Culture News

Maybe Cancel "Lolita" Instead of Madison Beer?

But was Beer's off-hand comment so bad?

It's not often that 65-year-old literature becomes the center of online controversy–but maybe it should happen more often.

On Monday, 21-year-old singer Madison Beer faced backlash when she replied to a fan's question about what she thought of Vladimir Nabokov's 1955 novel about a middle-aged man's predatory obsession with his 12-year-old stepdaughter. During the livestream, Beer said it was her favorite book and that she "definitely" romanticized the storyline.

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Culture Feature

Don't Listen to Trisha Paytas' Nonsense: What to Watch Instead

Known for her outstandingly ignorant comment on trans issues and mindless content, the 31-year-old has received a backlash for her new claims to have DID.

YouTube personality Trisha Paytas has ignited new controversy with her new self-diagnosis of Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID).

Known for her outstandingly ignorant comments on transgender issues and mindless content like "making out with my couch," the 31-year-old has received a backlash for her new claims to have DID. Her recent video, "MEET MY ALTERS | Dissociative Identity Disorder," has been viewed 851,000 times as of this writing, and her following video, "My Alters SWITCH (Caught on Camera) LIVE FOOTAGE!" received 275,000 views within the first 14 hours. While it is no one's place, other than her doctor's, to judge whether or not Paytas has the disorder, she admits that she has never been diagnosed by a professional. The influencer then goes on to spread alarmingly incorrect–and outright dangerous–information about DID.

Formerly known as "multiple personality disorder" (a generally inaccurate term that has not been used by mental health professionals for decades), DID is a complex disorder that's often been misrepresented in the media. As Harvard-trained psychologist Dr. Robert Muller writes, DID is very real: "DID is formally recognized as a psychiatric diagnosis in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, the DSM-V. The patient must show at least two identities/personalities, also known as alters which routinely take control of the individual's behavior along with an associated memory loss that goes beyond normal forgetfulness."

But too often, mental illnesses have been used as dramatic plot devices with little regard for scientific accuracy or their stigmatizing effects on society, from the best-selling book and '70s TV miniseries Sybil to the 2017 superhero movie Split. In reality, Sybil was based on a sensationalized story that was later revealed to be fabricated, while Split is a damaging representation of DID that implies "alters" (the "altered states of consciousness" that manifest with DID) can be homicidally dangerous and criminally insane. In truth, people with DID are no more likely to be violent than any one else; in fact, they are more likely to become the victim of a crime due the brain's responses to trauma.

In the last decade, representations of DID in the media have become especially common. From 2009 to 2011, Showtime's United States of Tara starred Toni Collette as an average suburban mother who struggles to accept and cope with her disorder while raising a family. The award-winning 2010 film Frankie and Alice stars Halle Berry as an exotic dancer who discovers she's developed, among others, an alter of a racist young woman named Alice. Both Collette and Berry were nominated for a Golden Globe for their performances. However, individuals diagnosed with DID had mixed views, pointing out inaccuracies and general dramatizations of the disorder and denouncing press coverage that negatively described individuals with DID as "deranged" and "damaged." Conversely, FX's Mr. Robot has been generally praised for its accurate depictions of dissociative states. Rami Malek plays a troubled young man whose past trauma has induced retrograde amnesia, causing him to hallucinate fantastical clues about his past. In an anonymous essay titled "I Am Mr. Robot," a writer with DID commended the show's "fantastic job of theatrically reproducing the experience of navigating interactions with dissociative 'parts.'"

It's because of that history of misrepresentation and stigmatization of mental disorders that Trisha Paytas isn't just another clickbait YouTuber desperate for attention; she's dangerous. Her recent videos claiming that she has DID and spreading misinformation about the disorder have been widely debunked, both on

YouTube and by mental health professionals. Among her factual errors, she referred to the condition as "multiple personality disorder" and inaccurately defined what an "alter" is. As an individual with nearly 5 million You Tube followers, using that platform to describe a mental disorder as "crazy" while spreading misinformation only further stigmatizes that disorder and undercuts all activism that works to destigmatize all mental health issues.


