Jun 3, 2014

It's Not a Contest

I've spent a lot of time lately watching people speak up about issues that matter to them, and then get interrupted or outright shut down because someone else wanted to bring up a different issue. Whether it's because the other person felt hard-done-by for not having their concerns addressed, or was actually trying to discredit the original point by highlighting a bunch of exceptions and case examples to disprove it, the effect was always the same. People wound up arguing over what to complain about, instead of discussing how to solve problems.

I'm really quite tired of watching people have to defend their right to want to protect themselves. Tired of the fact that, after surviving mistreatment and even full-on abuse, people who've found the strength to speak up are still being put down by people who ostensibly claim to be on their side. Tired of the fact that, when people who aren't affected have the decency to speak up in support of those who are, they're treated like the enemy by those who don't understand how insidious and subtle oppression and prejudice really are.

I previously spoke about learning to take a message and spread it your own way, if you really want to help, as many of these interrupters claim. Today I'm adding to this with a simple statement.

It's not a contest.

The biggest motivator I see when people interrupt articles talking about domestic abuse or rape culture is people wanting to point out that "these things happen to too. 

Of course, the OP never stated that they didn't happen. They just didn't happen to include those particular issues when they were writing their article or recording their video. This is perfectly normal behaviour. When making a case or speaking about against something, you stay on-topic. You don't meander off into topics that, while still important, are not necessarily relevant in this instance.

Or, to put it in other terms, you don't kick out your plumber while he's fixing your sink just because your tv stops working.

When someone has the strength to stand up and speak out, they make themselves a target for people who genuinely believe that it's wrong to speak out. People who believe that women who dress a certain way are asking for it when they're groped. People who believe that if someone has passed out from drinking too much, whatever is done to them is fair game. People who believe that we should feel sorry for a young man who's career is ruined because he was convicted of rape.

Why should those strong, brave people also have to worry that people who claim to be their allies are also going to target them?

These people, and I hope I can include myself among them, deserve to be heard. They have the right to make their case and be engaged on the topic fairly. They do not deserve to be shouted down because someone else would rather discuss a different issue.

It's not a contest to see who's being hurt the most. We're supposed to all be in this together.

Let's start acting like it.


  1. "Or, to put it in other terms, you don't kick out your plumber while he's fixing your sink just because your tv stops working."
    Fantastic! And I couldn't agree with the sentiment more!

    1. Thanks! This is why it baffles me when people feel the need to counter arguments with facts about separate issues, as though the existence of one invalidates the other.