Though it is a fairly new term (popularized in recent years anyway), I doubt there are many others that evoke the same reaction that is often associated with being labeled a social justice warrier, or SJW. Some take pride in and willingly accept the designation. Others cringe at the thought of being a part of THAT crowd. I have even been labeled an SJW myself, by a white supremest / Nationalist that didn’t like where my research into a collective called the European Brotherhood ended up. Which is fine by me, really. If posting information I find though online digging makes me an SJW or a Goebbels level propagandist, I am not insulted by it. In fact, it makes me smile, knowing that I apparently hit a nerve.
But my foray into the topic of immigration (coincidentally, just months before the Syrian refugee crisis blew up worldwide) is an aside. Today’s topic is far more controversial (at least in some circles).
What is a Social Justice Warrior/SJW?
Going into this with an eye on the relevant online scene for the last while, I already have my biases. One of the first things to come to mind is feminism, followed closely by Black Lives Matter. The associated label turned pejorative progressive also comes to mind. As does the term regressive, as coined by the alt left and picked up by the now widely known alt right.
It’s all a real mess. And it’s why the right has walked all over the left for decades.
Anyway, that is how I perceive the term at present. As a pejorative that is almost gurenteed to stir up any conversational pot it’s thrown into. But is it more than that? Perhaps, a term that started out as neutral or positive, but evolved into the insult it is today?
Naturally, a quick query has brought up a mixed bag of answers to my question. And some imagry.
And just for fun . . .
I used a mixture of memes from the left \ alt left and the right \ alt right because that is where most of the conversation about SJW’s originates. As for how the term is defined, that is also interesting. And varying.
Wikipedia and numerous other generally impartial sources tend to define it as some paraphrased form of this definition:
Places that are less impartial (or that are more controlled by external edits) tend to have a very different definition however. The paraphrased form also varies, but it generally ends up something like this:
So . . . what is a social justice warrier? Many things, it would seem.
Like the femenists, racial equitists and many other groups that often self identify overlaping into this catagory, most likley have good intentions. People that not just wish for a better world for all, but also people that are not afraid to speak their minds. Be that be in the context of the internet, or in the real world.
Because this is the internet age, the entire SJW catagory is also primarily identified publicly by its most attention grabing elements. Many of which also overlap into other ideological catagories (these days, most commonly famenism or Black Lives Matter). The media mantra was once if it bleeds, it leads. Now it has evolved into if it clicks, it sticks. Though social media in itself is bad enough for breeding closed minded ideology in any number of groups, the ability to share videos has only made things worse. Nuance and intellectual understanding of a given topic does not click. However, stuff like this does.
And because few people (it seems) are able to truly embrace what nuance (or almost ANY intellectual buzzwords really!) truly mean, you have ideological opposition croping up that seems to be based only on the loudest facets of a sect of ideologues. A great example that comes to mind is Milo Yiannopoulos’s increasing fanbase of famenist critics and anti-SJWs. Though they call out SJW femenists for things like not being open to debate or new ideas, they themselves often display little use for nuance. My favorite example is this video, filmed at a Milo speech event.
The fellow (similar to someone I know within the realm of academia) seemed to be on the same ground as the group in some respects, but he had one big disagreement. He felt that Milo (and the rest of the people of his mindset) didn’t fully understand what they were critiquing. Given limited exposure to academic femenist teachings, I agree.
When confronted with this, rather than explore this new avenue of information, the room choose to disregard it. Choose to dismiss a gender studies course, and even a visit to a youtube channel. One commenter in the above video even claimed that the actions of the room didn’t involve free speech because the man was advertising his youtube channel.
1.) Almost no one (it seems) has any understanding of free speech. Certainly not its most volcal promoters, most sitting at the absolutist edge of the debate.
But no, his right to free speech was not infringed.
2.) HOWEVER, if I view this from a perspective typical of the types that are always on about free speech and censorship, then I can find hypocrisy in the actions of the audience.
The man was invited in to speak his piece, even interupted once. But when it came to actually making his point, the audience would not hear of it.
Sure, he didn’t present anything at the time, granted. But I also understand why. To understand femenism (femenist theory?) at an intellectual level involves nuance beyond which is representable in simple point form. Something that a gender studies course would likley clear up. Or if not inclined to go that route, something likley explored in the youtube series.
3.) To the commenter that sidestepped the censorship claim by calling it advertising . . . no idiot, he was not advertising. He was presenting materials for the audience to explore. Materials of which they cast aside unseen.
If the advertising comment was due to a possibility of the videos being monetized . . . who cares?! Many other youtubers monetize anti-SJW and Anti-femenist material all the time, even though like Milo’s little following, they also generally don’t know what the hell they are talking about. If you don’t take issue with THEM making fat stacks, then why the double standard for their opposition?
Its amusing really. Though the group of this mindset thinks they are superior to their radical SJW opposition, they are more alike than they realize. In some cases, often being the same in practice, but the oppisite merely in stripes.
But getting back on the topic that is what is an SJW? , I think the term is more encompassing than many would realize. If it is simply standing up for progressive ideals online or off, then I could well fit the bill myself. As would Milo Yiannopoulos, his little following of anti-SJW’s, and anyone really that plants themselves in opposition to SJW’s of any focus.
If you are anti-SJW . . . you may be an SJW.
But, being a person that respects a persons personal choice to identify however they choose, I do not state this as a rule of thumb, a fact. Ill leave that brand of intolerant group think to the Atheists.
There are to many fucking labels anyway. Groups, sub groups, macro groups. Groups that are alike in almost every way, yet groups that can’t see eye to eye often due to single silly differences of opinion.
When its all boiled down, there is only 1 group that really matters.