By Lagaria Farmer, Redeswoman
Editorial Note: The language is barracks, those of you of civilian or sensitive backgrounds may be offended, but where both she and I come from, this is how the truth is laid out.
Don’t Be a Dick (Or, How to Be an Inclusive Heathen)
The events of last year – namely, the AFA’s statement about white, heteronormative families being the standard for their organization, and the publishing of Declaration 127 by various other Heathen organizations – has spawned plenty of discussion as to how we as Heathens in the Troth should self-identify. The old label of Universalist has never fit; however, we don’t exactly have bouncers at the door checking AKC papers, either. There was plenty of debate, both on our Facebook group and our mailing list, until some brilliant mind [Hi there, Lorrie Wood!!!] came up with the term “inclusive.” This term, while brilliant in its simplicity, raised another question: How does one BE an inclusive Heathen?
Well, folks, you’re in luck. Your Resident Introverted Lokean has the answer, HANDED DOWN from the God of X-Gen Geeks Himself [aka Wil Wheaton]. Here it is:
DON’T BE A DICK.
Oh, wait…you want an explanation? [sigh] I suppose…but bear in mind that this is just one person’s opinion, not the Word of the Gods.
Before we get started, though, you’re probably wondering: Why should we care what one former child actor has to say? Good question. Have you read the Havamal? If not, go ahead and give it a read-through. Pay attention to the first 1/3 of the poem. If you have read it before…read it again. Pay attention to the first 1/3 of the poem. Notice how it talks about hospitality and how not only the guests, but the host should behave? Wil Wheaton [of Star Trek: Next Generation fame] summed it up quite nicely [and accidentally] with one sentence, known in the Geek World as Wheaton’s Law: “Don’t Be a Dick.” Got it? Awesome. Moving on…
Not being a dick means not making assumptions, first of all. Folks who go by Universalist don’t necessarily believe that everyone should become Heathen; likewise, not everyone who identifies as Folkish believe that one can’t be black and Heathen. Being inclusive means that assumptions are put aside until we get to know each other better. At the same time, though, not being a dick means that if someone says and/or does something racist or homophobic, we call him/her on it. Silence equals compliance. Compliance makes you a dick.
Not being a dick means that if someone has a different family structure than you, you don’t insult them for it. For example: I’m polyamorous, which means that I have romantic, loving, and emotional bonds with more than just my husband. My best friend, on the other hand, is monogamous – just one Life Partner for her, please-and-thank-you, and she will soon be happily married. I have other close friends who are also monogamous, but they aren’t married – and have no plans to do so. One unmarried couple has kids together. Another couple doesn’t. I have several close friends who are married to someone of the same gender. You know what the great thing is? We’re all in relationships that work for us. We’ve all formed loving families. Know what else is great? We don’t feel the need to denigrate someone else’s family to make ours look better. My best friend being monogamous doesn’t make her a better Heathen than me. My husband and I having children doesn’t make us a better Heathen family than the couples who don’t have kids. I’m not saying to ignore the differences, folks; I’m saying that Heathenry doesn’t have a One True Family Type. Assuming it does…well…it makes you a dick.
Not being a dick means that one doesn’t belittle others for how they choose to express – or not express – their genders. It also means that if you accidentally misgender someone, you apologize, make the necessary corrections, and move on. Yes, there are women with short hair who detest wearing skirts. Yes, there are men who love to cook and are househusbands and/or stay-at-home dads. GET. OVER. IT. [And for Odin’s sweet sake, please don’t assume someone’s sexual preference because of how they behave and look. Doing this only makes you out to be – you guessed it – a dick.]
Finally, let’s talk about race – or rather, skin color, because that’s basically what it boils down to: the amount of melanin one has in his/her skin. The One Drop Rule does NOT pertain to Heathenry. Period. My Ancestors came from Africa, yes; however, They also came from Europe and the UK. Don’t expect me to pull out the AKC papers to prove it, either. Don’t bother asking me. Don’t ask anyone else, either. I will call you out for being a dick.
I can pretty much sum up the whole thing thusly: Be a good guest. Be a good host. Honor the Aesir and Vanir together. Share a horn or two, but don’t get so drunk that dumb things come out of your mouth. Celebrate your Ancestors, whomever They may be. In other words…Don’t Be a Dick. That’s the path to Inclusive Heathenry as I see it.