So rather than giving her more revenue for clicks (and rather than contributing to the outrage or calling to "cancel" her), why not walk away from the mayhem and tune in to one the following sources about DID:

1. Anthony Padilla

Padilla's trending video is what prompted Paytas' announcement that she had DID. However, unlike Paytas, Padilla uses his platform to speak to individuals diagnosed with DID and highlighting their voice to describe their own experiences.

Highlights include:

  • The first recorded case of DID was in 1791.
  • An estimated 1 - 3% of the world population has DID (which is the same percentage of people who have red hair).

I spent a day with MULTIPLE PERSONALITIES (Dissociative Identity Disorder) youtu.be

2. The Many Sides of Jane (Hulu)

A&E's docuseries follows Jane Hart, a single mother of two boys, who was recently diagnosed with DID.

Highlights include:

  • Different "alters" develop in order to fulfill specific needs
  • DID develops as the result of sustained and repeated childhood trauma (Trigger Warning for Childhood Abuse and Vague Descriptions of Sexual Assault).

Many Sides of Jane | Premieres January 22nd at 10/9c | A&E youtu.be

3. Multiplicity and Me (YouTube)

As a prominent voice within the active DID community on YouTube, a young woman named Jess uses 360 video technology, scripted monologues of real conversations between her actual alters, and actors to create a visual depiction of what life with DID is like.

Highlights include:

  • Alters work together to manage daily life and process trauma from the past.
  • Different alters hold different memories from the past.

Dissociative Identity SIMULATION | 360° video! youtu.be

4. DissociaDID (YouTube)

As one of the individuals featured in Anthony Padilla's video, "I spent a day with MULTIPLE PERSONALITIES," DissociaDID was criticized by name in Trisha Paytas' video. The channel is run by a young English woman named Nin (formerly called Chloe), who posted her reaction to Paytas and debunked the misinformation and factual errors in the video. The entire channel is dedicated to destigmatizing DID, as well as other related mental illnesses, such as depression and anxiety.

Highlights include:

  • There is no one "original" personality. All alters are parts of one whole
  • "Alters" are whole personalities–whole people–by themselves.

Meet SIX Alters! THE GIRLS OF DISSOCIADID | Meet The Alters | Dissociative Identity Disorder youtu.be

Culture News

Woody Allen's Memoir Will No Longer Be Published

Hachette employees walked out on Thursday in protest of Woody Allen's no-longer-forthcoming memoir.

Update: Woody Allen's memoir will no longer be published.

This news came after a public outcry against the book. On Thursday, over 100 protesters gathered in Rockefeller Plaza outside of the publishing company Hachette's offices.

They were there to make three demands of Michael Pietsch, the chief executive: First, that he rescind his decision to publish Woody Allen's memoir, second that he apologize for approving its publication in the first place, and third that he "recognize that Hachette employees have the ability to speak up about books they disagree with without fear of reprisal," as The New York Times reported.

"This afternoon, Grand Central Publishing employees are walking out of the Hachette New York office in protest of the publication of Woody Allen's memoir," said employees in an email. "We stand in solidarity with Ronan Farrow, Dylan Farrow, and survivors of sexual assault."

Woody Allen has been the subject of multiple sexual misconduct allegations, and most notably he was accused of molesting his daughter Dylan Farrow in the 1990s. Though Allen has denied the accusations and was never convicted, Farrow has stood by her statements and has been supported by her brother, Ronan. On Tuesday, the two released passionate statements in protest to news of the book's release.



Allen's memoir, Apropos of Nothing, was slated to come out on April 7. In response to the protest, a Hachette spokeswoman wrote in a Thursday evening email, "We respect and understand the perspective of our employees who have decided to express their concern over the publication of this book. We will engage our staff in a fuller discussion about this at the earliest opportunity."

