I would dearly love to tell you about what I have been doing this past week. The hours-long conversations with lawyers. The equally long conversations with colleagues and friends. The decisions that I have had to make about when to speak—and when to say silent.
But to tell you, I would have to do something that I am not very good at.
It took me a year and a half of being called names on social media to call out another woman who had been trying to shame me. (I understand that she has continued to do so, including in more formal academic settings.)
For the past several years, some of my colleagues in medieval studies have been claiming that our neck of the scholarly profession is infected not just with white supremacism, but also with fascism, so much so that they are willing to label fellow members of the profession as out-and-out “fascists,” including yours truly.
As Inigo Montoya would put it, I’m not sure that word means what they think it means.
What they seem to mean by it is “racist,” because, of course, everyone knows that fascists are racists—and racists are evil.
It also seems for them to have something to do with being of European ancestry and/or white and not apologizing for it, as well as having status in our profession that others do not.
At a guess, it could have something to do with arguing in favor of Western civilization and/or Christianity, but for the most part they leave it undefined, hanging there as the slander that everyone knows it is without quite being able to say why.
I miss the good old days. You remember. Back when the only thing people knew about the Middle Ages is that they were Dark and filled with evil barons wresting a living off the back of their serfs, not to mention lecherous clergy imprisoning young maidens so as to rape them and then accuse them of witchcraft.
You remember, right? What it was like when the Middle Ages were Dark? The Roman Catholic Church made slaves of everyone, stripped them of their sense of dignity and independence and made social status a matter not of achievement, but birth. The Church hated science and industry and did everything in its power to keep people in chains. It guarded its authority with the sword and the stake, stifled all innovation, and fed the common people lies.
And why were these Ages so Dark? There were no universities, no towns, only castles with dungeons. Monks huddled in their cells thinking dark thoughts about sin, while Vikings stormed across the countryside, raping and pillaging and capturin…
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…