[Activist Modus Operandi] Methods of Communication

03Oct09

Clarifications: This post is only regarding tactics, not people. The Nuker is not an inherently angry person, just uses anger and harshness to get the job done. Most people blend these methods together into varying combinations and there are many people who are unable to use many of these methods for whatever reason. When I talk about blending these tactics together in balance, I don’t mean in one person. I mean in a group of people. I sure as hell can’t blend them in just me. ~KH

Activism is a fairly simple concept. You do stuff to make things better. Activism when it comes to marginalized populations is also relatively simple in concept. You do stuff to make things better, only you specifically have to stop marginalization, see past and slowly remove privilege and improve the lives of marginalized folk in order to make things better.

That’s where it stops being simple. Abruptly.

You see, there’s a lot of disagreement among activists about exactly how to achieve the conceptual goals above. And then you get into kyriarchy and intersection and you realize that it isn’t as simple as a binary of one privilege vs. one marginalization in a given context. It turns into a giant clusterfuck. And that’s where the arguments begin. You see, Activism is a thing you do. But the part that everyone gets hung up is… how do you do it? What is the Activist Modus Operandi? Well a big part of activism is, obviously, communication. One must get the word out there or one will be up shit creek without a paddle. And shit creek is a very inhospitable river (not actually made of shit but certainly filled with pollution). The reason for this is a minority population generally does not possess the social power to create change alone. This goes doubly so for a marginalized minority population (as marginalization by definition strips a group of power). So as sucky as that is, activism tends to largely be getting a stagnant, unthinking, privileged morass of majority folk in line with what you need. Often with many of them exhibiting some abhorrent tendencies towards bigotry. The stakes are high, so no wonder the arguments about how to pierce the stained glass window of privilege, battle the silencing, convince the naysayers and stop the hate are so intense.

These methods, of course, can be summarized under several easily remembered analogous categories (that actually act as two separate spectrums between opposing methods):

1: Nuker
Methods: Satire, rants, biting wit, clever trolling, griefer trolling, bluntness, calling out
Description: The Nuker is the hardcore angry activist. If you’ve ever seen the radicals with their faces covered by handkerchiefs, spray paint cans in their hands, you would think of a Nuker. The Nuker methodology is one of attention grabbing. The idea is, privilege robs people of perspective. It makes it hard, sometimes impossible to see or hear what a marginalized group is saying. A Nuker doesn’t let that go. You will notice. You will hear. It doesn’t matter if your feelings are hurt to the Nuker, because the Nuker does not see activism as being a coddling mission. Slicing a small bit of skin off a privileged person in order to get them to actually hear us when we say, “hey, you have your knife buried in my chest up to the hilt! Ow my fucking organs!” is a ‘sacrifice’ the Nuker is not only willing but happy to make. Nukers are the embodiment of rage. The fury of the oppressed and the terror for the oppressor.

2: Appeaser
Methods: Negotiation, peacemaking, calming, soothing hurt feelings, passive resistance, leading by peaceful example
Description: Appeasers are often seen as the polar opposite of the Nuker. They are your quiet softspoken, negotiating presence among activists. They give heartfelt speeches to appeal to the empathy of government as lobbyists. They are the ones who, when an oppressor doesn’t understand, will patiently and carefully explain things to them, calming themselves down so that the privileged person also remains calm. The Appeaser methodology is one of appealing. They seek to make themselves (and by consequence the movement) appealing to the majority oppressor population, currying their favor in order to get them to give progress on rights and needs with their higher levels of power. Appeasers always care what feelings they hurt and tread very carefully to avoid stepping on toes. They often feel that any approach that causes hurt of any level isn’t workable and that one must always hold the moral highground above the oppressor. An Appeaser works to passively resist everything around them, and I use the word passive not just in regards to violence but also in regards to stridency or harsh words. They choose their words carefully, taking the burden of pure educator onto themselves, in order to make all of the oppressor class see what’s going on.

3: Logic Bomber
Methods: Debate, fallacy calls, logical dissection of arguments, rationalist application of factual knowledge, scientific knowledge dropping, information overload
Description: The Logic Bomber is the information missile, descending on the head of the unwary privileged folk. They are a veritable arsenal of facts, figures, statistics and studies on the functionality of privilege, marginalization and oppression. They know all the math and they know how logic works. Rationalization will always fail when they find it, because they will pick apart any argument to its finest shreds and then label every single fallacy in triplicate. The so called rationalist bigots fear the Logic Bomber the most, because they completely lose the ability to claim that a marginalized group is crazy, delusional or wrong when that much factual information is dropped on their heads stating otherwise. Logic Bombers are highly effective info overloaders too. They bog down trolls with links to 101 posts and dissertations on privilege, they crush apologists under the weight of counter reasoning in giant, verbose, well thought out prose and they utterly destroy any attempt by bigots to look logical, intelligent or rational. Their methods arise from the comprehension that many people will hide from the reasons or quite truly don’t know what’s actually going on. Logic Bombers provide this information, clean and easy to read, and are quite willing to defend the info from every ill conceived attempt to derail or rationalize around it. They are relentless and intense in their knowledge.

4: Emoter
Methods: Emotional arguments/manipulation, appeals to empathy, personal narrative, analogies to the pain of others, emotional overload, sympathy accumulation.
Description: Emoters are often regarded as the polar opposite of the Logic Bombers. They speak from the gut, operating on one’s empathy, love and caring and if such is lacking, they seek to create it by sharing the horrors that a marginalized class faces. Emoters, much like the rest of them, involve a certain level of social engineering. For Emoters, it’s a bit more obvious. They seek to peak people’s emotions and manipulate how one feels about a given situation. Most privileged folk literally do not give a shit (and don’t even know what it’s like). It’s why idiots in America think we live in a post racial country. An Emoter not only presents personal narratives of horrible things but puts them in such a way that even privileged folk can connect to them and then start feeling horrible that such things happen. Emoters don’t depend on logical arguments or scientific material and operate almost entirely on the way people feel. They seek to literally create the empathy necessary to have lasting allies for a movement through more subtle means than the standard appeaser does. They also aren’t necessarily above using Nuker tactics (just very emotional ones). Emoters aren’t necessarily nice and cuddly or angry and super upset. They merely use emotional arguments and play on the heartstrings of others. Emoters believe that bringing someone emotionally on board means they can’t be convinced away and can’t fall to apathy, being the soundest win for an activist.

~

Now.

I’ve taken on the apparent sheen of neutrality for the descriptions themselves. Each of them are described as they would be by their proponents and not necessarily by reality. Because in reality, all of these methodologies have some serious disadvantages at their binary edges. Analysis time.

People are not inherently the same. If you look at things like the Meyers Briggs Personality Archetypes and other psychological realms of study, you’ll find that there are multiple formulations of mindset, stimuli response and communication approach. I’m not going to get into the nature vs. nurture debate about how these mindsets are gained, all that is important is that they are present and people vary in how they handle things. This, of course, includes communication styles, receptiveness to certain approaches and an overall capacity to do things a certain way or not.

In a relatively recent discussion with someone about street and phone harassment, we found out that for both of us, the methods the other used weren’t viable because the functionality of our responses to stress and stimuli were different. She could and had to ignore things and let them roll off her. I could and had to respond to things. In both of our cases, the methodology of one would drive the other up a wall and increase the stress of the encounter in question. This not only applies to what methods you can use as an activist, it also applies to what methods will work for a given person.

For instance, I know someone with an anxiety disorder. It isn’t necessarily privilege or bigotry that causes her to respond badly to Nuker tactics but literally being triggered by those tactics.

Without taking into account unusual cases like the above and just taking into account the base differences in personality types there are given contexts where a given methodology will simply not work. And they have specific advantages and disadvantages that have nothing to do with personality type and everything to do with privileged people trying to spin shit and manipulate things to their own advantage.

Nukers are, by far, the most argued against in most progressive activist movements. They’re widely viewed as dangerous, counterproductive, irrational, ally alienating and ridiculous. Some folk think they’re only really good for clearing a room or fighting off trolls and nothing else. This is largely because Appeaser methodology has become the norm for most activist groups in much of the primarily English Speaking Western World (United States, Canada, UK, etc). However, despite this great deal of bad press about Nukers, they are surprisingly effective. Nukers are loud. They are direct. They are exceedingly hard to ignore and that is essentially the modus operandi prime of privileged folk after all: Ignoring. That first obstacle in reaching the oppressor class is breaking through the apathy, antipathy and lack of interest that privileged folk tend to show as a result of having privilege. Nukers pierce that veil like a fourteen inch rapier-esque short sword and jab right to the privileged person. They are literally the single most effective technique for overcoming the apathy and ignoring of privilege. Unfortunately, engaging a bigot, privileged person or ally is only the beginning. The mid zone, where one must make one’s case and draw support for change, is where the Nuker falters. The rage and harsh presentation that was so successful in engaging people often pushes them away during midzone. Part of this is the personality differences above. Some people are intensely conflict shy by nature and will just *piff* disappear or shut down when in serious conflict. Part of this is also privilege. Privileged folk generally can’t see what’s up and often feel like the reaction vastly outweighs the need. They are, obviously, completely wrong but that privilege keeps them from knowing it by default.

