Calling Out Misogyny or Bullying is Not An Attack; It is a Social Duty!

There is this unfortunate trend in social media where calling out someone for their sexist, misogynist, and/or inhumane remarks is seen more as an invitation for a fight rather than an opportunity to engage in rational discussion. Many, especially women, are discouraged from calling out sexist, misogynist, or stereotype remarks made by friends on social media like Facebook or Twitter, for fear of being tagged as the “type of feminist that gives feminism a bad name”.

There seems to be a renewed effort to tag outspoken,social justice conscious women as aggressive, judgemental, over-sensitive ‘bitches’ who just want to ruin everyone’s fun. It is particularly sad that this type of silencing technique is becoming even more prevalent in the Humanist/Atheist space.

November 17th-24th is  anti-bullying week and I pledged sometime ago not to be a bystander when I witness bullying. Of course, this has somehow earned me a reputation as the “fun ruiner”, especially amongst some of my fb friends.  Whenever i post or comment on such issues, it is at the risk of being referred to as the “type of feminist” they don’t like. Therefore, such discussions tend to irritate some ‘friends’ and many do get aggressively defensive when called out. However, i am sure that those who resort to aggressive behaviour when called out on how they treat others do not deserve the space they occupy on my virtual/real friendship list, simples.

I was shocked when I came across the status update below from a somehow close FB friend who identify as humanist and feminist:

pearl Osibu's update

Since when is calling your fellow women ugly, a sign of honesty?

Since when is it OK to call children ugly?

One of her friends immediately posted a derogatory comment and picture of a random Asian woman she saw on a bus and tagged the pic #Ugly (I erased the facial identification of the woman in the picture to protect her identity).

pearl edited

I was so sad that my humanist/feminist friend went ahead to click ‘Like’ on the hate-filled, racist-undertone, misogynist, invasion of privacy picture.

I was however glad when a few friends called her out:

pearl 2a


Pearl 3a

Unfortunately, she refused to see the wrong in her status update and instead, resorted to dismissing it as light-hearted humour and nothing to get angry about. BTW, “worwor” (which she used in her comments) is Nigerian slang for Ugly.

Pearl 4a

How does a self-identified feminist/humanist justify and treat so frivolously, the action of a friend who took the liberty to take the picture of a random woman on a bus, tagged it ugly and referred to a fellow human as a “what”?

I wanted to reach for the unfriend button, however I recognise that just unfriending her without calling her out, for fear of being tagged a “feminist fun ruiner” would mean the silence technique is working.

Calling people out, especially friends, is not fun, however if we truly want change, we owe it to ourselves as activists and social change advocates to speak out when we can.  Therefore, I posted the following comments on her post:

pearl 5a

pearl edited 5a

Sadly, she took the call out as an attack, and became defensive.

Pearl edited 4

pearl edited 5

Notice the comment “I am not into the whole ‘another woman’ business, I am actually into the ‘another human business”. Really? It is so sad when they get it so wrong and are actually proud of it!

Pearl 7a

And in her frantic efforts to defend her actions, she resorted to telling lies, branded me as an angry, spiteful feminist and of course, fun ruiner.

Pearl 9a

In a response to another appalling commenter who was egging her on, she wrote:

and his yemisi person is exactly d atheist/feminist bisexual i cannot stand. Tufiakwa

BTW, ‘Tufiakwa’ is a northern Nigerian word used to express disgust.

I was labelled the kind of “atheist/feminist bisexual” they don’t like because I pointed out that calling a fellow woman/human ugly, calling children ugly and/or taking pictures of strangers without their consent and hashtagging it #ugly, are not things people who identify as humanist and/or feminist should engage in or encourage.

When will those who are outraged by our outrage at misogyny understand that calling them out is not an invitation for a fight? It is not an attack!

Pearl 10a

pearl edited 10a

pearl 11a

pearl 15a

BTW, the Didi Onyezili mentioned in the comment above was the same person who physically attacked me at an atheist event, which i posted about here.

Debbie Edwards who took the offensive picture, wrote:

And might I add…while Pearl is a sweetheart, who speaks her mind. This Yemisi person is vicious and nasty. Now THAT I find very #ugly.