"At HBG we take our relationships with authors very seriously, and do not cancel books lightly," she said on Friday. "We have published and will continue to publish many challenging books," she continued, but last minute listening sessions had led "to the conclusion that moving forward with publication would not be feasible".

While of course these employees all had the right to protest, there is some debate over whether or not the memoir should've been published.

According to Suzanne Nossel, the chief executive of PEN America, "We believe everyone — including authors and publishing employees — has the right to express their opinions and raise their voices in protest. That said," she noted, "we also are concerned about the trend of pressuring the withdrawal of books from publication and circulation, depriving readers of the chance to make their own judgments and disincentivizing publishers from taking on contentious topics. While we don't take a position on the editorial judgments in question, we think that once a book is slated for publication, it should not be withdrawn just because it's controversial or gives rise to vociferous objections."

It all comes back to the classic question: Can you separate the art from the artist, and at what point are they inextricable? When does a critique based in social solidarity or ideology become censorship? And aren't the biases inherent in the publishing industry their own forms of censorship as these biases tend to favor certain voices and faces (namely, established voices who will make money) above others? Perhaps this will all lead to a deeper conversation on both sides about who has the right to tell what story.

In the end, it's important to remember that although Woody Allen's memoir was pulled from the shelves, the man is still doing just fine, while abuse survivors continue to suffer even if their abusers are brought to justice.

This article was updated from an earlier version on Friday, March 6.

CULTURE

Harvey Weinstein Guilty of Sexual Assault, Still Treated Leniently

The producer was acquitted of the most serious charges against him.

On Monday morning, a jury in Manhattan Supreme Court concluded four full days of deliberation by finding Harvey Weinstein guilty.

More than 30 actresses have accused Weinstein of assault, six of which testified before the jury (which was comprised of seven men and five women). The disgraced producer was convicted of a first-degree criminal sex act against a former production assistant Miriam Haleyi, an incident that took places in Weinstein's SoHo apartment in 2006, and of third-degree rape for the assault of actress Jessica Mann.

Of the five charges against Weinstein, he could only be convicted of two due to the structure of the charges and their overlapping nature. As for the three other charges against Weinstein, he was cleared of the most serious, including predatory sex assault, which could have carried a life sentence in prison. For his crimes, Weinstein faces between 5 and 25 years in prison for committing a criminal sexual act, as well as a sentence from probation to 4 years in prison for third-degree rape.

Assistant District Attorney Meghan Hast asserted in her opening statement: "Here the rapist was at the pinnacle, at the very profession his victims strived to make a career in. Thus, the power and balance he deviously exploited was not just physical, it was also professional and profoundly psychological." During closing statements, Assistant District Attorney Joan Illuzzi added, "The universe is run by [Weinstein] so, therefore, they don't get to complain when they're stepped on, spit on, demoralized, and then, yes, raped and abused. He made sure he can contact the people he was worried about as a little check to make sure one day they wouldn't walk out in the shadows and call him what he was: an abusive rapist."

CULTURE

What Happened at Sarah Lawrence and Why You Keep Reading About "Sex Cults"

Each story inevitably brings up the same questions: Who is susceptible to cult recruitment? Why do people stay? What's the appeal of a cult leader?

Illustration by: Christian Arnder

You've probably read more about the disturbing prevalence of cults than you've ever wanted to, as 2019 featured more headlines about "cults"—especially "sex cults"—than any other previous year (according to analysts who break down what news most often ruins your mornings).

Last January, Lifetime exposed R. Kelly's alleged "sex cult" comprised of underage girls in his mansion. CW actress Allison Mack pleaded guilty for running Keith Raniere's "sex-cult" in Albany after former members alleged that his "self-improvement organization for women," NXIVM, blackmailed young women to be Raniere's personal "slaves." But another disturbing story has shined a spotlight on cult-like activities in the murky regions of upstate New York, this time at Sarah Lawrence College. Each story inevitably brings up the same questions: Who is susceptible to cult recruitment? Why do people stay? What is the appeal of a cult leader?

