My darlings, I’m going to say it: I think I’m done with call-out culture.

I know. I’m an activist, a feminist, a member of multiple social organizations, a regular demonstrator/marcher, and an outspoken advocate for LGBTQ+ rights, #BLM, disability awareness re: depression, anxiety, and suicidal impulses, not to mention against pretty much everything the current administration is doing. But I no longer think that across-the-board call outs, especially when coupled with public shaming, is the way to handle it, or the best way to be an activist. Or a human being.

It’s gotten politicized on either extreme end, naturally, and turned into too-simplistic binaries.  Many people are currently claiming that we don’t have to “be civil” or “be silenced” when our rights are on the line. The arguments for “civility” have even been used to shame and silence minorities over the centuries, historically. I agree that, when we are faced with an, ahem, “president” who lies on the average of seven times a day, and an administration that lies right along with him, they need to be called out, and often. I’m not questioning that, not at all.

What I’m questioning is if EVERYTHING needs to be aggressively, loudly, and publicly called out in the same way.

 

First, for the record, yes, I’m a straight, white woman, and not only am I very hyper-aware of my white privilege, but I’m constantly interrogating it and pushing myself against it, silencing myself so others can be heard instead. That’s actually part of the reason why I’m done with call-out culture, because often, a call out has consisted solely of someone informing me of my white privilege. You might as well tell me I’m fat, because yes, I know, and I am ALWAYS aware of it… to the point that I am in therapy because of the constant arguments in my head about it, the all-the-time constantly-shaming inner dialogues chastising myself for my white privilege and not doing enough and doing everything wrong. So no. I don’t need you to point it out to me, despite what you think.

Furthermore, everyone has privileges, and privilege is contextual. Someone having white privilege is not necessarily the slam-dunk proof that said person has all the power in a given situation. I’ve seen people marginalized (and I’ve been marginalized myself) because they are fat/unattractive, old/young, of one religious belief in a community of another religion, or have physical disabilities that prevent them from participating in something.

Privilege isn’t something someone is supposed to be made to feel guilty about or ashamed of. It just is. The emphasis is (supposed to be) about awareness. This actually ties into everything I’m going to say here.

What are call outs? How do they function? How does it all tie to power and silencing and the fucked-up racist, sexist, homophobic, apply-intersectionality-here history of America?

I’ve mentioned before that some of this gets branded as unequivocal female strength. Whether it’s called “clapping back” or “throwing shade” or not taking shit or whatever, it’s a flawed idea that responding to something/anything/everything with a certain level of vitriol is unquestioningly celebrated by some as the pinnacle of female power and badassery. Strong, powerful women don’t sit back when we see injustice. We don’t stay silent. We speak up! WE SHOUT! YOU CAN’T AND WON’T SILENCE US. That is an undeniably important facet.

However, not everyone who calls out another person is “being a badass” and/or therefore automatically correct. Not everyone who calls someone else out was actually being silenced. Even if a lot of the time, it’s deserved, there’s still a pretty wide margin of error.

It’s time to think about that.

Let me be as clear as possible: much of the rhetoric in response to questioning a call out is equally as harmful. So no, I am not saying or supporting the blanket statements about “everyone is soooo sensitive these days!” and “PC Police!” and “you’re just looking to be offended about everything” and “reverse racism!”  If your take-away from what I’m saying here is “Just ignore [group of people/minority]” or “They’re troublemakers” or “But what about white people-” then you are incorrect. That’s not what I’m saying, advocating, or centering. That’s not what I’m inferring in any way. I do not believe it. No.

But.

Does every single occurrence require screaming and shouting and shaming in response? Is that even possible?

Isn’t it okay, even advisable, to just stop for a moment and ask if what’s happened actually IS an injustice, or a threat, or systemic oppression? If said call out isn’t going to result in retaliatory or additional oppression? How can we scream about others’ assumptions and privileges without checking our own?

After all, there’s a difference between “shut up and listen” and “shut up forever, you don’t matter.”

