Critical Grooming Theory: A Modest Proposal

Over the last few days, Twitter has erupted over accusations from conservatives that progressives are engaged in “grooming” for supporting elements of Queer Theory. In this article, I’ll develop a “Critical Grooming Theory” framework that explains the insidious, multi-faceted, systemic nature of grooming and the need for anti-grooming activism.

When some people hear the word “groomer,” they immediately filter it through the lens of Western individualism. But they fail to realize that “grooming” is a systemic, structural problem deeply embedded in our “ways of knowing.”

When I, as a Critical Grooming Theorist (CGT), say that “all progressives are groomers,” I’m not saying that they personally support grooming, as defined by the dictionary. I’m saying that they benefit politically from “systems of advantage” that harm children. That is why a positive progressive identity is an impossible goal. Progressive identity does not exist outside of systemic grooming.

When a progressive is offended that he’s being called a “groomer,” that is a symptom of “groomer fragility.” Other symptoms of “groomer fragility” include disagreeing, feeling attacked, or shutting down. Progressives need to sit with their discomfort and do the work to understand the lived experience of children and detrans folk who are harmed by systemic grooming.

Some progressives think there is a category of “not groomer.” But one is either a “groomer” or an “anti-groomer.” There is no safe, in-between space of “not groomer.” Claiming to be “not a groomer” is a mask to hide grooming.

Furthermore, grooming is one of many interlocking systems of oppression. One cannot be an anti-groomer if one is a communist. One cannot be an anti-groomer if one is a feminist. To be an “anti-groomer” is to recognize the privileges of your progressivism, of your communism, of your feminism, of their intersections.

Progressives who think that grooming is both very rare and severely stigmatized are mistaken. That very sentiment is an expression of groomer privilege. Moreover, superficial change is insufficient. CGT shows that systemic grooming has been baked into supposedly neutral, objective ideas like “expressive individualism,” “identity,” and “social justice” from our nation’s founding. Dismantling it requires fundamental social transformation.

Other progressives insist that they don’t intend to sexualize young children or to subvert parental authority; consequently, they insist that they are not groomers. But Critical Grooming Theory reminds us that “impact > intent” and that their hegemonic power in the classroom functions to preserve systemic grooming regardless of their intent. Grooming never disappears; it just adapts (see my forthcoming book Grooming Without Groomers).

Not even conservatives are exempt from the dynamics of systemic grooming. In a society suffused with systemic grooming, conservatives are also socialized into grooming. Thus, conservatives struggle with “internalized grooming” and/or are often “groomer adjacent” as their own minds are colonized by the hegemonic values, norms, and ideals of grooming. Only conservatives who have attained a “critical consciousness” can truly recognize and deconstruct groomer supremacy within progressives and groomer-adjacent conservatives.

Finally, progressive resistance to the acknowledgement of systemic grooming is entirely predictable, and is analogous to resistance to Civil Rights legislation. Interest convergence theory takes a profoundly realistic attitude towards grooming and recognizes that anti-grooming progress is only permitted by groomers when they stand to benefit from it in subtle ways that Critical Grooming Theory uniquely equips us to recognize. Thus, progressives who reject grooming must continually de-center themselves and platform the voices of anti-groomer conservatives, who are uniquely aware of the true nature of grooming. If you are a progressive who is accused by a conservative of being a groomer, don’t disagree, or deny, or deflect. Accept conservative feedback and thank them for their openness.

Is this article satire? Yes. But it’s a satire based on statements and reasoning taken nearly verbatim from the Critical Social Justice literature (e.g. Kendi, DiAngelo, Adams, Collins, etc.). CSJ is fundamentally flawed, cynical, and deconstructive. It is a universal acid.

If this thread frustrates you, good. It should. It shows why we need to reject CSJ. It will poison our discourse and tear to shreds the very fabric of our society. Maybe rethink how you’ve been redefining words like “racism,” “bigotry,” whiteness,” and “Christian nationalism.”

If you’ve been drinking the Kool-Aid of CSJ language and ideology, it’s time to wake-up. They’re a dead-end. You don’t have to choose between embracing CSJ and embracing actual racism/sexism/injustice. You can and must reject both.

Skeptical that I’ve accurately parodied the ideas of CSJ? Check out these book reviews: