A long, long time ago I wrote about my struggles with my little brother. Excessive cussing & mking racist, sexist and horny jokes seem to be the hallmark of male interaction. My dad swore when he was with his dude friends. My brother swears when he is with his dude friends, and sometimes, well, makes racy remarks that will enrage a social justice warrior.
I used to be pretty adamant about that, but ever since I graduated university, I experienced a cool-down period in which I seemed to care less about these so-called “social justice issues” (racial slurs, trollish comments under a Youtube video, or offensive posts circulating in social media). Some people may call that “heartless”, because it seems to be that if I don’t display the same amount of rage as those righteous social justice warriors, I will simply be crowned as, “Oh! So you’re one of them.” One of those people who don’t care about awareness and who is part of the problem.
I can relate to this sentiment; I really can. I used to feel that way. I’ve been there. But what I’ve ultimately learned that this “movement” we claim to be “social justice” nowadays is just honestly a big waste of our time and energy. Firstly, trolls are going to be trolls and they are called trolls for a reason. The more outraged you are, the more fun trolls are having. They’re trolls because they want to say things to piss you off. And they know gender or race related topics are the most sensitive sore spots of the 21st century and are most likely to provoke a response. I know. I’ve been there. I actually published a post documenting the entire conversation that went down between me and this internet troll (or a real bigot, who knows) on this blog before. I was so upset. I spent 2 hours of my life commenting back and forth with this guy who just did not seem to get it. I was like, how could somebody like this exist? Is this for real?
That was probably the stupidest thing I have ever done in my entire life. Seriously? 2 hours of upset commenting with somebody I didn’t even know? What’s the fucking point? Look, we all want the world to be a better place, and I’ve learned that there are more productive ways to spend my time than bleeding my heart out and have it pour all over the keyboard.
My point is, it’s really not worth it. It’s an useless carrot chase. And just because you are expressing your indignance and preachin’ and you feel a sense of importance surging through your veins–this doesn’t make you a better person. You are embodying the very same attitudes and personalities that you vehemently seek to reject: you are passing judgement on somebody based on a stupid comment or something so trivial that doesn’t even come close to defining their whole person. Yes, that comment can be insensitive and rude, but don’t raise a shit storm over it. There are enough arguments and dissent in this world as it is.
If you care so much about gender and racial equality or whatever it is that you champion, after your rant on the internet, are you going to do anything about it? Are you going to volunteer, donate, or contribute to solving the problem in any way? Okay. Well, you shared the article. You promoted awareness. Yeah, great. Awesome. If your social justice practice is merely regular clicks of your mouse, and you feel like you get to scream at other people’s faces until their face melts off or until they “convert”….sigh. I don’t even want to go there.
That’s how I feel about social justice (online) these days. It’s honestly just a bloody scream-fest. The cause? I feel that it is the same thing as racism, sexism, or whatever brand of prejudice you partake in. I believe that racism, sexism or whatever-isms are a reflection of the disconnection and rejection that we feel within our being. And to compensate for those feelings of lack, to overlook our unhappiness, our insecurity, our disempowerment–we choose to “empower” ourselves by passing judgement and berating others so that we may feel superior. This is a problem that awareness can’t solve.
And I don’t mean to undermine the real struggles that people go through with their identity and the real oppression that they experience. I believe in the importance of social justice and activism and we all do what we can to create a more tolerant society. I’m just sick and tired of people bitchin’ and moanin’ for these “causes”, using that as an excuse to pass judgement, using that as a moral pedestal to seal their side of the argument, refusing to listen to anything other than their righteous views.
And this really gets me: using their social justice views to oppress others, to silence others, and to incite unnecessary tension and unnecessary problems. I’ve encountered too many people like these. And I’m sick and tired of people who like to chomp away dialogue with their serrated teeth, preaching respect and social justice, acting like righteous sharks hunting down bigots–and this whole time treating other people shit, especially the people they call friends or family.
And yes, this is from personal experience. I’m sick of hypocrites. If you’re always babbling about social justice and yet you refuse to engage in an actual conversation that involves you speaking AND listening, then aren’t you a little bigoted yourself?
That’s the problem with “social justice activism” these days. We’re on a mission to call out who is able to utter the most racist comments, the most sexist, the more insensitive. This gives us green light to pass righteous judgement. He made a racist joke, oh, he got to be one of those bigoted people who are insensitive to the intersectionality of identities and struggles of a person of colour and therefore is contributing to the collective social prpoblems…Or, he asked about “why isn’t there masculinism? why is there only feminism?” Oh!! He must be speaking out from his position of privilege and male entitlement! All in all a terrible person!!
Yes, those dynamics do exist in our society. Those comments can be insensitive. I’m not saying that people should take this as a cue to excuse themselves from racial slurs or sexist jokes. But seriously though, the internet needs to calm their tits…so what if a guy makes a racist joke? Do you know him in person? Do you know how he treats his peers, his friends and his family? How do you know for sure if he is a despicable human being who is part of the problem? Because let me tell you this: just because someone appears to be politically correct doesn’t mean they are good people. If you’re a well-educated feminist but you treat people like shit, then you are somebody who treat people like shit and I don’t want to associate with you. Not because I refuse to confront or recognize my own place of privilege and want to live in my comfort bubble away from the problems of the world. It’s because, simply, you treat me like shit.
And isn’t that what it comes down to? If we are trying to promote awareness, isn’t the whole point of that an attempt to allow knowledge to better inform our decisions and how we treat each other? So what if a guy is blurting out racial or sexist jokes once in a while? In my opinion, some jokes are funny because they point out the absurdity of our reality. And of course, there is a different between trying to induce a laugh and being insensitive, and the line is very blurry sometimes. I can’t speak of others, so I will speak for myself.
I don’t care what your views are. I don’t care if you make an occasional racist jokes or two. I don’t care if you support Trump or not. I don’t care if you are white or black or Asian or cis gender or bisexual. If you’re in my life, and you are polite to me and you’re kind, you are willing to listen to my side of the story as much as I listen to yours, if you are willing to communicate with me to work out issues in our relationship–then you’re good in my book. I mean, yes, I am still human and I get uncomfortable sometimes when we profoundly disagree on something, but ultimately, I honestly don’t care about how you speak or what conversation you engage yourself in. Action speaks louder than words. If you’re nice to me, I’m nice to you. If you’re not nice to me, then I’m out. Simple as that.
So back to the beginning: is my brother a so-called racist or sexist “pig”? Like is he a bigot just because he dishes out a racial or identity slurs once in a while when he’s fervently gaming? I kid you not, it used to annoy me tremendously and it still annoys me a little, but I know my brother: he’s kind, hard-working, and does his best to be a good son and a good brother. His character is impeccable even though he’s a huge troll sometimes. That’s what counts. And that’s all that matters.