Sometimes, yes, we do have to say “shut up forever, your thoughts on ___ are irrelevant,” even. No, dudebro, your opinions about other women’s abortions don’t matter. No, religious person, you don’t get to apply your value system to others’ actions. Yes, old dude catcalling that teen girl, you bet your fucking ass I’m going to call you out (after assessing the safety of the situation) and make sure that said girl can get away from you and your grossness. If you support what is happening with locking children up and traumatizing them because their parents are crossing the border, you are inhumane, and yes, that is actually comparable to Nazi concentration camps. Sometimes, we have to loudly proclaim, “No! That is unacceptable!”

Not all the time for everything, though. It shouldn’t be the knee-jerk response.

What is the purpose of calling someone out? My answer has always been “awareness and education.” When my cousin made a harmful, tone-deaf post on FB about how transgender people are “just like” Rachel Dolezal and they “were just trying to get away with” something, I called her out. In my role as teacher, advocate, and friend, I carefully, gently asked her if she might “think about” her assumptions, and pointed out that my own trans friends had explained to me that their experiences were not about wanting to “get away” with anything, but rather, trying to understand who they essentially were and had always been. She, naturally, went ballistic, posted “I know that I’m a good person! I’m sick of you always attacking me!” and so on. Was I wrong to call that out? Was she wrong to “feel attacked”? I don’t know.

But isn’t it possible that maybe we need to interrogate those things more now, and reassess, after the last several years of, well, everything?

People, myself included, need to question who is being called out, under what circumstances, and to what purpose. If our goal in calling someone out is awareness, education, understanding, dialogue, then is calling out the most effective way to make that happen in this given situation? (I’ve seen some talk about why “calling in” is more effective in these situations, and that’s worth exploring, too.)

There is a ton of space in between “calling someone out, hardcore” and “staying silent,” a ton of possibility other than the absolutely real and valid feelings of “I’m not your black mammy,” “I can’t do that emotional labor for you,” “It’s not my job to teach you,” “I’m going to scream if I have to explain one more time that ____.”

 

Often, too often, calling someone out is about asserting our own power/voice, and silencing and shaming the other person. I have absolutely said “shame on you” to someone advocating that women who have abortions are just like Nazis exterminating Jews, or someone saying that being called out on their white privilege is “just the same” as using the n-word. I know that at least part of what I hoped to gain from that was the validation of others for speaking up, speaking out, because the person on the receiving end of that kind of a shaming call out for announcing all Muslims are terrorists isn’t going to change their mind on that.

But not every questionable action is the same thing as “calling all Muslims terrorists.” No, ___ is not always “just as bad” or “just the same as” ____.

One of the other related questions is, does shaming work? All the time? Sometimes? Continued studies show that no, calling out someone and shaming them doesn’t change their behavior.

 

I’ve taken part in a lot of call outs and, yes, even public shaming, particularly in reference to a couple authors who double down and bully others in response to legitimate concerns about their works. Yes, there are a lot of questions to ask about these texts, and yes, I ask them about my own, too. And when an author makes it clear that they are behaving in ways that profoundly damage others and in many cases, making money from it, like someone who cheats onto the NYT bestseller list, or someone who attacks abuse survivors themselves for questioning the abuse in her books, rather than just… stopping for a second and thinking, or even allowing that others might have equally valid points, I’ve been one of the voices going in on them. But I usually start not with vitriol, personal insults, or attacks, but rather, with those aforementioned open questions.  

That is meant to lead to discussion, equal and respectful, for all parties involved. This is what we do in writing groups, in political activist gatherings, with friends. It’s not about accusations or name calling, or, especially, shaming someone. It’s about education.

At least, that’s what I always thought call outs were generally supposed to be about. Education, discussion, and mutual respect. “So-and-so, please don’t just automatically wish women ‘Happy Mother’s Day’ unless you know they’re actually mothers. That’s potentially very painful for some.” “So-and-so, have you thought about the way you keep using the word ‘urban’ to refer only to black people?” “So-and-so, I’m adopted too, so that assumption about all adopted people being examples of colonialism is a flawed one from my perspective.” Raising awareness. Allowing for multiple perspectives to co-exist, and honoring others’ different experiences. Emphasizing diversity.

