Recently I became aware of a new acronym in the internet nomenclature- SJW. This stands for Social Justice Warrior, which is officially defined by Urban Dictionary as “a pejorative term for an individual promoting socially progressive views; including feminism and civil rights”. When the term is used correctly it is basically a way to describe an intellectual troll. So these aren’t the people who are just saying someone is a moron or an idiot for liking a movie or book.
No, these are the people who won’t let others have an opinion because their views are ethically and intellectually better. If you have been involved with the internet world you have met someone like this. For example, I’ve heard people claim as if it is a fact that the Little Mermaid is sexist and that Ariel is a bad role model. I happen to see the character and movie differently. A normal person would let me have my view, an SJW will never let it down.
That said, the problem with this grouping is that it has now become an easy accusation for anyone who makes an intellectual argument against something. Let’s take the movie Birdman. I personally found that movie to be misogynistic in troubling ways. Some people would call me an SJW for having this feminist view. However, I don’t think I am an SJW because I allow other people to interpret the film differently. I was a bit frustrated when it won tons of awards but for the most part I don’t care if other people love it. More power to them. The world would be boring if we all liked the same things, for the same reasons.
I have no problem with people bringing feminist or diversity concerns into a discussion of art, movies or books. This is a good thing we should be discussing. The arts and literature are important catalysts for change in our society. Sometimes reading or seeing a problem is the only way we make things better. It’s not being an SJW to say ‘I wish there were more Asian actresses in movies” or “I wish a woman was allowed to lead a superhero film”. That is a good discussion to have and creators need to know we want those things.
Like I said, where it crosses the line into the SJW is when you shame others or harass them because they see it differently. That’s being the reverse of a warrior in my book. It’s being a social justice tyrant! You have to remember that change takes time and rarely is something so misogynistic or hateful that there isn’t a reason someone might like it. Try to see it from others points of view and then explain your own view as succinctly as you can (I know this is a lot to ask for the internet!).
And if you know it is a hot button issue for you than maybe step back a bit and make sure you won’t post something you will regret. It’s as simple as that. Give people their space to have different opinions, explain yourself as best as you can and then be patient.
On the other side, internet world- try to listen to people’s concerns instead of immediately branding them an SJW. They may actually have something important to share.
That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.
What do you think about SJW’s and these types of discussions?