In response to the “nice guy” controversy that Hugo has sparked in the feminist blogsphere, Mickle has made an excellent post titled Masquerade. She talks about politeness, sincerity, and what it means to be an ally.
These paragraphs really resonated with me:
I can’t help but think of this when people argue for politeness for politeness sake and I wonder about the people he was polite to – in public. Did they suspect? Would they rather have known the truth? Could they sense it anyway? Did they resent the fact that the mask of politeness my grandfather hid behind made it that much harder to fight his bigotry? Were they sometimes grateful that his mask made theirs that much easier to wear? Did they apprecraite the irony that it was their honest anger that forced him to adopt the masquerade they had always been forced to be a part of?
I understand that you can catch more flies with honey than vinegar, I just think people need to remember that allies gained under false pretenses tend to make shitty allies. Individuals for whom the deciding factor in their political and ideological beliefs is the number of times they may get laid do not make good feminists. Being bluntly honest may be a bit “off-putting” but it’s still more likely to result in a useful ally. After all, non-violence may have been a hallmark of the civil rights movement, but “polite” discourse was not. “Polite” conversation doesn’t include discussions about race to begin with – and “polite” sure as hell doesn’t describe the act of holding a lunch counter hostage. I rather think a hell of a lot of people considerd it downright rude at the very least.