Does Opposing Cancel Culture Enable Abuse?

Does Opposing Cancel Culture Enable Abuse?

Originally published April 6, 2021

I used to have this theory that people failed so miserably to respond to abuse because they were afraid to look at it, so people would become polarized and ultimately nothing would be done to address the abuse.

At the time I saw this through the lens of frustration with people who critique cancel culture. I felt that the cancellers I was allied with were addressing abuse and the anti-cancel culture people were trying to shield people from taking responsibility.

Looking at it now, I think that initial theory is still correct- that abuse often goes unaddressed because people lack the skills necessary to look at it and intervene effectively. Abuse is hard to look at and hard to grapple with.

I don’t think this is a moral failing- I think it’s neurological and physiological. Our bodies have created intricate ways to keep our nervous systems regulated, part of that is narratives that help us make sense of highly triggering and complex content.

My logic before fell short in assuming that those opposing cancel culture were not addressing abuse though. In fact something I’ve come to believe is there is even greater capacity in communities that reject cancel culture to address abuse in ways that will see out the vision of transformative justice: to eradicate the conditions that allowed the harm to occur in the first place.

My logic before fell short in assuming that those opposing cancel culture were not addressing abuse though. In fact something I’ve come to believe is there is even greater capacity in communities that reject cancel culture to address abuse in ways that will see out the vision of transformative justice: to eradicate the conditions that allowed the harm to occur in the first place.

Our ability to hold others accountable is limited and relies upon having established relationship to one another, and if we aren’t careful, attempts to hold someone else accountable can end in applying strategies that are punitive and rooted in control rather than consent, growth, and personal choice.

Being rooted in personal responsibility means that as a survivor, I am accountable for tending to my healing responsibly. I can offer myself compassion and understanding for acting out of my trauma, but my ultimate goal is to act not from trauma but from integrity. In fact I feel strongly that my integrity is something that abuse stole from me- being in situations where survival meant not living up to the ideals I held for myself.

My healing and choosing integrity have been one in the same, I cannot separate the two.

The reality is that whether you participate in cancel culture or you oppose it- you cannot control anyone but yourself. You cannot force someone to be accountable. You can have boundaries, you can choose to keep distance from someone who has hurt you or who you don’t think is safe to be in relationship with, but you can’t make them change, and trying to force accountability will not only frustrate you but it will likely create even more hurdles to growth and healing for anyone involved.

In opposing cancel culture from this framework I am taking all of the effort I put into making sure the world knew about the people who hurt me, and funnelling that into growing my distress tolerance, strengthening my boundaries, and finding the peace and acceptance my traumatized body has been so desperately craving all my life.

Does Opposing Cancel Culture Enable Abuse?

Originally published April 6, 2021

I used to have this theory that people failed so miserably to respond to abuse because they were afraid to look at it, so people would become polarized and ultimately nothing would be done to address the abuse.

At the time I saw this through the lens of frustration with people who critique cancel culture. I felt that the cancellers I was allied with were addressing abuse and the anti-cancel culture people were trying to shield people from taking responsibility.

Looking at it now, I think that initial theory is still correct- that abuse often goes unaddressed because people lack the skills necessary to look at it and intervene effectively. Abuse is hard to look at and hard to grapple with.

I don’t think this is a moral failing- I think it’s neurological and physiological. Our bodies have created intricate ways to keep our nervous systems regulated, part of that is narratives that help us make sense of highly triggering and complex content.

My logic before fell short in assuming that those opposing cancel culture were not addressing abuse though. In fact something I’ve come to believe is there is even greater capacity in communities that reject cancel culture to address abuse in ways that will see out the vision of transformative justice: to eradicate the conditions that allowed the harm to occur in the first place.

My logic before fell short in assuming that those opposing cancel culture were not addressing abuse though. In fact something I’ve come to believe is there is even greater capacity in communities that reject cancel culture to address abuse in ways that will see out the vision of transformative justice: to eradicate the conditions that allowed the harm to occur in the first place.

Our ability to hold others accountable is limited and relies upon having established relationship to one another, and if we aren’t careful, attempts to hold someone else accountable can end in applying strategies that are punitive and rooted in control rather than consent, growth, and personal choice.

Being rooted in personal responsibility means that as a survivor, I am accountable for tending to my healing responsibly. I can offer myself compassion and understanding for acting out of my trauma, but my ultimate goal is to act not from trauma but from integrity. In fact I feel strongly that my integrity is something that abuse stole from me- being in situations where survival meant not living up to the ideals I held for myself.

My healing and choosing integrity have been one in the same, I cannot separate the two.

The reality is that whether you participate in cancel culture or you oppose it- you cannot control anyone but yourself. You cannot force someone to be accountable. You can have boundaries, you can choose to keep distance from someone who has hurt you or who you don’t think is safe to be in relationship with, but you can’t make them change, and trying to force accountability will not only frustrate you but it will likely create even more hurdles to growth and healing for anyone involved.

In opposing cancel culture from this framework I am taking all of the effort I put into making sure the world knew about the people who hurt me, and funnelling that into growing my distress tolerance, strengthening my boundaries, and finding the peace and acceptance my traumatized body has been so desperately craving all my life.

In doing this I am also opening up opportunities to support people who truly have done abusive things and want to change. True and lasting transformation from a place a shame is near impossible. If I can hold boundaries from a place of security and compassion, I can do so much more good than I could utilizing cancel culture tactics.

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