MIRIAM: “Cancel culture…”
…all derogatory words for what are historically common levers of female power. “Cancel culture” is not only used to describe censorship but is also used to describe principled boycotting. ”Gossip” identifies chatting about others, not just malicious speech. The newest of these terms, “Karen,” is frequently hurled out to deride any assertive female customer, not just women who act entitled and expect special treatment.
I personally explore the irony of these terms when I compare the progression from being a devout Mormon housewife to a social justice warrior. (Oops. Chalk that one up as another term to deride women who advance progressive causes.) Anyway, it is not a very difficult transition between the two. All we do is expand the objects of our concern, but the behaviour is largely the same.
The devout Mormon housewife sings the praises of the gospel to children at home and at church. The social justice warrior merely enlarges her working environment. The home and church podiums are expanded to all social platforms, and the core message is still “inasmuch as ye have done it unto the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.”
Mormon women know how to cancel, we’ve been taught to cancel culture since we could talk. We don’t say those words, we don’t watch those shows or movies or read those books. We don’t eat this or drink that. We don’t wear that, or do that to our bodies. We do all this so we can feel and share the Spirit of Christ.
The social justice warrior sees a side of Christ which is about more than feeling clean and obedient, and which is about more than the beginnings of charity. She sees a Christ inviting us to a fullness of the charity of His love. The Christlike love of pure charity is an uncomfortable peace that does not avoid human conflict or human mess and it works to clean up both.
Instead of cancelling a movie with the F-word, we cancel the movie that causes human suffering. We don’t care if you wear spaghetti straps but we do care if you’ve been sexually assaulted. The social justice warrior may drink coffee or tequila, and if she doesn’t, she does not mind if you do. But she will care if the coffee beans come from enslaved labor and she will care if you need help finding an addiction recovery program.
Furthering righteousness through our relationships is at the center of our identities as Mormon women, it is our world. What some call gossip, we use as currency to pinpoint how our people are doing, and who needs what when. We listen and then we go and do for our own and we’ll go on and do for those who have no one else. When I ask to speak to the manager if I’ve found maggots in the ground beef, I am at that moment that invisible hand moving the economy in a moral direction. I will withdraw support from businesses because it’s wrong to sell that garbage. I’ll Karen a little or a lot every day depending on what is needed to protect and serve others.
That’s what we do in our world for our people and all people because that’s what we can do. As women, and for a very long time in the history of all mankind, this has been our job, sometimes our only job and only opportunity to take acceptable action in our world. Simply put: we take care of people in the ways we’re able, and so the whiplash that I feel when I encounter derision for this work is painful.
If the derogatory terms “cancel culture,” “gossip,” and “Karens” are how society describes this work and are not just exploitative extremes, then what does society want women to do? Should we edit our consumption invisibly? Should we communicate our needs silently? Should we wait patiently and nicely until someone decides to make things better? Should we avoid any appearance of power? Is that what the generic use of these terms is about?
I don’t think so. Christ listened and spoke up, and so will I.
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