Dear angry people–
It’s come to my attention many of you believe Social Justice Warrior is an insult.
For all those people, here’s an honest question: Do you know what the words social, justice, and warrior mean?
I am of the opinion they’re all GOOD things. Warrior means someone willing to fight for what matters to them. Social justice, or the concept that all members of our society should have access to the same rights and opportunities, means stuff like:
Big corporations paying people fair wages
Cops not shooting unarmed people for no reason
Movies and TV shows not constantly objectifying women
If you honestly disagree with those things and want to insult people who choose to fight for them, here are some other insults you could try:
Big Ol’ Human Rights Head
Mister Thinks Murder Is Wrong Guy
Those examples at least have some negative words in them.
I understand you’re trying to make Social Justice Warrior an insult by saying it sarcastically. It’s meant to be said in quotation marks, dripping with irony, followed by a loud “pffffft” noise, and perhaps a masterful mime impression of masturbation. But really ANY good thing can be an insult if you go “pfffft” after it.
You make a lot of money. Pfffft.
You’re emotionally well-adjusted. Pffft.
Your shoulders look muscular. Pffffft.
I tried to get at this issue in a more succinct way when I tweeted this:
Trying to insult someone by calling them a Social Justice Warrior is like getting in their face and yelling, "You're a decent human being!"
— Joseph Scrimshaw (@JosephScrimshaw) October 4, 2014
I got a lot of angry responses to that tweet explaining why Social Justice Warrior is a great insult. Those responses included several interesting alternative insults including:
(and my favorite)
Mister Slippery Slope
None of those are particularly effective insults either. Let’s take a look at each of them.
This one is pretty good. At least most of our culture agrees it’s bad to be a fascist. A lot of the people who think Social Justice Warrior is a great insult think their freedom of speech is being threatened. I know this because I’ve read 800 blog posts about them losing their free speech. Please ping me if you don’t understand the irony of that and I will respond with some sort of flowchart.
Basically, it goes like this.
PERSON A: I think Redskins is a racist name and it should be changed.
PERSON B: You’re limiting my free speech!
PERSON A: No, I’m calling you a racist.
PERSON B: Pfffft. (Masturbation gesture.)
That’s a conversation. Not one to be particularly proud of, but no fascist limiting of free speech there.
Yes, I was insulted for being imaginative. This person’s argument was that Social Justice Warriors don’t matter because social justice is just an “imaginary concept.” Surprising news that one can’t fight for a concept. DEMOCRACY and RELIGION will be shocked to hear this.
I get called a White Knight on twitter basically any time I say something remotely decent about gender issues. The claim is that by having and stating a non-hateful opinion about gender issues, I’m riding in like a white knight to save and/or impress women. This is problematic for many reasons. First off, thank you for thinking that I’m strong, reliable, and valiant like a knight! You basically just called me Superman! Unfortunately, my shoulders are not that muscular.
But the Superman analogy only works up to a point. I say things about social justice because they’re issues I believe affect our culture as a whole. White Knight suggests Superman is just rescuing Lois Lane after she fell out of a helicopter. What Social Justice Warriors are doing is trying to stop a meteor from destroying the entire planet. Lois Lane can, and does, rescue herself.
Mister Slippery Slope:
We’re all familiar with the slippery slope. We shout it anytime something we don’t like is about to happen with all of the calm, intelligent, reflection of shouting “shotgun” when we want to ride in the front of a car.
Marriage equality was supposed to be a slippery slope which is why so many cats are getting married now. Cats aren’t getting married now. That was a joke to illustrate the slippery slope thing. Again, flowcharts can be made available. Also, someone please send me a link to all the tumblr posts of cats getting married that are probably out there.
Happy cat marriage tumblr thoughts aside, I think slippery slopes are at the very heart of the Social Justice Warrior debate.
I think they’re causing the fear that motivates the anger.
If you admit some of the video games you like are objectifying women, you might have to stop playing them.
WHERE WILL IT END THEN? WOULD YOU ACTUALLY HAVE TO LEARN TO RESPECT WOMEN? OR PAY THEM EQUALLY? LOOK HOW FAST WE’RE SLIPPING TOWARD TREATING ONE ANOTHER WITH RESPECT AND BASIC HUMAN DECENCY! DAMN YOU, SOCIAL JUSTICE WARRIORS!
