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Wed Jan 30, 2013, 11:49 AM

Silencing tactics

I'm sure we are all familiar with these. Some of the more popular ones are

There are more important issues
Women have it worse in (some other place)
Just an isolated incident
This is trivial/boring
You're the bully/You're the sexist
Choice
Tone
Just ignore it
You should be flattered
Harming the community/cause
Free speech/censorship

These illogical arguments are very common and I thought it might be helpful to discuss some of the more common ones so that we can more effectively deal with them when we see them used. I will admit that I'm to the point that I tend to see them as a reason not to engage, but they may be used in all sincerity so, maybe its good to discuss ways to quickly illustrate how illogical they are.

Please share any other ones or any variations on these. My goal is more meaningful discussion of feminist issues, and fewer distracting, derailing subthreads.

37 replies, 2786 views

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Arrow 37 replies Author Time Post
Reply Silencing tactics (Original post)
redqueen Jan 2013 OP
gollygee Jan 2013 #1
redqueen Jan 2013 #2
gollygee Jan 2013 #3
redqueen Jan 2013 #4
seabeyond Jan 2013 #13
redqueen Jan 2013 #21
boston bean Jan 2013 #5
redqueen Jan 2013 #7
seabeyond Jan 2013 #14
Squinch Jan 2013 #29
LiberalEsto Jan 2013 #6
redqueen Jan 2013 #9
Helen Reddy Jan 2013 #8
redqueen Jan 2013 #10
Sheldon Cooper Jan 2013 #11
seabeyond Jan 2013 #15
redqueen Jan 2013 #22
seabeyond Jan 2013 #12
redqueen Jan 2013 #23
Squinch Jan 2013 #30
redqueen Jan 2013 #31
Nay Jan 2013 #35
seabeyond Jan 2013 #16
Nay Jan 2013 #17
seabeyond Jan 2013 #18
redqueen Jan 2013 #24
CrispyQ Jan 2013 #19
Nay Jan 2013 #20
redqueen Jan 2013 #26
redqueen Jan 2013 #25
Deep13 Jan 2013 #27
redqueen Jan 2013 #28
Deep13 Jan 2013 #33
ismnotwasm Jan 2013 #32
He loved Big Brother Jan 2013 #34
Nay Jan 2013 #36
CrispyQ Jan 2013 #37

Response to redqueen (Original post)

Wed Jan 30, 2013, 11:51 AM

1. My least favorite

is "If you were really concerned about X, you wouldn't do what you're doing, you'd do this thing that I'd rather you do."

Oh wait, that's probably part of "harming the community/cause."

As is "We won't support you anymore unless you do it our way."

I guess "harming the community/cause" is the one that makes me the most upset.

(I assume your second one has a typo - women/men?)

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Response to gollygee (Reply #1)

Wed Jan 30, 2013, 12:03 PM

2. I'd say the first one you mentioned reminds me more of the 'more important issues' tactic...

but I see how it can be the 'you're hurting feminism' one as well.

The 'women have it worse elsewhere' argument is usually something which mocks whatever issue feminists are discussing, and frames it as trivial compared to, say, women being stoned to death in the Middle East. One response I've seen used (not sure how effectively) is 'So we're supposed to shut up and be happy we aren't being stoned to death?'

No typo... the 'what about the men' or 'patriarchy hurts men too' tactic would be the other one.

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Response to redqueen (Reply #2)

Wed Jan 30, 2013, 12:06 PM

3. Oh I see

Yeah I thought that was a, "Women have it worse in this way, but look at this area where things aren't going well for men." Like every single area where men have trouble has to be fixed before any of the many areas where women are hurt can be worked on.

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Response to gollygee (Reply #3)

Wed Jan 30, 2013, 12:14 PM

4. Yep. It is SO common.

There was an article or blog posted here a while back, "Why 'Yes, but...' is the wrong answer to..." I'm not sure of the rest of the title, but for me if someone doesn't get that, then their awareness of feminist issues is rather limited, at best.

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Response to redqueen (Reply #2)

Wed Jan 30, 2013, 01:51 PM

13. my father in law was the first to give me.... women have it worse. told him, irrelevant, i am

talking here and now.

this was when we first got married. have had 18 yrs of his shit.

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Response to seabeyond (Reply #13)

Wed Jan 30, 2013, 03:33 PM

21. Also famously used by Richard Dawkins...

who managed to offend thoughtful people everywhere with his 'Dear Muslima' idiocy.

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Response to redqueen (Original post)

Wed Jan 30, 2013, 12:27 PM

5. You're a "man basher"... always perks me up when I see that one.

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Response to boston bean (Reply #5)

Wed Jan 30, 2013, 12:40 PM

7. Oh yes, thank you!

Bashing men/you just hate men... Ugh!