Ok people it was a joke…of courae I dont find this lady ugly. I wasn’t gong to justify myself because I don’t need to…to you lot…but now you’re giving Pearl all this greif. Stop being bullies, LEAVE HER ALONE she did nothing wrong. My bad.. ..It’s her wall. Give your egos a rest. Please. I’m pulling it down ONLY because it has been so misunderstood. Not because some strangers have misjudged my sense of humour. Uptight people just do me in. #peace

Oh dear Flying Spaghetti Monster, suddenly I am the vicious, nasty bully? And this coming from the same person who posted these atrocities:

pearl edited 8a

pearl edited 9a

This is a truly disgusting, appalling, and dehumanising commentary. It is certainly not something decent human beings should justify or trivialise as a joke!

I immediately left the post-thread, and proceeded to unfriend my humanist friend as the conversation was turning toxic. I was  however, informed that immediately after i left, she posted a particularly nasty comment about me, which she later deleted because according to her, her “humanist oga “called and advised that she delete the comment. I wondered what nasty thing she could have written that necessitated her “humanist oga” from the Nigerian humanist community ( I assume) to call and advice that she deletes it. BTW, “Oga” is Nigerian slang for ‘boss’. BTW, I have no idea who her humanist oga/boss is.

Unfortunately, she refused to be remorseful about her unfeminist, ‘unhumanist’/ inhumane status update, but  chose instead to be aggressively defensive.  If only those people understand that labelling me as the type of feminists they don’t like is not an insult, it is an indication of the kind of person they are.

Somehow, i can’t help but put part of the blame on the likes of Richard Dawkins for setting bad examples for impressionable young Atheists/Humanists when it comes 425432_265441616863221_126894987384552_609382_453469780_nto Social justice issues. My now former FB friend recently met her atheist hero, Richard Dawkins, at the just concluded Humanist convention in Oxford UK, which she attended as one of the reps from the Nigerian humanist community. This coincided with the time Richard Dawkins was in the spotlight for his rape apology remarks (Isn’t he always in the spotlight for the wrong reasons these days?)

During that period, she  had nothing but praise worship for Richard Dawkins. However, she took it a step further to state that despite the negative things people are saying about him, he remains her idol. She probably was not happy that ‘feminists’ like me are calling out her atheist idol. Maybe her adoration and hero worship of Pope Richard Dawkins contributed to polluting her mind against “feminists/atheists” like me, She actually came across to me as a better person when she was still coming to grips with her new found non-belief. Unfortunately, the likes of Richard Dawkins whom she looks up to, have not been good role models in terms of nurturing empathy or social justice.

I am no longer surprised when some people who identify as atheists make misogynist, sexist, racist and even homophobic remarks, afterall Pope Richard Dawkins is fast becoming famous for his lack of understanding of social justice issues, blind privilege and his inability to properly apologise when called out.

Atheism is about non-belief in God, which is why in order to reduce my interaction with assholes who also happen to be atheists, I seek out atheist spaces that are interested in Social justice issues.

However, if you identify as a humanist, get sponsorship from humanists organisations to attend humanists’ conventions, make a lot of noise about your humanism on social media, then you should know that there are rules, regulations, and values that define humanism. You have to respect those rules or stop calling yourself a humanist. Demeaning another human being is not a value of humanism. If you are going to call out religious believers, be ready to be called out on your humanism too.

This is anti-bullying week; let’s remember that a call out is not an invitation for a fight, or a reason to get defensive.

We should be cognisance of the silencing technique and not let it wear us down or deter us from standing up for what is right. Even if the world turns its back on you, do not be silenced!

Let us speak out against all forms of discrimination and dehumanising behaviours. HEAR IT. STOP IT. #NOBYSTANDERS.

Related links:

Physically attacked at an atheist event by a fellow ‘feminist’ atheist!

Avoiding Ableist or Sexist Language Won’t Make Us Less Fun!


  1. A Hermit says

    So she justifies criticizing someone’ appearance by calling for complete honesty and insists her “fragile ego” can take criticism…then cries “bully” and kicks you out when you do what she asks and honestly disagree with her.

    Someone missed her own memo there I think. Friends like that you can do without.

  2. Yemisi Ilesanmi says

    @A Hermit- I guess those who gleefully dish it out can hardly take it. Justifying calling children ugly in the name of honesty is still more than baffling! However when the honesty light was turned on her, all she could do was scream “get out, you are spiteful and spoiling my light hearted fun”. Yeah, she missed the memo.

