Last week, I posted about how discouraging the VOYA scandal was to me as a queer writer. Following the scandal, the “Keep YA Kind” people came out of the woodwork to criticize Tristina and others in the queer YA community about how we “handled” the VOYA situation.
As if we are a monolith. As if there is only one queer YA viewpoint. Any good writer knows that any group is composed of multiple subgroups, some of which may disagree with the views and methods of others in the group. While the queer YA community often jumps to the defense of our own, we are not a monolith.
That aside, I want to write a little on tone policing. Tone policing is when people dismiss those who present an argument in an “angry tone” without responding to the merits of the argument. Because something is said in an angry tone, instead of in the calm and dispassionate tone, the statement is that no one needs pay any attention to the message itself.
Tone policing is a silencing tactic and a derailing tactic. It tells marginalized people that our voices do not deserve to be heard unless we can divorce our emotions from our message. It also derails the discussion from the actual issue–in this case, biphobia–onto the issue of tone. If only “they” spoke and acted civilly, much more would be accomplished. But where is the evidence that this is true?
And more importantly, who could react dispassionately when they are being discriminated against? Anger and frustration are central to the issues we are trying to discuss. I have a right to be angry when I am being marginalized. Some others in my same marginalized group might not react the same way (read above: we are not a monolith), but that doesn’t make an angry response any less valid. Almost anyone would become angry and frustrated when a trade publication such as VOYA further stacks the deck in a system that is already stacked against them. I know I am.