Often I see people comment on tragedies online and attempt to "deflect" it with something "more tragic."

For example, let's say that a woman in a workplace in the USA is oppressed for what she wears to work, and ends up making the rounds online. Usually I see comments such as 'Well in other parts of the world women face x punishment just for stepping out their front door.'

My question is, does this process of saying "whoever is worse off so it's not that bad" have a name? It almost resembles strawman but it doesn't quite fit I'm sure there is a better way of phrasing it.

  • 2
    It's a form of "one-upmanship", but that doesn't precisely match.
    – Hot Licks
    Sep 27, 2017 at 23:54
  • Pretty close! Would like an exact match though. Seems common enough these that surely there is a term or phrase out there.
    – Cameron
    Sep 28, 2017 at 0:06
  • Also, overshadowing.
    – Phil Sweet
    Sep 28, 2017 at 2:31

2 Answers 2


The term you may be looking for is a "whataboutism" or possibly the tu quoque logical fallacy.

  • My first thought was "whataboutery" too. I think it's a better answer as it is a general term for the process, the effect of which is to minimise, trivialise, negate or deflect the original point, without actually addressing it.
    – JonLarby
    Sep 28, 2017 at 12:32
  • Agreed - 'whataboutism' is definitely a good fit with what I was thinking. Shame it doesn't have a nice sounding term, almost sounds like a made up word haha. Thank you :)
    – Cameron
    Sep 29, 2017 at 0:53
  • Technically, all words are made up. It might be best go for the tu quoque fallacy. There’s nothing like a bit of Latin to scare the children.
    – smatterer
    Sep 29, 2017 at 1:13

The psychological and rhetorical concept you're looking for is minimisation, for which there are many synonyms.

I think the best term here is that the speaker is downplaying the woman's struggles.

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