Cancel Culture Fails Survivors
This was originally Published June 22, 2021
Cancel culture teaches us that the way we handle abuse and mistreatment- no matter the level of severity, is by discarding the perceived offenders.
Of course this system for handling abuse is highly vulnerable to being co-opted for abusive and authoritarian ends.
But more than that, this system doesn’t actually do anything to help us grow as people- to grow in our sense of self-worth and our confidence that we are well equipped to protect ourselves and our boundaries, and to live in alignment with our values and dreams.
There are going to be people who commit acts of relational violence that are going to be so severe as to warrant some kind of community warning, this is just a fact. But when we default to this strategy, we are not actually doing anything to empower people to recognize their own boundaries, to spot when people are actively disregarding them, and to take action to protect ourselves.
We are failing survivors by perpetuating the lie that avoiding abuse is as simple as keeping tabs on an ever-growing list of people (a list that is not subject to any scrutiny or standards for determining truthfulness), rather than telling survivors that they have a deep well of personal power they can tap into.
You can’t just wait for someone who abuses to be called out. You can’t just hope that the list you have access to has the name of every person who could possibly abuse you.
You need skills of observation. You need the skills to soothe your anxiety around conflict and confrontation. You need skills to assess whether someone has acted a certain way towards you because they have a pattern of abuse, because of some unresolved conflict or misunderstanding, or because they were just having a bad day.
You need skills to navigate any one of those situations and to come out of the situation with your integrity intact.