Dear internet, this is how you gently and thoughtfully change people’s minds. No shaming, no yelling, just a nice nudge to, “Aha!”
I will aspire to use classy same tone next time I try to educate someone about something!
or maybe we could focus more on how felicia responded correctly to being called out instead of making sure oppressed people are polite enough when they’re calling people out on their bigotry
Seriously. Can we please start a collection of all the gentle education attempts that have ended with verbal harassment or even threats of violence? Elevatorgate springs to mind immediately. This example is one in a million.
This is like— the most frustrating thing in the world.
This conversation happens daily on tumblr. There’s this massive idea going around that, in order to educate, only the gentlest of soft gloves should be used. And to combat that, people get frustrated and start acting like the only proper response has to be righteous anger.
And frankly, online social justice shouldn’t fall for this stupid, stupid idea.
Don’t get me wrong. Tone policing happens. Threats can come from the nicest of corrections. But if you’re only advocating for gentle gloves, or the always self righteous “classy” reactions, then regardless of the subject matter you’re not being realistic.
And on the other hand, it’s not a great idea to go advocating for massively extreme reactions to tiny (but problematic) things. Burning and righteous rage isn’t always a great first response to a slip up— see above.
And thankfully, these aren’t the only options when talking to people.
Social justice understands that anger happens, but it doesn’t hold it up as something amazingly fantastic, or as anything bad. It’s just an understandable reaction to frustration. And it’s expected. Especially frustrations you deal with every day, or often enough to elicit that response.
But there’s no dichotomy here. Because social justice is just about making sure you have a contextual, on topic, proportionate response that knows its audience.
And again, sometimes that’s just not going to happen. But it’s a goal.
Felicia Day said something stupid here. And in this case, she’s an awesome, educated actress who realized her mistake and thanked someone for reminding her. This was all that was needed. And hell, when a bigger or angrier response is needed, then that’s what’s needed.
This response to her tweet isn’t great because it’s overly gentle— it’s great because it’s an awesome and proportionate response.