To Those Who Say “Cancel Culture isn’t Real”

Originally published January 13th, 2020

I have some bad news for people who are deeply invested in denying that call out culture and cancel culture are real, who insist that uncritically upholding cancel culture is necessary to rid our communities of dangerous abusers:

Call outs can be co-opted by abusers.

Cancelling can be co-opted by abusers.

When you reinforce the logic by saying cancel culture isn’t real, it’s just critique, they wouldn’t be anti-cancel culture if they didn’t have anything to hide, that they need to grow thicker skin, you’re reinforcing abuse logics that can be weaponized by abusers against the people they target.

I say this as someone who was once on your team. I say this as someone whose mission in this world is to destroy abuse culture.

Stop polarizing the conversation. Stop dismissing what the anti-callout culture people are saying because they actually aren’t just pulling it all out of their ass, and if you use the aforementioned logics to support your stance and to dismiss people’s legitimate critiques of cancel/call out culture, I have some more bad news for you:

You are gaslighting people.

I’ve spent months thinking about these topics as my opinions have shifted, after years of being firmly in the “call-out culture isn’t real” camp. The more I’ve talked to people on either side the more I’ve found that many of us agree on some pretty fundamental points: call outs can be abused AND there are times when they are truly necessary.

The fact that it is taboo to discuss this without being labeled as an apologist should tell you everything you need to know about the “cancel culture isn’t real” discourse.

If you are truly invested in addressing abuse in our communities, you need to take a step back and look critically here. Open yourself up to listening to what people are saying without automatically dismissing them.

Intervening on harm requires coordinated community efforts. The polarizing nature of these conversations is manufactured and plays right into the goals of abusers who can easily find a home on either side.

As people dedicated to creating healthy, abuse-free communities, it’s our duty to talk about this and re-align ourselves and our goals as we learn.

Notice how much energy we’ve spent trying to dismiss people when we also have the option to listen, incorporate feedback and find better ways forward.

Cancellation as an Abuse Tactic

I have some bad news for people who are deeply invested in denying that call out culture and cancel culture are real, who insist that uncritically upholding cancel culture is necessary to rid our communities of dangerous abusers:

Call outs can be co-opted by abusers.

Cancelling can be co-opted by abusers.

When you reinforce the logic by saying cancel culture isn’t real, it’s just critique, they wouldn’t be anti-cancel culture if they didn’t have anything to hide, that they need to grow thicker skin, you’re reinforcing abuse logics that can be weaponized by abusers against the people they target.

I say this as someone who was once on your team. I say this as someone whose mission in this world is to destroy abuse culture.

Stop polarizing the conversation. Stop dismissing what the anti-callout culture people are saying because they actually aren’t just pulling it all out of their ass, and if you use the aforementioned logics to support your stance and to dismiss people’s legitimate critiques of cancel/call out culture, I have some more bad news for you:

You are gaslighting people.

I’ve spent months thinking about these topics as my opinions have shifted, after years of being firmly in the “call-out culture isn’t real” camp. The more I’ve talked to people on either side the more I’ve found that many of us agree on some pretty fundamental points: call outs can be abused AND there are times when they are truly necessary.

The fact that it is taboo to discuss this without being labeled as an apologist should tell you everything you need to know about the “cancel culture isn’t real” discourse.

If you are truly invested in addressing abuse in our communities, you need to take a step back and look critically here. Open yourself up to listening to what people are saying without automatically dismissing them.

Intervening on harm requires coordinated community efforts. The polarizing nature of these conversations is manufactured and plays right into the goals of abusers who can easily find a home on either side.

As people dedicated to creating healthy, abuse-free communities, it’s our duty to talk about this and re-align ourselves and our goals as we learn.

Notice how much energy we’ve spent trying to dismiss people when we also have the option to listen, incorporate feedback and find better ways forward.

It’s time to listen.

It’s time to listen.

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