Allies Behaving Badly

Gaslighting as epistemic injustice

Authored by: Rachel McKinnon

The Routledge Handbook of Epistemic Injustice

Print publication date:  April  2017
Online publication date:  March  2017

Print ISBN: 9781138828254
eBook ISBN: 9781315212043
Adobe ISBN: 9781351814508


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There isn’t a great deal of work that we might call “trans* epistemology,” although there is certainly increasing attention being given to epistemological insights to be gained by considering trans* perspectives. 1 Taking trans* perspectives seriously allows us to shed light on some problems, particularly with how “allies” behave towards those they claim to support. Talk of “allies” is everywhere in queer politics and activism. 2 There are “safe spaces” and “ally” training programs at most universities and colleges. In many cases, one can acquire a sticker, sign, or plaque to display, maybe even a button, badge, or pin that denotes one as an “ally.” However, the concept of an “ally” and how this concept has translated into what we might call “ally culture” has started receiving increasing attention and criticism, mostly by the very people it’s meant to support. One prominent example is Mia McKenzie’s 2013 blog post (reprinted in McKenzie 2014) “No More ‘Allies,’” where she discusses some problems endemic to the behavior of allies. In many cases, allies have been behaving badly. In some cases, “allies” are further harming victims.

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