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Author Topic: Social Justice Vs. Conversation - Smackdown?  (Read 27015 times)

Jack

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Re: Social Justice Vs. Conversation - Smackdown?
« Reply #15 on: February 21, 2015, 02:10:10 am »
Quote from: DemeterDelusion;171262
Personally, I'm of the opinion that self-expression, orientation, and identity are phenomenally sacred, so they should definitely be just a protected as everything else! But at the same time, that doesn't justify being just as offensive as sexist/homophobic/etc. people in discussions and debates, which unfortunately can and does happen. I hope that makes sense.

To be fair, I'm speaking really broadly here, as the Cauldron is actually really good about keeping the peace. Some other places, like Tumblr for example... eesh.

 
Tumblr definitely has a problem when it comes to certain kinds of SJ-themed bullying. I feel it's unfortunate that it's made it easier to paint any kind of uncomfortable discussion as "bullying" though, and so you end up with discussions like this, where some people complain about "social justice" as a problem and other people are left going "but what do you mean by that, because surely it's not all social justice".
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Re: Social Justice Vs. Conversation - Smackdown?
« Reply #16 on: February 21, 2015, 02:23:44 am »
Quote from: Jack;171260
I dunno, I think it's because I see words as powerful that I want to have the right pronouns used, and will correct people as necessary if they misgender me.

Also I think "people will pick up on something unintended in your post and run with it" can be true of any subject on this board. Why should some of the most personal topics be less protected than pagan topics, politics, or anything else?
Hanging this here because I'm not sure where else to put it. I'm sorry if my confusion over this topic has led to misquoting.

I had never thought of my life and interests as 'social justice' before I came here. I was vaguely aware of the term, but it wasn't how I thought of my campaigning or my life, or that of my friends and colleagues. I'm not any kind of 'warrior'. All of these ideas are social constructions.

Rather than a warrior of any kind, I'm actually someone who lives life facing what sociology might call 'microaggressions'. Daily, moment-by-moment small attacks in my life, my freedom to go about my business in the world, even my right to exist. In a single day, I can be shouted at that I 'should have been killed at birth' by a passer-by who thinks I nearly hit them with my scooter; face hundreds of barriers that prevent me from getting into buildings and over kerbs and into my bloody office; get stared at by people who think it's OK to look a person up and down, or point, or laugh in the street at them; get people coming up to me to make comments (often that they think are funny) about my life and mobility; get laughed at by people who 'test' my bodily functioning to check I'm not 'lying' about not being able to make it across the room, like by moving my tea to see what I'll do... These are the facts of life in society for me. And I'm simply one example. Many trans people, gay people, women, people of colour, and so many others face similar microaggressions every day. Dealing with that isn't some kind of 'war' for a socially constructed idea called 'social justice'. It's a daily struggle to survive in the world.

But the world doesn't see all these small instances of oppression, because most people doesn't live our lives. So it may look like we explode at someone out of nowhere (or what I sarcastically call 'stroppy crip syndrome'). Someone who doesn't face all these microaggressions simply sees us as losing the plot about a word that they didn't mean in the way we "took it", for example. But that doesn't change our experience. You see things from one perspective. We have a different experience of it.

So when someone calls me a 'social justice warrior' for simply saying "Um, excuse me, I don't want to be treated that way", sometimes for the hundredth time that day, I face an impasse. My experience of the world and theirs is ultimately irreconcilable.

But I still wish they would step back and *try* to see things from my perspective. Because otherwise they just fade into the background of people I'm struggling against, and I get tired, and give up. I'm not a warrior. I'm someone who is so tired of just trying to survive.

Yes, this thing that you call 'social justice' *is* relevant to *everything*, for some of us.

Representing us as 'warriors' in a 'war' is actually deeply disempowering to those of us who are struggling to survive. It's designed to deny us the right to survive (IMO YMMV). I'm not a warrior. I'm a survivor. And sometimes I think I'm losing the battle for survival.
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Faemon

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Re: Social Justice Vs. Conversation - Smackdown?
« Reply #17 on: February 21, 2015, 02:31:34 am »
Quote from: DemeterDelusion;171262
Add in the fact that loudest voices tend to be the most abrasive, and there you have a perfect recipe for backlash against anything remotely related to SJ.


This. There's the idea that anger is healthy and right to express when it's directed at the ignorant, that it's nobody's job to educate oppressors on their own privilege, and enough with being silenced and playing nice--and all those ideas can be good and even great ideas, that give exhausted and long-suffering people the wherewithal to give other people a serious wake-up call. But those sentiments are just as likely to create a toxic environment where no real discussion is happening, where no minds are really changing, and no issues are really being dealt with, and it's all just people continuing to be ignorant but acceptably so because they're cowed by verbal abuse. Confrontation is necessary but insufficient.

(All that said, I haven't really seen that happen here.)

Quote from: DemeterDelusion;171262
I'm of the opinion that self-expression, orientation, and identity are phenomenally sacred, so they should definitely be just a protected as everything else! But at the same time, that doesn't justify being just as offensive as sexist/homophobic/etc. people in discussions and debates, which unfortunately can and does happen. I hope that makes sense.


It does make sense. The whole, "but you're being tolerant of intolerance" false paradox is easily solved by "my rights end where yours begin" and ensuring that by the nature of a right, everybody has the same ones; if one has "rights" that the other doesn't, that's not right and that's not a right…and it's not a mutually respected boundary that naturally forms in spaces of equality.

Quote from: DemeterDelusion;171259
If anything, it's more like "I feel violated because I'm being confronted on something that I did not invite discussion about."


Quote from: Jack;171260
Why should some of the most personal topics be less protected than pagan topics, politics, or anything else?


That's another point, of whether someone's personal boundaries are really just unexamined privileges, and who, in a conversation, gets to decide the validity of an expression of subjective experience.

If it becomes an exchange of being offended that somebody else is offended then that discussion would be going nowhere fast.
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Redfaery

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Re: Social Justice Vs. Conversation - Smackdown?
« Reply #18 on: February 21, 2015, 08:49:45 am »
Quote from: Naomi J;171264
Hanging this here because I'm not sure where else to put it. I'm sorry if my confusion over this topic has led to misquoting.

 
This.

I am white enough and affluent enough that those privileges have saved me a lot of pain. But you know what? I'm also queer, non-binary, neurodivergent, and disabled. And more and more I have to deal with other people who don't realize that I'm not trying to be a special snowflake. I'm just trying to exist.
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RandallS

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Re: Social Justice Vs. Conversation - Smackdown?
« Reply #19 on: February 21, 2015, 09:49:49 am »
Quote from: Jack;171246
I just wanted to pull this out and frame it on its own. I am impressed you chose to put your name on that, Random.

I'm not -- because this is the way many people not involved in social justice feel. Most people seriously try to avoid using words they know society considers offensive (like the n-word and well known offensive words for nationalities, religions, cultures, and people).
However, the list of words various social justice people consider offensive is well-beyond that.

Worse, there is no definitive list of those words -- let alone with explanations of why the majority of the people described by the word find it offensive. Why? Because various social justice people have different lists and some of those lists include words that most of the people being called the word do not find offensive enough to care about unless the word is being used in an obviously intentional offensive way (e.g. some social justice people have decided that calling people "geeks" is offensive yet most geeks aren't offended by the term at all and object to being told by SJ people that the word should offend them).
 
People get tired of being told they are being rude for using common words that everyone uses and society as a whole has not defined as offensive because someone involved in social justice wants them to not use it (no matter how good the reasons for avoiding the word). Most people are much less annoyed if a person who is of the group in question and already involved in the conversation tells them that they find the word offensive, but that is very different from someone not of the group in question interrupts their discussion to tell them how offensive they feel the word is -- and the latter is what too many SJ people do: they rudely interrupt others to tell them that they know someone somewhere finds what they have said offensive.

To be blunt, those social justice advocates who jump into conversations (in forums, in supermarkets checkout lines, etc.) to tell others they are using words they shouldn't because they might be considered offensive by people not present are no better than people who interrupt conversations because they want to convert you to their religion, sell you something, etc.  While all these people probably have the best of intentions and seriously believe they are only being helpful, in reality they are simply being rude by interrupting others because they feel what they have to say is much more important than what the people in the conversation are discussing.

Note again this is not the same thing as someone already involved in the conversation pointing out that they are offended by something someone else called a group they belong to in the conversation.

And yes, I'm putting my name to this. ;)
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Re: Social Justice Vs. Conversation - Smackdown?
« Reply #20 on: February 21, 2015, 09:58:54 am »
Quote from: RandallS;171278


 
Well - rude people suck.  No matter where or what.  BUT -

To imply that social justice = rude people is pretty damn awful in itself.  Wanting to survive and be treated like a real person isn't rude in and of itself.  Equating the two is saying that being a marginalized person IS rude.  Inherently.

