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» Scarleteen Boards: 2000 - 2014 (Archive) » SCARLETEEN CENTRAL » Sexual Ethics and Politics » How to get people to understand

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Author Topic: How to get people to understand
Kabith
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I feel like it would be super beneficial to have some sort of article, or guide, as to how to talk with someone who has an opposite viewpoint as you about something really important.

For example, right now I am trying to convince a guy that asking for consent every time is necessary, and that rape culture is a real thing. (Note, this is online, so it is easier for people to stick to their guns and lack empathy).

I know that some people are "lost causes" and won't budge ever, but are there any tips we can use when trying to make a difference in the world by education people about important stuff like this? For those people who will budge and come away from the dark side? [Smile]

Posts: 120 | From: Washington State - USA | Registered: Mar 2012  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Kabith
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(I may not reply right away, just wanted to start the discussion! Anyone can join and give tips btw!)
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Molias
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The really frustrating thing is that there just isn't a way to change someone's mind, sometimes. If you want to engage with people who disagree with you on important stuff, I'd say to just give information you have and explain it however is easiest for you to do it.

People who want to be antagonistic or who aren't interested in changing their viewpoint will be happy to tell you that they won't listen to you because you're too emotional, not polite enough, not educated enough on the topic, or whatever reason they decide to drag out. It doesn't mean any of those reasons are true!

It really is up to individuals to make the decision to educate themselves, or listen to what other people are telling them, and slowly shift their worldview. As nice as it might be to be able to convince people more easily, there's only so much an outside force can do, you know?

If you're feeling really frustrated by discussions online where other people just aren't getting it, sometimes the best thing to do is to walk away. I can have a VERY hard time doing this at times, because I feel so strongly about the issue, but I know it's better for my mental health, much of the time, to just drop it and write that person off.

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Kabith
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Yeah, I definitely pick my battles! I usually go for the people seem like there is a possibility that they want to understand the other viewpoint, or are trying to logically argue their point. But even then it can be a challenge.

I know there were some conflict/resolution classes at my school that I wish I would have taken. I feel like having those skills could help in situations like these!

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Heather
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A piece like this -- there are other things like this, this is just one example -- may be of use: http://web.calstatela.edu/faculty/jshindl/cm/Chapter15powerstruggles.htm

Especially when you are in the position, basically, or being a teacher to someone, or trying to be, anyway. [Smile]

Eckhart Tolle's work is also mighty handy in this department.

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Kabith
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Thanks, I am definitely going to read over this! This was exactly the kind thing I was looking for.

I was actually inspired to think of communication in a different way based on a Scarleteen facebook post I read recently. (I'll post the link at the end). The way that the person diffused a toxic situation by reading the people involved and appealing to their better nature was amazing. I know this is a completely different situation, but it still planted the idea that communication can happen in the most unlikely situations, if you are lucky enough and are able to provide context that the other person needs to see you eye to eye.

The article: http://wagingnonviolence.org/feature/nonviolent-self-defense-and-race-a-personal-story/

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acb
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The 'I phrases' thing in the article Heather posted has worked really well for me since I've started employing it. I think anything that makes it sounds more like a dialogue than a battle (especially online) helps, for example actively asking them their opinion when you know they're going to disagree to show that you respect their point of view.

A lot of the time we use logic to defend what we are feeling and pretend something's not an emotional issue, so sometimes it's a really good exercise to try and identify the feelings motivating the argument (if it's someone you're comfortable enough with to do that or can do it in a subtle way). Once they have been identified, sometimes it's easier to be more clear or self-critical.

When it comes to rape culture, consent and other things based in subjective experience, I think that hypothetical or real examples - told honestly, not sensationally - can be really helpful and moving. And if you can back them up with statistics or various surveys showing the same thing, then great!

Kind of like Molias said, slow shifts are where big changes often happen, so maybe if you feel like you can't explain all of a subject to someone, just focus on one part e.g. just the importance of consent practically and some tips on how to do it not introducing the whole idea of rape culture. You might not win someone over completely in a day but maybe a small piece of what you've said will stick with them.

