Respectful Communication

A few weeks ago, I took the opportunity to talk about how our language does a huge disservice to the way that we talk about violence in our culture. Truly, our focus on the victims of violence and not on the perpetrators is a problem. However, after publishing a few pieces – and sharing some old ones – I am considering a slightly different view on the subject and I’m sharing my thought process here. This sharing is not only to help me process it but because I’m interested in what you think as well.

I have begun to consider that the way we talk about violence is actually a reflection of the way we view respectful communication. There were two fellows who, from my viewpoint, really came after me for sharing some views on masculinity that they thought were flawed. Certainly, my view is limited, my comments and critiques are generally based on data and observation in the United States, but a limitation is not necessarily the same as a flaw. These two fellows had never commented or engaged in discourse, nor had I ever visited them before. We did not have the opportunity to build a relationship. When I called them out, stating that I really didn’t understand why they felt the need to read my writing and then comment with (evidently) the sole purpose of attacking my viewpoint, I was labeled as a racist egomaniac who ultimately didn’t understand what she was talking about. They were just trying to educate me, you know? Once I realized there was no getting through to them I muted them – something I viewed as a critical act of self-care.

But, of course, I have not stopped thinking about this experience. Would my interpretation of their words have been different if we were speaking? Would it have remained the same, but in a face-to-face discussion, I would have felt uncomfortable in calling them out? The claim of these two, that they were just trying to teach me, smacked of “mansplaining” and a clear expression of benevolent sexism. They thought, through their words, that they were being respectful.

As far as I am concerned, they were not. But is this indicative of a larger problem? I would posit to you, dear reader, that it is. The fact that we live in a culture where “mansplaining” is a concept that we have and is generally well understood would lead me to believe that we have a problem in how we’re communicating with each other. The well-documented history of men and usually white men displaying the belief that they are superior seems to end up playing out in our culture now in a way where men are “respectfully” taking up all the space.

What do you think? Is our performance of masculinity harming the way that we communicate with each other? Is there a legitimate skewing of what respectful communication looks like because of history? I am really interested in knowing what you think!


Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

Outside of this post, I do want to mention that I recently launched a course on Udemy all about setting goals and taking control of your time. Now through July 13, 2018, use the code SUMMERTIME18_BLOG for $15.00 off!

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