Maybe no one from the other side of the argument will find this blog. But if you do and it makes you mad, let me try to help. I’m not being a White Knight. I’m not being Superman. I’m just a person who used to be young and angry, too.
If you’re angry because you think equal rights somehow means taking your rights away, I say let the anger go.
Life is like a video game and the hate is a big, bad, pain-in-the-ass Boss Monster. Try defeating it with a hug, some counseling, some empathy, anything. Just get in there and do your best.
If you disagree with me, by all means, use your free speech. Have a discussion.
And if you’re too angry to even manage that, go ahead and call me names. I would suggest jerk, asshole, or shithead. Or maybe get creative and try out something weird and fun like idiotface, weakshoulders, or dunceburger.
Or you can try to insult me by calling me a Social Justice Warrior.
But that will just make me proud. Because it is the worst insult ever.
If you want to know more about social justice issues and the recent attacks on women in the gaming industry, there’s an overview here. If you enjoy my posts, check out Patreon and the kind patrons who make them possible.
71 Responses to The Worst Insult Ever
Dude, thanks for this post!
Culture wars only bring pain and suffering.
Way to support harassment and the objectification of people (both men and women) and downright just rotten behavior. You’re the one with the hate. Try just letting it go.
Does it suck that other people are adopting a culture war stance? Yes. I think so. And I think that’s wrong. But that doesn’t make your culture war stance correct. It doesn’t make gender essentialism correct.
The fact that people are so eager to frame this as strictly “Men vs. Women”…that’s a problem that really needs to be fixed.
So again, I plead. Stop with the bullying. Stop with the hate.
There’s nothing in the blog that frames it is “Men versus Women.” I respectfully disagree with you about Culture Wars bringing only pain and suffering. I think we all need to share our opinions and work toward the change we think will make the world a better place. Thanks for reading.
So would the people on the other side respectfully disagree about that. Quite frankly, if you want to end the tactics, saying that my tactics are OK because I’m right, doesn’t really fix anything, because the other side is going to think the exact same thing.
And yes, you did use the “Men vs. Women” frame, or at least the “Women as designated victim” frame. Although I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt, and allow you to say that you decry all of that blatant sexism that exists in our society that serves to oppress both women and men. I fully understandable how easy it is to fall into that trap, considering that’s the language of gender that we commonly use.
Unfortunately there’s far too much of that in gender discussions and it poisons the whole thing. That’s the problem that needs to be fixed.
If you want to have a conversation about how social justice conversations (like legalization of same-sex marriage), “poison” society, I find it strange you would do so on a comedy post.
I support social justice.
I’m simply opposed to abuse, harassment, objectification and tribalism in the means of reaching those goals, as I believe these things are counter-productive and could potentially serve to derail progress.
Not to mention that it’s not simply a case of willing your way. Many of these things require actual structural/legal change and being open to the nuance that’s required for that sort of work is necessary. A “with us or against us” stance is poison to nuance.
Thanks for your opinions and clarifications. I agree “us versus them” tends to oversimplify and polarize issues. I also believe in some cases, it’s necessary to strongly disagree with a specific issue or idea. I strongly disagree with the idea that Social Justice Warrior is an insult. In the case of GamerGate, I believe violent threats against journalists’ lives are unacceptable. I also believe death threats and systemic sexism are more important issues than gamers’ (of which I am one) perceived social status. Even if you and I don’t agree on everything, I think we’re agreeing that having a discussion is best so thanks again for sharing your thoughts.
I’ve yet to see MRAs “respectfully disagree” about anything, or any of the other people who think social justice warrior is an insult. The people who favor maintaining the status quo are generally not a respectful bunch, and show it whenever the subject comes up.
Certainly there are people who take a position against change, and then get educated, and realize they are wrong. Sometimes that education takes a long time. Like it took for me. But it’s false equivalence to say those fighting for social justice are the “real haters”
Culture wars are uncomfortable for the privileged portion of society because they have it good already and any sort of societal realignment is always chaotic. That the realignment will probably lead to something better doesn’t factor in to them.
Here is a shitty analogy. Let’s say you order lunch at the precise moment they decide to clean the grill (I don’t know why they would schedule this, maybe the grilling surface is so grease laden that they are worried about a fire burning down the whole place). Well now you have to wait for them to cool the grill and clean it all out, so your 5 minute to prepare meal just got a 30 minute delay.
