Meaningful Learning


Navigating Advocacy and Understanding: A Call for Empathy in Discourse

I am now reflecting on a recent post discussing the request for empathy towards a prominent woman in government regarding her mental health and legal issues. Unfortunately, this post triggered continuous trolling from a specific individual who seemed to misinterpret the post’s intention, resorting to personal attacks against both myself as the author and other women who shared their thoughts. Notably, responses from men expressing support for my discussion were frequently overlooked.
Expressing support for women or marginalised groups does not imply an endorsement of misandry or the exclusion of other perspectives. When addressing issues such as misogyny, it is not an attempt to diminish the experiences of men; rather, it’s a focused discussion on specific challenges faced by women.
This principle extends to discussions within cultural spaces, where advocating for minority or ethnic groups doesn’t negate the importance of other individuals. Instead, it highlights the marginalised or abused experiences of those specific communities. Drawing parallels with the response to “Black Lives Matter” where “All Lives Matter” emerged, it’s crucial to understand that focusing on a specific issue does not negate the significance of others. Accusations of misandry in response to discussions about misogyny miss the point entirely.
My recent posts discussing the challenges faced by women in the AoNZ Parliament resulted in accusations of misandry because it didn’t explicitly mention challenges faced by men. However, the intention was to shed light on a specific issue without diminishing the experiences of others.
A further issue is the all-too-common retort of, “with your qualifications, you should know better,” more often addressed towards women. Highly educated women, like anyone else, have the right to express their opinions without being silenced. Disagreeing with someone’s viewpoint should be about the argument, not an attempt to invalidate their credentials.
Unfortunately, there is a prevalent trend of attacking women who voice their opinions or have notable achievements. This reflects the very issue being discussed – the reluctance to accept strong, accomplished women.
In advocating for vulnerable or minority groups, there’s a concerning pattern of quick backlash and attacks against the messenger. This behaviour contradicts the essence of the issues being highlighted. Presently, it’s evident that standing tall as a woman, being Māori in the face of white privilege, or identifying with the trans community as three examples is met with rampant bullying, which is both appalling and disturbing.
The discourse surrounding these issues must evolve to foster empathy, understanding, and an inclusive space where diverse perspectives are acknowledged without undermining the experiences of any group.


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