there’s a thing that happens in internet apology discourse that i want to address.

'when someone calls you out, it is your job to immediately apologize. do not defend yourself, apologize.’

this is a reaction to people who say racist/sexist/transphobic/classist/misogynist/etc things, and then instead of examining what they’ve said and trying to take a lesson in self-awareness and humility, get defensive and resort to tone-policing, gaslighting, derailing, good old-fashioned patronizing, or any of a number of other possible rhetorical postures designed to make the injured party sit down and shut up. to that degree, encouraging self-examination as a first instinct is important.

and how this works depends a lot on who receives this discourse, it really does.


i see ‘shut up and apologize’ being used as a general, universal rule of thumb, the law of how to engage with being called out.

and i believe that it is also wrong to encourage people to assume that because someone on the internet has told them they are wrong, they must necessarily be wrong, must necessarily owe an apology. it is wrong to preach ‘shut up and apologize’ because call-out culture can very easily function as a form of bullying: by adopting an ostensibly righteous political position and using the terms of what passes for ‘social justice’ discourse, one person can easily set themselves up as an authority in a way that does not give their interlocutor any room to maneuver. the caller-out might be wrong. ‘shut up and apologize’ dismisses that possibility.

'shut up and apologize' discourages active, continuous critique. kneejerk political correctness stands against engaged thought.

but above all it enables the accuser to disregard their own blindspots. the accuser needn’t be a careful reader. the accuser needn’t consider the multiple axes of power and meaning at work in a given statement.

'shut up' might be a good first step. do not react immediately. sit with your discomfort for a while. ask yourself why it is uncomfortable. what specifically is this person reacting to in what you've said? disregard their tone for just a minute, and ask yourself what the content of what they've said conveys about what you might not know or understand, what experiences might not be available to you. take that time for thought, because thought takes time, and because you owe yourself the opportunity to learn something.

but don’t apologize as a first instinct. even if an apology is due (and admittedly, it’s not unlikely that an apology is due), it only matters if you know what you’re apologizing for. i often find myself saying to people, ‘i don’t want you to apologize, i want you to think about this. i want you to not do it again.’ i don’t care about the apology. i care about the thought, the learning.

and it is possible that you do not owe an apology. it is possible that you are being bullied by a call-out artist who is using the framework of ‘social justice’ to leverage some authority for themself. it is possible that they are being just as thoughtless as they are accusing you of being.

accusation and apology are shitty tools for a rhetoric of justice. ‘shut up and apologize’ does not look to me like a path to liberation.

"i believe that it is also wrong to encourage people to assume that because someone on the internet has told them they are wrong, they must necessarily be wrong"

"one person can easily set themselves up as an authority in a way that does not give their interlocutor any room to maneuver"


This, yes. The instinct to stop, think about it, consider that the other person may have a point even if they’re not expressing it the way you would or are telling you you’re wrong is a GOOD one. But you have the right to engage your brain. You do not have to knuckle under every time someone disagrees with you, even if they are doing so loudly. Even if they are doing it in the name of a good cause. 

I think this is especially important for people socialized female, and/or survivors of emotional abuse, and/or people with anxiety issues. 

You are not always wrong. Just give it a second, think about it, take some deep breaths, and don’t reply with either apologies or flames in the heat of the moment. 

(via hellscabanaboy)

"I also expressed my concerns that drone attacks are fueling terrorism. Innocent victims are killed in these acts, and they lead to resentment among the Pakistani people."

Malala in her meeting with President Obama (via padarnaalat)

That gif set of her on Jon Stewart got like 60K+ notes, watch this get like ten…

(via docecomoacanela)

watch this get ignored by every liberal on the fucking planet 

(via mahakavi)

It might not be 60k notes (yet), but it’s not exactly getting ignored, either?

One of the reasons I find tumblr discourse so draining is this constant assumption of the worst in everyone — and while experience does bear that out sometimes, I personally prefer to give people the opportunity to surprise me rather than jumping immediately to the worst case scenario. It creates this very intense hyperbolic discourse that I find uncomfortable.