That is inconvenient. Maybe they could have delayed the clean up process until after you got your sandwich. But really the exact order they interrupt is a pretty arbitrary choice.
But I think we can all agree that not having the establishment burn down because of a grease fire is a good thing.
However there are a lot of people that only care about their own “meal” experience.
Personally I think your supposition that these people are scared that they won’t be allowed to play their favorite games because those games objectify women doesn’t go far enough. I think it is more that by liking those games, those gamers are automatically sexist.
Much like how an article I read in (I think) Business Week talked about football concussions occurring at high school level and how the author spoke with his best friend and his friend burst out with, “Don’t take this from me.” In this case, the “this” was his own high school experience where he did a head impact with another player that was KO’ed out as a result. The friend didn’t want to be burdened with the guilt of having possibly seriously and permanently hurt another person over an inconsequential high school game.
See, there’s the problem again. You’re looking at it from a non-intersectional PoV. Like it’s Gender and nothing else (which is why I talk about the “man vs. woman” frame).
But think about social status. For the longest time, gaming was seen as a low social status activity. It was something done by losers in their mothers basement who had absolutely no social skills whatsoever. And this stereotype was perfectly acceptable (and to a degree, it still is, as this whole kerfluffle shows). So for people who identify as gamers, to them this isn’t punching down like you might see it, to them it’s punching up. Punching up like Little Mac. (From a Nintendo game, Punch Out, where the main character is very small so he had to jump up to hit the opponents in the face)
To them they’re popping the bully right in the nose.
Now, as I’ve repeatedly said, this isn’t something I’m personally comfortable with in either direction. I’m a policy wonk. I’m more interested in say like public funding for different demographic minority game developers. (Actually I’m most interested in the concept of basic income to provide that funding to everybody)
That’s why the whole “It’s OK when we do it” based on perceived power imbalances falls apart. Because it’s not just gender. (In fact, good arguments can be made that gender is down the list in terms of power imbalances)
I think it’s interesting that you mention football concussions (it’s my opinion football will not exist in its current form in 20 years)…it’s not like we’re telling people who are fans of football that by enjoying it they are responsible for all the negative things that come from the concussions. And there’s a reason for that, and the reason is relative social status. Football is mainstream. Gaming isn’t.
Gaming is not, and has never been, a low social status activity. [i]Crystal meth[/i] is a low social status activity. Quite the opposite, gaming has until recently sat squarely in the province of white, middle-class males. The basement-dwelling loser is a stereotype, not an indicator of social status.
You’re right that gamers like to [i]think[/i] that they’re punching up – but then that means they think that bravely sending rape threats to female developers is fighting back against some sort of tyranny or threat, when all it is is sending rape threats to female developers.
I don’t know if you follow this trend on twitter, but I follow several people from each camp (though I recently un-followed TotalBiscuit). The gamer side of things comes off to me as being like the Republican Party for about six years after 9/11. They’re posting photoshopped WWII propaganda posters of the kind that went up when people had objections to the Iraq war (i.e. “One side, liberal pussies! We’ll handle this!”). They issue talking points graphics, link to documents outlining argument “strategies” that would be at home on Fox News. It’s framed as a military engagement with demonization of the “enemy,” use of terms like “psyops,” and almost always mentioning “corruption” and some form of sexual activity in the same tweet. They want people fired, homeless, or otherwise “punished” for not being whatever “objective” means (which they won’t define, naturally).
There may actually be people out there who think it’s all about gaming journalism, but that falls flat because they completely ignore big game companies demanding high review scores for early copies of their games or other such benefits. Instead, it’s all about a supposed sexual favor for a good review that didn’t happen, but that doesn’t stop the hate machine.
I liken the whole “corruption” line to hearing how “State’s Rights” and “Voter ID” aren’t about racism or disenfranchisement of voters. It requires a genuine effort to ignore reality.
“In fact, good arguments can be made that gender is down the list in terms of power imbalances”
No, they really can’t.
These people really make me laugh, Social Justice, Cultural Marxists, White Knighter, Mangnia and other names they like to label you.