That's ... like saying we're all pagan to piss off our parents.  Yeah, that exists, BUT.

Gilbride

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Re: Social Justice Vs. Conversation - Smackdown?
« Reply #21 on: February 21, 2015, 10:02:06 am »
Quote from: HeartShadow;171229
It keeps coming up - that social justice issues are somehow an issue in conversation.  That they chill open discussion.  That they're problematic.


Personally, I've found those discussions to be helpful in the sense that they've exposed me to perspectives and ideas I probably needed to be exposed to. However, I find them a lot more helpful when I don't engage in them personally but just follow them from the sidelines (which may mean this is a mistake!).

The issue with them, if there is one, might be in the phrase "words mean things." It seems to me that different words mean different things to different people in different contexts, and that this is one of the built-in problems of verbal communication. So, when a person gives offense because they didn't realize what their words actually meant to the other person, I feel that they should at least be given an opportunity to stop and listen and rephrase before being treated like a bad person, and that sometimes it doesn't feel like they are given the chance. (Of course, it's also the case that they often just double down rather than listening.)

Obviously I can't speak for other people, and I normally shy away from talking about such personal things, but I was bullied by other kids throughout my childhood for being the "weird kid," for which I experienced violence every day for years. Feeling rejected or condemned by a peer group doesn't just make me a little anxious, it literally terrifies me and can mess me up for days if I'm exposed to it. So I sometimes find that I don't dare to comment on some topics for fear I will say something clumsily, be jumped on for it, and have to go through all that again.

Yet, when I see people talking about the toxic feelings that can arise in these conversations, there sometimes seems to be almost a mocking or cruel tone, using words like "feels" instead of "emotions" as if to dismiss the validity of another person's pain because that person, in context, is perceived to be privileged. (And may in fact be so.)

I understand that this comes from frustration at the derailing tactics some people use to avoid facing the truth, and to that extent it's valid to say "your feelings are not the most important thing here" to that person, because that may well be the case.

But I don't think that completely dismissing another person's actual emotions is going to help anyone even in cases where that person has a lot to learn about what other people go through.
 
Also, I think I'm probably not the only person to have some personal reason for being especially sensitive to feeling condemned or rejected by others and that this might often be the reason why people react badly instead of listening and learning. On the other hand the reason might just be that people tend to react with anger whenever their actual privilege is pointed out, because that does seem to be the case.

Sorry for rambling, but it's a complex issue. I love this (virtual) community and I support what people are trying to do with SJ conversations. I just find them somewhat intimidating to engage with, and I doubt I'm the only one.

Redfaery

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Re: Social Justice Vs. Conversation - Smackdown?
« Reply #22 on: February 21, 2015, 10:37:42 am »
Quote from: HeartShadow;171279
Well - rude people suck.  No matter where or what.  BUT -

To imply that social justice = rude people is pretty damn awful in itself.  Wanting to survive and be treated like a real person isn't rude in and of itself.  Equating the two is saying that being a marginalized person IS rude.  Inherently.

That's ... like saying we're all pagan to piss off our parents.  Yeah, that exists, BUT.


Hanging this here.

I have Aspergers, and I've had to learn to expect that pretty much any opinion I voice will offend the person who hears it. I live with the expectation that when someone asks me what I think, I'll get yelled at when I answer, because I didn't realize they weren't really looking for honesty.

That said, I've also learned that accidentally offending people is, in the grand scheme of things, not a big fucking deal. There are far, far worse things you can do. Like intentionally hurt someone. So what do I do when I accidentally misgender someone, or use the wrong term, or just say something someone didn't want to hear?

Say "I'm sorry." And remember not to do it again. Honestly, I've seen situations here on the board where exactly this thing happened. A poster made an insensitive statement, was called on it, and the situation stopped right there because instead of getting mad at being called on it, they just said "Oh, I didn't know that was offensive. I won't do that anymore."

It's no different than remembering that a friend likes to be called William, not Willy, instead of going "OMG why are you so sensitive? your parents called you Willy when we were kids! It didn't bother you when we were little!!!"
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Gilbride

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Re: Social Justice Vs. Conversation - Smackdown?
« Reply #23 on: February 21, 2015, 10:50:06 am »
Quote from: Redfaery;171281
Honestly, I've seen situations here on the board where exactly this thing happened. A poster made an insensitive statement, was called on it, and the situation stopped right there because instead of getting mad at being called on it, they just said "Oh, I didn't know that was offensive. I won't do that anymore."


