Blunting the tip

Definition of "blunting the tip," examples of this behavior in discourses about rolequeerness, suggestions for dealing with people who are blunting the tip.

Blunting the tip is a term coined by Ian D. McLean1 to refer to a specific form cultural appropriation wherein one demographic asserts that the differing political philosophy of a second group is in fact a slight variation on the first group’s own philosophy rather than a direct challenge or outright rejection of their own philosophy. It was first used in reference to Sara D. Luterman’s (aka. Crosswords’s) claims that rolequeerness “is [not] threatening to binary [BDSM power] roles any more than queerness is threatening to binary sexuality or genderqueerness is threatening to binary gender”2 and subsequently adopted by other rolequeer theorists in other conversations to refer to the same behavior.3

The process of “blunting the tip” has these signature characteristics:

  • Group A’s assertions are in some (often direct) tension with Group B’s competing assertions.
  • Group A claims that Group B’s assertions are a subset of Group A’s own philosophy.
  • Group A intentionally re-defines Group B’s assertions in ways that support, rather than undermine, their own political stances.
  • Group A discards or ignores Group B’s statements that Group A’s interpretation of Group B’s statements is incorrect.

Blunting the tip is closely related to what some rolequeer writers have termed “de-fanging,” and somewhat resembles Christian irenicism, but carries a connotation of intentional subtlety. The most useful strategic response to “blunting the tip” is sharpening the blade.

See also


1 Ian D. McLean: On Rolequeerness

2 Ms. Crosswords: On Rolequeerness

3 Maymay: Dissecting ‘A Brief, Mostly Sane Definition of Rolequeerness,’ which is not actually a definition of rolequeerness