How do you open up progressive discussions in environments that are a bit...backward


I’ve worked quite a bit in secure learning disability services for men, and there’s some interesting values given to gender. For a start, there’s a lot of “I’d never hit a woman” bravado from some of the guys (many of who are basically lying) and that’s then pandered to by focusing on women to build positive relationships with them, take the lead with de-escalating etc. You can try to introduce the idea that violence is unjustifiable regardless of gender…but even that doesn’t touch on the issue of why it’s not okay to only abstain from hitting women. Further to that, staff don’t help as the pressures they’re under force them to work on a very short-term basis, and the advantage of preventing injury by deploying female only de-escalation teams outweighs any long term gain. Am I working on an incorrect assumption that it is right to challenge all questionable attitudes?

Any other examples that are less niche would be greatly appreciated.


This might be a self-defeatist view or something but I think it’s important to accept that you are probably unlikely to change anyone’s mind in any meaningful way but just constantly calling out these questionable attitudes is still absolutely the right thing to do despite it seeming pointless.

I remember my first job as a younger man was in a big ol’ shop with a lot of racist middle-aged women, the shop provided a fax service which was used pretty much exclusively by the large Zimbabwean community in the town and the racism when they came in from my colleagues was fucking ridiculous. I used to call them out on it every time, saying how unacceptable it was, the responses I got gradually changed from incredulity that they were doing anything wrong to an appreciation that it was unacceptable but a complete lack-of-willingness to stop doing it, I genuinely think that’s about as good a progress as it was possible to make with those people but ensuring that it’s constantly challenged does inevitably change the social orthodoxy eventually, I just don’t think you can expect to see any kind of seismic shifts while you’re doing it.


After trying to call out casual homophobia in sunday league football for a couple of years I think the answer is ‘with difficulty’


Dogged persistence.


hmmm. Think I’d rather employ female led de-escalation teams than try and smash some gender norms that mean I’m getting smashed about while pushing the message that all violence,regardless of gender, is bad. Also, female led teams can be more appropriate, because as a 6ft 7 well built male I am more intimidating whether I like it or not. Worth having a discussion about though.