I started paying attention to the news again.
About a year ago, I saw a friend of mine post a joke about Donald Trump running for president. Turns out, that wasn’t a joke.
And I thought, “Well, fuck…I sure have been out of touch.”
I had. On purpose. After my husband passed away, I really couldn’t deal with the world’s problems, so I shut them out. Stopped watching/listening/reading about what was happening in the world.
Managed to miss out on a lot of big stories – terrorist acts, big fires, crazy people running for president….
I went back in slowly. An article here or there; nothing crazy.
And now I’m full time listening to public radio in the car. I have Alexa read me the headlines every morning. I’m clicking on articles in my facebook feed that I would have scrolled right past before. It’s not just politics, either. All SORTS of things interest me. There was a story on NPR on the way home about gender testing in the Olympics. There was one earlier this week about athletes’ pay being comparable to actors, as they provide entertainment in a multi-billion dollar industry. And the one about rampant wage theft in the restaurant industry. And the story about the man sentenced for traveling to a Cambodian brothel dozens of times to sexually abuse children.
The result? I’m starting to identify in ways that I was brought up to disregard. The biggest one was feminist. Feminist was a pejorative term growing up. They were uptight women without a sense of humor. I’d forgotten that this was a thing I was raised to never become. To be a feminist was to be a punchline, a trope for unlikable….
AND ABOVE ALL ELSE, ONE MUST BE LIKED!
I’d not realized this until a few weeks ago when my mom used the word as an insult. Women’s rights are okay, she said, but feminists take it too far.
Look, I don’t know where this arbitrary line of “too far” is, but I’m pretty sure there are a lot of feminists (of all genders) that advocate on behalf of women’s rights on the relatively benign side of that line.
I mean, (arbitrarily speaking), there will be activists in any endeavor that take things “too far” – whether it’s animal rights, human rights, reproductive rights, or environmental causes.
I’m not the type that’s gonna chain myself to a tree, throw paint at a coat, or commit a felony on behalf of a cause I’m passionate about. That doesn’t mean I’m not part of that cause. But, to define any cause by the actions of the people who take it to an extreme (again…arbitrarily, because my extreme may not be your extreme, etc. etc.) has the effect of turning a word like “Feminist” into an insult passed from one generation to the next.
The first time I saw the abbreviation SJW (Social Justice Warrior) I didn’t know what it meant. For a long time, I thought it was the abbreviation of someone’s online handle. I didn’t know who this SJW person was, but I knew a lot of the popular folks on the internet REALLY hated them.
Took a while before I discovered it was just a label. Even then, the tone with which it was used was one of disdain and ridicule. Oh, those pesky, humorless, drama-mongering SJWs!
The people we label as “Feminist” or “Social Justice Warrior” are frequently speaking on behalf of those who are too afraid to speak for themselves. Those who feel that they must follow that one simple commandment: TO BE LIKED.
Which, of course, for women means to be docile, compliant, and agreeable.
Today I saw someone made a joke about SJWs. They were the punchline. The joke made a mockery of a type of person I care deeply about – a type of person whose voice is frequently erased in the din of activists clamoring for attention to their causes. A person in my life who has a name.
And it struck me…..
It’s cruel. It stings to be on the receiving end of a joke aimed at belittling or mocking something that is part of your identity. It’s not that I don’t see why the joke is funny, it’s that I see all the reasons why that joke is NOT funny in the tears of my friends who are good, kind, honorable people who have done nothing to hurt anybody else.
So there it is. I guess I’ve lost my sense of humor, because I’m drawing my arbitrary line at jokes that hurt people for the sake of belittling, undermining, or erasing their humanity, identity, intelligence, or to further the notion that to be a “Feminist” or a “Social Justice Warrior” is an insult.
Any “Status Quo Warriors” who step over that line have, in my eyes, gone “too far.”