Quick! Let's play a word association game! What do you think of when you hear cis-gendered, gamergate, privilege, <noun> shaming, and victim blame?
If you're like me, concepts like minefield, Kobayashi Maru, or "not with a 10 foot pole" spring readily to mind. Ms. Ephemily has some strong opinions, but also tries to take "Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak up and remove all doubt" to heart. In the realm of the Social Justice Warrior, I am but an observer. Because, as the sage Sweet Brown said of the drama and backlash, "ain't nobody got time for that!".
Care to know why? Cue Encyclopedia Dramatica and their vitriolic categorization of the SJW.
". . . Social justice warriors are best described as a bunch of "activists" who sit around all day and bitch and moan about how everyone and everything is "racist/sexist/homophobic/transphobic/whorephobic/fatphobic/arachnophobic/bigoted/opppressive."
Ironically, as people who claim to want "progress" in society, Social Justice Warriors are currently the biggest hindrance to the arts, and are overall a cancer to society that needs to be put down. They consider everyone who disagrees even in the slightest to be a "white hetero-cis scum", even if the ones disagreeing with them are ethnic minorities, gays, bisexuals, etc. . . "
Do I agree with the assessment that the SJW is a cancer? No. The simplistic version of my opinion is they came to be like any fundamentalist, with their hearts in the right place. Somehow though, they manage to find themselves on a Nascar track surrounding Albuquerque with Pyrrhus as their pit boss.
I'ma let me finish, but I want to make sure nobody thinks that I want the world to sit down, shut up, and stop making waves. Nope. That's absolutely not where I'm coming from. However, if I can borrow a phrase from corporate speak, there's conflict and then there's productive conflict. I'm of the opinion that screaming about checking privilege and giving everything its own special snowflake designation wastes energy that could be spent on actually building up understanding, rather than tearing down what everybody else is doing "wrong".
For the record, here's a somewhat abridged version of things I'm passionate about:
- Placing culpability where it belongs, with the parties who actually should be taking ownership of an event/action. This can expand outwards from a single point and include multiple targets.
- <noun> acceptance
- Saving vaginae for phallic objects (however fleeting a resemblance they may have) by keeping intangibles like laws and ideologies out of them.
- Second chances.
- Discussion as learning opportunities and an exchange of ideas.
- Asking the tough questions and giving the uncomfortable answers.
Never mind the bee, when did you start wearing a bonnet, you might ask. Well, like I mentioned before, I'd been ruminating on these thoughts for a while. Today, after reading this article, I think the cud finally hit the 8th stomach.
By the time I had read the first few paragraphs, I wanted to raise my hand and exclaim "I wanna testify!". Why? Well, because of this, dear reader:
But on a serious note, this lesbian has been pushed to her breaking point by factions of our community launching attacks on well-meaning straight people. We are making many of our allies and potential future allies feel as though they have to walk on eggshells because they don't know the latest LGBTQIA lingo (full disclosure: neither do I), aren't properly addressing their "privilege" [sic]when doing something positive for the queer community or -- here comes the most egregious insult -- are asking gay people "When did you know?"
It has gotten to the point that when a straight friend or colleague wants to ask me a perfectly legitimate question about my own story or the community in general, they usually preface it by saying something like "I hope this doesn't offend you, but..." or "I hope it's okay to ask this, but..." Is this what we want, to make people nervous about engaging in dialogue? I hate to think about all the teachable moments that never happened because someone was afraid to ask me -- or any of us -- a question.
You see, we have taken teachable moments and turned them into opportunities to forcefully correct, shame, or preach at perceived opposition.
Have I indulged a bit in this? Mayhaps. If you haven't heard of Bye Felipe, it's a place/movement to expose what many would consider terrible behavior in online dating pursuits. Have I done similar things? Yes. I have. And being a human, I have rationalized who and why I have "outed". Do I give pause now, knowing that by indulging, I'm actually working against my fellow humans? Yeah, I do.
I'm doing a gut check. Personally, I'm making an effort not to go balls to the wall (word choice intentional) when lending my voice to an issue. I've seen it happen locally, and it's amazing how small the world really is thanks to the internet.
Add this to the bonfire of online threads that devolve into "I'm right because your privilege says I am", blaming, the hipster oppressed (I was kept down by the man before it was cool), I have found myself seeking out puff journalism, cat photos, and blandly factual websites to meet my internet addiction needs. Today, thanks to falling down a Huffington Post clickhole, I said enough was enough. I'm done pretending the toxic vomit of the SJW and those who engage them for fun and profit don't exist. What am I doing about it? In a word, nothing. Kind of. A wiser man had these thoughts long before I ever did. And he said of them "“As human beings, our greatness lies not so much in being able to remake the world – that is the myth of the atomic age – as in being able to remake ourselves.”. ~Mahatma Gandhi
Here's my pledge. I will be an ally instead of a warrior. I will hold my beliefs because of evidence I have found to be, at the time of discovery, credible. I will keep an open mind, encourage discussion, and hold facts above toxic mudslinging. I won't call for a personal army to fight on my or my cause's behalf. While I won't claim to be enlightened, wise, or beyond reproach, I will do my best to strive for this with the help of those around me. I will stand by an idea, cause, or person which creates unity, understanding, and inclusiveness to the best of my ability. Should I find my efforts misdirected, I will strive to disengage gracefully and acknowledge my mistake.
I will fail, most times unintentionally. Sometimes it will be spectacular, and sometimes due to personal weakness. I will make the effort not to torture myself with trying to nail that jello to a tree and crucify myself for being less than perfect. There's better use for the wood and plenty of sugar for the medicine of owning my mistakes. Fall down 7 times, stand up 8.
Should someone around me stumble, I won't take it as an opportunity to kick, injure, slander, or metaphorically curb stomp them. I will make a best effort to resist making exceptions because "they deserve it". Karma, as a construct, is an invisible hand, and I have no place assuming I am its agent. If asked my stance, I won't couch my words, nor will I twist the knife. I will strive to listen to understand, not listen with the intent to reply. While I won't go looking for a fight, I can't say that should someone bring their own hanging rope, it should be my responsibility to keep them from using it on their own necks. I wouldn't expect that treatment in kind should the roles be reversed.
I will ask questions motivated by a desire to further a conversation and reach a common ground, not a desire to poke the proverbial bear. Above all else, I will not ask the rest of the world to fit its existence into a prefabricated box just because it makes me comfortable. What I will ask the rest of you to do, however, is to be a tourist in the lands outside your comfort zone. Take a phrase book, give the local lingo a shot, but let the natives give you a hand with your pronunciation. Make an effort to accept the help gracefully. Try on many hats, take a stroll in all the shoes you have the opportunity try on, and see what the world looks like through rose, yellow, blue, brown, and maybe even polarized glasses.
I believe there is a place for social justice in this world. But, just as David hid in the stone, we have an uncarved block commissioned to become understanding and unity. Urban legend tells an anonymous artist quipped that sculpting him must have been easy, all you had to do was carve away all the parts that don't look like David, The first cuts are always the roughest. We'll get there. Will you join me?