That being said, I wouldn’t at all be surprised to hear that most mainstream media outlets aren’t including the above quote in their coverage of Malala’s meeting with Obama. But good on her for saying it.

(Source: padarnaalat-deactivated972100372, via skalja)

22,686 notes


this is so amazing

(via brsis)

34,223 notes

Okay, seriously, is anyone else concerned by how readily the ourobouros that is Tumblr Social Justice uses violence and harassment as means of policing women’s behavior? Because I think it’s notable that the Worst People of the Week on tumblr are almost always women, and I can only think of a few men who’ve received the sheer vitriol that so many of these women do. And I think it speaks to the way viciousness is such a culturally-programmed part of relationships between women (in America, at least), and I think it’s a damn destructive pattern of behavior that deserves a lot more examination than it gets.

There are ways of calling attention to and discussing problematic remarks without calling the women in question “fucking bitches” and “cunts,” or tracking down and distributing their contact information, or issuing them death threats. Those are tactics of the oppressor, designed to create fear, and fear is not a conducive atmosphere for any kind of social justice work.

12 notes



I do not get this impulse to shriek in people’s faces and bring everyone down over an obviously benevolent and sweet picture that a person drew to thumb their nose at the “it’s not natural to be gay/trans/whatever, you don’t see gay/trans/whatever animals!” crowd. 

In fact, I’m sick of net activists in general right now.

When did the default response to nuance become rage?

Does it have to be? Can we as a group of people sharing a common goal of total equality across the goddam board seriously afford the luxury of collapsing over minutia? These constant pissing contests are driving me insane, because I care when people scream at each other way more than when someone’s picture has a possible problematic interpretation. 

Fuck this brand of fake-ass, metastatic ‘dialogue’. You can keep it.

My dash is so full of fury right now, people yelling about how this person I don’t even know is terrible and how dare I support their trans-oppressive otherizing bluh bluh. I don’t even know the artist. I don’t really care! I just liked this cool pretty thing that got reblogged and it made me smile because the world is so full of awesome shit and look at all these awesome different ways to be a parent. One tiny head was lopped off the hydra, but that’s not enough! It has possible negative interpretations!


It could have been an interesting conversation but instead I just want to log off for like a week til it all clears out and we move on to the next item of hamster wheel outrage that ultimately achieves nothing but the diffusing of our pent-up energies. How lucky we are to be able to jerk off to the sounds of our own voices like this. With our dinners hot on the table and our internet connections more or less steady.

Seriously, where’s the social justice if all it means is a public spectacle of philosophical self-mutilation as we  attack each other, raise the stakes astronomically high for anyone daring to make a statement, and exclude timid, meek or just plain decent people from our in-group because they aren’t aggressive enough to defend themselves because what if they fuck up and say something dumb, or just plain ask a question with the wrong tone of voice?

I firmly believe that I shouldn’t have to be afraid to talk openly about human rights and analyze our culture WITH OTHER ACTIVISTS.

It’s not a black/white issue of “everyone stop fighting forever or die” but we sure as fuck cannot afford to chase our tail while assholes with actual power over our actual lives continue their actual literal planned campaign of discrimination against every single fucking one of us. This is not about a false dichotomy of “get along forever” versus “lose the war”. This is about my culture, the culture I helped build in my small way, puking on the sidewalk and calling it a cleansing spring rain.

I will not watch damaging, self-serving idealists ride around cloaked in terms of activism while meek people quietly bow out and take their energy and creativity with them because they don’t want to become a public example of what happens if you’re not 100% pure. I will not sit idly by while assholes take my flag of hardcore awesome rainbow revolution and use it to justify bullying. Having lofty ideals doesn’t mean you’re immune to the lure of douchebaggery! Crack a history text sometime. If you can’t even treat a guy on the internet with courtesy, how are you going to break that cycle?

People are learning that this is how activism works. That this is what “anger” means, and how “anger” should be used. They are being told that this is what people are talking about when they say I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore.

