Tonight the Christian apologetic and social commentary Facebook page Wintery Knight banned me from commenting on its threads due to the slightest notion of dissent from my part.
This isn’t the first time WK has resulted to childish tactics after clashing with an apologist of the same faith, as he did with philosopher Randal Rauser over the rebellion thesis which proposes that all atheists in all instances actively suppress knowledge of God. Rauser explains that his experience with WK is someone who is “less like a bold knight fighting for truth than an insecure lord defending his petty fiefdom.” Rauser’s comment is humorous in light of the fact that WK literally postures himself as a brave knight via imagery incorporated on his online mediums. Nonetheless, WK shared this following quote on his Facebook page from a person named Allie:
Now, I’ve never attempted to be a routine commentator on feminism and matters of sex and gender. However, in this instance, I felt I had something to contribute to the discussion, simply because I had been doing a great deal of research on the topic of masculinities. So, naturally, I thought the above quote had particular relevance to my research and so I commented. The disagreement resulting in my ultimate ban from WK’s page was relatively trivial, as I merely stated that the person in question, Allie, seemed to give the impression that toxic masculinity has nothing to do with masculinity (this was just my take away from the quote and I could fully be wrong). Unfortunately, a great deal of sociological research over the years has shown that toxic masculinity and harmful elements of hegemonic masculinity really do exist and exert an incredible influence on boys and men, and the women with whom they interact. It seemed to me that Allie’s quote somehow misses this, or is unaware of it.
A handful of FB users commented on my post, with one individual caricaturing my view as a result of gender studies brainwashing. WK’s behaviour and this individual’s comment reminded me of a finding included in my research which demonstrated that men generally respond in one of three ways to attempts to transition male attitudes away from harmful hegemonic masculine traits: defensive, accommodating, or responsive. Those men who are defensive do not welcome change and often reassert their traditional power and allegiance to hegemonic masculine traits. This response is visible in how activist efforts for gender equality result in fear and insecurity in many men who perceive these changes to be an attack and/or challenge to their masculine identity. Moreover, men who are accommodating passively accept changes in masculinities and gender relations, and do not attempt to counter them. Responsive men actively support changes in masculinities, especially where harmful and oppressive traits of masculinities exist and do not oppose these transitions. It would seem that WK and some of his followers ascribe to the defensive notion and feel that positive efforts to transition men away from harmful masculine traits is an attack on their male identities.
But rather than WK attempt to have a substantive discussion, I was banned over this rather small disagreement. I found this particularly odd behaviour given that apologists are to be open to dialogue and especially so within reason (as is instructed by their own religious texts). Of course, if we come across an online individual who is merely derisive and vitriolic then he or she deserves to be banned. However, my disagreement with WK was far from derisive and therefore certainly did not warrant a ban.
The lesson here is that apologists need to be open to disagreement and discussion, especially with their ideological opponents, because this is just what apologetics is about. As witnesses for a faith, it should never be in their interest to banish someone from a discussion because of an alternative view. They should actively debate, discuss, and even openly correct their own views should one become convinced of error. But perhaps that’s asking too much from some within the faith camp.