As logical as the rightwingers who say liberals hate the US, because after all, if you criticize anything that of course means you must hate it.

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Response to redqueen (Reply #7)

Wed Jan 30, 2013, 01:52 PM

14. hate sex, prude, frigid, anti sex, jealous, ugly, hag... nt

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Response to boston bean (Reply #5)

Wed Jan 30, 2013, 04:09 PM

29. UGH! Makes me nuts! You always know you're dealing with a brick wall when you hear this.

If you dig even a little deeper, you're going to find someone who is entitled, and who thinks he (or often she - women use this one too) can do no wrong.

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Response to redqueen (Original post)

Wed Jan 30, 2013, 12:32 PM

6. They used to tell us there were more important issues, like the Vietnam War

back in the late 60s-early 70s.

Wars come and go, but women still get treated like shit.

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Response to LiberalEsto (Reply #6)

Wed Jan 30, 2013, 12:42 PM

9. Yes, there is always a more imporrant issue...

Women have been told to be patient for centuries. After every revolution, guess what, still patriarchy.

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Response to redqueen (Original post)

Wed Jan 30, 2013, 12:41 PM

8. How about these.

 

*I know women may have it tough but....what about us men?

*We get raped too!! (notice they conveniently forget it is usually the MEN who are raping them as well)

A plethora of others ....

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Response to Helen Reddy (Reply #8)

Wed Jan 30, 2013, 01:11 PM

10. Yes, very common...

It's hard to believe anyone who is at all familiar with feminism would whip out such statements, but in pomo theory/pop culture, feminism has almost become simply a catchall term synonymous with humanism recently. It is jarring.

Fortunately there is a growing realization of how counterproductive (and suspicious) that idea is. I mean, there already is a humanism to advocate for issues which affect us all.

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Response to redqueen (Original post)

Wed Jan 30, 2013, 01:25 PM

11. "But what about the men?!!? Who will think of the men?!??"

Always cracks me up. It's so predictable, too.

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Response to Sheldon Cooper (Reply #11)

Wed Jan 30, 2013, 01:54 PM

15. further than that. hey you feminists... someone is being mean to men, if you were really

feminists you would be fighting our battle for us, too.

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Response to Sheldon Cooper (Reply #11)

Wed Jan 30, 2013, 03:38 PM

22. Hah, yeah...

DEAR GOD, WHATABOUTTHEMENZ???!!!!!!!

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Response to redqueen (Original post)

Wed Jan 30, 2013, 01:48 PM

12. you talk to me too mean/b/like a man, not like a man, not feminine enough, more with sugar than....

women must prevent rape/dont say all men are potential rapists

what got me yesterday after the umpteenth man called us sexist was the AUDACITY a man has to use that language with the history and abuse of sexism toward women forever, and how cavalierly they use the word.

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Response to seabeyond (Reply #12)

Wed Jan 30, 2013, 03:41 PM

23. Ah, yes... the ever popular 'tone' argument.

If only disadvantaged groups were nicer, those who oppress them would be more likely to listed.

Sterling logic!

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Response to redqueen (Reply #23)

Wed Jan 30, 2013, 04:10 PM

30. And the related: "You are being shrill."

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Response to Squinch (Reply #30)

Wed Jan 30, 2013, 04:12 PM

31. Oh yes, that's very popular.

So many ways to influence women to not be so darned uppity.

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Response to Squinch (Reply #30)

Wed Jan 30, 2013, 08:05 PM

35. God almighty. Forgot that one. Makes my blood boil. nt

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Response to redqueen (Original post)

Wed Jan 30, 2013, 01:56 PM

16. men cant help it. biological/dna. the monkeys did it/evo psych, are you anti science? nt

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Response to redqueen (Original post)

Wed Jan 30, 2013, 02:41 PM

17. "You're too sensitive." Hate that one. But "what about the menz?" REALLY pisses me off.

I'm with you in that most of these types of comments make me not want to engage, either. If you've been on the planet longer than 15 years and haven't figured some of this out for yourself, then you're a dumbass or a sexist.

There are many times when I wish men would have the simple decency to stay out of the conversation. You there, sir, do you call out your buddies every time they treat a woman like trash/a whore/something to whistle at? If you don't do that, then you aren't a feminist ally. Until more men actually put this sort of action as the first point on their daily agendas at work and at play, I don't give a shit what they think.

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Response to Nay (Reply #17)

Wed Jan 30, 2013, 02:46 PM

18. which takes me to... it is a joke, liten up.

perfect last paragraph.

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Response to Nay (Reply #17)

Wed Jan 30, 2013, 03:47 PM

24. "If you've been on the planet longer than 15 years and haven't figured some of this out ...

for yourself, then you're a dumbass or a sexist."

