Ok, so the title is a bit outlandish, but sometimes I like attention. The point of today’s story will be to discuss how very important social movements are slowly being overrun with extreme doses of politically correct nonsense in the name of protecting the members of said movements. I say this specifically in reference to Feminism and the LGBT movements. Now, before I get started, I feel like I should clarify in some way that I try not to be intentionally homophobic or sexist. I have said homophobic and sexist things, and if it did hurt someone’s feelings I do apologize, BUT in discussing what I’m about to discuss I am no doubt going to offend some folks. In fact, I may lose a facebook friend or two, but Dunbar says I have to many anyway.
So let’s begin with some basic concepts that are going to have to be discussed before I get to our core and central topic. Racism, Homophobia, Classism, Sexism, etc and how they all relate to the notion of privilege. No matter how much we try to avoid it, our culture is built around certain fundamental privileges, it’s not correct, but it’s just the way things have been built. I’ll be happy to have a conversation about rebuilding the foundations of human culture on another day and time, but right now we need to just settle on the fact that privileged societal groups do exist. To extend that, in most western culture, the excepted Societal privilege combination as of current is Caucasian, Judeo-Christian, Male, and Heterosexual. That is to say that by fitting in one of those categories you are assumed to have certain societal privileges, where as not fitting in those categories implies that you are lacking some fundamental right or societal respect because of it. Again, in my book, there is nothing socially or morally correct about that, but it’s just the way society currently operates.
Now with that out of the way, let’s get to what I’m here to bitch about.
No seriously, I want to bitch about that. In some kind of growing trend in today’s internet societies, that combination of two words has been used as in combination with other equally outlandish word choice (e.g. Safe Space) in order to engender this notion of protecting an otherwise fragile mind from some kind of PTSD as it relates to the specific topics of Gender, Sexuality, and perhaps race (though I have yet to actually set it as it relates to racial issues).
Now when I think of something like, feminism, it evokes the idea of bringing women and men closer to social equality. This notion that the two sexes are inherently different biologically but at the root equal. In this regard, for the last 100 years it has been used as an engine to rework what has traditionally be a very pro male society. We have gotten women voting rights, changed birth control rights, and a large manner of admittedly progressive things. But in the last… I don’t know, 6 months, I have seen a growing number of self proclaimed feminist begin to defend any potentially sensitive statement with or destroy any sort of communication contrary to this intended message of rose tinted society where we neuter that which isn’t neutral or positive to the cause.
It wouldn’t be so bad, if it wasn’t being pushed on what equates to the internet’s front door for these movements. Take reddit’s /r/lgbt for example. Because of Reddit’s internet prominence it has risen to be one of the first locations on any amount of google searches that has a place for discussion. If you’re any follower of such things, then you probably know that within the last year or so, /r/lgbt has shifted their moderation hoping to create a “Safe Space”. In order to preserve this so called safe space, they have in several instances banned and denigrated users and the like. Now while I agree that removing bigots probably is going to do you more good in the long run, censoring discussion of issues in the name of keeping things happy? That’s god damn dumb.
It screams like an overprotective parent coddling their child in the hopes that it will see the reality of the world. And while I do understand the theory (that the members of this social group get enough of this in the real world), it sets an unhealthy precedent for the movement as a whole. It turns ignorance into bigotry, which is something that only fuels violence and misunderstanding between the various groups involved. It makes a mockery of the years of social progress fought for and earned by each of these social groups in the name of protecting fragile ego’s.
I suppose now would be a fair point that perhaps I am not qualified to judge (but you know I’ll do it anyway), as a white, heterosexual, male, but it is saddening to see true progressive movements mired by coddling and fear. Censoring the reality of the world in the one place where it perhaps has the most value for evaluation is dangerous and leads to an echo chamber. It creates cliques of social belief that can be legitimately harmful, turning allies into enemies because of what were previously minor differences.
While the atheist movement has it’s fair share of marketing issues, I feel like it presents me with a good foundation to discuss a similar sort of echo chamber fear. When I worked with the Society of Non Theist at Purdue, one of our strongest allies on campus were the Episcopalian ministries on campus. They fought by our side for various social goals and proved to be an incredibly strong partner in getting good things accomplished for both sides. Ideologically they should have been opposed to our very operation (You know, being mostly atheist / agnostic and all), but they realized it was about working together as humans first, ideas second. I should also note that this same ally I initially argued against because I didn’t want Christian ideologues polluting my happy atheist group. In retrospect, I learned a lot from that.
I fear that in attempting to make things a “Safe Space”, by covering the ugly reality of the the world with Trigger Warnings, it takes away one of the most powerful motivators for these movements to keep on fighting, the truth, and dealing with it amongst people who understand best why it is so dangerous or hurtful.
These movements have been overtaken by the psychologically fragile, demanding that their needs be met before those of the movement as a whole, and in my opinion causing damage that in many ways is harmful to us all. And while I sympathize with those who are upset at the mere sight of the word “rape”, it is not something we should blanket the community with. It’s a personal psychological problem that needs to be dealt with [counseling, etc.]. The truth of the matter is that the world sucks, and these movements exist to make it a better place, but we will win that fight much faster when we set the progressive pace.
That is to say, we have to be the better people, by dwelling on wounds and injuries, we only give fuel to a past that should be forgotten, when what we should be focusing on is a better tomorrow. So I say this to all the internet White Knights: Stop, you are not helping these causes you are dragging them through mud that we are working to fix. You hypersensitized and issue, not by bringing it to light, but hiding it away.
Beyond that, I feel the need to bring up the word context; because, without it the human race is truly nothing. All to often in these discussions I hear again and again that a joke is just as offensive as the if it was said seriously. Context drives every aspect of our language, and to cast it aside selectively to attain a goal is irrationally foolish. It drives our emotions, and without emotions what are we really?
But I digress, in truth words like trigger warning or safe space and more importantly what they represent will likely hold no more ground then prohibition. We need to start treating the cause and stop attacking the symptoms, or some other such kind metaphor.
In lighter news, Mass Effect 3′s new extended edition endings while in no way fixing the original endings core issues, are much better.