Your a great guy Joseph, have to put up with this sh!t
I’m just gonna say I’m confused at your objection… are you saying that if you tell someone to stop bullying you are in turn being a bully? Or are you attempting to argue for a moral relativism, where every side is equally valid? Or something else?
I’ll bluntly state I’m pretty pro-SJW, especially given the indents of late but I’m trying hard not to project onto your post..
Not to change the subject but you really need to look up the definition of “moral relativism” . It does not mean at all what you think it does.
How else would you suggest trying to convince people that their beliefs and opinions are harmful and help support systems of oppression across the planet other than engaging in dialogue, advocating change, educating people, or promoting boycotts? That’s what SJWs do. You seem opposed to that bc you think its bullying. It’s bullying to try and change people’s minds? Sorry, but by your argument all the arguments in favor of marriage equality were bullying. They weren’t. You need to rethink your position.
That’s rich coming from someone who’s made it his life’s mission to harass and stalk women on line.
Do you think civil rights weren’t worth fighting for? What about equal rights for LGBT folks? Those are “culture wars”. Maybe we should’ve never abolished slavery. The country sure did go through a lot during that period. Apparently you don’t think it was worth it all.
I notice that none of your replies contain a specific reference to, or argument against, the content of the post, only a vague plea to “stop the bullying. ”
I’ve heard this sort of (non-)argument many times in the form of, “you’re just racist against racists!” as if one’s right to discriminate has equal moral standing with one’s right no not be discriminated against (hint: it doesn’t). Or, as if one’s right to attack the people who fight inequality has equal moral standing with their right to fight inequality (hint: it doesn’t).
What do *you* propose to do about inequality? What do you suppose social justice activists should do about the attacks they endure. Nothing?
Better, quote a specific line from the post and explain how it amounts to bullying.
What do I propose to do about inequality? Well I’m glad I’m asked, I’ll tell you.
First of all, let me focus on one aspect of inequality, that is stereotyping. I think that’s fair enough and probably what you’re talking about. Economic inequality being an entirely different kettle of fish!
First of all, it’s important to understand WHY that exists. It’s a mental shortcut that we use to analyze the world. It saves us mental energy. Human beings have a tendency to create and find patterns, and that’s what stereotypes are. The important thing to note and remember here is that we all do this. Nobodies hands are “clean” here.
Long-term, I’m an individualist egalitarian. That is, the goal is to see people as unique individuals. We’re all a huge combination of traits…tropes if you will, that almost creates a sort of “DNA” of sorts that informs who and what we are.
In order to get there, a few things are needed. First of all, we need to break down systems that are based around traditional stereotypes, or find ways to work around them on a system-level basis. I’m sure you’ve heard, of the orchestra that had much better women representation once they went to blind auditions. I’m an advocate for blind recruitment for employment, as an example. This actually a LOT harder than you think because it means more than just stripping out name, address, etc. It also means stripping out, for example what college/university you went to.
Again, these are systematic things that no one individual has to feel guilt or shame over. Nobody has to get defensive over this. We simply didn’t really think of that as of yet.
Moving on from there, is the notion of quite frankly understanding that this sort of thinking…stereotyping…is a logical fallacy and can result in mistakes, and as such we should try our best not to do it. Especially in academic circles, to be honest.
But quite frankly…it’s simply a matter of time. It’s about seeing enough counter-cases to break the patterns. And generally speaking that’s why society curves towards justice, at least it seems to in this regard.
I’m concerned, along with many others however, about the resurgence “Feminist 101” that reinforces these biases as a useful way of looking at the world. Class analysis and all that.
But if you REALLY want to talk about individual sexism? Talk about your own. What did you do that was sexist? How did you overcome it? How many jobs have you given up to more deserving people? How did that affect those around you? Things like that. The only person you can talk about with any confidence at all is your own.
Myself, I could talk about the self-hating, about not applying for promotions because a woman was applying for them, things like that. I have a history in it. Most people don’t talk about it ‘tho. Truth is, nobody actually expects anybody to really do this. It’s all a theoretical. But some people don’t work well that way.
First, I should have been using the word “justice” here, instead of “equality,” but whatever. They’re not the same, but they’re related.
