Insults so common they become meaningless

It’s quite easy to take the piss out of a supposed insult like Social Justice Warrior because it is so loosely used that, by now, it pretty much means “a woman I don’t like.” It has been used on men, but those men are typically minorities in other ways. Cishet white men are typically called “White Knights” or some variant thereof by the neo-Nazi alt right or by people who are just antagonistic in general to the idea of social equity. But SJW and its associated spinoffs are essentially shorthand ways of signalling dismissal to anyone from “moderates who want the opportunity to avoid discomfort in conversations about discrimination” to “fascist apologists who can’t wait to dox and harass someone into oblivion.” It’s a literal ad hominem–no engaging with the substance of the argument provided, just shout SJW and any conversation about structural, institutional, or individual discrimination can be safely ignored or dismissed as frivolous.

Enter Philip DeFranco. :/

Looooooong siiiiiiiiigh.

Philip’s show is structured around making commentary around news stories. He reports in a relatively neutral fashion statements of fact and then turns informal to contribute his opinion.

In this particular video the first story is about a woman who, upon entering a rideshare worker’s car, noticed a stereotypical Hawaiin hula dancer bobblehead. She starts recording a conversation with the driver, a video which is not represented in its entirety in Philip’s clip. Unfortunately I haven’t had much luck locating the original footage, so I can’t see the rest of the conversation. It’s difficult to say whether Philip is misrepresenting her without being able to view the original clip.

Nonetheless it does not paint the woman in a favourable light. Philip specifically represents her concerns over the stereotypical and tokenizing nature of the bobblehead as being an unreasonable fight to pick. If his criticism is that a white woman shouldn’t be commenting on microaggressions in racism, one wonders what makes him more qualified to dismiss microaggressions in racism as a white man. Philip does not elaborate ever on how exactly to address the racism discussion–he simply crowns her “Queen of the SJWs” as if that settles the debate, or in any meaningful way refutes the argument she’s making about the hula bobblehead.

Where the woman is unreasonable is that she threatens the driver, who rather predictably refuses to remove the bobblehead, by claiming she’ll upload the video and turn him into a meme. The argument continues unproductively until the driver kicks her out for harassing him. She does upload the video, possibly in private but was hacked, and rather unsurprisingly she is swamped by the worst elements of the internet, driven off Twitter, etc. etc.

I do have a pretty high bar for when it’s cool to record someone without their consent. Crime in progress? Go nuts. Subject has been empowered with institutional authority? Good to go. A rally or protest in public? Sure. I can’t really conceive of many other contexts in which this type of action is justifiable. After all, Men’s Rights Edmonton did the exact same thing by uploading videos of women–recorded without their consent–all because they were rebuffing the recorder’s street harassment and decided the rational thing to do was more harassment.

To reiterate:

  1. The woman probably had a point about the tokenizing nature of the bobblehead;
  2. The woman’s threat to upload a video, recorded without the subject’s consent, is disproportionate to the microaggression in question.

Chances are I would’ve responded proportionately to the microaggression by paying the standard fare with no tip. The rideshare apps I’m aware of do have a comments page for any given driver, so I would’ve mentioned it there–“I think the hula doll is tokenizing and I’m not comfortable with it. Drove fairly safe. Wouldn’t request again.”

Had Philip just talked about the disproportionate response, I wouldn’t have taken issue with his opinion. But he engages in the exact sort of dismissal tactics that most of the alt right do. No conversation about the implications of the hula bobblehead. She’s an SJW therefore she’s wrong. No conversation about Twitter swarming being as scummy a response as her threat to upload the footage. She’s an SJW and therefore she’s wrong. No conversation about the ethics of recording people without their consent, she’s an SJW and therefore she’s wrong. (On that note, she is wrong, but not because she’s an SJW)

In other words, it’s highly ironic for him to be claiming the woman is the one engaging in “crybullying,” as if that isn’t exactly how he’s responding by pointing his millions of fans in the direction of the video knowing full well that some of his fans are unhinged entitled douchebags who would dox and harass her. And on top of that, he ends his section on this video by claiming the driver was a saint, because Philip would’ve kicked the shit out of her.

I don’t even have words for the lack of self awareness. If this woman is why feminism is discredited, then you, Philip, are why minorities don’t trust cishet white men. It’s because you think opinions you disagree with should be met with violence. I do agree that the woman was acting inappropriately by recording the interaction without the driver’s consent, but no one deserves to be beat for expressing an opinion. Mocked? Sure. Criticized? Absolutely. But I would never wish violence upon anyone, not even the assholes in the alt right, for sharing an opinion–even if I think it is misinformed, bigoted, or hateful.

See? I can do it too. Unlike you, I actually specify which actions of yours I disagree with and why I disagree with them. I don’t dismiss you because you’re a cishet white man, I dismiss you because you’re ignorant and hypocritical.

Jesus tapdancing Christ.

-Shiv, Fashionable Communist, Annihilator of Man, Social Justice Rogue, and Feminist Who is not Wrong Because Another Feminist is Wrong That is Not How Logic Works You Fucking Asshole


  1. Menyambal says

    Very insightful. (I should do a long, nuanced reply to a post about precise understanding, but I can’t do this justice.) Thanks.