  3. Gen, Uppity Ingrate and Ilk says

    I have never understood women who hate on other women’s looks. Your former friend made a point of saying that many people have called her ugly -- that is a HUGE problem for me. No one should ever have to deal with being called ugly. People who judge others on their looks like this (because that’s how they’ve been judged) make me really uncomfortable and sad. I get that men are increasingly having to deal with this kind of thing these days, but I do think it’s really so much worse for women. Patriarchy tells us that our worth depends on how fuckable we are (so that we can a. be pleasant for men to gaze upon, b. attract a male who will then impregnate and ‘protect’ us and c. not make boners sad trombone) and a huge part of “fuckable” is physical beauty. Of course, as we know, physical beauty really *is* in the eye of the beholder, but as Greta always says, what someone looks like in terms of physical beauty shouldn’t matter

    (For some reason, WordPress won’t let me log in with my usual login. Just thought I’d let you know, I’m not trying to sockpuppet or anything.)

  4. Gen, Uppity Ingrate and Ilk says

    I also just wanted to say that I LOVE the title of your post.

    I am a white woman living in a socially conservative little town in South Africa. Our town has a facebook page where people can post things they want to sell or give away, or ask directions, those kinds of things. So I often call out racism on this page, like once someone saw three black men walking with a white little girl. The little girl looked quite happy, but the town on the page went NUTS, sure that the men were up to no good *because they’re black*. When I expressed outrage at this, I was told that I must be part of some kidnappers plot to groom little white girls (wtf?) and shit like that. It felt like the whole town piled on me, there were like a hundred posts calling me names and shit for “playing the race card” and “making it about race” and whatnot. I didn’t say anything, but the truth was that it actually made me feel pretty upset.

    It happened again a few days ago (the town piling on me for calling racism, not the black men with the little girl, who it turned out was NOT kidnapped or missing or anything nefarious, big surprise). I often get called a shit stirrer and once a dung beetle looking for shit, and much as I try not to let it, it does get to me sometimes. In the future, I’m simply going to say (both to myself and to those attacking me) what you said in your title: I’m not looking for shit, calling out bigotry is not an attack, it is a social duty.

    So, loooooong teal dear just to say I completely agree and thanks for wording it so well.

  5. Yemisi Ilesanmi says

    @Gen, Uppity Ingrate and Ilk- Unfortunately many women have bought into the habit of calling other women ugly as a put down, it is a fallout of the patriarchal society we live in, where a woman’s worth is determined by her physical appeal. However, as I pointed out to my now former friend, being bullied does not justify going out to bully others. Accepting people’s judgements about our looks does not gives us a licence to go out passing judgements on other people’s looks and expect them to be cool with it. There is no justification for even thinking it is OK to call children ugly, it is not honesty, it is just appalling. Maybe if we keep talking about it, everyone will eventually get the message.
    I totally agree with Greta, it shouldn’t matter that I am beautiful or ugly, it just shouldn’t matter!

  6. Yemisi Ilesanmi says

    @Gen, Uppity Ingrate and Ilk- I understand what you mean about having to call out bigotry, it is not fun, especially when we have to call out friends. We don’t want a fight, unfortunately we know from experience that many would take it as a personal attack and become aggressively defensive.
    Calling out is not fun, but it is a social duty we need to do if we really want to change our society for the better. When i see myself cringing away from a necessary call out, i just ask myself, what moral ground i have to tell people to always speak out against oppression, if i can’t do same. So i just go ahead and do what my conscience can live with. No one wants to be isolated from friends and community, but we need to be better friends, better people and better society, hence the need to call out bigotry, sexism, racism and other social ills. All the best, and keep strong and safe.

  7. Meggamat says

    People who use these mean-spirited criticisms of everyone around them who is deemed less than radient seem to think that the world has an obligation to be beautiful.

  8. Tammy Walker says

    Bullying is a very serious problem. It can also be a cycle. It was the right thing to do to edit out the face of the woman bullied. You should also edit out the names and faces of the woman who believes in ugliness and her cyber-bully friend. Be the better person, not the reactionary bully.

    Because, right now, anyone reading this blog can go onto Facebook, befriend these women, and then cyber-bully them themselves, for their views on human attractiveness and poor decision to take and post a picture of this woman. Publicly shaming them has less effect that an online poke and a message saying, “Stop cyber-bullying this woman.” Most people would not need any more prompting to take down the image then.

  9. Yemisi Ilesanmi says

    @Tammy Walker- I edited the face of the woman because she was the victim of a misogynist bully and protecting her privacy was the logical thing to do.