Dude, do you know what a dog whistle is? It’s a metaphorical term that refers to language that has a particular meaning to people with a particular political bent. Let me let you in on a little secret: men who support the objectives of feminism do not hate themselves. Whites who support racial equality do not hate themselves. Straight people who support LGBTQ rights do not hate themselves. This is a notion that was invented out of whole cloth by people who oppose equality, and the usage of such language pretty much flags you as one of them. If you are not one of them, maybe you need to ask yourself why you’re speaking their language.
As a white, middle-class, educated, straight, healthy male, I know god damned well that I wield privilege in every aspect of my life, over women, over minorities, even over other white men who haven’t had the advantages that I have had. Do I feel guilty about it? No. What I feel is a responsibility to learn about and understand the experiences of others, to fight for equality where I can, and to do my best to identify and reform my own prejudices. I didn’t ask to be born the way I am, and I recognize how lucky I’ve been. If you feel guilty, maybe you could explore why that is. What have you done or not done that you’re ashamed of?
I call bullshit. Nobody does this and nobody asks for anyone to do this. If you do this, cut it the fuck out. You’re not helping anyone.
I’m sorry, but you’re not having an original thought, here, you’ve just stumbled on a phenomenon that is widely known and extensively studied.
You’re really betraying your ignorance of feminism, here. Your caricature of it reminds me of a man blowing through the wrong end of a trumpet. Feminism doesn’t seek to reinforce biases, it identifies and studies them. It explores the role that class (among many other things) plays in shaping society.
Feminism isn’t some monolithic enterprise. It’s a spectacularly diverse ecosystem of academics and activists (and people just living their lives) who fight oppression and inequality in a variety of ways, according to different philosophies and objectives. Feminism is inextricably linked to political science and economics — everything from Marxism to Post-Structuralism — and informed by varied interpretations of history and the lived experiences of individual women and men (and others).
You sound like you studied “feminism 101” under Rush Limbaugh.
All that aside, you’ve dodged my question. There’s nothing in our host’s post that you’ve been able to take issue with, in particular. You have betrayed a lot about yourself, though.
You’re right that feminism isn’t a monolith. And I’m outright saying that my feminism is better than your, quite frankly, sociopathic theoretical feminism. Full stop. I’m saying that unfortunately much of what goes for “feminism” out there is 101 level anti-intersectional gender essentialist…well…crap.
You might call bullshit, but I actually have not applied for promotions because I believed that the process wouldn’t be fair against women who are applying, and that the team was already staffed by all males. To be honest. I don’t even think it’s that unreasonable to do, in that particular situation. That you think that’s unreasonable says a lot more about you than me.
I haven’t said anywhere that I’m a feminist, nor, if I was, what my feminism would entail.
And so you attack an unfair system by… doing nothing? OK.
“Stop with the bullying. Stop with the hate.”
Who is it that you imagine is being bullied?
You have a thing about shoulders. huh.
Good post. Usually I don’t comment on stuff I completely agree with, but there seems to be a chance to applaud you before the inevitable hate mail starts.
I’m a straight white male of pretty decent socio-economic status. (Yeah, total SJW lingo, there.) the worst thing that can happen to me when I support social justice is that some anonymous people on the Internet shout at me. And if the worst thing they shout is “social justice warrior”, well, thanks for the encouragement.
Well done. First time I saw the term ‘social justice warrior’ I assumed it was a compliment, but I couldn’t figure out why the raging right-winger was complimenting a person he was clearly disagreeing with. Then realized it was an insult, and therefore just how far apart our worlds are.
Thanks for this post. I pondered this the other night: if you think Social Justice Warrior is an insult, then you’re pretty clearly opposed to being an SJW. In which case, what are you for? What do you support?
I’ve come to the conclusion that people who use SJW as an insult are just not that smart to begin with… So while your article is an excellent one, it unfortunately will do nothing to help educate the purposefully ignorant.
That’s my new hashtag for those people. Call someone an SJW? Well, you are the #purposefullyignorant
Or perhaps it should be simplified to their level: #youareamoron
I think you may be underestimating the negative connotations of the the term.
Yes, words mean things, and the words “social justice warrior” taken at face value describe a good thing. But words can also become shorthand for concepts that have little to do with what they describe. They evolve into thought-terminating cliches, epithets with meanings precisely opposite to their face value.