Not all people are lost to the Nuker rage. Losses to conflict aversion and fear are actually a fairly small number of the population that are initially reached by Nukers. And Nukers are also fairly good at getting around passive aggressive and misleading and dishonest bullshit from the privileged “allies” that hampers the Appeasers. After all, lip service is another fan favorite from priv folk and a Nuker will call one out for it. This prevents fake progressives from getting their Liberal Reputation PointsTM on the backs of the activists and marginalized people they claim (but fail) to help. Depending on the person getting called out, it’ll either shave deadwood that would do nothing to actually aid a group off or it will force people to self analyze and realize they were being sucky allies. Nukers unfortunately have their strongest disadvantages in how people view anger in Western Society as a whole. It tends to be viewed as irrational, unthinking and violent. So Nukers are often subjected to silencing techniques drawing directly from the fact that they are angry or harsh. These silencing techniques are many times accentuated by co opting and weaponizing the Appeasers, who tend to be quite ready to criticize the Nukers in vastly inappropriate contexts. This divide and conquer strategy is dangerously effective as a means of detoothing Nukers, because it’s a lot harder to rage at your own people who betray you.

Appeasers are the primary modus operandi out there in the English Speaking West right now. They make up a large majority of feminists, GLB activists, Trans activists (I separate GLB and T because GLB tends to completely ignore T. Shittiest coalition I have ever seen), class activists (mid class mostly, the poor are a lot angrier, for good reasons) and quite possibly maybe even womanism and POC activism (although I’m not in a good position to know, so let’s say no on that one for that until some POC folk can weigh in on the distributions). Appeasers are regarded pretty harshly by the Nuker set although it certainly seems as though most of the criticism from Nukers for Appeasers is along the lines of, “seriously, stop fucking turning on us, you sell outs”. Appeaser methodology is a massive extension of several philosophies, like Martin Luther King Jr. and Gandhi’s Passive Resistance systems. I say a massive extension because for the most part, passive in those philosophies meant, “don’t beat the shit out of people or kill them”, not “make it so everyone’s feelings are unhurt”. Which is why I don’t refer to Appeasers as Pacifists, because it goes much further than that. Appeasers play the middleman/middlewoman/middleandrogyne/middleetc (lol gendered terms) game, standing between arguments and moderating or trying to convince people with gentle methods. Often Appeasers will be operating from a standpoint of moral highground. The idea that we must fight the monster without becoming it. This is understandable and due to this Appeasers are also fairly good at handling their own screw ups with intersectionality in the kyriarchy. Coming in soft and being gentle about your words means if you do fuck up on another privilege zone, you won’t be in a maelstrom of shit like a Nuker will (and trust me, it’s happened to me and lots others before). Appeasers tend to have the advantage of very wide audiences. Because they tend to be more softspoken and more acceptable to the majority oppressor class, they also tend to be given more pulpits to speak from, more press and more notice. Unfortunately this notice tends to translate to personal notice, not conceptual notice. In fact, the single most frequent disadvantage an Appeaser faces is the fact that they are so very easily ignored and paid lip service to. Most Appeasers won’t call someone out who presents a positive front on activism for their group, even if that positive front is nothing more than a smokescreen to make one look good and backed up by no action. This is largely because doing so would hurt feelings and make the Appeaser seem angry or harmful.

Appeasers can be highly effective in dealing with certain personality types. Conflict shy, anxious folk or people with communication styles that may not actually be showing privilege but would still set off warning flags for a Nuker. Appeasers are also intensely useful for misunderstandings. When something goes wrong, Appeasers tend to have the negotiation skills to keep it from having a severe effect on things. Many of them tend to be the most effective in lobbying for legal actions, as our legal system tends to reject things that don’t follow certain rules of decorum. They’re also usually placed into leadership roles in an activist movement that follows the Vanguard Paradigm because they present the least scary front to outsiders. This can backfire severely though, because Appeasers are also the easiest to manipulate and co opt by outsiders. Due to the fact that an Appeaser feels it necessary to protect the feelings of everyone, try to make things work for all and present a peaceful front, they’ll often let things go or be unable to deal with certain forms of manipulation without losing those things that they regard as necessary. It’s the Appeaser’s trap: invariably, someone will try to use an Appeaser as a silencing tool, figurehead or lip service backup in order to avoid being seen as bigoted, privileged or be seen as more progressive, without actually changing behaviors or doing anything positive. Oftentimes also to try to conceal or escape from the (usually small and insignificant) consequences for being bigoted. What this does, unfortunately, is reroutes the Appeaser’s efforts, carefully cultivated image and sometimes even actions into silencing and marginalizing the very people the Appeaser is seeking to protect (usually their own people too). This is a fairly classic part of the divide and conquer strategy and it also works because Nukers will descend on a co opted Appeaser like a swarm of enraged hornets, effectively yanking the attentions of most of the activists in play off of the priv folk and onto each other.

As a note: Much like with Nukers and being silenced due to anger and perceived irrationality, the Appeaser’s Trap is a component of the oppressor class’s contributions to the kyriarchy. Appeasers do not seek to become entrapped or used, and rarely seek to sell out. Nukers do not seek to chase folk away. These are elements of privilege and oppression, used to strip the power of these methods. So these disadvantages are from the opposition’s privilege and power, not from flaws with the Nukers or Appeasers themselves.