Yes, I've seen that happen here too, that's the best outcome really.

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Re: Social Justice Vs. Conversation - Smackdown?
« Reply #24 on: February 21, 2015, 10:56:44 am »
Quote from: Jack;171257
I think that's kind of what this thread was created to address - when people state that there's too much social justice on the board, what do they mean? Because I like this site too much to assume people are upset I don't want to be misgendered, for example. I don't believe people just want the ability to say things without being criticized for it; after all, that's not expected when it comes to other subjects. So there must be more to it than that, right?

 
I don't think the issue is so much 'what defines SJ' or 'why shouldn't we talk about SJ'.


This is a pagan forum, and some people, like me, come here because they literally have nowhere else to go to discuss pagan things. So, when pagan discussions keep being derailed for SJ discussions, then I'm losing a community. And it's not that SJ shouldn't be mentioned, but just...how about while we're correcting pronouns and racism and homophobia, we're also paying attention and responding to the pagan aspect of the thread, too?
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Jabberwocky

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Re: Social Justice Vs. Conversation - Smackdown?
« Reply #25 on: February 21, 2015, 11:05:10 am »
Quote from: Jack;171257
I think that's kind of what this thread was created to address - when people state that there's too much social justice on the board, what do they mean? Because I like this site too much to assume people are upset I don't want to be misgendered, for example. I don't believe people just want the ability to say things without being criticized for it; after all, that's not expected when it comes to other subjects. So there must be more to it than that, right?


Which is why I think specifics are so important here.
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Because I totally agree.  "Do not misgender" people is both entirely reasonable and straightforward on here.  

I touched on this on the "what have we become thread", but one of the main litmus tests for me when it comes to SJ discussions is "is what's being asked for require people to have knowledge of specialist terminology".

And not misgendering people doesn't.  It falls under the "don't be a fucking cock" category.  Like, my gran is absolutely not up with modern SJ discussions.  But she'd not misgender people.  Because she understands concepts like "respect" and "basic courtesy".

Where it becomes an issue is stuff like this.  I've seen a pretty prominent online (not on here) UK SJ activist have a go at someone for using the term "black" as opposed to "PoC".  That's ridiculous on its own terms.  It's a common and perfectly valid term over here (see the Black Students Campaign, London Black Revolutionaries, National Black Police Association and many other groups).  It become hilariously embarrassing when it turned out that the guy she was shouting at was, well, a working class black man.
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Re: Social Justice Vs. Conversation - Smackdown?
« Reply #26 on: February 21, 2015, 11:08:08 am »
Quote from: Juniperberry;171283
I don't think the issue is so much 'what defines SJ' or 'why shouldn't we talk about SJ'.


This is a pagan forum, and some people, like me, come here because they literally have nowhere else to go to discuss pagan things. So, when pagan discussions keep being derailed for SJ discussions, then I'm losing a community. And it's not that SJ shouldn't be mentioned, but just...how about while we're correcting pronouns and racism and homophobia, we're also paying attention and responding to the pagan aspect of the thread, too?

 
I do not argue that the pagan things should be discussed too - but for some of us, equity IS a religious issue.

And, of course, there's always the option to go "okay, yes, I see that, now how about this other thing" if you think part of the discussion is getting derailed.  It IS possible to focus on one thing and miss something else, but that doesn't make one more "correct" - just two different things.

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Re: Social Justice Vs. Conversation - Smackdown?
« Reply #27 on: February 21, 2015, 11:17:25 am »
Quote from: HeartShadow;171279
Well - rude people suck.  No matter where or what.  BUT -

To imply that social justice = rude people is pretty damn awful in itself.  Wanting to survive and be treated like a real person isn't rude in and of itself.  Equating the two is saying that being a marginalized person IS rude.  Inherently.

That's ... like saying we're all pagan to piss off our parents.  Yeah, that exists, BUT.

 
If, as I suspect, Randall's main experience of social justice is the online SJ community I'm really not surprised he's come to that conclusion.

Because the online SJ community is frequently horrendous.

It's full of people who seem more interested in playing intersectionality top trumps to gain subcultural cachet then actually changing anything.  Who use privilege theory as a stick to beat anyone who disagrees with them.  Who take the concept of "punching up" to mean "I can say anything I like to anyone".  Who seem incredibly interested in discussing other people's privilege, but never any privilege that applies to them.