Lawrence Ray, the father of a student at Sarah Lawrence, was recently charged by federal law enforcement for extortion, forced prostitution, and forced labor. Last year, New York Magazine first exposed the con-man's manipulation of undergraduates at Sarah Lawrence, an insular liberal arts school. In 2010, Lawrence Ray moved into his daughter's on-campus dorm after being released from prison for insurance fraud. He swiftly manipulated students into believing he was a former CIA operative and an ex-Marine who had developed a "core program of personal transformation." Preying on the teenagers' insecurities and quests for self-discovery, he maintained psychological control over his daughter and her classmates through bizarre versions of pseudo-therapy, leading to the teens' financial, sexual, and emotional exploitation.

popdust sarah lawrence sex cult Lawrence Ray New York Post

R. Kelly, NXIVM's founder Keith Raniere, and Ray each accrued power through four basic cult tactics. Janja Lalich, a professor of sociology at California State University in Chico, told The Cut, "I think if there's any common denominator, it's idealism." She elaborated, "People end up being in what I call a bounded reality. They're in a different world from you and I. They're in this very closed world, this other reality where that kind of evil became normalized. So the way that their own self-confidence and sense of morality was broken down over time is what allowed this to take place."

To begin with, it's a myth that cult recruits are necessarily mentally ill or weak-willed. Psychologists have long pointed out that most people can be susceptible to cult influence if they find themselves under certain types of duress. Research shows that financial stress, a lack of social support from friends or family, and emotional vulnerability stemming from prior abuse, a death in the family, or living away from home for the first time makes one a "prime target" for cult recruitment. When Ezra Marcus and James D. Walsh profiled Larry Ray, they described the students he indoctrinated into his ideology as "in some ways typical Sarah Lawrence students: an artistic, bookish group of introverts with good grades. ('We're different, so are you,' goes one of the school's slogans.) They were also sensitive and, in ways common to 19-year-olds, searching for guidance."

Ray immediately "planted himself in the common area, cooking steak dinners and ordering expensive delivery for [his daughter] and her seven housemates." One of the housemates later reflected, "He did all of our cleaning and definitely took on the dad role in the house in a big way." It was typical behavior for a cult leader. An individual's first encounter with a cult typically entails a form of "love-bombing," which is a concerted effort by cult members to flatter, support, and validate a target. Cult awareness expert Ronald N. Loomis describes this practice on college campuses as "a recruiter approaching the student and doing everything [they] can to make the student feel special and unique. They're quickly trying to convey the message that I am your new best friend. And they will fake mutual interests in order to give the impression that they share many things in common."

popdust sex cult keith raniere Keith Raniere in a NXIVM meetingArtVoice

Emotional and physical isolation only enhance that sense of trust and reliance. Both NXIVM and Larry Ray enjoyed strongholds in upstate New York: provincial areas where small-town ethos made social isolation easy. Marcus and Walsh noted, "Located just above the city limits of New York, Sarah Lawrence looks as if it had been plucked from a New England town and plopped 15 miles north of Times Square. It can feel whimsically sheltered, even more so than most liberal-arts colleges." Geographical isolation, be it a sheltered student dorm or the confines of R. Kelly's Georgia mansion, facilitate social alienation from friends and family, causing recruits to grow more dependent on a cult leader.

