Should Social Justice Warriors reclaim the term Social Justice Warriors?

[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.

From Wiktionary:

n. - warrior (plural warriors)

A person who is actively engaged in battle, conflict or warfare; a soldier or combatant.

From Middle English werreour, from Anglo-Norman warrier Old French guerreier (“fighter, combattant”), from Late Latin guerra (“war”)

And from Wikipedia’s entry on the term:

A warrior is a person specializing in combat or warfare, especially within the context of a tribal or clan-based society that recognizes a separate warrior class or caste.

And from

a person engaged or experienced in warfare; soldier.

How could the word “warrior” NOT automatically imply war and violence? It literally means “one who wars”. It has ALWAYS meant that. It has never NOT meant that. I just… what?

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This is getting seriously off-topic, but in one word: usage. It’s not uncommon to describe nonviolent activists, for example, as “warriors.” For example, I once heard someone describe treesitters protesting a bypass through old-growth forest as “eco-warriors.”

To answer the question of the new topic, I can’t think of any reason why they — I guess I mean ‘we’ — shouldn’t. And since it’s being used as a slur in an anti-intuitive fashion by the trolls, that’s one good reason to do it.

Fear of rhetoric doesn’t strike me as being terribly cromulent. We’re barely sane macrocephalic apes; if we had no words for war, we’d still be in equal danger of turning the conflict nastier than it is already.

You ignore everyday usage, where non-violent activists are often called warriors, and ignore etymology where war could refer to several types of conflict, and there were specific words for military conflict [I know of Gothic drauhtinassus, I don’t know of the English equivalent].

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There’s a difference between being opposed to US military aggression, and being a pacifist.


An interesting note: Notice that the word “warrior” is generally applied to one’s own, rather than the enemy. You will hear “enemy combatants”, “enemy troops”, “enemy soldiers”, but pretty much never hear “enemy warriors” unless it’s an enemy who is greatly respected. In many circles, the term is associated with values like bravery, honor, and self-sacrifice.

In other words, it seems to be the term of choice for someone who fights (yes, also literally wages war) to defend “us” or who is an or honorable opponent, as opposed to being a dishonorable or alien threat. The only people who seem to view the word negatively are those who oppose fighting in any context.

The rest of the phrase “Social Justice Warriors” is something that is good in every literal and colloquial use. The only way for it to be negative is to use it ironically or mockingly- a perversion of the meaning through association, rather than a literal meaning that is itself offensive.

The way I see it, that’s pretty much the ideal type of word/phrase to be reclaimed.


This is from 2001

Finally, this paper describes a new social justice warrior, who attacks existing social norms and programs to achieve greater social justice and advance social goals not readily accepted by the general public. In advocating for unwelcome changes, these warriors are often accused of violating the social contract and being “Un-American.” Subjected to close scrutiny and often acts of violence because of their high profile, these new warriors are also very often accused of corruption, sometimes legitimately and sometimes not.

This is from 1998

This book is dedicated to the memory of a great environmental and social justice
warrior, mother, labor organizer, singer-songwriter, Earth Firstler activist, and much, much
more Judi Bari (1949-1977)

A war for social justice implies a continued, strategic campaign to push the social environment in a specific direction. Seen as a individual tactical disputes, those who resist seem a bit asinine, retrograde. or merely wrong. But that doesn’t mean that the strategic goal of the war is to be embraced with open arms.

For instance, I’ve played many games where prostitution was part of the plot, part of the atmosphere, part of the story-- fallout, planescape torment, a dance with rogues. No, I haven’t played GTA. Some of them were really good games. And I’d be loath to support a movement at this time where the eventual outcome is that such games are forgotten or despised. That’s not an endgame I’d like to see. I think some people are afraid that that’s exactly what the so called SJWs have in mind.

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An observation:

The language of warfare has been invoked many times in reference to gamergate this week.

The US Civil War



Why is Ms. Penny’s act to reclaim the “Social Justice Warrior” the only instance that deserves handwringing about the vibe of the nouns of war?

full disclosure: I’m not ashamed to align with social justice warriors.


I see you more as a badass social justice dragon.


Not the OP, and I don’t mean to speak for them…

But I do doubt that that was the implication of what they said. Rather it was a moment of perspective, a more intelligent version of the ever annoying “#firstworldproblems” meme.

We should keep in mind that we’re rallying against basically forum trolls in the arena of first world media culture, and putting down organized state-sponsored regimes of oppression, or deep institutional discrimination. This doesn’t mean people should react, just they should realize that they are fighting a minor skirmish in a giant and bloody war, and not the war itself (to use the annoying military speak). Its still worth standing up to, obviously.

Again, not the OP… They might have meant something completely different, and this is only my (potentially very wrong) interpretation of their words.

Did you just call me a firemouthbreather?!?


I’m fine with “social justice warrior”, but I think I’ll stick to my long-standing project of reclaiming the term, “socialist”.