Think About What That Catchy Title Really Means

Someone on Twitter sent me an article by Megan McArdle titled “You Can’t Have a Conversation About Sexism at Gunpoint.”

Here’s a free idea: an app that punches people in the face every time they compare getting called out for racist, sexist, *ist behavior or speech to ‘lynching’ or ‘being held at gunpoint.’[1]

And here’s a reminder: When the guns come out, we’re the ones ACTUALLY. BEING. KILLED. by a pretty overwhelming majority.

There’s four links in that last sentence. Go ahead and follow them, I’ll wait.

To recap:

People saying words expressing displeasure about something you said or did DOES NOT EQUAL actual threats which result in death for too many people of color. Suggesting the two are on par is ignorant and insensitive.

Sorry to ruin your perfect little metaphor, but conversations about racism, abelism, homophobia, transphobia, sexism ARE NOT THEORETICAL for people who don’t enjoy the privileges of patriarchy and white supremacy. We live with very real dangers and having them trivialized for the sake of a catchy title is infuriating.[2]

McArdle’s article reminds me of a submissive puppy groveling to an older dog for permission. She says:

…it is generally helpful to discuss sexist patterns in human behavior. However, unless the offense is really quite blatant, it is generally unhelpful in the extreme to accuse specific people, or actions, of being sexist

I could not disagree more. Rapists don’t start off as rapists, they start off as little boys and teenagers who don’t learn about consent and respecting people’s boundaries. Waiting until things are extreme to try to change or at least confront people is short-sighted at best.

No significant civil rights movement has ever made progress from ‘asking nicely.’ Forcing individual people to examine the ways in which they benefit from and perpetuate systemic inequalities is absolutely necessary for progress.

  1. I know what you’re probably thinking, but that is the toned down version.  ↩
  2. That’s why we’re ‘so mad’ and ‘always talking about this’  ↩


  1. Yes!!! It’s alarming how easily some people throw around serious things like lynching and being shot … comparing those to things that are simply unpleasant or annoying. Having your life threatened–or taken–isn’t something to be trivialized … yet it is so often.

    I agree with you that waiting to talk about issues or not calling someone out until their offenses are extreme is definitely NOT the way to go. I was surprised, honestly, at how many people responded to my post with “but he’s just a kid” … implying that it’s ok to mistreat someone when you’re young, you won’t be held to standards of acceptable behavior … Nevermind that it’s much harder to have someone unlearn bad behaviors.

    (Thanks for linking to my post.)


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