Calling Out vs Calling In

Calling Out is pretty obvious, right? Calling out is when you make a point of pointing out someone’s shit, so that they see that they have done something awful, and other people can see that they’ve done something awful and help lend some perspective to the matter.

The biggest problem with calling out? It often becomes a dog-pile.

It can be useful though: As seen today, when OUT magazine decided to give eternal Shitclown in Chief a cover and article to spout his misogyny, homophobia, transphobia and outright disgusting attitude everywhere.

When we said “put queers in media”, this is not what we meant.

Calling out in this case has a positive effect though: it shows people that OUT are worth boycotting, that Shitclown (I refuse to use his real name) is vile, and it makes it clear to those watching that we will not stand being represented by this sort of shite.

It doesn’t always work though.

This is where Calling In comes in handy. Here’s a quick rundown of what Calling In is.

In essence, it’s a more private, compassionate way of bringing up and discussing someone’s oppressive behaviour. Like is noted at the bottom of the Black Girl Dangerous article I linked, calling in is for use with people we want to see at the other side.

Calling in can take many forms: when the conversation is happening online, it can be through private messages, away from the timelines where other people will see it. In person, it can be taking the person to another room for a private conversation, phoning them after the event, even sending them an email.

Calling in is not wimping out of calling out oppression.

If you’re going to call in on someone, you need to be prepared, however. Whilst calling out can put the oppression in general out there for a variety of people to help explain the issue, calling in, being a more private affair, means that you are likely going to be the only point of contact the person has on the issue, and so you’re going to need to be patient.

It doesn’t have to be at the time; text a friend and say you need to have a chat with them later that night, email someone saying you might not get back to them immediately, but you will see their email. It will take time and effort, but it is always worth it.

Do remember however, you do not need to be anyone’s teaching moment. If the person you’re talking to has questions outside the issue you called them in on, you don’t have to answer them. Point them to resources, or tell them what terms to search, but do not overstretch yourself if they don’t deserve it.

So when should you call out vs. call in?

There are no hard and fast rules about when you should use one or the other, but in general:

  1. If it is someone who puts themselves out there, such as a celebrity, business or publication, chances are they will be called out. Chances are you won’t be the only one who has noticed their oppression. However, if you think a quick behind the scenes message stating how they can be better is more appropriate, go for it.
  2. If it is someone from a marginalised group, who may be in trouble if you call them out and put their name all over social media, don’t do that. Like I said before, these things can often turn into dog-piles, and many marginalised folx have been harmed as a result, so in this case definitely a more private calling in would be suitable.
  3. If it is someone you know closely, calling in is definitely the better option. Chances are this is a person you like, you would like to remain friends with, and slating them in front of other people you know isn’t going to do either of you any favours.


Again, none of this is hard and fast, so use your best judgement. We all make mistakes, and whilst best practice is to own them, lean and grow, but sometimes it takes others pointing out our mistakes for us to realise.

Here’s another useful article about calling in: Everyday Feminism “Guide to Calling In”


Leave a Reply

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

You are commenting using your 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 )

Connecting to %s