At The Bias: Silencing Tactics and You

Written by Natalie Luhrs

I'm a lifelong geek with a passion for books and social justice.
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March 22, 2016

a sculpture of a human head with no mouth

Silence” by Henry Burrows. CC BY-SA

Hello! I’m over at The Bias today talking about silencing tactics and how they’re used.  Here’s a fairly lengthy excerpt from the first section–I hope you’ll click through to read the whole thing.

Silencing is a type of verbal harassment or intimidation intended to distract, minimize, or discourage you from speaking out. The ultimate goal is to control the larger conversation by ensuring that not all voices are heard or are able to speak.

Silencing is not:

  • Moderated or deleted comments
  • Refusal to engage
  • Reporting harassment or code of conduct violations
  • Disagreement

These tactics are most often deployed by members of dominant groups to quash dissent.

However, just as troublingly, they are also used to establish hierarchies at the intersections of different marginalizations and oppressions and it is this use of silencing tactics that I’ll be focusing on here.

I want to be very clear: I am not talking about calling out someone with more privilege . I am talking specifically about the growing tendency of marginalized people using these tactics against each other.

There is a scarcity mindset when it comes to visibility and authority that I believe works against the interests of marginalized and oppressed people and communities.

This scarcity mindset not only inhibits participation, but I also believe it actively inhibits growth. By making the conversation larger, we can encourage new voices and new modes of being–but not if we intentionally limit ourselves.

As Joanna Russ says in How To Suppress Women’s Writing, the most interesting stuff is on the margins: “…growth only occurs at the edges of something […] But to even see the peripheries, it seems, you have to be on them, or by an act of re-vision, place yourself there.” (Russ 132)

Read the rest.

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