The second spectrum is between Logic Bomber and Emoter. Note that one can be both a Nuker and a Logic Bomber or both a Nuker and an Emoter (and the same for Appeasers). However one does not necessarily need to be both. In fact there’s quite a few dispassionate Logic Bombers who upset people and don’t care, but don’t particularly show any anger either. It’s all about the facts for them (my partner is one such activist).

The advantages and disadvantages for Logic Bomber and Emoter tend to be orientated more towards communication styles and less towards privileged behavior. Emoters seek to socially engineer the emotions of the oppressor class and allies and Logic Bombers seek to convince rational minds with the power of facts and science. It’s difficult to co opt or silence either one because they’re fairly neutral things. The worst you get for silencing is that the Emoters are “making appeals to emotion” or “being manipulative” and Logic Bombers are “too academic” or “hard to comprehend”. Logic Bombers are the best for countering rationalizers, apologists, pseudoscience peddlers and anyone who tries to claim that a marginalized group is crazy for believing they’re marginalized. However they tend to fail to make emotional leeway with such arguments. And when they’re dealing with people who think more emotionally then they do logically, the facts and figures and reasons can be overwhelming and cause the listener to shut down or tune it out. Emoters on the other hand are brill at getting the folk that think from the gut to feel it. They put forward personal narrative, analogies between situations of pain with pain that the listener can comprehend and are often the best counter to bigots that try to play off of the fears of the oppressor class, because they edge the emotions of the audience back towards the activist’s needs. Unfortunately for Emoters, not everyone is easily emotionally led. Logic minded folk especially will be mostly unimpressed by stories of personal distress and will often attribute such to just the experiences of one person, which while tragic, don’t indicate a serious problem with the entire world. Emoters have also been accused of being manipulative, using emotional devices and in trying to lead people a certain way without actually having any kind of real backing.

So, it’s fairly clear that all of the methods involved have their problems and their advantages. One person asked me, while I was discussing this elsewhere, why not a middle ground? A middle path? Well that’s a great question. All of these methods lie on spectrums. Logic Bomber vs. Emoter, Nuker vs. Appeaser. One can easily walk between them all. One can also switch from an extreme to another extreme when the situation calls for it. It isn’t possible for all people to switch fluidly between methods. Some may be completely incompatible with one’s philosophy or may be incompatible with one’s personality type (Philosophy based Appeasers often can’t do Nuker methods because it feels too harsh to them). Sometimes the context and situation have such a serious effect on the activist in question that switching methods may simply be impossible (like the rage of being outright betrayed and silenced by an ally makes it impossible to do Appeaser methods and not blow a gasket). Ideally, well ideally we wouldn’t have to be activists at all, but semi ideally switching would be usable everywhere. But it isn’t.

So what should a person do? No matter what method you take, there will be certain contexts in which your method will cause problems. Well, here are some good ways to account for these disadvantages.

1: Keep Your Group Mixed: Have Nukers, Appeasers, Logic Bombers and Emoters present within your activist network, working for the needs of your group. Make sure you have at least some switchers around and people who walk middle lines. Having someone for every context is always a good idea and will maximize your success.

2: Be Mindful Of Flaws: Make sure you are self aware and externally aware about the disadvantages of your methodology. Specifically Appeasers, who are in the most dangerous position of all. Nukers, Logic Bombers and Emoters can’t effectively be turned against their own as weaponized tools but Appeasers can. If you practice Appeaser methods, be extraordinarily careful that what you see as progress isn’t just you being co opted and used to silence Nukers and others or used to conceal other problems through lip service progressivism. Nukers clearly have to be mindful of intersectionality and their own privilege as well as allies with anxiety or conflict issues. And the other two need to be mindful of who they’re speaking to and whether they’re wasting energy.

3: Don’t Infight Over AMO’s: Seriously, this is a huge fucking one. The biggest advantage the oppressors have over you (no matter what group you’re in) is numbers. They don’t have to all agree and they can infight all they want. There’s more of them and they already have more power. We can not afford to. Now if someone is failing at 2 above, then yes, criticize them. But keep it in house. Don’t make public spectacles of it, don’t silence, don’t attack. The bigots eat that shit up. And more often than not, such infighting isn’t even in the presence of a fuck up on rule 2 but simply philosophical disagreements. Quite frankly, philosophical disagreements are a shit poor reason to engage in energy sapping infighting. If your philosophy does not connect with someone’s methods, well that’s something to discuss on down time, civilly and without argument. Jabbing at people because you think their Nuking is violent and wrong or because you think their Appeasement is an utter useless waste is not acceptable. The infighting divides us and it’s part of why we’re staying conquered.

