An anti-debate appeal based on genetic fallacy, which attempts to detract from the validity of a statement by attacking the tone rather than the message.
In Bailey Poland's book, Harassment, Abuse, and Violence Online, she suggests that tone policing is frequently aimed at women and derails or silences opponents lower on the "privilege ladder".
In changing their tactics to criticizing how the women spoke instead of what the women said, the men created an environment in which the outcome of a dispute was not decided on the merits of an argument but on whether the men chose to engage with the arguments in good faith.
— Bailey Poland, Harassment, Abuse, and Violence Online, page 46
While anyone can engage in tone policing, it is frequently aimed at women as a way to prevent a woman from making a point in the discussion.
— Bailey Poland, Harassment, Abuse, and Violence Online, page 47
"Tone policing is an important term to understand if you want to have productive conversations about race and if you have done tone policing you have been doing something harmful—whether you mean to or not.
So what is tone policing? Tone policing is when someone (usually the privileged person) in a conversation or situation about oppression shifts the focus of the conversation from the oppression being discussed to the way it is being discussed. Tone policing prioritizes the comfort of the privileged person in the situation over the oppression of the disadvantaged person. This is something that can happen in a conversation, but can also apply to critiques of entire civil rights organizations and movements.
Most damagingly, tone policing places prerequisites on being heard and being helped.
Ijeoma Oluo, So You Want to Want to Talk About Race (Seattle, WA: Seal Press, 2019) (orig. pub. 2018), p. 205