Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.
When is it acceptable to engage with a group that you fundamentally disagree with? Is it ok to go to a homophobic church or be friends with misogynistic people?
“Acceptable” is an interesting choice of word. There is nothing inherently “unacceptable” about this — your choices are freely yours, provided they are not harming you or your mental health. If you are not feeling drained by the time you are spending in these circles, if it’s not impeding your ability to work towards a future you agree with, there is nothing unacceptable about your choices.
What is unacceptable is being complicit in a culture that suppresses the rights of certain groups. There can be significant benefits from forming relationships with people you think are well-meaning or good-hearted, but may have different perspectives from your own. Research has shown that the best way to change someone’s point of view is to simply engage them in a respectful conversation or discussion. You may be doing a universal service by remaining in these contexts, engaging with these viewpoints, and removing them from their echo chamber. This is not to suggest that it is your job to educate homophobes or misogynists; rather, this is one role you can serve if you do choose to remain in these contexts.
How do I tell someone that the person they’re seeing is a rapist?
First and foremost, recognize that this is not your responsibility — healing processes are allowed to be individual, and having knowledge in these cases does not necessitate action. Although The Daily Gazette does not, at this time, feel like we are the best-equipped to answer this question, here are several campus resources who may be able to meet with you, confidentially or otherwise, to discuss your specific concerns.
Ask us anything! Submit your questions to https://thedailygazette.tumblr.com/ask.
Featured image courtesy of The Daily Gazette.