“Wise guy.” “Smart-alec.” “Know-it-all.” Examples abound of words that should be positive but which no one uses with complimentary intent. In addition, words which were considered simple descriptions just 30 years ago would get this post filtered if I used them now. Sometimes rearranging the same words renders them inoffensive: compare the now-unacceptable “colored people” to the favored “people of color”.
Among polarized groups, merely implying that a someone is a member of the other can be a deadly insult. If that group has enough influence, this practice can all but eliminate the word from general usage. In American politics, progressive politicians don’t dare call themselves “liberal”: the word has become toxic in that context. “Atheist” is another example. There are many others.
In this age of instantaneous world-wide communication, these dysphemisms emerge with disconcerting speed.
I’d argue that “social justice warrior” has had poisonous connotations from the day it was uttered, and I’d back that up with a simple Google search. Regardless of the phrase’s face value, its de-facto use is as a thought-terminating cliche, and that perception now exists even in the minds of those who are on the side of social justice.
When I think of a “social justice warrior” I don’t think of well-spoken, articulate advocates of equality like the author of this post. The phrase instead conjures up imagery of slackivist bloggers violently disagreeing with each other over who is the most repressed. SJWs toss around words like “rape”, “bigot”, and “prejudice” with a flagrant disregard for either the severity or accuracy of those accusations. SJWs excoriate those who might be their comrades for such minor missteps as not knowing the right terminology. A SJW does not advocate; they self-promote, attack, and shout over each other for attention. They are, in general, profoundly unhelpful to the causes they claim to champion. Even if you think this sort of person is a caricature, a strawman, that doesn’t alter or lessen the pejorative implication. I have never, in all honesty, heard it used any other way.
As a result, it would never occur to me to call you a “social justice warrior”. You’re not exhibiting the sort of behavior I associate with the term and the phrase itself is an epithet that I wouldn’t use to refer to reasonable people.
Like it or not, the term is pejorative. Attempting to wear it as a badge of honor does nothing to reclaim it. You may not agree with that, and that’s just fine. You may choose to interpret it as a compliment if you like, but I wouldn’t attempt to use it as one, and I doubt others would take it as such.
I recommend adopting a different term altogether. Perhaps your opponents would find “decent human being” or “rights advocate” harder to load with hateful intent.
Or he can dismiss you as someone who has no clue what they’re talking about. Claiming the mantle of SJW is done by quite a few people, and they’re not the caricature of equality advocates your post makes them out to be.
@Tony — yeah, Vert completely misses the point of SJWs, and clearly projects onto them the bullying vitriol they are actually pushing back against. I will say, however, that the W has occasionally troubled me, as a half-step short of calling onesself a Social Justice Superhero. So Vert’s last suggestion, “advocate” would appeal to me more, an SJA as opposed to an SJW.
I had this realization a month or so back. Been using it as my Facebook nickname ever since. Thinking of getting a tee-shirt.
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Re. Slippery slope…
So what’s so bad about cats getting married, anyway? They can get a divorce any time they want.
wonderful post. A great thing to snicker over just before I head out to work, to be one of those pesky “social justice warriors”.
Laughed my ass off.
Word meanings can change. It is true that SJW is most often used as a perjorative. Posts like this (and the correpsonding attitudes) can change that. If someone tries to fling it at me, I smaile and say “Thank you”.
I get a kick out of those people who use SJW as an insult. They clearly don’t understand the goals of people interested in social justice. All they see is people doing things they don’t like or approve of.
“Waaaah, you’re saying video games are objectifying women and you want game creators to improve their treatment of women? I don’t understand any of that, but I don’t think it’s important, and you’re criticizing my favorite hobby. You’re a big ole mean SJW!”
“Why can’t you just shut up about race and LGBT diversity in comic books. Things are fine just the way you are you darn SJW!”
It’s like they can’t process that SJW=Seeker of Equality for All
Incidentally, if you want some more lovely insults to throw out (without any splash damage): pissant, tainstain, shitstain, and shitspigot are quite nice.
I dunno, some of those insults sound as though they have plenty of splash damage.
Shitspigot in particular seems DESIGNED to cause splash damage!
Step back from the shitspigot! Things are about to get messy!