This is a small taste of how the powers that be maintain a status quo, by making revolution appear violent, unpleasant and unwinnable to all potential rebels. You’d think we would have learned that by now. You’d think we’d stop helping the bastards grind us down.

I am leaving the social justice fandom forever. Fuck this, fuck the constant risk of making honest mistakes and being piled on.

Fuck the notion that one racefail/transfail/whateverfail makes you permanently fair game for outraged claw-sharpening from all sides.

Fuck self-destructive call-outs.

Fuck turning every moment of potential education and enlightenment into your own personal chopping block. 

Fuck letting the judge and jury be more important than the spirit of the law.

Fuck interacting with people who would in all likelihood hate me if they actually knew me.

Fuck dealing with people who might at any moment turn on me because I’m not a very good tranny/sperglord/cripple by their standards.

Fuck activism as a form of social bonding complete with ostracism for people who don’t fit in.

Fuck the police, they’re still scum. At least some things are exactly as they appear in this goofy-ass world.

There. I’ve said fuck a total of fourteen times, so now I’m going to take my toys and go home. Maybe I’ll go back to being a hermit who screams at people from the woods like I was before I got involved in net activism.

Forward my fucking mail.


(Sometimes it takes a while to realize just how toxic online social justice culture can be — particularly on tumblr — but man, the endless cycle of rage-without-nuance is impossible to maintain without fucking your own head up something fierce. Or at least that’s how it was for me.)

(Source: vastderp-placeholder, via deusvolt)

440 notes


With all this talk about Kony 2012 and the best way to address this issue, it is important to not get caught up in the ‘sexiness’ of the issue and look at what works. Development work is a complicated endeavor. Every wasted dollar can lead to deaths of those you hope to help. Jake Johnston, a researcher at The Center for Economic Policy Research, told the Miami Herald. “Millions were spent on ad campaigns telling people to wash their hands. Telling them to wash their hands when there’s no water or soap is a slap in the face.” There is most definitely a right way and a wrong way to support a cause.

Awareness is a good thing. But if a solution is truly a good one, then it should stand up and show promise in the face of criticism.

It is your choice where your money goes, but please do your research before you give money to an organization.


How Not to Save the World, or Why the LifeStraw Is a Stupid Idea

Kevin Starr is an impressive speaker. And a pretty innovative philanthropist too. He oozes straight talk like he doesn’t care what you think, because he probably doesn’t. And that’s a good thing, because he might lose a few friends after this talk at PopTech where he eviscerates some of the (ex?)darlings of development design like the LifeStraw and One Laptop Per Child.

Starr’s point is that in our quest to save the world we need to pay attention to the actual impact of our work, not just the good intentions and theoretical potential. A big idea may fall flat if it isn’t designed for real impact from the start with regular measurement built into the rollout plan. Too many bad ideas are eating up our limited resources he says, and that needs to change.

Starr heads the Mulago Foundation, a philanthropic fund that acts more like venture capital for upstart world-changers than a typical foundation. Mulago’s Scalable Solutions Portfolio includes promising smaller development organizations like KickStart, Samasource, and the One Acre Fund.

One of Starr’s examples of a failed development initiative is the LifeStraw. The LifeStraw was initially hailed as a potential game changer in the quest for clean water by letting anyone simply carry a filter straw with them, transforming any polluted water source into a potentially healthy fountain. Well, it’s too expensive and too slow. The straw, Starr points out, only cleans 100cc of liquid a minute. A glass of water is 300cc, and as Starr demonstrates in a gulping display, you can drink that in six seconds. You’d have to be sucking through water for about 20 minutes a day to get all you needed from it. People just didn’t want to do it. He lists other reasons it’s impractical too.

Regarding One Laptop Per Child’s $100 computers for kids, Starr argues the idea is flawed from inception: Kids just don’t need a laptop in poor countries, he says. He asks rhetorically, why would parents let their kids take the most expensive item they own to school every day? “It’s a need in our heads, not in their hands.”

Reblogging as a reminder to myself.

