The Hyphen: Cancel Culture vs Call-Out Culture

Hi friends—

How are you doing this week?

I’ve noticed cancel culture has become slightly more intense during lockdown. As writer Ryan O’Connell said: “X was cancelled and then someone got cancelled for trying to cancel her a second time which, by the law of cancellation physics, means she is no longer cancelled.” To be clear, I am absolutely here for holding people accountable for things that are out of order. But there’s no need to #CANCELFOREVER someone who is trying to learn, or messed up once, or doesn’t make a cup of tea exactly the same way you do. Cancel-culture doesn’t move things on. It also doesn’t actually work — it often results in making people even more well-known via a trending hashtag, or they eventually make a ‘come back’ like nothing ever happened.

However — call-out culture is different, and necessary for progress. We’ve witnessed a whole lot of it this week. We must call things out when we see it. Calling something out means there’s a chance someone might learn something — that something might change, that we’re pushing for progress. And this doesn’t just mean calling out a stranger or a public figure on Twitter. Call out your boss, friend, family member, partner. Call yourself out. We all grow from painful conversations. I certainly have, and continue to.

Online outrage directed at public figures is symbolic for demanding change and accountability. Millions of hearts sank all around the world when JK Rowling decided to tweet her feelings about trans people this week. It really felt like a final twist of the knife. The icing on the incredibly depressing cake. I will never understand why anyone would feel so threatened by a group of people who are at most risk of harm in society. I don’t understand why anyone would feel such an ongoing motivation to dismiss another human’s existence. I don’t understand why one of the most influential and wealthy white women in the world would go on a Twitter spree knowing the damage it would do during a time where we are supposed to be lifting others up. It was good to see Daniel Radcliffe and Emma Watson speaking out and saying something. If you feel like donating, Mermaids UK is a good place. You can even do a monthly or annual donation so that it is recurring. Trans women are women.

Someone asked on Twitter this week: Does JK Rowling deserve to be so intensely piled on? I thought Juno Dawson said it well: “The difference is, all she [JK Rowling] has to do is log off. Trans people can’t log off. Ever. And the hate she continues to promote to her 14M followers affects our lives on the street, online and in our families too.”

At time of writing, The Sun has published a vile misogynistic cover giving voice to JK Rowling’s ex-partner who admits to slapping her. An anonymous domestic abuse survivor published a piece in Grazia explaining why this sends a dangerous message: “Whatever your thoughts on Rowling - and boy, do I have thoughts on Rowling - dredging up such things so publicly, so explicitly and so callously, shows nothing but contempt for the countless unnamed women and men who have done something miraculous: they have survived.”

Cancelling JK Rowling won’t make transphobia go away. Cancelling politicians won’t fix society. Cancelling a CEO doesn’t mean the toxicity of a company will suddenly evaporate. Instead of #cancelling, let’s continue to call things out, privately and publicly.

Hope you enjoy today’s newsletter. (If there’s anything you’d like me to share in next week’s newsletter, please email me at

Emma xo


What’s New on Ctrl Alt Delete Podcast?

This week's podcast episode is with the brilliant Candice Brathwaite, author of I Am Not Your Baby Mother.

Candice’s book has just been announced as a Sunday Times Bestseller, so firstly, huge congrats Candice! I loved recording this episode — all about her insightful, inspiring, powerful book navigating Black British motherhood. We covered a lot of ground from micro-aggressions, the power of fashion, taking up space, money and building an online business.

Listen here (or via any pod apps!)


You are invited…!

As I am no longer having a launch party to launch my debut novel OLIVE (boo hoo etc), we’ve decided instead to do a special live event via Zoom with none other than novelist Dawn O’Porter on Weds 22nd July! I wanted to tell you guys about it first. You can now sign up (and even order a copy of the book which I will customise/sign for you with a message!) Click on the button below to save your place. It’ll be really fun! See you there xo

Things I've consumed this week...


It’s the third anniversary of the tragic Grenfell Tower fire today. And three years on, 23,000 homes remain covered in flammable cladding despite the government’s June 2020 deadline for its removal. It’s a disgrace. Please help by adding your name here: In remembrance of the 72 lives lost, visit ❤️


Here are 5 petitions worth signing. Suspend these UK exports to the US. Justice for Belly Mujinga. Petition to remove all slave trader statues in UK. Justice for Shukri Abdi. Stop use of horses during BLM protests. These petitions were highlighted by Fuse Manchester — an inclusive platform elevating the voices and work from creatives of colour.

I highly recommend diving into the archives of Otegha Uwagba’s podcast In Good Company. Enjoyed re-listening to these interviews talking about experiences of being a black woman in the workplace — with brilliant interviewees such as Reni Eddo-Lodge, Elaine Welteroth, Funmi Fetto, Gynelle Leon, Sharmadean Reid, Sharmaine Lovegrove and Liv Little. You can listen here.