4: Tag Team: Using multiple methods of communication in your AMO or having different AMO Communicators to back you up when you’re in the field or on the front lines maximizes your potential. If you do a little bit of Nuking and the person is getting pissy and whiny or seems to be withdrawing, call in an Appeaser to put it in gentle terms. If you’re getting ignored completely as an Appeaser, call in an air strike from the Nukers to get the attention centered on your movement’s needs. Logic Bombers and Emoters working together are especially invincible, because what works better than rational arguments mixed with things that tug your heartstrings? Remember, the stakes are intensely high. It is worth it to manipulate the majority, because chances are that’s the only way we’re going to get what we need.

5: Always Have Substance: This I can’t stress enough. It doesn’t matter how much attention you get as a Nuker, or how well you can string together an argument and logic as a Logic Bomber if you aren’t right and you don’t have content within your method. It’s irrelevant how gentle and caring you are as an Appeaser or how well you can play the heartstring violin as an Emoter if you’re wrong or don’t have anything useful to say on your group’s needs. Always make sure you know what you’re talking about, don’t speak for those with different experiences and make sure you actually have something to say. Communication methods won’t save you if you don’t have anything to communicate or you’re dead wrong about something.

And that concludes this bit of meta activism. Understanding how our (and their) methods work is the best way to maximize our power, reach and effect. Never forget that.



57 Responses to “[Activist Modus Operandi] Methods of Communication”

  1. Wow. You’ve just put to words things that have been turning around in my head. I have to admit, I had just divided the methods in two: aggressive and passive. But this does make sense.

    One of the things I’ve been conflicted about is that due to personality and religious upbringing (Mennonite), I lean towards being an Appeaser. However, I understand the limits of my methods. Or rather, at least I think I understand the limits of my methods. So when I run up against oppressors who aren’t getting it, I feel frustrated and try to call in some of the others who do the other methods. But what gets me is the potential for Nukes to get violent. I guess I’m nervous that they can get out of control.

    You’re right though, we need a mixture of methods and work together for maximum effect.

    Would you mind if I linked to this on my blog, No Stereotypes Here?

    ~Corina

  2. Beautiful post, wonderfully written.

    Thanks for taking the time to put your thoughts into words.

  3. Certainly you can link it.

  4. 4 Marja

    Thanks for writing this. It is a good essay, and I agree that different approaches suit different temperaments.

    Now, personally, I’m inclined to talk one-on-one and try to find common ground. But, at the same time, I am a pacifist and a police brutality survivor. The system we’re facing, including the state, state-capitalism, racist and patriarchal mores, is the most violent thing on earth. So from where I’m standing, working through the system is the most violent possible approach. I find it infuriating when in-system appeasers accuse against-system activists of violence.

    I also logic bomb when I’m familiar with the details.

  5. Logic Bombing tends to be my preferred method when I have the sources to back me up. Otherwise I go all out Nuker. I used to be an Appeaser but after a while my patience wore thin, especially with people trying to use me to silence others. So I switched gears very hard.

  6. Thumbs up :D

  7. I make activist metaphysics look fun. XD

  8. Thank you very much!

  9. I have a problem with the Nuker in that you are right, they do have their time and place to bring about awareness from those who try to ignore the marginalized, but once those people are aware, the Nuker, if not knowing what their talking about and addressing the…

    What’s the word you use for them?
    privileged

    simply verify all the privileged’s opinions about the marginalized group.

    I just point this out because as you know when asking an earnest question about the marginalized group I was confronted by a logic bomber, an appeaser and a Nuker, and the Nuker killed everything the logic bomber and appeaser did and for a moment made me step back and go “fuck them and fuck that noise, crazy bitches.”

    Something that I feel needs to be mentioned here especially in the light of that one Troll on Gaia who was telling Loki, other allies and I to “Get off the GLBT bus because we were unneeded as allies” is that as a marginalized group, you do need every allie you can get, every inch you can take towards equality and fairness for all. So much like real Nukes, the nukers need to settle down sometimes because unlike logic bombers which have sniper precise attacks Nukers blast both allies and enemies and I really think hurt more than they help after the initial awareness assault.

  10. The Nuker in question actually had very little content and made assumptions about you that didn’t make sense for the context. That and with your anxiety issues a Nuker would be highly ineffective.

    Unfortunately, Nukers stepping back is a balancing act. If we step back too much, Appeasers get co opted or wiped out by gray vampires and trolls, Emoters and Logic Bombers get ignored and the whole movement dies a slow death.

    In that balancing act, we’ll also lose a few people and lose a few people temporarily (who will be coaxed back as I did through Logic Bombing for you). But the alternative is far far worse.

    Because some “allies” are a dangerous parasitic influence on the community and they do destroy it. We need allies but we’re forced to be wary of them in the process.