(via narwhalwroth)

401 notes

In addition to John Green’s excellent point about “cause erasure”:


Crimes against humanity, international war crimes, international civil rights, and social justice are not fads.  They should not be “trendy on the internet,” and should not be something treated as The New Hot Thing.

I love seeing so many posts on my dash today, from both sides of each argument, about contraceptives, insurance equality, medical equality, Sandra Fluke, KONY 2012, the LRA, and the Invisible Children charity.  Especially from within The Hunger Games fandom, which I generally think should spend more of its time and focus on issues of social justice considering the nature of the source material, I think it’s a welcome shift to a lot of Tumblr’s general content (not counting myself out of that, obviously, because I also post a lot of really random/miscellaneous/whatever things).


This same fervor happened in January for SOPA/PIPA/the e-parasite act/ACTA.  Do you know the status of any of these bills now?  Cary Sherman, the CEO of the RIAA, believes that the outcry over the SOPA bill was a “one-time thing,” and he is most likely not wrong.

Five months ago, the Occupy movement consistently crossed my dash as a major base of activism, awareness, and debate.  Do you know where the movement is focused now?  Pfizer (which also is a point of contention in the contraceptives/insurance debate due to their production of Viagra) and Bank of America are currently, and rightly, being protested for corporate corruption, and no one seems to be commenting because Occupy is no longer the “cause of the week.”

The Egyptian Revolution that everyone gave copious, and much-needed, attention a year ago… is still happening.  And people are still being hurt, and still being killed, and there is still no resolution. 

Less than a month ago, uproarious backlash against the Susan G. Komen Foundation’s decision to pull funding from Planned Parenthood for ostensibly religious/political reasons brought forward a huge surge in positive (and, okay, a lot of negative) discourse about the nature of women’s medical equality and medical rights.  When this cause instantly silenced itself — despite Komen still pinkwashing products like handguns (violence from which causes 29% of women’s deaths in the US) and donating only 24% of their money towards breast cancer research and screenings — the visible online dialogue about women’s medical rights reduced immediately to its original sources (here on tumblr, that means mainly feminism blogs).

Cue Sandra Fluke, and people are once again acting like they’ve never been so shocked and outraged at the lack of concern by the general mainstream media/public about inequalities in healthcare for women, contraceptive availability and ethos, and/or the US’ stilted and politically biased coverage of both sex and the human body as a political warzone.


While Kony is an exceptionally horrific case, we were discussing the horror of tyrannical war criminals in third-world countries with the discussion and protest of Muammar G’addafi SIX MONTHS AGO.  Meanwhile, Libya is currently restructuring and the import of weapons into Libya is rising, and Tumblr Social Justice is fairly content not to remain aware or updated on its status.

Should something happen again in Libya, it will also bring about a week or so of uproarious shock and sudden interest in the region.  Just like the uterus, just like SOPA and PIPA and ACTA, just like everything else that Tumblr Social Justice briefly puts 110% of its energies into creating awareness for.

And of course, I do not think that anything that does raise social awareness, activism, and political curiosity, outrage, or understanding is a bad thing.

At all. 

I think that the massive pouring of actions and words and ideas about the manhunt for Joseph Kony and the eye-opening expression of his heinous crimes is hugely important and hugely positive.  If the KONY2012 campaign truly does bring people into Africa for rebuilding, or does bring about enough international awareness that wherever Kony has hidden himself, he is found, then that is an amazing thing and a true mark of the tremendous good that a free and open internet can do (see that, SOPA?).


Posting gifsets of dancing children labeled “Kony! <3”?

Crimes against humanity, international war crimes, international civil rights, and social justice are not fads.  They should not be “trendy on the internet,” and should not be something treated as The New Hot Thing.

I’m personally guilty, too, of raising my reblogs of certain causes during their Week Of Fame, too — of course.  In part, that’s because that’s when information about these causes (SOPA/ACTA/PIPA/net neutrality, Egypt, Libya, Sandra Fluke, Susan G. Komen, on and on and on) is easier to find and, like the rest of Tumblr/the Western world: I live in a society of passive consumption and it really is easier to notice things when they’re being waved in front of my face than when I have to keep myself abreast.