Bono, reading article critical of him: “Wow, this article is supposed to be critical of me, but they call me a “do-gooder”. That’s the worst insult ever – ’cause, last time I checked, doing good – is GOOD! Their attempt to insult me is actually just a further testament to my personal RIGHTEOUSNESS! People who dislike me do so because they dislike my espousal of GOOD! ” Returns to habitual attitude of narcissistic self-regard.
I think your comparison fails. While there are probably plenty of reasons to criticize Bono, I submit that his philanthropy is not one of them. Far from it, in fact. That which he does which causes him to be a “do-gooder” is not actually a very good target for criticism (unless you support AIDS in Africa or something).
Look at the sense in which people usually use “do-gooder” as an insult:
-villains in film, literature, and comix
-counterculture types affecting nihilistic poses (or actually espousing nihilism)
I know I wouldn’t feel particularly bad about being criticized by either class. (Despite until fairly recently being a counterculture type who occasionally affected a nihilistic pose.)
I wouldn’t read too much into the specific comparison – the point is simply that words with positive connotations are are frequently used pejoratively, either ironically or sarcastically, to suggest showy people who are sanctimonious and self-righteous rather than people who are genuinely committed to the good, or to suggest people who are misguided or Quixotic in terms of how they pursue the good, and so on, so the argument that “This is the worst insult ever” is clearly disingenuous – and it is perhaps telling of why people use the term pejoratively in the first place, that rather than occasioning some kind of self-critical reflection, it is instead turned into yet another opportunity for self-congratulation.
Did you say Flo-charts? Are you really trying to sell us insurance?
I think those things are issues of plain ole’ Justice.
You can call them “Social Justice” or “Cosmic Justice” or “3D Justice” I suppose.
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It reminds me of when I’ve walked away from internet arguments to go ride my bike, and trolls have responded with what essentially boils down to “Ha ha, YOU went OUTSIDE!”
They literally call it “pulling a Xydexx” and think it means they “won.”
Hey if you can’t be funny, be preachy and long-winded!
Thank you for your feedback, Joey Fatone. If you can’t be funny, leave a comment on the internet using a fake name. My apologies if this is the real Joey Fatone and best of luck with your Family Feud hosting duties.
5 seconds spent googling gives you exactly the answer you need.
“A pejorative term for an individual who repeatedly and vehemently engages in arguments on social justice on the Internet, often in a shallow or not well-thought-out way, for the purpose of raising their own personal reputation. A social justice warrior, or SJW, does not necessarily strongly believe all that they say, or even care about the groups they are fighting on behalf of. They typically repeat points from whoever is the most popular blogger or commenter of the moment, hoping that they will “get SJ points” and become popular in return. They are very sure to adopt stances that are “correct” in their social circle.
The SJW’s favorite activity of all is to dogpile. Their favorite websites to frequent are Livejournal and Tumblr. They do not have relevant favorite real-world places, because SJWs are primarily civil rights activists only online.”
TL;DR? “Social justice? You’re doin’ it wrong.”
I absolutely did google that and I disagree with it. I find that description shallow and ridiculous. I understand it’s how the term originated. But like many issues surrounding social justice I think it’s time for a change. I think we can change things like: the minimum wage, equal pay for women, the stupid meaning of SJW, and maybe fewer death threats toward people with a different viewpoint.
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Watching these MRA types twist themselves into ideological knots to defend their insanities is like watching someone who has never made a balloon animal trying to make a seven-headed hydra while on crack, heroin, bath salts and carburetor cleaner.
Social Justice Warrior FTW!
The claim is that social justice warriors (in general) are not committed to social justice in the real world in any meaningful way, but rather are committed only to talking about it on social media, and seem to only really become energized by social justice issues when they relate to the realm of sheltered middle-class preoccupations like video games, comic books, sci-fi fandom, and so on. This claim hasn’t been refuted by anybody in these comments, and the original article itself only seems to confirm it: like so many SJW pieces, it basically takes the form: “I said something cool on twitter, here are the stupid/and or objectionable replies I got. ” These things have no relevance to genuinely struggling, impoverished, and oppressed people.
It may just be that anti-SJ types are only aware of SJ activity that relates directly to their interests. If SJ activists are out pounding the pavement (which many are, much of the time), how would their internet-bound opponents know about it? They simply assume that the only activity that occurs is that which they can witness through the limited means available to them.