That’s not the case anymore. I’ve seen the same vitriolic, aggressive, and even violent level of call outs applied to co-workers, friends, strangers, randos in public, friends-of-friends on social media, regardless of situation, context, or a million other things that should be considered. “Hey, asshole, have you considered that ___? Maybe check your privilege!” “Look at this entitled white slut dressing up in my culture without knowing anything about it!” “Oh, you’re upset? Well fuck your white fragility!” “If you read Mark Twain in this century, you are nothing but a racist.”

Calling out someone this way isn’t about helping them, or educating them, or making the world a better and more tolerant place. It’s about crushing someone’s soul. Dehumanizing them. Holding them up for ridicule. Making them feel small. Destroying their sense of self and self-worth. Ganging up on them with others to join in the shaming. And sure, I agree that there are plenty of people whose actions and jobs* mean that they are absolutely open to being publicly shamed.

(*No, I am not suggesting that every person in the public eye deserves to be shamed, either, or that by virtue of the fact that ___ is an actor or a teacher or accessible to the public means “open season, deal with it!”)

The issue is, not everyone is Brock Turner or Roseanne Barr or Harvey Weinstein. Not everyone is the internet MRA troll in a feminist discussion group. Not everyone is your racist, Trump-voting, homophobic cousin at the holiday dinner table. Most of them are just… people. Sometimes they’re a person who just did a one-time stupid thing when they were young, or had a private conversation or joke taken out of context and used as proof about some bigger oppression. Sometimes they’re someone who just hasn’t had the experience or opportunity to think about ___ yet. I’d even suggest most are people who want to learn and understand and be respectful. They just haven’t had the same life experiences as you and, know what? That’s not something that people should be called out for and shamed.  

The same people who advocate calling out any and all sexist, racist, or homophobic behavior, btw, would probably advocate that the public shaming of children as punishment is abusive and not useful. They would probably agree that the public shaming of criminals for minor crimes does not work. So why are so many people, activists no less, resistant to the idea that publicly, aggressively shaming Karen your oblivious co-worker who asked if you were Korean or Chinese might not be the best way to manage her problematic assumption? Even more, does Karen deserve to lose her job for that? Be harassed for weeks, months, years, be confronted in public every time she goes out her front door? Be threatened with rape, murder, and other acts of violence?

A key issue is, is this actually part of a pattern of racist behavior on Karen’s part… or was it a one-time poorly-worded question? Because yes, that distinction matters.

Another popular bit of rhetoric involves the shift of who gets to define an action. “Intent doesn’t matter.” If that skeezy guy on the train is trying to chat you up while you read, and you don’t want his attention, he doesn’t get to scream “I was JUST trying to be NICE!” and make you feel guilty for not talking with him. This person is clearly not respecting your boundaries. You have no established relationship. Even if his supposed intent was to “be nice” and not harass, or worse, rape you, his intent doesn’t matter. Your boundaries do.

But “intent doesn’t matter” isn’t a fail-proof blanket ideology, it turns out. If I bump into you on accident, that’s a very different act than if I shove you out of my way on purpose and cause you to fall.

And not every action no matter what the intention, needs to be met with a full-blown call out, either.

This is the thing that I’ve struggled with the most over the last few years, to the point that I’ve been suicidal, house-bound, and am in therapy. And yes, that matters, too.

And after the aforementioned fuck-ton of therapy, countless discussions, personal experience, and witnessing a pile of shit, I’ll say it. NOT ALL CALL OUT ARE WARRANTED. Not all of them are appropriate or effective.

Yes, sometimes, it even turns out, that one person who called you out for racism or hate-speech or homophobia or privilege was actually… wrong. Mistaken. Maybe even a bully or asshole projecting their own insecurities, weaponizing their own pain to try to break someone.

