When you are aware of oppression, and especially when you are actively seeking to fight against it, it is hard not to have passionate, knee-jerk reactions when you see people perpetuating it, or denying that it exists. It is always necessary for us to step up to the plate and inform people when we see or hear them participating in oppressive behavior. But it’s equally important to do so in a productive manner. When being called out for racist, sexist, homophobic, fatphobic, ablist, transphobic, or other harmful language, it can be very easy to slip into defense mode and shut down any potential growth.
So, pulling Uncle Joe aside at the family reunion and explaining to him that he’s a misogynist isn’t quite a simple as we might like it to be. The prospect of listening to Uncle Joe make sexist remarks while he insists that women aren’t oppressed all evening seems even worse. Ngọc Loan Trần has some excellent advice on dealing with people whom we otherwise trust, love, and respect when they need to be called out. Although their article deals with “calling in” racism in particular, their advice could easily be applied to other oppressive behaviors.