Thursday, August 21, 2014

Don't You Think She Looks Tired..?

     In 2006, for the first time in decades, The Doctor toppled a government on television, bringing Prime Minister Harriet Jones's Golden Age to an end by whispering six words into the ear of her aide. The six words “Don't you think she looks tired?” A moment symbolic of any small act that creates a crack in the foundation of a much larger idea. Why am I bringing this up? I promise, it has relevance. 

     Now before we get too far, I should acknowledge and admit something. I don't talk personal politics often. I feel I probably should, as I have friends that range from far Left to far Right, liberal libertarians to conservative republicans to socialist democrats. I play my own political hand close to the chest, though, most of the time. In my younger, more extreme days, I was an old-school pinko lefty. For years I pretty much identified as communist, and spent a great deal of time hurling not-well-thought-out insults at the far Right. I've railed against bigots and religious zealots, and thrown things at corrupt politicians. I've flirted with charges of disrupting the peace and inciting riot. And I did most of this in the American Deep South. In retrospect, I consider myself lucky I haven't been disappeared down a dirt road or swampy hollow. I've mellowed in my days, though, learning the hard lesson that you can indeed have friends that hold differing political views (something I feel a great many need to learn), but this is the reason I am so dead-set against Social Justice (capital S, capital J) activists and their antics these days. Those causes I fought for, and still believe in, are causes that they're doing more harm than good to. Causes that I was fighting for before they were co-opted by people with louder, less rational voices.

     Modern Social Justice is the squat-house built on the shaky foundation of Third-Wave Academic Feminism. And don't get me wrong, I'm not against the good that Feminism has done for the world. The first wave, with its women's suffrage (even if they really were only fighting for white women – one battle at a time, I suppose), voting rights and property ownership, and the second-wave with its sexual liberties, workplace equality, and other noble goals really made some positive change, even if we have to ignore some of Solanises and Dworkins that these eras might have spawned. Third-Wave Academic Feminism, though it started strong by addressing and bringing attention to important subjects like rape laws, domestic violence, and childcare, has since had no such clear goal, and therefore has floundered a bit in the modern day, lashing out at whatever it can reach. This lack of focus may have been what spawned the Social Justice (again, capital S, capital J) trends of the last decade or so. Identity politics mixed with cultural Marxism, but completely disregarding class struggle in favor of branding entire groups of people oppressor and oppressed without consulting them first.

     So why I'm bringing all of this up right now is that recently a hashtag and picture campaign called #WomenAgainstFeminism has sprung up, a sort of reaction to negative stereotypes (justified or otherwise) of modern Feminism. This has, of course, also had a knee-jerk reaction of criticism from feminist sources ranging from the standard “oh you just don't understand feminism” to the absurd “these women are simply puppets of men.” The latter I find especially entertaining and appalling, as it's basically stripping women of their agency to disagree, something that any first- or second-waver would find detestable, I'm sure. In fact, the barrage from either side has gotten loud enough that major news outlets have gotten wind, and in their typically expected modern sensationalist manner, have started asking the question “Do we even still need Feminism?” I remember a CNN segment where a female presenter brought on two other female journalists, and asked the question. The first agreed with the presenter that absolutely it was, but the second one's started with “Weeelll....” to the abject horror of the presenter and other journalist.

     Whether we do or not, it's six little words that attacked the foundation that the Social Justice Warriors have built their flophouse on. If, as a culture, the sacred cow (no insult intended there) that Feminism is has started to be publicly doubted, perhaps identity politics as a whole will start to shake apart. While I hope none of the good works are undone, I can only hope that we can move into a period where open discussion is once again encouraged over shutting people's voices out because of the circumstances of their birth, whatever those circumstances may be, by shouting the word privilege at them, or blaming all the troubles in the world on an ethereal, ill-defined conspiratorial organization that may as well be the Illuminati. There's been entirely too many people of late that feel they can enact positive social change by tweeting obscenities or writing an angry blog-post shaming someone for an accidental slip of the tongue, and not enough attention paid to people pushing for actual change.

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