Calling Out/In

Everyone makes mistakes.

You might be called out on something you say at a FemPhys event. This may be unexpected or seem unrelated to the topic at hand, but try to keep in mind that systemic social injustice is ubiquitous in our lives. FemPhys encourages education before judgement---we're all trying to change our world for the better, so let's listen to each other when we point out something hurtful or problematic.

Calling out might involve:

  • correcting pronoun usage,
  • identifying a word as a slur, or
  • identifying behaviour as racist, misogynist, etc.

How should calling out be performed?

This is a complicated question. Some comments really hurt people, and that hurt or anger is real. Responding to a comment that hurts you might involve anger.

Responding to a comment which hurts a group or person you are trying to be an ally to, however, probably shouldn't be angered. For example, making a big deal about correcting someone on the use of a friend’s pronouns can be distressing.

If reasonable, calling out should be done courteously and quickly. 

How should calling out be responded to?

Being called out on your behaviour is normal. Use the CLA(I)M framework to respond:

Centre yourself: it’s not about you, but working against oppressive behaviours.
Listen: trust that whoever is criticising your behaviour has good reason to do so. 
Acknowledge, verbally, your actions & their impact. Apologize if appropriate. Profusely apologizing can make a situation more distressing for someone who was impacted.
(Inquire): often asking someone who criticised us is asking them to do more work than is required of them. This step can often be done later and through the internet and allies of the people whom your actions impacted.
Move on: understand how you can do better and do it.

If someone is correcting you on pronouns or says that you made a comment which impacts them, they are right---we don’t get to decide whether something hurt someone. 

Here’s an example:

A: “I got totally g*pped on this sandwich, it was way too expensive.”
B: “Ugh, that sucks. By the way, A, the word g*pped derives from negative connotations with the word g*ypsy, which is a slur for Roma people.”
A: “Oh, I didn’t know that. Thanks, B. I’ll try to not use that word anymore.”

Here’s a pronoun-related example:

A: “C said that she was coming, right?”
B: “Oh, C uses they/them pronouns. Yeah, they’re going to be a little late though.”
A: “My bad! I’ll practice some more. Let’s get this meeting started, then.”