But if, for only one week, or for only one month, people are concerned with helping child soldiers, and then they are abandoned? 

That helps no one.  That potentially makes their tragic life situations worse, because perhaps the only thing the Western mainstream considers worse than to be “invisible” is to be “passe,” an old story, one that most people consider solved.

Crimes against humanity are never “solved.”  When one treat is removed, others move into its place, and the capture of Kony will not bring about immediate peace or safety for the tens of thousands who have suffered (and continue to suffer) because of the LRA. 

Egypt has not been “solved.”

Libya has not been “solved.”

The campaign against a free and neutral internet has not been “solved.”

The integral quest for medical equality for all peoples of all incomes and all genders is not “solved.”

Treating social issues as fads or trends leads to an idea that, like trends, they are impermanent and easy to remedy.  That hurts far, far more people and ideas than it helps.

Find the causes that are permanent to you, that are immediate and integral and being handled in a responsible and sustainable manner in your eyes and to your scrutiny (ie, look into where charities’ money is really going; find out what else your spokespeople have said/done), and focus your energies into those causes for the long haul.

Don’t just reblog a few KONY2012 campaign posters and assume your role has been played and the fight against the LRA has moved a step forward.  Don’t reblog a post urging a boycott of Rush Limbaugh for calling Sandra Fluke a “slut” and a “prostitute” and then another post captioned “lol ____ is such a slutty whore.”  Don’t assume that because Tumblr has gone silent about any given cause that it has been “solved.”

If KONY2012 has moved you to a place of permanent and life-changing impetus to aid the plight of child soldiers and human trafficking in Uganda, Sudan, the DRC, and the CAR, then that is amazing and a beautiful testament to the good works that open communication and social media can do and be.

If reblogging KONY2012 seems “popular on the Tumblr Radar,” then please… at least read up on why, and decide how much you care, and at least decide whether you will still care in a month, or six months, or a year, before you proclaim your FEEEEELINGS.

Tumblr, as a whole, has had FEEEEELINGS about a LOT of things in the last year.

And really, we probably still should.  And we don’t.

Well-said. I’ve been guilty of this too, as I mentioned in the last post I reblogged, and I think the format of tumblr itself has a lot to do with it — the like-and-reblog system is great for instant outrage, not so great for sustained conversation.

(Source: aimmyarrowshigh, via aimmyarrowshigh)

163 notes

Visible Children: We got trouble.



For those asking what you can do to help, please link to wherever you see KONY 2012 posts. And tweet a link to this page to famous people on Twitter who are talking about KONY 2012!

I do not doubt for a second that those involved in KONY 2012 have great intentions, nor…

I know this has nothing to do with dresses, but as this is kind of a big thing on tumblr (we all know how much tumblr loves social justice slacktivism) and I have let’s just say a shit ton of followers, this needs to be promoted.

There’s a lot of tumbling going on about the so-called “KONY 2012” campaign being launched by the charity, “Invisible Children.”  It clains to be about educating the world about Joseph Kony, the leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army in Uganda, who uses child soldiers to do some of the most horrific things imaginable.   While Joseph Kony may be one of the most vile people to ever live, and undoubtedly help is needed in the region, Invisible Children is not the charity people should be supporting.  Not only does very little of its money go to direct aid, it supports military intervention in taking out Kony, which would undoubtedly cause the deaths of countless numbers of his child soldiers and only serve to cause more chaos in a troubled region.  While it’s good that knowledge of Kony’s crimes is being shared, if you want to support a charity, try supporting a non-violent one.

Okay, yeah, guilty of knee-jerk activism with this one. A good reminder to myself to be less reflexive and more thoughtful and investigative when I do this shit.

(via stasaparilla)


aaaaand i love her that much more. i didn’t think it was possible.

This gay’s happy to have you in the family, Anne. <3

(via ecarlate-deactivated20121124)

655,690 notes