That's nowhere near as much the case offline in my experience.  I'm not saying those people don't exist (golf clap for the people that decided to start a chant of "kill all men" at the anarchist bookfair and then complained that they hadn't felt that it was a safe space for them).  But they're much more obviously a minority.

Obviously, not all online SJ people are like that and I haven't seen evidence of that here.  But they're vocal and prominent enough that, quite honestly, I think the online movement has started to get defined by the tumblrites and the twitterati.  To the extent where I'm personally shying away from the SJ label.  It's never been one I've had that much investment in anyway and the well has been pretty heavily poisoned by this point.

And I'm not sure it's fair to blame people like Randall for responding to what is a real and obvious trend.
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RandallS

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Re: Social Justice Vs. Conversation - Smackdown?
« Reply #28 on: February 21, 2015, 01:22:31 pm »
Quote from: HeartShadow;171279
To imply that social justice = rude people is pretty damn awful in itself.  Wanting to survive and be treated like a real person isn't rude in and of itself.  Equating the two is saying that being a marginalized person IS rude.  Inherently.

No, I'm saying that people who insert themselves into conversations they are not involved in to correct other people's word usage are being rude. Not all SJ people do this just as not all salespeople or people who want you to convert to their religion do this. However, the ones that do are the ones people remember and are one of the causes of people rejecting social justice concerns as "political correctness."

And this is what derails discussions on this board. Joe Schmoe uses a common word that is on the "SJ bad word" list and people who have not said a word in the discussion before come in and jump on the person for using the word. 75+% of the time the discussion derails for 5 or more messages while word usage is discussed. While we don't allow this for other spelling or grammar errors, it is supposed to be okay for SJ word usage errors (cause if we warned them for it, we'd be branded as some against social justice. Note again, I am making a distinction between someone not involved in the conversation jumping in with the usage complaint (which is a problem from my POV) and someone involved in the conversation who is a member of the group the objectionable word is offending stating that they are personally offended by the word.

Marginalized person involved in the conversation pointing out that they don't like a offensive word referring to them is fine -- they are both involved in the conversation and are personally affected by the word, they have every right to complain. Marginalized person interrupting a conversation that they were not involved in because they hear a word they find personally offensive is behaving in a perhaps understandable  -- but still rude -- way. Person who is not personally affected by the word jumping into the conversation to correct others is simply being rude -- the cause may be good, but interrupting a conversation simply to correct someone's grammar/word usage is (correctly, IMHO) seen as rude by most people.

Many (but not all) of the social justice activists I see online treat others very poorly (not as many on TC as elsewhere, of course) when they get going on their cause -- and they are the ones people remember. They are also the ones who have a very chilling effect on discussion and debate as many people choose to just not say anything rather than risk getting jumped on for using a common word that social justice activists have decided is bad. Unfortunately, this type of social justice activist is very hard to reign in as if you try to stop them, you are considered anti-social justice and even pro-prejudice.
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Re: Social Justice Vs. Conversation - Smackdown?
« Reply #29 on: February 21, 2015, 02:27:09 pm »
Quote from: RandallS;171295
Note again, I am making a distinction between someone not involved in the conversation jumping in with the usage complaint (which is a problem from my POV) and someone involved in the conversation who is a member of the group the objectionable word is offending stating that they are personally offended by the word.

Marginalized person involved in the conversation pointing out that they don't like a offensive word referring to them is fine -- they are both involved in the conversation and are personally affected by the word, they have every right to complain. Marginalized person interrupting a conversation that they were not involved in because they hear a word they find personally offensive is behaving in a perhaps understandable  -- but still rude -- way. Person who is not personally affected by the word jumping into the conversation to correct others is simply being rude -- the cause may be good, but interrupting a conversation simply to correct someone's grammar/word usage is (correctly, IMHO) seen as rude by most people.

 
I'm curious where the distinction is between not involved and involved in a conversation is. At least one post regarding the OP? Five? Being involved in a specific thread of the conversation from the beginning? Why is coming in to a conversation to point out a "social justice" error any different than not chiming in on a thread until one sees an error made about Wiccan theology or the history of Neopaganism, even if the detail is tangential to the original topic? Is it rude for a non-Wiccan to make a correction in a thread about SRW because her work doesn't apply to their practice?
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Last post September 13, 2015, 03:23:03 pm
by carillion

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