Above all, control is what keeps individuals trapped within a cycle of manipulation and exploitation. Most commonly, recruits are terrorized and "punished" for perceived slights against the leader (Ray is said to have sexually tortured at least one male student and forced others to have sex with him), and then they are ultimately "forgiven" and lavished with affection. Social psychologist Alexandra Stein explains, "When we are frightened, we don't simply run away from the fear, but run to a safe haven, 'to someone…'—and that someone is usually a person to whom we feel attached. But when the supposed safe haven is also the source of the fear, then running to that person is a failing strategy, causing the frightened person to freeze, trapped between approach and avoidance."

popdust sex cult r kelly mansion R. Kelly's mansion11Alive

NXIVM leaders and Ray also kept followers under their control through threats of blackmail. They both used pseudo-therapy sessions to manipulate followers into confessing their most private secrets, whether in the form of illicit photographs or stories of childhood trauma. Ray would alternate between accusing individuals of "sabotaging" his teachings in order to demand financial compensation and preying on traumatic memories to form toxic sexual relationships with young students.

Ray continued to live with two of his followers even after they graduated from Sarah Lawrence, with three others regularly visiting their shared apartment in Upper Manhattan. "Larry was a chameleon," says one long-time acquaintance of Ray. "He could be a good ol' boy or a patriot, or he'd pull out a pipe and fake glasses and he'd be an intellectual. He would juggle ten different people at the same time, telling each of them one piece of a story he wanted them to know and convincing them that he wanted them to be part of his master plan."

Ray's former friend and ex-NYC Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik describe the con-man as a "psychotic con man who has victimized every friend he's ever had." He adds, "It's been close to 20 years since I last heard from him, yet his reign of terror continues." Indeed, Ray has a long history of paranoia that includes claims that Kerik and Rudy Giuliani are conspiring against him. "It's clear they want to kill us," Ray told The Cut, "They're arrogant, they're violent, they're terrible people."

Until this week's arrest and charging of Ray, the only legal action taken against him had been his landlord's eviction of him in 2014; he counter-sued and won. While Ray, his daughter, and a few former followers have denied the allegations against him, a number of students have since survived suicide attempts and sought counseling for ex-cult members. At least one former student was in hiding from Ray.

While unsettling headlines about "sex cults" inevitably shock and appall, exposing the inner workings of cults hopefully serves as calls to action. NXIVM's Keith Raniere was found guilty of racketeering and sex trafficking. R. Kelly has been charged with 10 counts of aggravated sexual abuse and faces three separate trials. While Ray's lawyer contests the claims in The Cut's article, Ray, now 60 years old, admits to knowingly accepting a young woman's earnings from prostitution; in fact, he was reportedly "pleased" with her "efforts to pay him back" for an alleged debt. Prosecutors say that The Cut's findings spurred them to investigate and ultimately charge Ray with threats and coercion, extortion, forced labor, sex trafficking, and money laundering. This Wednesday, he pleaded not guilty.


Culture Feature

Why We Shouldn’t Cancel Cancel Culture: We Need Transformative Justice

To cancel cancel culture—and to write off the impulses that motivate it—would be to miss a valuable chance to learn.

Kanye West is canceled.

James Charles is canceled. Doja Cat is canceled. Harvey Weinstein is canceled. J. K. Rowling is canceled. Dave Chappelle is canceled. Donald Trump and all his supporters are canceled. Camila Cabello is canceled. Boomers are canceled. And now, cancel culture itself has been canceled.

The term "cancel culture" has quickly become one of the most discussed trends of the digital age. America is canceled, murder is canceled, Earth is canceled. If one were to scrape through everything I have ever said and written with a fine-toothed comb, I would probably be canceled, and you likely would be, too. As Jonah Engel Bromwich reported in The New York Times, "Everyone is canceled." Maybe we should all just go back to sleep.

Though it would be simple enough to rehash the argument that we should just "cancel cancel culture," cancel culture isn't disappearing anytime soon. Neither are the systemic forces of oppression and the forces of human nature that created it.

Instead of arguing for a complete end of cancel culture, we should ask if there's a way to move past cancel culture's flaws without completely shutting down the deeper meanings and gems of potential buried within the term.

