Interesting collection of links on call-out culture in activist (particularly female-dominated activist) spaces. Given that the oldest is from 1976, it turns out this isn’t exactly a new problem.

It’s worth noting that at least some of the articles, while superficially seeming to decry call-outs, are themselves call-outs if you know the contexts they’re alluding to (i.e. they only read like denouncements or criticisms to people who aren’t in the communities they’re referencing). Others are written by former notorious caller-outers who themselves got called-out, and suddenly discovered they didn’t like being on the “other side” of the experience.

I don’t think either of those scenarios lessen the discussion. If anything, they strengthen it, in the “this situation is more complex than the Morally Pure vs. Morally Impure” sort of way it can sometimes be reduced to.

For the record, I don’t particularly like call-outs, but I do think they can be useful in certain situations. For example, if repeated call-ins haven’t worked, if the target is inaccessible for calling-in due to extreme power differentials, or if the called-out individual is dangerous in a “criminally predatory” way and mainstream institutional avenues are unresponsive or collusive. I admit it’s a subjective list; you may or may not agree with it.

What I am definitely leery about are call-outs that are escalated interpersonal conflicts (not every bad break-up or friends-group falling-out represents a pattern of abuse), are used by the caller-outer to build followers or a social platform (i.e. people who seem only to be known for being loud callers-out of things), or subjective personal preferences recast as moral battles (also known as “I Saw Goody Proctor With The Devil And She Had a Bad Steven Universe Headcanon“). I also think it’s important to differentiate the call-out of an individual from criticism of an individual’s work, even though the two can sometimes be related (also known as Buffy Wasn’t That Feminist Really But That Doesn’t Make Joss Whedon The Misogyny Devil” [Note: This post was originally drafted prior to Kai Cole’s allegations and… yeah. That didn’t age well, did it?] versus “Even H.P. Lovecraft’s Friends Thought He Said Some Pretty Fucking Racist Shit”).

Point being, humans are highly social animals, and our relationships and complex and messy. And I’d generally advise being wary of anyone who tries to tell you otherwise…