Of course, that goes both ways. It’s hard to tell from the real world whether MRA activism has any outlet other than trolling feminist-related internet activity. It doesn’t have much of an on-the-ground presence.
“If SJ activists are out pounding the pavement (which many are, much of the time), how would their internet-bound opponents know about it?” Well, that’s fine. If somebody was prepared to show some evidence of what SJWs are doing in the real world, and outside the realm of sheltered middle-class preoccupations which don’t have much relevance to genuinely struggling and impoverished people, then that would go a long way towards refuting the SJW stereotype. But nobody seems particularly inclined towards doing that, and without evidence I remain very skeptical that they do anything at all in relation to altering the socioeconomic inequality and injustice around which our society is built. Certainly, based on the sheer volumes of talk-back I’ve seen this week in relation to Gamer-gate, they seem to busier with more pressing matters. Laurie Penny recently located the battleground of the social justice culture war “in games, in film, in journalism, in television, in fiction, in fandom”; again, all very well, if you belong to the comfortable middle-classes. I’m not particularly interested in, or knowledgeable about, MRAs; I don’t see that they have any relevance to the question of whether or not there is any real substance to the phenomenon of social justice warriors.
I didn’t have to do much Googling to find plenty of volunteer organizations in my small city:
I and (especially) my partner have participated in many of these.
As for MRAs, well there seems to be a significant overlap between them the Gamergate hoard. GG may not be significant in your view (the women who’ve been harassed, threatened and displaced would see it differently), but it is definitely a symptom of something much larger.
Anyway, one thing I am certain of is that attacking “comfortable, middle-class people” for having opinions that are sympathetic with social justice causes has exactly zero positive effect. Everyone’s entitled to their opinion. Whether they act on their opinions is up to them, and usually completely invisible to you.
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What is “gender essentialism?”
I didn’t read the comments, so someone may have already said words to this affect, but the use of the term SJW is to insinuate that you are an extremist, and/or a fanatic. It’s a bit like calling someone a nerd, or a geek. It insults your interest in a subject by suggesting you take yourself too seriously.
Also this gets teamed up with political, philosophical, and sociological concepts of equality, left/right leanings and authoritarian vs anti authoritarian discussions. As most people are not capable of expressing accurately a constructive argument on these complex issues, name calling is the next most likely outcome (often without thinking about these deeper issues at all, as your article reminds us).
In defense of the term, I think it is used by people (myself included) who ‘feel’ there is something wrong with ‘social justice’ as a concept, but don’t really know why. I believe this feeling comes from a sense that your ideology is being challenged by an extremist world view. Whether this is true in any given situation it is hard to say without first better understanding your own ideology, and then understanding the ideology you feel offended by.
Point of order, the terms ‘nerd’ and ‘geek’ have been consistently reduced in stigma each passing year, for a long time, but I’ll just put out the 90’s as a starting point. Also, Geek Culture has been embraced by mainstream culture for quite some time, but I will throw out the arbitrary LOTR movies as a start.
Thanks for the post Joe, brilliant as usual.
I’m proud to be a Social Justice Warrior. So proud, in fact, that I decided to start a design contest to make SJW Pride tees, which, once sold, will benefit a charity for kids in need. For more info, check out my site: http://www.jenniferfoehnerwells.com/tee-contest.html
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I for one think that it’s absurd people quarreling over geek/pop culture can want to claim these titles or even use these titles to insult others. Both sides, get out there and go and do some real work instead of quarreling about fiction. Go fight for the oppressed, use your time to stand up against brutality, do interact with real people and deal with real issues. If fans interacting on the net did real work in the real world, I don’t think they’d have time for this self indulgent fighting. You’d come back and be writing about the real stuff you did and that might actually inspire others to help create a better world. Really, likening yourself to Superman..come on giving some comments on the internet is fine but it’s a different thing like say going to help poor disadvantaged women who are abused or helping to uplift females on a regular basis. If you do, then please share more of that and I think you entitled to call yourself a SJW and be prund. Or else it just mean you an armchair SJW. Not quite worthy of the title.
I agree that actively taking action against things you disagree with in the world is important. But pop culture is how a lot of young people learn about identity. I think pop culture is modern day myth. I think it’s worth debating to make sure people of all kinds have role models to look up to.
Id like to see a follow up article on “white knights”