Penny Wincer’s book came out this week called Tender: The Imperfect Art Of Caring. It is estimated that there are 7 million people in the UK caring for loved ones. And yet these are the unpaid, unsung heroes whose number is rising all the time. Penny Wincer combines her own experiences as a carer with the experiences of others to offer real and transformative tools and insights.

In Case You Missed It:

— Why not pick up a copy of ELLE UK this month, I wrote a piece on why I’m not sure about having kids, out now in print.

— Have you joined The Hyphen Book Club? TOMORROW, we are discussing our current book pick Standard Deviation by Katherine Heiny. Join in, grab a glass of wine, and follow the Instagram page here! 

Jess Phillips will be in conversation with journalist Hannah McInnes on Friday 26th June. All proceeds are going to the domestic abuse charity Women’s Aid. Tickets available here.


Click here to join 40,000+ students by signing up uo my Skillshare class! "5 Exercises To Build Creative Confidence"


Thanks for subscribing! I'm Emma, the person behind this newsletter. I am the bestselling author of The Multi-Hyphen Method and the soon-to-be-published novel OLIVE, and creator of the hit podcast series Ctrl Alt Delete. You can also follow me on Instagram here, and Twitter here.

Older messages

The Hyphen: Making Change Requires More Than Just Hashtags

Sunday, June 7, 2020

Your weekly recommendations Hi friends— How are you doing this week? Sending a lot of love to anyone who is feeling it — to those who have been directly affected or personally emotionally triggered by

The Hyphen: Getting Uncomfortable & People To Follow

Sunday, May 31, 2020

Hi friends— How are you doing this week? It's been a heavy week on the Internet. Black communities are hurting beyond words; Twitter, like the real world, a constant stream of pain. The video of

The Hyphen: Being A D*ck, Podcasts & Choosing Love

Sunday, May 24, 2020

Podcasts, Writing, Books View this email in your browser Hi friends— I hope you are doing okay? I'm personally feeling very grateful for these two articles: "Why is everyone being a bit of ad*

The Hyphen: Nostalgia & Slaying Self-Sabotage 💫

Sunday, May 3, 2020

Exciting news! Book recs, podcasts, writing, the lot! View this email in your browser Hi friends— I hope you are holding up okay. Any time I go to write anything — an email, a Whatsapp, this newsletter

✨ The Hyphen Book Club ✨

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

A new virtual book club for #StayingIn View this email in your browser Hi friends— I can't believe how much the world has changed since we last spoke. I don't where to start. Except for: how

The Pillow That Will Help You Sleep Better ASAP

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Real Simple Shopping Troubled Sleepers Say This Casper Pillow Is 'Worth Every Penny'—and It's on Sale Casper's popular sleep pillow, which has earned over 2600 five-star ratings, is the

The Mental Health "Dip" (How to Handle It)

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

The dip always happens. It always follows the highs. Nothing great can last forever. New habits last The Mental Health "Dip" (How to Handle It) By Jordan Brown - Mental Health Newsletter

Lit Hub Daily: January 27, 2021

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Lit Hub Daily January 27, 2021 TODAY: In 1898, the publication of the first part of Henry James' novella The Turn of the Screw appears in Collier's Weekly magazine. TODAY: In 1898, the

The Daily Good | 1.27.21 💖 Our readers share the meaning of their favorite tattoos

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

January 27, 2021 I waited a very long time for a love that was withheld from me, an acceptance that was conditional. How freeing it was to find my happiness and healing are not tethered to another.

"Surah" by Tarfia Faizullah

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

the falling paper flower / the plastic tree branch Facebook Twitter Instagram Support Poem-a-Day January 27, 2021 Surah Tarfia Faizullah the falling paper flower the plastic tree branch the plight of

Daily Skimm: Fresh photos with the bomb lighting

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Skimm'd while adding "Skimm This" to our queue January 27, 2021 Read in Browser Skimm This DailySkimm' Skimm'd while adding "Skimm This" to our queue Listen Now Quote of

Throwback haircut trends are taking over 2021

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

AQUARIUS SEASON 2021 NAIL COLORS The 7 Haircut Trends Experts Predict Will Take Over 2021, Including the Bowl Cut HelloGiggles What Does Serum Do, Exactly? Shape 7 Hair and Makeup Looks from Bridgerton

Billie Eilish got incredibly vulnerable about that viral paparazzi photo

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

The wolf full moon is happening View this email as a web page HelloGiggles NOW HEAR THIS Billie Eilish got incredibly vulnerable about that viral paparazzi photo and her "horrible body

10 Unforgettable Celebrity Mother-Daughter Fashion Moments

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Cindy & Kaia, Zoë & Lisa, Melanie & Dakota, oh my. 10 Unforgettable Celeb Mom & Daughter Style Moments celebrity style | January 26, 2021 10 Unforgettable Celeb Mother-Daughter Fashion

Should I Send My Resume as a PDF or Word Document?

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

If you haven't been out testing the waters of the job market for a long time, dusting off your resume... ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ Do everything better Tuesday, January 26, 2021