Yep. But the vast majority *do* grow up unconsciously absorbing misogynist messages. We all grow up immersed in misogyny... a few are made aware... but most are not. And until *very* recently, we have been backsliding.

Things seem to be turning around these last few months... but I think like CrispyQ says below, we should try more than ever to reach out and educate those who aren't yet aware, instead of immediately assuming they're beyond hope or malicious, anti-feminist disruptors.

Of course, many are exactly that, but we are used to them and can just go back to ignoring them once they've shown their true colors by their willingness or refusal to engage in a thoughtful manner.

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Response to redqueen (Original post)

Wed Jan 30, 2013, 03:01 PM

19. Great list. I think you covered every point.

I'm trying to think of more, but everything I've come up with falls under one of these categories. Like you, I tend to write off individuals who exhibit these tactics, without really knowing where their feeling/perception is coming from. Yes, for some it comes from hatred of women, but for many it comes from conditioning & unawareness of a different perspective.

Now, let's compile a list of some quick one-two liners that we can respond with, that are not catty, but counter what was said. Perhaps even in question form, to engage conversation & try to glean where they are coming from.

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Response to CrispyQ (Reply #19)

Wed Jan 30, 2013, 03:16 PM

20. You know what? I think one simple response to men who say some of these things is "IT'S NOT

ABOUT YOU. IT'S NOT ABOUT YOU. IT'S NOT ABOUT YOU."

As in many other areas, most men just don't seem to be tuned in to anyone other than themselves, and how things will affect them. Period. It's a blindness of sorts. That's why the first thing out of their mouths is a variant of "what about the menz?"

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Response to Nay (Reply #20)

Wed Jan 30, 2013, 03:55 PM

26. You can scream it till you're blue in the face...

it seems like it never sinks in.

You talk about a wide ranging issue and you get shit like 'well I never did that' or 'I've never seen that' or 'you must know awful men cause nobody I know does that'... as if their personal experience trumps everything.

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Response to CrispyQ (Reply #19)

Wed Jan 30, 2013, 03:50 PM

25. Exactly!

a list of some quick one-two liners that we can respond with, that are not catty, but counter what was said. Perhaps even in question form, to engage conversation & try to glean where they are coming from.


Yes, this is what I'd like to have. A way to reach out to those who simply haven't shaken off the blinders.

Thank you.

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Response to redqueen (Original post)

Wed Jan 30, 2013, 03:56 PM

27. I find the "could be worse" argument especially obnoxious.

Yes, it is worse in Saudi Arabia. Does that mean that Saudi Arabia is now the benchmark? If progress is not possible unless it is as bad as SA, then progress is not possible since ANY improvement will make it less bad than present-day SA. Even Iranian women have it significantly better than SA, yet they still face many discriminatory laws and social norms.

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Response to Deep13 (Reply #27)

Wed Jan 30, 2013, 04:02 PM

28. It is especially egregious from liberals...

who hasn't run into the 'we're not as bad as Saddam' mantra from apolitical or rightwing nitwits intent on silencing criticism of US policies?

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Response to redqueen (Reply #28)

Wed Jan 30, 2013, 06:00 PM

33. Right. Our standards should be a little higher than that!

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Response to redqueen (Original post)

Wed Jan 30, 2013, 04:41 PM

32. That's a good list

What I see here sometimes is "lets go fuck with the feminists"

It shit stirring for its own sake. It's a form of on-line silencing.

These ones are the funniest--they sound like wiki addicts---and are the the irritating I suppose because it has no purpose, outside, possibly of a personal way to work out mommy (women)issues in the classic passive-aggressive style.

They have to be interesting for me to engage them, and they so rarely are. But once in a while I'll start with one question,-pertaining the topic--to see if they are actually amendable to discussion. And rarely, that can lead to a discussion. Agreement doesn't matter so much as discussion.

The free speech one has the most obvious answer. You have the freedom to say what you like, I have the freedom to object to it.

When men cry 'reverse sexism' they're usually a lost cause, because how can you give history lessons to someone, who is presumably grown, that ignorant? On- line even?

Women have it worse in (... )? Yes we know, feminists are fighting all over the world for women's equality. And what, exactly does that have to do with any all things sexist here? And if they're so concerned, what are THEY doing about?

Even the most concerned troll has to know that what is trivial is subjective.

Flattered? Ew. Just ew.

And so on



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Response to redqueen (Original post)

Wed Jan 30, 2013, 06:37 PM

34. The geek feminism wiki has a nice list of silencing tactics

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Response to He loved Big Brother (Reply #34)

Wed Jan 30, 2013, 08:11 PM

36. That's a wonderful list! Thank you. nt

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Response to He loved Big Brother (Reply #34)

Wed Jan 30, 2013, 09:07 PM

37. I will be reviewing that over the weekend.

Thank you.

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