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Kabith
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Acb, those are some great tips! I did try these things with this particular guy, and his responses were... well, very sexist and rape culture-y. So I gave up on him. But I will try them in the future with other debates [Smile]
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OhImpecuniousOne
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You might want to read up on logical fallacies: https://yourlogicalfallacyis.com/

That site provides some humorously passive aggressive pages you're meant to link people to when they've committed a logical fallacy, but I wouldn't recommend using them in arguments where you want to actually achieve something. [Razz] But being aware of logical fallacies, and practising deconstructing arguments, can help you make better, clearer counterarguments.

A good argument consists of one or more premises - facts that everyone involved can agree upon - then simple, logical steps, which lead clearly from the accepted premise to the arguer's conclusion. So usually, a bad argument can be pinned down to wrong premises, or a broken logical link between premise and conclusion.

Bearing all that in mind makes it a lot easier to clearly point out the problems with someone's argument. It's often more effective to focus on the specific part of the person's argument that's wrong, explain why it's wrong and then explain the best alternative, than it is to respond with a whole new argument of your own; which may be very convincing, but won't stop the other person believing the thing they just said.

And above all, be cool and detached. If you get into a personal fight with someone, they'll probably insist that you're wrong no matter what, just to save face. [Wink]

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Kabith
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"2: To put up in your kids' bedroom so that they get all clever and whatnot, and are able to tell the difference between real news and faux news *cough*."

I already love this website.

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Redskies
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The mention of logic made me think of a different angle. Sometimes, in a discussion about abuse/assault/rape culture, a person arguing against those things says that a person who's personally involved in some way - eg having been raped or being involved in anti-violence or recovery work - means that you can't be "logical" or "objective" about it. I think that's one of my most disliked things in the world. Possible counters to that include pointing out that if they haven't had personal contact with the issue, They are also not objective, because they don't know what it's like or very much about it. Also: emotion and logic are not opposites, at all. Nor are objectivity and emotion. One might have spent a great deal of time carefully considering the issue, using respected scientific studies, and have come to a conclusion that one feels very strongly about, including anger or sadness.

"Be cool and detached" is great advice for internet discussions, but also perhaps difficult to the point of impossible for some people on some topics, like sexual violence. I think it places an undue burden on people who understandably feel strongly about it, who have been affected by it. Personally, could I ever be cool and detached about that, and do I think I should have to be or that I'd do a better job of holding my end of a discussion if I were? No, on all counts. Perhaps the difference is to make sure that one's points are blazing with strength rather than that all one writes is fire.

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The kyriarchy usually assumes that I am the kind of woman of whom it would approve. I have a peculiar kind of fun showing it just how much I am not.

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OhImpecuniousOne
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You're right - I didn't phrase that very well. [Smile] I was trying to get at the point that writing clearly and logically is usually the best way, and that's a lot easier if you're not boiling over with fury. Having lots of emotion behind what you're saying can be a great thing - but just expressing the emotion doesn't tend to work as well as well. Especially when talking about sex-related issues, where all sorts of isms make it more likely that the person you're talking to might dismiss your comments as sensationalist.

It's a big rush to be absolutely furious about something, but still calm enough to argue cuttingly. [Smile]

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acb
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I just wanted to clarify what I meant, it was a bit vague... What I meant was that although we often talk about logic and emotion as if they are very separate, they actually impact on each other a lot but sometimes it's hard to sort out what is what and how to explain that. Though putting different types of knowledge in a hierarchy isn't good, it does help to be mindful of the different ways people are looking at a situation and how they overlap, because it helps you explain it to the other people better. I think Redskies basically expressed that better than I did but I just felt like it was worth pointing out that's what I meant. (Also: 'make sure that one's points are blazing with strength rather than that all one writes is fire' is becoming my new online activist motto).

However, what I was more getting at is that the person on the other end of the argument has their own bias and feelings and understanding of the issue too. For example, if someone starts off agreeing with you and then you mention consent not counting if someone is drunk and suddenly they tell you rape culture isn't real, maybe it's because as you said that they are questioning whether that time they took someone home too drunk counts as rape and they sort of had a feeling it wasn't OK but they never thought they were a rapist but suddenly they think they might be. So they violently disagree with you to clear their own conscience. That's just one off the top of my head example, but I find it helps me be more patient and constructive if I try to remember that the person on the other keyboard is a person too, who is (hopefully) not just writing whatever they're writing to make me angry.

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