Sometimes a call out is the wrong way to handle a situation.

And it’s okay to say that.

 

 

Before I go any further in what is going to be a long, multi-part post, I want to give a whole lot of caveats. I want to emphasize that minority groups in general, and people in the United States, have real reasons to be angry, mistrustful, afraid, on edge, defensive, aggressive, not civil. We are a nation constructed on systemic oppression. Black people are literally being murdered by the police, imprisoned for decades for minor infractions because they can’t afford representation. This is not hyperbole. Women are on the verge of losing our autonomy over our own bodies/reproductive rights, and being forced to carry unwanted/unviable pregnancies. This is fucking terrifying. Immigrants are being imprisoned for no reason, including children. I have friends who are regularly cleaning up KKK/pro-Nazi graffiti on their campuses, dealing with children in their classrooms who are hysterical with fear because the president said they are rapists and terrorists and bad people and need to be sent away. I have friends who, even with their children, have had white people confront them in the streets and shout racist abuse and threaten them with violence, even death.

In no way am I saying that people’s feelings are invalid, or secondary.

No one has to “get over” slavery, or the history of violence against gay Americans, or gun violence, or rape/sexual abuse/harassment.

Sometimes the only answer is to scream at the top of our voices. Sometimes.

I also realize that, no matter what I say, someone is going to insist that I’m REALLY saying ___, because that is fucking LITERALLY my problem with call out culture and writing and just being a human being in the fucking world.

And no. Wrong. Nope. NO. I get to define that. You DO NOT get to manipulate my words or take them out of context when I’m clearly stating something specific, goddammit! I’m fucking done with that shit, too.

 

But again, that’s actually central to my point. Some people will see and believe ___ because of their own experiences, and define you as ___, no matter what you do. Because people. 

However, call out culture, like everything, is complicated and nuanced and contextual. So, on the one hand, yes, call outs should make you stop and think about your actions and words, examine your work or writing, and even make changes. It’s hard, but we are meant to see it as an opportunity, not an attack. 

Now, I want to know, is that even humanly possible?

I’ll go further: sometimes, someone calls you out incorrectly. Sometimes, a person, no matter who has what privilege or experience, calls someone else out, and they are wrong. Causing more harm than good. Being abusive, in fact. Attacking someone.

In order to function in this world as human beings, we need to be able to acknowledge that.

I’ve experienced a lot of different call outs, and, up until fairly recently, I assumed that if someone, anyone, called me out, I deserved it. I had done something, and needed to check myself. I had hurt someone else, and my intentions didn’t matter at all compared to their hurt. I’ve had discussions and tough conversations about if apparel is appropriate, what terms are outdated, what able-ist assumptions are being made about planning an event or in our language, and how to make sure that spaces are increasingly inclusive. I’ve been challenged, grown, and thought.

But I’ll ask it again: Do these things, does everything, require an aggressive, even violent, call out? Does a person deserve to be publicly shamed over it? What things don’t work in this system? What things don’t allow for diversity, different experiences? And what is actually just… wrong?

I’d like to present some IRL examples from Trump Era (with a few identifying details changes for anonymity, but the situations are accurate) that I’ve experienced that have led to everything I’m expressing in this post. Please note: these were not discussions, or coexisting ideas. There was no warning. Rather, these were full on attacks of “No! YOU ARE WRONG!” These were all public situations, in person and/or on social media, sometimes involving a dogpile of others joining in.

Pardon the wall ‘o text, but, for examples, I’ve been aggressively called out, always with elements of prolonged public shaming, for:

  • my weight-loss surgery. After all, how can I call myself a feminist if I’ve had my body surgically altered?!

 

  • a friend and I for our homophobia and appropriation at using a quote from Paris is Burning. (Bonus? Said friend is bisexual, but the person doing the call out didn’t know that, and assumed he was straight.)

