Should Social Justice Warriors reclaim the term Social Justice Warriors?

Could we please not use the terminology of war, please? I’m highly sympathetic to the causes (basic human decency, and equality), but the term “warrior” makes me uncomfortable. As does the term “cultural war”. War isn’t something to strive for, since it ruins everyone. When do we get " Cultural War enemy combatants"? People sacrifice dignity and rationality in war, people gravitate to unfortunate extremes. In war, there is no right in the end, even if there was one in the beginning.

Yes, it is just terminology… But terms and identification have the power to change people.

Also, the people being targeted (rightfully so), mysoginist kids, even if their actions are backwards and often repugnant, are still people. Using “war” ideology makes it easy to lose sight of that, they simply become “the enemy”, dehumanized. It also makes it easier to lump people into an " against us" class, allowing for collateral damage.


Which war worriers are warring, here? “SJW” was coined by the bigots, and seems to have died upon its own sword of irony.


I’m not sure that anybody old enough to remember the Old Culture War would consider either side to have won it. SJW is a term so odious that I fear any group to adopt it as a badge are going to be… encumbered.

We shall see.

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The only thing odious about “Social Justice Warrior” is that racist misogynistic ableist assholes use it.


To be honest, the chief usage of the label SJW which I encounter is by non-bigoted communities to poke minor fun at the sort of armchair “slactivism” that sometimes crops up around the net.

Of course, I tend not to frequent sites and forums where bigots are tolerated, so I suppose it makes sense that I’d not encounter their particular usage of it to denegrate critics of their values.

It’s a stupid term, and certainly not one I’d want to be associated with in any way, particularly when I can just call myself a Humanist and an Egalitarian, and be perfectly well understood without carrying all the trappings and baggage that go with SJW.


I think the term Social Justice Warrior has become odious by association.

By association with the assholes who dismiss others as “Social Justice Warriors” or with the people dismissed as “Social Justice Warriors” for speaking out against racism, sexisms, ableism, etc.? Please explain.


From WIktionary:

  1. A person who is actively engaged in battle, conflict or warfare; a soldier or combatant.
  1. (figuratively) A person who is aggressively, courageously, or energetically involved in an activity, such as athletics.

Emphasis mine.


You’re being absurd.

Those are figurative usages, in which the speaker is making a favorable comparison between a person’s strength, aggression, determination, et cetera; and those same qualities as embodied in the cultural ideal of a “warrior”.

They are still directly implying war and violence, because they are evoking the qualities of a warrior - a person who wages war.

For those who view warriors and their associated qualities positively, this figurative comparison is a compliment.

For those who view warriors and their associated qualities negatively, it’s more akin to an insult.

Your example of “eco-warriors” could be seen as either, depending on whether you feel it is appropriate to frame ecological wellness in terms of warfare, death, and strife.


“There’s a culture war happening right now. It’s happening in games, in film, in journalism, in television, in fiction, in fandom.” In other words, it’s happening in the realm of middle-class distractions that only a very fortunate, even “privileged”, subset of the world’s population can actually afford to take very seriously.


Only some qualities are implied. In case of a warrior, it is the “aggressively, courageously, or energetically involved”.

Using the machine comparison, there is similarly no reason to believe that the person refered to that way is made of metal, bleeds hydraulic fluid, and when sick can be cured by being switched off and on again.

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And you and I, and I dare say everyone in this thread are members of that privileged class. Does this mean that we shouldn’t talk about it? Or that the conflict is somehow not worthy of anyone’s attention?


[quote=“shaddack, post:20, topic:42342”]
A person who is actively engaged in battle, conflict or warfare; a soldier or combatant.
(figuratively) A person who is aggressively, courageously, or energetically involved in an activity, such as athletics.

Emphasis mine.
[/quote]Yes. A person who is “aggressively, courageously, or energetically involved in an activity”… in the manner of a warrior - which is a person who engages in warfare, directly implying war and violence.

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Martin Luther King is often described as a fighter for rights. The dictionary gives fighter as primarily meaning a boxer, a plane designed to destroy other planes, or generally someone or something that fights, given primarily as battle or combat.

It’s accepted usage, despite directly implying violence by your same standards. And is that really such an incorrect implication? A fighter or warrior can be somebody who tries to intervene and stop violence, too, and people are getting hurt out there.

(Apologies to the mods for continuing this, but at this point I expect the existing thread will need moving or clearing anyway.)


Are not the experiences of Sarkeesian and Quinn and others attacks? Perhaps not physical attacks, but something more than figurative, I think. One may fear what the language of war will do to our souls, but a war is what it most resembles; to hide that fact is self-deception.


Is the perfect paragon of speech somebody who never, ever offends anybody? “Mouthbreather” is, indeed, an odd term to use in the context - I am unaware of any moral impact from respiration through any appropriate orifice - but I wonder if we’re not asking “how many angels can dance on the head of a pin?” quetions about language.

On the more substantive issues, here’s my question: 50 Shades of Grey and Twilight contain an enormous number of gender stereotypes which are generally taken to be damaging. Are these works of art classed differently because they are literature, because they were written by women, becuase they are popular among women, or for some other reason? There’s been a fair bit of discussion about these issues in various fora, but I haven’t seen the gamergate discussion framed in the wider discourse about gender, sexuality, violence in art.


Thank you for the brief moment of perspective. Women are being murdered in other countries right now for things we take for granted in our (mostly) liberal socitety. Which isn’t to belittle current events in media culture, they still matter, but the scope is so very small, and we risk confusing it for the only thing. I’d take 10000 idiots on gaming websites over the even the fraction of the ideological climate in some locals.

Obviously rational individuals should mock and marginalize the lesser of evils too, but they are only small shrubs in a vast, vile, murderous, forest.

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No one said it wasn’t accepted usage.

Someone did, however, make the absurd claim that the usage somehow doesn’t directly imply violence and war - which it obviously does.

Now, as for being accepted usage - that’s irrelevant. The original argument was that we ought not choose to frame the larger issue in the language of war. The mere fact that some people do choose to frame it that way is not a counter-argument.

Maybe you think it’s okay to frame issues like Civil Rights in terms of warfare. But other people don’t. You might think it’s fine to call King Jr. a “fighter” or a “warrior”, but others who take offense at the comparison of his efforts to human slaughter and strife prefer terms like “activist”, “reformist”, or “Civil Rights Leader”.

How you choose to speak tells the world what you value. If you think comparisons to warriors are a good thing, you’re telling the world that you think warriors are a good thing.

Warrior has roots in the term “war”, it is contained in the word itself. I can’t actually think of a use of the term that doesn’t, at least obliquely, refer back to the concept of " war", and thus violence.

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Name one. Now if warrior automatically implied war and violence, that would be one, but it doesn’t, so that isn’t.