Well+Good

The Case for Canceling Cancel Culture: Twitter, Queer Infighting, and Capitalism

Humans have always been "canceling" each other; it's a way of shaping and solidifying societal values. But the term "canceled" (as we understand it today) actually appeared sometime around 2015, when the hashtag #cancelled appeared on Black Twitter. Initially, cancel culture was used as a way of leveraging the collectivity inherent on the Internet and the attention economy and using this power to critique people in positions of power. In theory, it is a way of giving voice to the marginalized and the voiceless.

Yet inevitably—perhaps because it originated from a place of brokenness and anger—cancel culture began to twist and bend out of shape. It started coming for the powerless, shutting down discussions that would've been beneficial, splintering communities and stymying learning opportunities.

Of cancel culture in the queer community, Ryan Li Dahlstrom writes, "I'm feeling really tired of the call out culture on social media especially within the queer/trans people of color communities. We need to center and build relationships with each other…By making these public attacks on each other, we are engaging in the same disposability politics of capitalism and the prison industrial complex that we purport to be against while feeding into state surveillance tactics that are monitoring how we are tearing each other down."

Cancel culture ultimately idealizes unattainable standards, a fact that led even Barack Obama to critique the trend. "This idea of purity and you're never compromised and you're always politically 'woke' and all that stuff," he said. "The world is messy; there are ambiguities… People who do really good stuff have flaws." He emphasized that cancel culture "is not activism," which it isn't. It can provide immediate gratification and can be cathartic—but while writing a poem about how angry you are (usually) doesn't hurt anyone, cancel culture can have visceral consequences, particularly for people without the resources to bounce back.

Glamour.com

It can also lead to burnout on all sides. "One way to heal this emotional drain is to consider what change you're hoping for. Do you actually want this person to learn and do better, or just to feel bad about what they did?" writes Maisha Z. Johnson.

This isn't to say we shouldn't be angry, or that we should all just "get along"; centrism, tolerance, and "politeness" have always been used to breed stagnancy and cover up true harm. But it's important to remember that cancel culture usually does very little to change the things it was trying to address, like systemic violence, racism, transphobia, and the like. If anything, it can perpetuate unproductive constructs. Critiquing Lana Del Rey for dating a cop might feel satisfactory in the short-term, but we can't delude ourselves into thinking it will do anything at all about police brutality.

As Jonah Engel Bromwich writes, "Only those whose power is, for the most part, predicated on the attention economy are susceptible to cancellation." This means that politicians, businessmen, and the people truly in charge of power structures often avoid being canceled while ordinary Internet users become targets, treated as if they single-handedly created massive social issues like racism or capitalism, treated as if they were not broken people with lives and the capacity to change.

Many have noted that cancel culture is a capitalist and carceral practice, one that breeds isolation, competition, and dehumanization. "[Cancel culture] speaks to a lifestyle of commodity, consumerism and capitalism, of transactions being canceled. It's a very transactional word," says Jason Richards, the writer of an episode of Joanne the Scammer that featured an early use of the term "canceled."

According to eminent scholar, preacher, and writer Michael Eric Dyson, cancel culture is literally "the internalization of an ethic of white supremacy, which is wanting to cancel black people from the beginning." Instead, he says, "We have to stand outside and protest and force people inside of the system to do the right thing."

In short, cancel culture takes our eyes off of the prize, which is—ideally—a better world.

The Case Against Canceling Cancel Culture: Learning from Aziz Ansari, Lana Del Rey, and Our Mistakes

All that said, it's tempting to say we should just cancel cancel culture itself. Realistically, though, this won't happen. Whether you think it's real or not, cancel culture generates massive amounts of attention and capital, meaning that it'll continue to be fueled by click-hungry websites and by the parts of us that long for likes, engagement, and revenge.

nytimes.com

Plus, the Internet is a natural breeding ground for call-outs. This may be thanks to something the writer Ginger Gorman has called the "online disinhibition effect," which is when people online say things they'd never dream of uttering in real life. And of course, this world offers no shortage of reasons to be angry.