 

  • cutting all ties with my racist, homophobic, Trump-voting family. That’s just my white privilege, after all! It’s my job to stay in touch with them and provide them with other perspectives… despite the fact that the same family members were attacking black friends of mine on social media and causing them active harm and trauma, which was why I cut them off in the first place.

 

  • teaching ___, even though I use it specifically to teach systemic oppression to other white people. Because it’s a continued attack on ___ group to even read that book!

 

  • pointing out another friend’s white privilege, and encouraging her to ask questions about ___. Someone misunderstood/misread what I wrote, and called me out for actually promoting white privilege (??? Um, you’ve met me, right?), and got friends in on the call outs and shaming. Even when others pointed out that I was clearly saying the OPPOSITE, they doubled down, arguing that my tone was the problem, and I should defer to POC in this matter, no matter if they were incorrect or not.  

 

  • being a straight person who attends Pride events and parades. How DARE I co-opt gay culture like that and make that space all about me and my straightness?! Those events are for LGBTQ+ people who don’t feel safe anywhere else, and I’m just like those groups of straight women who go to gay bars for heterosexual bachelorette parties. (You know that straight people have gay parents, children, siblings, friends, and we go to support them, right?) The person involved in this call out, in fact, insisted that no straight person ever had the right to attend a Pride event.

 

  • keeping a bullet journal. God, that white-girl shit is so privileged and “extra”! And no, Caller-Outer has no interest in hearing how you find it useful for managing anxiety, because that is “ ‘splaining”!

 

  • not being a huge Beyonce fan. While I acknowledge her importance and talent, I will raise questions about her commodification/material emphasis (either lyrics/videos showcasing the “look at my designer clothes” complete with namedropping, or the use of FEMINIST as a type of advertising), as well as her supposed celebration of “all women” while it’s only slimmer, attractive women represented. Where are the fat chicks, huh? What if you can’t afford Givenchy couture? How can you slam “Becky with the good hair” and remain oblivious to your own thousand-dollar extensions sourced from poor Indonesian women? Well, apparently, even asking these questions just makes me “straight-up racist.”

 

  • asking how to pronounce “Latinx,” because I’d only recently encountered the term.

 

  • my anxiety, depression, panic, and suicidal thoughts. That’s just “white girl tears/fragility” and I’m playing it up for attention. After all, black women don’t get to cry and be depressed! (Erm. Really? Able-ist, much? I’d like to introduce you to a dozen different black women/women of color I know RIGHT NOW who are dealing with depression, suicidal thoughts, and crying uncontrollably, and your comments like that are shaming them, too. Of course, saying THAT is just the “I have black friends” excuse.)

 

  • teaching about race in America (to white students). My white ass needs to STFU and STFD about it.

 

  • not teaching enough about race in America (to white students). WHERE *clap* WERE *clap* YOU?! *clap*

 

  • posting a response congratulating a friend. Friend had some great (race-related) news and said something on social media. Several of us, myself included, posted “YAY!”-things in response (I was the only white person). My response was “So proud of you and your work!” An acquaintance immediately responded to THAT with “Way to make it all about you and your feelings, Emily. Maybe you should let Friend have her moment without stealing it.”

 

  • loving the show Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. I was called out for that by someone who’s never seen the show because first off, the word “crazy” in the title is pejorative and sexist (which is LITERALLY the point, and, also, that’s a pretty rich complaint from the same person who denies that my anxiety is an issue) and, secondly, how can anyone claim a show is “diverse” when one of the leads is a Hispanic guy playing a Filipino, and how this “generic Asian/brown culture” stuff is racist (except the actor is actually Filipino, the show LITERALLY sends up the stereotypes of people seeing “generic Asian/brown culture,” the actor is also gay playing straight, and, hey, maybe you should consider how THE ACTOR HIMSELF feels about it).

 

  • posting a gif of Jessica Williams as part of a comment. That’s just Internet Blackface!

 

  • posting a gif that had no POC in it. Why am I excluding people of color?

