No, We Won’t Calm Down!

By Robot Hugs on Sunday November 20th, 2016

How Tone Policing Protects Privilege

“Calm down so we can discuss this like adults.”

Have you ever tone policed someone in a conversation on oppression? Tone policing focuses on the emotion behind a message, rather than the message itself.

You might think you’re helping by making the conversation more “comfortable”, but this comic by Robot Hugs makes a great point about how tone policing protects privilege – and silences people who are hurting. This is no way to get justice, and this breakdown will help you understand exactly why.


tone policing1tone policing2tone policing3tone policing4

How do you feel about this article? Join the conversation.

Words By Robot Hugs

Originally posted on , Everyday Feminism




Remember This When You Talk About Standing Rock


How to Hold Space for Yourself


13 Sensitive Ways to Help Someone in Mourning

Subscribe to UPLIFT

UPLIFT is dedicated to telling the new story of inspired co-creation.

Get free updates and news about UPLIFT events and films.

How will my data be used?



2 Responses to No, We Won’t Calm Down!

  1. No, we wont calm down 20161120

    Two things come to mind after reading this.
    1) This is a very elaborate and well thought out attempt at describing one of many characteristics of human behavior.Nicely done.
    However, it also appears to be designed to generate a degree of divisiveness. That somehow emotions and intellect must always have to be at odds, and that intellect is the process of the bully “tone policing”.
    I beg to differ. If you stand a little further back to grasp the larger dynamic, I think it is pretty plain to see that that BOTH intellect and emotion can be used as dominating tools. Its not an either / or dualistic process. In a larger context, both of these are under the umbrella of intent and purpose of all the participants.Unfortunately, we do not have a very good vocabulary to discuss this underlying dynamic.
    This article also seems to be being used to support current views regarding the concept of privilege. This seems a bit disingenuous in that anyone with more options can use emotionalism and intellect by default more freely pretty much equally. If they are really talented they can use both in alternating complex ways to manipulate as a double barreled approach. Certain famous ideologues come to mind. There have been and are plenty of example of people who can use both methods in an interlaced fashion to exercise power and control.

    2) This article requires reason and intellect to process. But the implied conclusion is that intellect is primarily responsible for conducting “tone policing” and should be resisted. That seems to be contradictory somehow.

  2. When our brain activates our sympathetic nervous system we actvate our fight or flight response. Our attention turns to survival verses intellectual reasoning. Even when anger does not push someone to activate the sympathetic nervous system it still short circuits critical thinking skills. Calming down allows everyone to think clearly and make more informed decisions. Sometimes science trumps social justice.

Leave a reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.