  11. 11 Sadderbutwisergirl

    @genderbitch: I really like your writing. May I put you on my blogroll here? According to your analysis, I am definitely a Nuker. And where I am on the Logic/Emotion spectrum depends on the situation. If the post is about a serious violation of human rights happening, I might go all-out Emoter and make comparisons to the Holocaust. If it is about one or more basic harmful ideas promoting inequality, then I might go for the facts and quote Brave New World Revisited and other sources on psychology.
    Also, might I recommend reading this post by Bev at Asperger Square 8? It has a T-rex trying to show how to be a good “ally,” but proving himself to be no better than the oppressors of minority groups.

  12. 12 javier

    testing 123

  13. 13 javier

    (…ok the surver was down…)

    i was trying to say, i read above for some advice,
    i commented on bilerico at yasmin nair’s “why i hate coming out day” or whatever and she of course won’t even lower herself to reply, because if you aren’t 100% on her page, politeness or no,you are “enemy”
    (she of the ‘i am not “bi” …i’m lesbian!’,
    fuck’s sake.
    it’s edgier,i guess
    “As an out queer lesbian who sleeps with men, there’s never been a space for me in the acronym”-yn
    yes, some people…wait for it… are BI.
    um,bi-phobic, much?
    where is the glbt?
    and,
    yo, tg people are still marginalized, “ms blogger”….
    as i said, i guess i must be using that invisible ink.
    tg is not reply worthy , hmmm,unless you tow their cis line like bc does.

    so,even when the Q’s are well thought out,
    i even e-mailed her, i was so pissed off(politely, as per usual)
    well, so much for “coming out” day,activism,gender, identity,you name it.

    how ’bout a post on the bullshit disempowering of all the “inclusive” glbt
    whatevers and their total disinterest?
    (joy)

  14. Yea, you’ve seen Terrun around? Deeeeffffiiinnaattlllyyy would say she’s one of those “Allies”

    SRS case of “If you’re not with ME you’re against US” arrogancy there.

    someone needs to beat that chick with a big fat pat of logic and a side round of shut the fuck up.

    by the by, you should watch “Deathproof” I don’t know why but Zoe makes me think of you.

    especially Zoe with a lead pipe.

  15. Heh, I’ll give the movie a whirl.

  16. Such a great read, I find the way you write to be very powerful. Your points all make a lot of sense, and it was interesting how, while I was reading your descriptions of the four types, my mind was thinking and working out all the weaknesses, and how to support one another, before I read what you said and saw that you basically agreed with my thoughts.

    It’s odd though. The way I read them, I don’t really fall into any of the categories. Between the first two, I lean towards Nuker, initially, but I have a personality that really fits more with Appeaser. I can see the benefits of both, and when I need to, I can shift back and forth between the two. The same is even more true for Logic Bomber and Emoter, in that I lean more towards Logic Bomber, and of the four, it’s my usual choice, but they aren’t pure facts, I can, and often do, mix in Emoter style as needed. If I’m without a good supply of facts, I’ll continue to dissect something used against me, but I basically become something like a Logic Emoter.

    What would that make me? A Four-Way switcher….? lol

  17. Definitely a four way switcher. XD

  18. Neat. Now, I gotta get the drawing this post inspired out of my head!

  19. You certainly may add me to your blogroll, sorry I didn’t spot this comment sooner.

  20. 20 Just Some Trans Guy

    Meant to comment on this back when I first read it … I think this is a good summary and good analysis of how these things shake out. I tend to be an Appeaser, I think, and I’ve noticed that Nukers can just plain get some stuff accomplished that I can’t.

    Thanks for putting this together.

  21. 21 Kian

    This is very helpful to me as I’m currently trying to figure out what kind of activist I want to be. I keep switching tactics depending on my mood, what I read, who else is reading, and what kind of tactics I see being used already and I thought maybe this wasn’t the best way to go. But you’ve convinced me, o logical one, that I can be all of them, so thank you. I will say though that being a nuker often feels very satisfying, being an appeaser makes me feel good about myself, being logical makes me feel like I’m tutoring and being emotive makes me feel manipulative. Oh well. ;)

  22. Finally saw this after being confused by “Nuker” references for awhile.

    This is a pretty handy way to explain methods and perspectives on activism. I keep insisting to people that a variety of tactics are necessary for some of the reasons you outlined. They all work in complement to each other at their best and none of them on their face “makes the rest of us look bad.”

    I wish I could find the article I read in an activism class a few years ago, that explained differences between a liberal standpoint that worked inside the system, a radical standpoint that tore down the system, and two other kinds that I never remember. Hence, wishing I could find it. But up to now that’s the only thing I’ve had to explain the interaction.

    One thing I have noticed is that Logic Bombing ad Emoting can blend fairly well within the same organization, but it’s far more difficult to put Appeasers and Nukers together. I ran into this problem when I was the president of my school’s queer student group. I would’ve loved to use more Nuker tactics officially but it would have jeopardized the organization’s ability to work with University officials.

