valleyofwind: Princess Nausicaa with her face dirtied from battle, looking determined.  (Default)
Meloukhia says here: "This thing is something which is never named. Never addressed. It is allowed to continue and we are all complicit in it. We all tolerate it when we turn our backs and say nothing."

I think there's an obvious reason why nobody addresses it. If people are trying to convince someone else that 'yes, that thing you just said was racist/sexist/ableist/etc.', they really don't want to be seen disagreeing with each other. It would make them look less right. They may actually be right, rationally speaking, but if the person they're trying to contradict is not in a rational frame of mind (as is often the case -- people being called out on their *isms are usually upset about it), the disagreement might be seen as weakness or division.

Plus, there's a dogmatic attachment to the idea of toning in many social justice communities. If someone were to say 'hey, you don't have to be mean to this person', that's taken as toning, i.e. telling the speaker that they need to play nicey-nice. Any time you accuse someone of being inappropriately harsh or rude, that's taken as toning. (In some people's minds there is no such thing as inappropriately harsh, but that's a different issue, and everyone should probably ask themselves 'how much punishment is fair, and where will I stop?' It's good to have limits even when you're rightfully furious.)

There is also no distinction made between criticizing someone's words and slamming the person who said the words, and I think that's what makes people just give up on a community -- it's one thing to have your words corrected or criticized (even angrily) and it's another thing entirely to be made to feel like you aren't wanted even if you do shape up.
valleyofwind: Princess Nausicaa with her face dirtied from battle, looking determined.  (Default)
I'm thinking that there are some concepts that are common to many different kinds of oppression, whether on a personal or an institutional scale.

One example is toning. To be toned means to be told that you're speaking too harshly or angrily or otherwise with too much emotion, especially in the context of "we'd listen to you if you could be rational about it". Your tone is being criticized and your words are being ignored.

When people of colour get angry about racial injustice, white people may tell them that they shouldn't get so upset, that their words would be worth hearing if they were spoken calmly. This ignores the fact that the issue likely is something to be upset about and something that the angry person has good reason to take personally.

Women are often criticized for being 'bitches' or 'uppity' if they take a no-nonsense or brusque tone. Somehow it's believed that they would be better women or better at whatever they're doing (running a business, commanding a military division, etc.) if they were nicer and sweeter about it.

Those are both examples of toning. What about when an individual woman is told by an emotionally abusive spouse that she's too loud or too opinionated? What about a bullied kid being told that the bullies 'don't really mean it' or 'do it because they like you'?

Toning is a way of targeting someone's emotional response to shame and manipulate them into abandoning what they're saying. Do the individual cases count as toning as much as the institutional examples of racism and sexism?


valleyofwind: Princess Nausicaa with her face dirtied from battle, looking determined.  (Default)

April 2010

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