 

  • using the term POC/people of color. WTF is that? [Person] has NEVER heard of it before, and that’s an incredibly racist way of talking about black people! Don’t ever use it again!

 

I’ve also recently seen the following in my immediate friend/work circles:

 

  • More than one bisexual friend currently in LTRs with/married to a member of the opposite sex being told that they aren’t “really” queer, and since they are presenting as one half of a heteronormative couple, they can’t claim queer spaces the same way those in same sex relationships can/need to, so they should step back.

 

  • A supposedly-feminist and inclusive academic calling out women, especially teen girls, for using makeup. Her diatribe included a variation of: “When I see a face-full of makeup, all I can think is how insecure that woman or girl must be.” Any attempt at pointing out the subversive feminism of makeup bloggers turning dudebros’ “We hate when chicks wear heavy makeup” into a celebration of their own things was met with variations of “Makeup is patriarchal systemic oppression. What do you not get about that?!”

 

  • A group of supposedly-inclusive people shaming several others for not participating in a rally… never mind that the ones who couldn’t go had physical/mental disabilities that prevented them from taking a bus and marching in 90* weather. “There are excuses, and there are priorities,” claimed the call outs. So… to hell with others’ myalgic encephalomyelitis, social anxieties, age, circulation issues, and/or inability to do prolonged sun exposure, I guess? Never mind that the same people were making signs, donating money, sending supplies, and calling people because they couldn’t physically attend.

 

  • A queer woman and self-proclaimed activist berating a gay male author for his homophobia, sexism, and male privilege, calling him names like “little boy” and mocking his “manliness,” saying things like “aren’t you a tough guy?” His misdeed…? Saying he had been reading ___ and ___ queer scholars, and then asking her which queer scholars she was reading and if she had any suggested authors for him to look into. Because that’s “not her burden” and she “isn’t going to do your work for you.”

 

  • A friend’s grandparent posted on social media about how their granddaughter Old Name was now their grandson New Name, and how proud they were of him coming out as “transgendered.” Friend was fine with it, but cue friend-of-a-friend tearing them a new one about how offensive the term “transgendered” was and how dare they “deadname” their grandson by mentioning his old name, and-  That required public yelling, shaming, and name calling? And these are a couple old people in their 70s, posting something wholly loving and supportive, and even pushing back on a couple of their own Christian friends for homophobic comments.

 

  • A grad student, early 20s, presenting in a conference setting, was called out for asking during her Q&A, “I’m not sure what the preferred terminology is, gay or queer?” She was shamed and told “If you’re not sure, then you shouldn’t be giving a paper about it, should you?” She may have actually left academia now, and the Caller-Outer and friends gloated that “if she couldn’t take it, she shouldn’t be here.”

 

  • Several women of color being called out by other WOC for celebrating Meghan Markle as “a black woman.” She has light skin, freckles, and straight hair, after all, so how DARE they act like her becoming an English duchess and having an African-American-culturally-heavy wedding to a royal is “a black woman” becoming part of the British aristocracy. It’s just proof that they hate dark-skinned WOC. (Besides, she’s marrying the guy who wore a Nazi uniform, so she’s betraying all minorities, too.)

 

  • White people posting positively about Black Panther, Crazy Rich Asians, the Obamas, “This is America” and/or Prince being degraded for their “performativity.” White teachers posting about incorporating discussion of said art/historical figures being degraded for “co-opting our stories/culture.”

 

  • The same women who openly applaud and praise when a WOC proclaims that she is “taking time out for self-care” mocking and calling out white women for their “privilege” and “oblivion” when they take time out for self-care. You think YOU’VE got it bad? Try being a WOC in America! (To paraphrase Roxane Gay, we aren’t all playing Oppression Olympics, FFS.)

 

  • A white parent called out for speaking about race. She pointed out that her husband and children are black, and she is raising three black children in America, and has specific experiences with that. She was still told that she should “STFU and STFD” because she had no voice in a discussion about race, and was silencing others.

 

So yeah. As the saying goes, those things happened.