  23. Yeah, Appeasers and Nukers do tend to be at odds a lot, unfortunately.

  24. 24 Jordan

    @Genderbitch:

    I find myself in agreement with pretty much the entire original post, but I have two brief points to make, for your consideration:

    1). One of the flaws of Logic Bombers is also that there are certain people who will not be convinced by any amount of facts, figures, or logic. To wit: there are situations in which only a Nuker, an Emoter, or Appeaser will do, because the individual in question lacks critical thinking and-or is so deeply set in their beliefs that they are incapable of changing their mind before anything short of a nuke. In such circumstances, a Logic Bomber serves better as a planner or logistical supervisor, informing the privileged of what needs to be done rather than why.

    2). Beware the binaries! Placing the Nuker and the Appeaser, the Emoter and the Logic Bomber on a spectrum is useful for organization, but I find that most people are better described by where they fall on a scattergram than where they fall on a spectrum. Take myself, for example: I have the rage and the inclination to nuke, the desire to appease, and (if you couldn’t tell from this post) the impulse to use the techniques and organization of a Logic Bomber.

    …on the other hand, I truly suck at emotively motivating people. Cest la vie.

    Keep ‘em coming!

  25. Awesome, awesome post. I see myself as a nuker/logic bomber, and I’m frequently met with denial and being brushed aside as “too angry.” I was just thinking about how I need to be more like an appeaser so people would actually listen to me, but I didn’t map it out to this extent like you already have.

  26. Oh wow, one is spot on, I didn’t even think of that one. You’re completely correct, some people just literally can not critically think on something or are so deep set that logic is no longer playing a role in their views. I’ll make sure to mention that in the Logic Bomber post I do eventually. Thank you!

    Yeah, I noticed I got kinda close to a false binary in how I described things. I decided not to change the post because it seemed like most people recognized that sort of four way scattering graph of existence that was there for the archetypes despite the wonky way I worded it. But definitely, thank you for bringing that up too.

  27. A friend of mine turned me on to this article and it really has me thinking about how activism works, in general.

    I’ve started whacking out an outline for a card game that would cover these topics in a little more detail, make them something folks can experience (in a small way) rather than just talk about.

    At this point the whole idea is quite nebulous, and nothing might ever come of it, but I wanted to let you know that you’ve inspired something. Let me know if you’re interested in getting involved.

  28. I think it’s very important to consider what type of activism works and doesn’t work, and I think you make some good points. However, I think they would be much stronger if you backed them up with evidence. What do you mean by “effective?” What makes a movement “effective?” For me, it is concrete institutional changes. Which movements have actually achieved this? How? One of the ways oppression continues is by making it difficult for each new generation of activists to find information about what was successful in the past. Pick something that changed for the better, and trace the movement that led to the change. Pick something that changed for the worse, and trace the douchey movement that did it. I think that’s the best way to be able to speak with real authority about what is effective and ineffective in trying to make social change.

  29. 29 Jigae

    This is genius, thank you.

  30. @Ashley:

    I would actually argue that nearly every movement has had variations on these archetypes. The question is the balance. For instance, if I remember correctly, the Gay rights movement had gay riots (Nuker) and groups like the HRC (Appeaser). And if I’m not off on this, groups like the Black Panthers used Nuker tactics while some of MLK’s groups used Appeaser tactics. The combo has scored a lot of successes, angry, rageful, harsh balanced with gentle, polite, peaceful. But obviously, no rights movement has been fully successful. Improvements can always be made.

    I can go do a little more research on that to try to refine the data when I’m not researching my thesis and trying to find income to stop being homeless.

  31. 31 Bill Stewart

    (Just dropping by on a pointer from another blog.) I used to do Libertarian political activism. Logic bombing was the default mode of operation for everybody in the movement, which is part of why we were never a successful political party. Some folks leaned more toward Nukers, some toward Appeasers, but if you start with the assumption that arguments between Logic Bombers are the normal mode of discourse and entertainment, it’s hard to attract normal people, and if you accidentally do that, we had Nukers to chase them away again.

  32. @Bill: Heh, I used to be Libertarian and that is definitely the big flaw to their methods of reaching people, they had no balance.

  33. Wow! This is excellent. It helps clarify a lot of things for me. I do tend to lie on the appeaser side of the spectrum, but not so much because I want to avoid hurting people’s feelings but because I want to reach them. And to reach them, I feel I need to find that “common ground” to then appeal to either their logic or emotion. So I guess I’m fairly middle ground on the logic – emote spectrum but leaning on the appeaser side on the nuker-appeaser spectrum. That said, I do have my Nuker moments and I see the value of nuking. When nuking breaks down for me is when it happens within a group that is working together. Like the person you mentioned, I shut down when someone “nukes” me. I have a history of verbal abuse that I’ve spent years working on but that still make it very hard for me to deal with being yelled at or talked at in a harsh, accusatory tone. So while I’ll deal well with a call-out on something I said or did that may reflect a poor reflection on privilege on my part and be willing to dissect it peacefully, if it’s thrown on me like a ton of bricks, I revert to childhood feelings of thinking I’m the worst piece of shit ever. So….yeah…my relationships with Nukers who tend to also Nuke those who are close to them (which is absolutely not true of all nukers in my experience, but I have met some) tends to be tenuous. And I think my reaction to nuking that is directed at me is part of the reason that I don’t nuke as often as I would feel like. I know that if I nuke, I will get nuked back. So depending on the circumstances, if I’m having a more emotionally challenging time with an issue, I may choose to take on an appeaser role to avoid getting nuked. When I’m feeling stronger, well rested etc then, I cut loose a bit more.