Ultimately, to cancel cancel culture—and to write off the impulses and anger that motivate it—would be to miss a valuable chance to learn from it.

We can honor the fact that cancelations often stem from places of deep pain and insecurity, often rooted in larger issues, while also understanding that the point-blank nature of cancel culture may be unproductive. For example, many men now live in fear of being accused of sexual misconduct, but women have always lived in constant fear of sexual assault. Instead of shutting down the voices of men who fear sexual assault accusations, we need to invest time and energy into dialogue about how men might avoid assaulting women. We could dive deeper into the root causes of sexual assault, like toxic masculinity and trauma, and focus on healing the wounds that created them.

This doesn't mean we should excuse abusers, but one of the most positive results of the increased dialogue about sexual abuse is the widespread proliferation of information about what constitutes consent. We should be highlighting the lessons we might learn from people like Aziz Ansari, whose cancelation generated a great deal of vitriol—but also created an opportunity for rich, nuanced discussions.

slate.com

We should uplift all people who commit to healing and practicing radical love after (or ideally, before) being accused of something, just as we should honor women and people of all genders for their growth, not just their mistakes and traumas. It may be idealistic to think this is possible, but what would the alternative be? Total nihilism? People are always changing, and those who show a clear willingness to listen and learn from their mistakes deserve the space to do so. They should not be cast off into the wilderness or made into pariahs. We shouldn't rely on the methods of the power structures we're trying to replace.

Transformative Justice Approaches to Cancel Culture

In New York City, people have been writing the same message all over the subways: "We are not in the business of policing each other." We should, however, be in the business of remaining open to questions, to change, and to our own complexity.

The process of diving into the root causes of things, embracing complexity, and focusing on the outcomes we wish to see rather than the problems at hand are all part of a practice called transformative justice. This practice originated in the worlds of prison justice and gender-based violence organizing, but it's very applicable alternative to cancel culture. Transformative justice "seeks to provide people who experience violence with immediate safety and long-term healing and reparations while holding people who commit violence accountable within and by their communities," according to usprisonculture.com. It's about advocating for learning, conversation, and growth instead of silence and ostracization.

Transformative justice is not the same as unconditional forgiveness. It means creating opportunities for repentance, reparations, and ongoing healing for all parties involved. It means channeling our rage into action, organizing, and community-building, not using it to tear others down. In this broken world, maybe the best we can do is learn from our mistakes and help others do the same.

The activist and writer adrienne maree brown makes a passionate, beautiful argument for why we need to replace cancel culture with transformative justice approaches. "Is this what we're here for? To cultivate a fear-based adherence to reductive common values?" she asks. "What can this lead to in an imperfect world full of sloppy complex humans? Is it possible we will call each other out until there's no one left beside us?"

adriennemareebrown.net

If we continue to cancel each other instead of focusing on growth and systemic change, she implies, we'll merely perpetuate the philosophies that got us into all these messes in the first place. But "if we want to create a world in which conflict and trauma aren't the center of our collective existence, we have to practice something new, ask different questions, access again our curiosity about each other as a species," brown writes. "I believe transformative justice could yield deeper trust, resilience and interdependence."

This approach can be useful for those on every side of a potential cancelation. "What the majority dismisses as so-called hate is usually honest criticism that needs to be addressed," advises Erin Tatum. "In lieu of justifying your actions, try channeling your energy into understanding the other person's perspective." When we are the ones being called out, we can try to practice understanding the complexity of the other person's perspectives, and we can realize that we aren't personally being attacked. We might also acknowledge that we might have done something wrong, but this doesn't mean that we can't learn and grow. Acknowledging our mistakes and inherent biases is the first step to getting over things like white fragility, and it's a way to heal deeper wounds instead of trying to stitch them up by opening more.

As brown writes, "All these mass and intimate punishments keep us small and fragile. And right now our movements and the people within them need to be massive and complex and strong."