By Ada Mina

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Social Justice Warriors

There were discussions of serious problems and involvement in activism on the Internet before Livejournal and Tumblr came along. You've got hacktivists and then you've got early html websites and usenet/BBS discussions of serious subject matter before. Social justice internet isn't a new thing and it could have existed longer than what most people believed. But the contemporary version of social justice internet began with some online communities on Livejournal. These communities were undoubtedly shaped by their counterparts on Usenet and various BBSes as what others have noted. While some of those discussions were undoubtedly meta in nature, several of them focused on things like sexism and racism. Even before I stumbled on Tumblr, there were already online discussions of these topics though they were more intelligently and tactfully handled before the Tumblr and even Livejournal sjws came around. Some of them related to fandoms be it Xena: Warrior Princess and X-Files as well as a bit of Buffy and animu cartoons.

Livejournal was a blogging website that doubled as a social networking site even though others like Diaryland and as far back as some Usenet groups, the Learning Well and have done something similar since LJ was born. That lent itself to allowing fan communities to grow and develop outside of message boards, email groups and Usenet groups. As I said, discussions ranged from trivial matters to something serious. But most especially that of the emerging social justice warrior scene. Some of these users weren't just fangirls but also ones with albeit misguided attempts at becoming feminists. It's an interesting coincidence to note that the development of the social justice warrior was tied to third wave feminism. As in the heyday of Xena, Buffy, Spice Girls, Sailor Moon and Power Puff Girls had feminist ideologies and mindsets sans the stigma associated with second wave, bra-burning feminism ala Gloria Steinem and her ilk.

It wouldn't come as a surprise that some of these proto-SJWs were fans of Sailor Moon, Xena and Buffy. Others were involved in communities where male characters are often paired with one another in fan fiction. It's likely that there were slash fans who acted like this before everybody has heard of programmes like Supernatural. From what I and others can remember, some of them were into 1990s anime and others in buddy cop programmes. They also intermingled with some of these fangirls and thus help shaped the current version of SJW. But this is not without its drawbacks and issues. When websites like Feministe, Feministing, Jezebel and Bitch came around feminist discussions began to incorporate discussions of racism a lot more often than it did before. Sadly this led to discussions over more nebuluous matter like cultural appropriation and the need to have more politically correct versions of fictional characters. That kind of political correctness was there before the SJWs came around though this has been taken to 11 recently. Since many SJWs are also heavily involved in fandoms, this can lead to unintentional trivialisation of darker issues outside of a pop culture lens.

When I mean by that, there is hardly any desire to counteract the influence of neo-fascist, extremist and totalitarian groups like the ones on white power Stormfront. There is hardly any interaction and dialogue between feminist SJWs and men's rights activists because if it did happen, it would be frightening to observe. Sometimes their attempts at addressing non-Western cultures is both patronising and generalising. POCs are helpless but also easily stereotyped despite the SJW's disdain for racism. Whenever one of them tries to address a serious subject matter, while I can get exploitation and objectification I find the idea of cultural appropriation to be both ambiguous and nebulous. It's poorly defined because where does one draw a line between cultural appreciation and cultural appropriation? If you like a foreign culture, do you go so far to appropriate parts of it? Is eating pizza appropriating Italian culture? The idea of cultural appropriaton is questionable in and of itself because it's practically a Catch-22.

Another problem with SJW discussions is the inability to divorce itself from the member's own upbringing and mindset. When you have SJWs raised with a pop culture enthusiasm, that impairs their ability to look at problems outside of what they already know of but it can also be said of SJws who have little to no pop culture fanaticism are still informed by their "privileged" upbringing. It does happen unintentionally especially whenever they try to discuss third world or nonwhite issues. They come off as patronising as if they have either little experience with or interest in those cultures. There are those who do it right but they aren't very common as are SJWs who have real interests in minority cultures. There are also not many SJWs who have a real interest in learning minority languages despite talking about racism and colonialism. The real failure of SJW internet has to do with the lack of real support and care for those cultures as well as lacking any real regard for sexism, ableism and the like even though others like in Sweden have done a better job at making these happen. There is something oddly Anglophonic about SJW culture because it's not so commonly encountered in non Anglophone websites from my experience and that other countries like Sweden are already trying to move away from prior sexism.

The differences here are SJWs are a largely Anglophonic community who try to address social issues (from a nerdy lens) and fail at it while in other countries feminism actually has a real positive influence to the people. The Scandinavian countries are practically ahead of us in feminism though they might still have their own problems to deal with. One might wonder why the most Anglophonic SJWs haven't done a thing to make feminism acceptable to a lot of people in the same way many Swedes manage to try to break away from sexism and embrace feminism for good. An even bigger irony is that while several non-Anglophonic countries struggle with sexism, there are those that manage to minimise it like what happened in Sweden where there's an active feminist party in addition to a piracy party which isn't bad for a country with 10 million people in it. Meanwhile the SJWs still moan and weep even though they could've the opportunity to gain power and influence people for good. Which I think the inability to address social issues has to do with being too sheltered and wrapped up with preconceptions. Not a lot of SJWs bother to address them but also act out to help people. Maybe that's why they went from aspiring internet users to being prone to complaining and infights.

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