    Anyway, I’m rambling because I’m excited about having this new terminology to play with! If we avoid falling into the trap of seeing these as strict labels and boxes and more as a spectrum in which to find balance, I think this can be super useful for people within organisations and groups to figure out their own internal dynamics and to work better as a result. Thank you!

  34. (Like Bill S above, dropped in via a link elsewhere)

    I’m curious about one thing – you mention Martin Luther King Jr. and Gandhi in explaining the Appeaser type, but only to say how Appeasers do not resemble them (or so it seems) – so the question is, which of the types do you think those activists were?

    More generally – can you think of famous activists to illustrate each of the types? (This would be also be interesting in that the methods for each you’ve described focus on verbal communication, and not direct action of different types.)

  35. @Snowdrop: Not off hand, or at least, not anyone famous. Folks who are well known in the blog world yeah, like Kate Bornstein definitely seems to roll the Appeaser way. But not anyone the entire nation would recognize.

  36. 36 Crabbadon

    This is a really great article – it kind of shocked me out of best-way-for-everything mentality which I’d always ostensibly opposed in a lot of things but kind of subconsciously picked up in an activist way, and helped me reexamine where my appeasing bled into enabling.

  37. I just wanted to say thank you for acknowledging anxiety issues and triggers. I can’t handle nukers at all, really, and that is why. It’s also why I don’t tend to go that route when I’m talking to other people, unless they do that thing where they pretend they’re teachable but then turn out to be entrenched bigots halfway through.

  38. Another brilliant post. Now, I’m trying to figure out which of those I am.

  39. 39 dannid

    A little late in commenting but I recently discovered your blog in a group on fetlife. I love your blog. I wish I had discovered it years ago. And this post really cleared thing up for me on the different roles

    I work as a child and youth worker and in this job I am almost always an appeaser (I have a lot of training in ways to de-escalate a situation) and I used to be an appeaser outside of my job (and I have insensitively derailed a convo using this method before I realized the importance of nukers).
    Since becoming an atheist though and discovering the new atheist movement I have realized the importance of nukers and I became one myself in the last three years. Also coming out with AS in the last year has made me very aware of how derailing works and I began to see the legitimacy in the anger I used to think was counterproductive until I began to identify it in myself. I am most def a nuker right now. I loved that you mentioned that we use anger. I have used anger by giving angry responses to others (even when I don’t feel that angry) to stop them from derailing my own discussion about my experiences with AS (which they had been doing a lot).

    I am most def a logic bomber with the occasional emoter story but I don’t connect with emoter techniques when they are used on myself (I prefer logic).

    Great analysis. Been reading your blog for several hours now and I can’t stop. So informative :D

  40. THIS THIS THIS THIS

    From a Nuker who also alternates between combining my rage with Logic Bombing & Emoting … THIS. We need them all to reach different types of people.

    Now if we can just get certain Appeasers to “seriously, stop fucking turning on us, you sell outs” :-)


  1. 1 How should Nestlé use social media? — Lactivist Leanings
  2. 2 NIP Nukers Raise My Blood Pressure — Lactivist Leanings
  3. 3 Answers with an Agenda 5- Minimizing Feet In Mouth « Beyond Xs and Ys
  4. 4 Trans(re)lating 007: A Response to Trans Film with Nobilis Reed, Part 2 « Trans(re)lating
  5. 5 What am I doing here? | Knee Deep in Panaceas
  6. 6 The Sorting Hat: What Kind of Activist Are You? at Feminist SF – The Blog!
  7. 7 Expanding Activism Styles on Genderbitch « No Stereotypes Here
  8. 8 Linkspam: Fighting the Power | Alas, a blog
  9. 9 Let’s Get Mad « Writing From Factor X
  10. 10 Welcome to Activism. It’s not supposed to be comfortable. | Map of of the Problematic
  11. 11 Feminist lazy linking | A Division by Zer0
  12. 12 Collaborative post: self-hate and trolling | Works of Literata
  13. 13 Privilege & Oppression, Conflict & Compassion | Social Mindfulness
  14. 14 » [food justice] Confections of a Pickup Artist Chaser
  15. 15 Quora
  16. 16 Attitude Adjuster « Dissent of a Woman
  17. 17 In Defense of Anger « Fat Carries Flavor

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 215 other followers

%d bloggers like this: