Hi, I’m your friendly new FtB blogger Trav! Welcome!
I want to start my new blog with a question I’ve been thinking a lot about lately: What the hell is a social justice warrior (SJW), anyway?
Back when I first started becoming aware of social justice issues on the wonderful world of Tumblr (I don’t use it much anymore because of reasons), SJW was a slur towards anyone who talked about racial justice, feminism, LGBTQ rights, disability justice, economic justice, and how they all intersect. Which pretty much describes me, so I wore the SJW badge with honor. Whenever some asshole online ragged about how SJWs were ruining everything, I’d jump right in and tell them flat out why they’re wrong and they’re the ones who are ruining everything. My motto was, “If you ain’t down for smashing the white supremacist cisheteronormative capitalist patriarchy, GTFO!”
Then I realized there was another definition of SJW. According to Urban Dictionary, an SJW is:
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.
Well gee, I don’t think I’m that bad, am I? In fact, my friend Paul Sating of the Q Podcast did an episode a few weeks ago praising me for having conversations with people who disagree with me.
Of course I wasn’t always this pragmatic. I used to be the kind of person who thought only the Atheist Plus atheists were the “good atheists” and everyone else was a bastard. But the more I got to know other atheist activists online, the more I realized people are way too complicated to fit into either the nice box or the naughty box. We’re all learning, and we all fuck up. This is something I’m still learning, to be honest.
Yet even when I do calmly explain feminist issues using facts and nuances, I still get called an SJW.
At this point, the phrase SJW has been tossed around so much, it’s lost all meaning. The same goes for the phrase “regressive left.” Now I’m not saying there aren’t toxic people online who do block everyone who disagrees with them. Trust me, I’ve met quite a few. However, what started as labels to describe that kind of behavior is now a pejorative people toss out to avoid tough conversations about racism, sexism, misogyny, anti-LGBTQ bigotry, and ableism. A friend recently shared a satirical article that imagines Milo Yiannopoulos blaming the regressive left for locking his keys inside his car. Of course it’s silly, but one look at the real Yiannopoulous’ Twitter feed will show it’s not too far from reality.
So am I an SJW? I don’t know, and I frankly don’t care.
If you think trying to start civil conversations about racism, sexism, misogyny, anti-LGBTQ bigotry, ableism, and classism automatically makes me an SJW, fine. If you think an SJW is just for extremists, fine. I just say what I need to say and hope that people will listen.
Better yet, you can just call me a humanist.