 

There is literally no response to make to these call outs. None. EVERYTHING YOU SAY IS WRONG, AND THAT’S THE PROBLEM. Apologizing is “deflecting” or “making it about your own feelings,” and any attempt at an explanation is “silencing.” Saying “thank you for telling me” is patronizing. Asking for questions or suggestions is selfishly “demanding [the oppressed party] do your work/heavy lifting for you.” Keeping silent is “sulking” or “not taking it seriously.” Getting upset, crying, saying “I’m so sorry”? Oh, hell no, that is white fragility, and don’t you DARE bring your emotions into this and try to make it about you and your feelings! These call outs are packed with a massive protective layer of rhetoric and ideology. If you push back or question in any way, you are ___.

(For example, the aforementioned white parent of black children/spouse to a black man did not argue, shame, deflect, or “sass back” in any way, and only responded with emphasizing “I know my experiences aren’t the same as a black person and that I have white privilege, but my children can’t come here and speak up, so it’s my job as a parent to fight for them now.” She was still called out repeatedly for “daring to speak for people of color” and “silencing black voices.”)

That’s the biggest problem. How can someone claim to want to educate/bring awareness to/open dialogue with someone, and then refuse any and all response, or attack every possible response as wrong? How can someone claim to want to stand up for minorities and stand against violence, and then treat someone else with the same violent, silencing tactics that have been used against them? How can they say “You don’t get to define ___ for me!” but insist that it’s okay to define __ for another person?

It’s dehumanizing. It’s literally denying another’s humanity and human responses. It’s demanding someone’s distress, even suffering, and then punishing them for it, and feeling justified. It’s literally telling someone “I’m going to come after you aggressively, but you aren’t allowed to have any response, or I’ll attack that too.” Which is not only inhumane, it’s actually able-ist. And it is privileged as fuck if you don’t come from a history of abuse or bullying, I might also add. But I’ll get to that more in a bit.

(And yes, I’m angry, too, because I actually am allowed to be angry and have emotions, and this is my fucking blog. If you think my anger invalidates yours or someone else’s? Get the fuck over yourself. It took me two fucking years of depression and worthlessness and therapy to be able to say that, and I’m still having panic over what might happen to me now or in five years or in twenty years because I said it.)

 

Many of those problem call outs have interesting, valid, and essential questions at the heart of them, but end up sidelining those real issues and oppressions in favor of inflicting an oppression back on someone else. Once the call out has turned to the dehumanizing point of denying another person any response unless it’s ___, or is about calling out one person as a representation of a system of ___, the escalation of cruelty can be swift and fierce… and again, not about education or understanding, just anger and retribution, focusing all onto a single individual, even a single individual’s individual act, as a stand-in for something bigger than any one person. Who on earth can handle that?! Who should be forced to?

Furthermore, call outs can sometimes involve one person speaking as a representative for all people, which is literally the problem that happens when a white person asks ___ or a straight person asks ___ . So just because Caller-Outer announces that “as a [insert adjectives here] person, I can tell you that-” that’s not actually trustworthy. Because not only do you not speak for all women/gay/ black/trans/Desi/disabled people, you’re assuming that all [adjectives] feels exactly the same way you do and experiences a thing the same way, no matter what other privileges and intersections, like culture, location, class, external appearance, and so on come into play.

You know, subjective and contextual things.   

And that’s where we will pick up this discussion next time, because JFC, I think I need a couple more sessions with my therapist first before I continue.

 

3 thoughts on “Rethinking the Culture of Call Outs

  1. I agree with a lot of this. I thought it was just me, reacting, maybe over-reacting, to things people say online and IRL. I look forward to seeing more of your thoughts on this.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think a lot of this needs to be ongoing discussion in general, and also with a lot of us white/straight folk to figure out how to honor legitimate fears and feelings and yet make sure we don’t end up completely broken in the process. Which will lead us to my next post on this, re: Call Outs + Anxiety. ❤

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply to emilybarnard Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s