knows the answers to these questions already; “because I’ve been told”; “knowledgey stuff like what they talk about in cultural studies”; “we all know you do”. It derailed the conversation and centered it on dictionaries written by old people.

I almost used ableist language and called her a “psychopath”. Thankfully I didn’t, but you should have seen how calm she was in the face of serious issues. It was callous. It was sickening. Don’t any of them care as much as me?

They all answer back to me like that; the second-wavers, the old science people, and the old left who couldn’t keep up with progress and are now right-wing dinosaurs. They don’t know anything and it’s like they never even cared.

All I’m trying to do is fill their heads with good knowledge. I have cold chills sometimes when I think of the way they patronized me, and I think about this often.

There’s a reason they say ‘we are the future’.


Frustrated Young Intersectionalist who’s running out of spoons.”


Dear Frustrated,

Hello, and congratulations on being the first person responded to by moi. Senpai has noticed you.

First let me open by saying that you are a woke, caring person. Don’t let frustration eat away at your pride. Assert yourself confidently. Don’t let my fellow middle-aged people baffle you with bullshit.

The Skeptics have a term for what you’re up against. It’s called “JAQing off”. Basically, what this means is that the people you’re up against are pretending they’re “Just Asking Questions”. Of course, they’re not interested in answers, so their questions are fake, and you know this because;

1) They wouldn’t have interrupted your train of thought if they were interested in answers.

2) I’ve just told you.

It’s clear to me that you were already close to realizing this yourself, so kudos to you for that. With what you’re presently up against, telling them that they’re “just JAQing off” should be perfectly adequate, and anything beyond that, like simply slamming a door in their face, or calling them out on Twitter, is just bonus activism work. But I have to warn you of something else; a new threat.

There’s this buzzword you have to keep an eye out for; “incoherent”.

They’ll say that your ideology is “incoherent”. I’m not sure what phobia this is, because Approved People haven’t researched it enough yet, but it’s basically because the people you are up against can’t appreciate the beauty of the natural twists, turns, loops and curves of your logic. You’re like a beautifully constructed train set, with so many tunnels winding through a wonderfully crafted mountain, but in their ignorance they can’t enjoy or even understand that.

In practice, they may interrupt your train of thought before it’s even left the station. They don’t want the scenic route. They don’t want to experience the shifting vistas of your reasoning and lived experience because they’re grown bitter and resentful. Worse; they’re even encouraging young “feminists” to adopt this bitter attitude.

I have no time for such venom. Bitterness doesn’t accessorize with my dragon-femme.

You needn’t have time for it either. If anyone accuses you of incoherence, for now up until the time that Approved People determine the name and nature of the phobia, tell your antagonizers they’re “just being bitter”, walk away, and hope that they soon die of old age. If you get the cold chills after talking to them, soothe yourself with the realization that you’ve probably given these old, rubbish people a few more wrinkles.

They’ll be as ugly on the outside as they are on the inside, unlike us.

~ Adelyn

…assuming the mantle.

I didn’t get it, and I haven’t got it for most of the time. I’m only just getting it – the faux-masculine shibboleths that I’m expected to observe, in order to be ‘one of the guys’.

Especially the degradation of women as rite of passage.

Don’t get me wrong…

I’m nobody’s knight in shining armour (I think this will be the last time I repeat this for some time), and I don’t believe in chivalry towards women – chivalry, as opposed to decency, assumes that women are frail objects to be protected like delicate porcelain in a world they’re not equipped to deal with. Women are no such thing.

I’ve got an interest in this. If pseudo, and actual misogyny, are used as defining criteria for what it is to be masculine, then I consider that an imposture. I don’t want that group identity lumbered on me, and moreover, I’m willing, if imposed upon, to fight for my stake in masculine culture to the exclusion of other men.

Gentlemen, if you’re going to make an asshole out of yourself in the first instance, I’m not going to take much notice when you make squeals of indignation, when you get a little comeuppance. That is unless, I find it justifiable, useful, and entertaining, to laugh at you.

Seriously though, some men really shit me. The things that some of you expect me to take on board as normal, or healthy, or unappealing-but-otherwise-not-rebarbative.

[Trigger warning: There isn’t anything explicit beyond this point, but the subject matter is rather dark, delving into the dank, unsanitary world of misogyny, as it does].


Continue reading “…assuming the mantle.”

Rob Smith’s Fifteen Minutes of Fame

It seems that Rob Smith’s first post to this blog was quite well received. My blog stats for the weekend are usually quite low, even when I post on the weekend – my usual readers apparently having more of a life than I do.

Within the first few hours of the statistical day clicking over, Rob had around a couple of hundred hits, thanks mostly to being discovered by someone using StumbleUpon (Rob says “thanks”, K-ady.) I bet if I didn’t shamelessly promote Rob’s post over at this thread at Pharyngula, it never would’ve happened. *Grumble, grumble, teeth-grind*

I didn’t think Rob’s post was quite that good!


My 15 minutes beats your confected envy, poor atheist…

At any rate, in the interests of traffic, I’ve secured a promise from Rob that he’ll write again for this blog. Indeed, he’s already got a topic in mind and further to that, he’s noticed that Alister McGrath’s The Twilight of Atheism (2004) has sat on my bookshelf, as yet unread.

The idea has got into his head that he could fill in as a guest book reviewer for when I’m too busy to read anything other than that which could turn out to be a waste of time. I guess that also includes Ken Ham’s The Lie: Evolution (1987), which made it onto my shelf for the princely chimney-sweeply price of ten cents.

But I digress. If Rob is or isn’t to write book reviews in the future, it’s very much up to him. What he has promised to do, in his own words, is to write a post…

“…refut[ing] the straw-men put about by New Atheists like Christopher Hitchens, on the topic of Christian positions on pre-marital sex and masturbation.”

(Rob Smith, last night.)

By “Christian positions”, one hopes that he doesn’t mean “missionary.”

Between Rob’s apparent popularity and that of the topic of sex on the Internet, I can feel my own posts being eclipsed already.

~ Bruce