‘An open letter to privileged people who play devil’s advocate’

There is an amazing post on feministing.com titled: An open letter to privileged people who play devil’s advocate. I am so thankful that Juliana Britto wrote these words. I am so fucking sick of people arguing with me just to argue, just because it’s fun for them. It drives me crazy that people act like I haven’t heard all of their arguments “proving” me wrong about one million times before. I mean, seriously, Western civilization is based on your arguments, and you really think I haven’t heard them before???? When people persist with me, frustrated that I’m not “into it” they often claim that I’m the one “censoring” them or “closing my mind.”  Britto writes about this issue much more eloquently than I:

Some might challenge that I am shutting myself off to new ideas and censoring important opportunities for growth.

But these ideas you are forcing me to consider are not new. They stem from centuries of inequality and your desperate desire to keep them relevant is based in the fact that you benefit from their existence. Let it go. You did NOT come up with these racist, misogynistic theories. We’ve heard them before and we are f*cking tired of being asked to consider them, just one. more. time.

 

Got that? Don’t want to hear it. I’ve already heard it, read it, seen it for my entire life. Britto makes another important point people who argue with me for fun don’t seem to get:

It is physically and emotionally draining to be called upon to prove that these systems of power exist.

 

Right on, sister. Please, don’t use me for your fun and entertainment. I’m interested in changing the world, not keeping you from boredom. Again, Britto is more eloquent than me:

 

Imagine having weights tied to your feet and a gag around your mouth, and then being asked to explain why you think you are at an unfair disadvantage. Imagine watching a video where a young man promises to kill women who chose not to sleep with him and then being forced to engage with the idea that maybe you are just a hysterical feminist seeing misogyny where there is none. It is incredibly painful to feel that in order for you to care about my safety, I have to win this verbal contest you have constructed “for fun.”

 

When I was 28 years old, I was a producer for a talk radio show. The host of that show gave me a gift that changed my life. He consistently– even if he disagreed with me– helped me figure out my thought process. When I was at Point A and I wanted to get to Point Z, he helped me get there. I would make a point and he would say, “Yeah, I get it,” and then give several reasons why what I said made sense or was true. It was a remarkable skill that helped me to develop and grow as a thinker and as a person. Most people, when you say something new, will argue with you at Point A, tell you all the reasons why what you’re saying doesn’t make sense or can’t be true, so you never, ever get to Point Z. That, or silence. Those responses can be soul killing, especially if you are young, a young woman not used to being listened to or taken seriously, with baby ideas that you’re trying to develop.

Read the whole Britto’s whole post here.

4 thoughts on “‘An open letter to privileged people who play devil’s advocate’

  1. Pingback: Pitt joins Jolie at summit against sexual violence | Reel Girl

  2. I think it’s a mistake to shut down conversations with people who don’t agree with you because you assume that they’re just “arguing for fun.” I’ve certainly met plenty of people who enjoying debating online and in person but unless a discussion is coming to a standstill because each side is steadfast in their beliefs and unwilling to find common ground or the other person is just horribly insulting, I think there’s value to trying to work through an issue with another person.

    • HI cat,

      this is not about people disagreeing, but about people insisting the same old arguments are true over and over and over again for fun and as if I haven’t heard them before.

      Margot

      • I understand, Margot. There are some people I don’t engage with but I don’t believe in shutting down a conversation with anyone unless they open with something truly heinous. And I think both the original post and this summary can be read as more of a generalization than I think they were intended to be.

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