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A recent STFU diary about #yesallwomen and violence against women triggered an angry rebuttal:

"I'm in pain" and "I'm morally outraged" can sway a lot of opinion (as well it should), but it isn't a substitute for debate.
And more directly,
Shut The Fuck Up means one thing and one thing alone:  the debate is over and the lecture has started.
We're not supposed to just tell people STFU, because that shuts down the debate.  It doesn't elevate the debate.  It isn't a substitute for a debate.

But wait a minute, what debate?  What about #yesallwomen is up for debate?

I've encountered this attitude on other sites as well:  men complaining that they get shouted down if they try to "add their voices to the #YesAllWomen debate."  But #Yesallwomen is not a debate.  It's an ad-hoc hashtag support group where people are sharing personal stories of violence and living with the threat of violence against women.  

What, exactly, is debatable about that?  What about those stories are supposed to be debated or disputed?  What aspect of #yesallwomen do people see as a matter of debate?  Whether that threat of violence is real?  Whether rape is bad?  Whether the #yesallwomen conversation is legitimate?  Whether women really are victims of this sort of thing, and really do have it worse than men?  In what sense is #yesallwomen a "debate?"

I completely agree that STFU "shuts down debate," but I don't see why that's a bad thing.  Some things are not debates, and attempts to make them into debates would be both illogical and callous.  You don't stand up in a funeral and interrupt the eulogy to argue about the politics of population growth, because that funeral service is not supposed to be a fucking debate.  The eulogy is not a debate.  If you stand up and try to argue, people will tell you to STFU, and more importantly, those people are right.  Those people aren't "shutting down debate" or lowering the debate; they are not, in fact, the problem at all.  

Likewise, if people form an ad-hoc Twitter support group to share personal stories of violence, that isn't a debate either.  If you see that as a debate to be had (again, a debate over what, exactly?) then you will likewise trigger some angry responses, responses that are perfectly legitimate.

I should go to bed now, so let me end with a story.  I have this coffee mug:

When I was a grad student, I had this mug on my desk, and I took it with me to my prospectus talk/oral general exam so I could have some water to sip during my talk.  

One member on my committee really thought I was an idiot (although, to be fair, he had a point,) and he kept on asking me rudimentary questions and generally being cocky as all get-out.  At one point, when he asked me a belligerent question, I paused, picked up the mug, and took a loooong sip while looking him straight in the eye.  Then I answered him.

Of course, a dude from his generation had no idea what STFU meant, but I did it for the other grad students in the room.  Afterwards, they were telling me that I was insane for doing that, and they were struggling not to laugh after the initial terror subsided.  I therefore contend that not all STFUs shut down academic discourse; sometimes they may actually enhance it.

Originally posted to Caj on Fri May 30, 2014 at 10:42 PM PDT.

Also republished by Barriers and Bridges and This Week in the War on Women.

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