    I did not edit out the names of the bullies because they were never remorseful and rather kept defending their actions. .
    My now former FB friend who identifies as a humanist still sticks by her words that it is OK to call children ugly.

    She still made excuses for her friend who took a picture of a random woman in a bus, posted it on Facebook and hash tagged it #ugly.
    The thing is, if a MRA or just some random guy on twitter did same thing, i would probably post the tweet with his name and picture as an example of what misogyny looks like.

    If an LGBTphobic person did same, i would post their name along with their faces as examples of people that make life unbearable for many.

    When i get hate mails and hateful comments from religious believers, i sometimes post their comments along with their names as examples of hateful people and things i deal with daily.

    The fact that the person who posted the appalling post was a FB friend who also identifies as a humanist does not mean she gets to have her name edited from her words, especially when she still stands by the words.

    Her action was called out but she still stands by her words . Therefore, not editing her name from her comment is not bullying.
    I wouldn’t edit out the name and pic of her friend who invaded another woman’s privacy just to mock her in a bigoted, vile racist like manner. The nasty post was still on her wall days after she was called out and was still there when I made this post. Any friend of mine who is friend of hers needs to know the kind of person she is.

    Naming and outing someone as a bully does not make one a reactionary bully.

  10. Tammy Walker says

    So much bullying gets done because the other side is convinced they are right. Homophobes bully gay people because they think gay people are wrong, due to outdated religious beliefs. Often, kids bully other kids for having different opinions than their own. There is no need for us to see their faces, just like there was no need for anyone to see the woman on the bus’s face.

    There is not a single person in the world who does not have problems and onerous ideas. How would you feel if your information was publicly posted on somebody else’s blog with any onerous ideas that you have? In many places, this is legally considered an invasion of privacy and can be a monetary liability to you.

  11. Yemisi Ilesanmi says

    @Tammy Walker- Bullying is not about having a different opinion; it is about wilfully picking on someone vulnerable with the intention to cause harm.
    Homophobes do not stop being bullies just because they are convinced threatening gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transsexuals is the right thing to do.
    Calling out a transphobe, homophobe or biphobe does not make one a bully.
    Please note the difference.

    Yes, if i had an appalling view that i shared publicly, was called out on it but still stand by it, then yes, concerned persons have every reason and even a social duty to put my face to my appalling views, and vice versa.

    No, it is not an invasion of privacy with monetary liability to name people who publicly spread hate or misogynist views. As far as you are not misquoting anyone, it is not bullying. If you don’t want people to associate your name and picture with appalling views, don’t share and post appalling views on the internet.

    Also, trying to label those who call out such misogynists as Bullies is itself an example of silencing technique that brought about this post.

  12. Tammy Walker says

    You have a beautiful literary voice; no need to silence it. Editing is needed. This is constructive criticism. Do you have any views that embarrass you? Or former views that embarrass you? Maybe at some point you said something horrible. Do you wish to be judged by your every action on Facebook? Public shaming is for the religious.

  13. Tammy Walker says

    It’s very obvious the physically beautiful woman who’s picture we’ve all seen by now has her own issues and insecurities, and probably a sizable good side too. In computer terms: garbage in, garbage out. Because she has been called ugly so many times (despite being physically beautiful), talking about ugliness is expected from a purely neurological point of view. From the information here, there is enough to launch a D-Dos attack against her and her onerous friend. (In plain English, that means to expose their addresses and pertinent information online; something any unscrupulous person with a computer and base knowledge of computer science could do.) The law in most countries forbids a person from using another person’s likeness and intellectual property without their permission. This is good information for you to know. It’s good information for anyone to know.

  14. Yemisi Ilesanmi says

    @Tammy Walker -- Stop with the attempts to rationalise your “If you call out a bully or associate a bully with their name or pic then you are also a bully” line of thought. It is in and of itself a silencing technique.

    I have spent time to respond to you concerns, and there is nothing that i have not already addressed in your new comments. I don’t wish to be repeating myself, no matter how you chose to reword what you have already said. If you can’t debunk any reasons i have given for the reasons i choose to call such people out without any editing, then what you are doing is simply derailing my post and that is not welcomed.

    Also, as i have said, keep your erroneous legal advice pertaining to this post to yourself especially considering that you are trying to give a lawyer an unsolicited legal advice.

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