[Silencing is to] dismiss or disable the voices of dissent against the privilege induced majority speak. [It] can include trolling someone, threatening someone, making offensive jokes, using slurs, acting violent or intimidating, demanding or even criticizing anger from a marginalized person, demanding that a marginalized person change their methods for addressing privilege and a host of other things that are design to control the means of communication and discourse.

—Kinsey Hope[1]

Silencing refers to actions intended to undermine oppressed groups or individuals when they speak out. To silence means to make their issues appear untrue and/or to drown out their voices. This can be done through harassment, shaming and other tactics to intimidate marginalized groups, thus keeping them from speaking out against issues that affect them.

Common types

The form silencing can take is very context-dependant, but the end result is always the same, i.e., to take away all or some of the platform or space for a discussion:. Some types of silencing have well-defined names, like:

While other types of silencing don't have a specific name (yet) and so are broadly grouped into:

Common phrases

Some phrases commonly crop up, like:

All of these phrases are meant to imply that the speaker should stop talking. In other words: "You're being emotional!" therefore the person to whom this is directed should stop talking. So even though it is likely to be true that the speaker is emotional (how can one speak passionately, or engagingly without emotions?) — it does not follow that they should not speak.

These phrases are also meant to undermine the credibility of the speaker. They weight because they piggy-back on established cultural norms, e.g., "You should be flattered!" is a typical part of rape culture wherein women should be thankful for any sexual attention they receive and men are unable to control their libido.

(In)famous examples

  • Richard Dawkins' Dear Muslima article [2]. Dawkins did "apologize" 3 years later, which Rebecca Watson called "good enough."[3]
  • Dawkins has a long history of saying problematic things on Twitter. After attempting to say that X kind of rape is better than Y, he tried to silence his opposition by arguing they were emotional.[4]
  • U.S. House Representative Joe Walsh attempted to silence US Representative Tammy Duckworth by minimizing her discussion about her experience during war and admonishing her as "not a hero".[5]

See also

External links