Social Justice Warriors and the New Culture War

Dunno about calling this thing a “culture war”. Seems more like getting rid of a wasp nest you found in a disused room of your house.

4channners have always found delight in shocking people, but the community wasn’t outright hostile to females before. It’s something that has gradually built up. In some ways it’s fascinating how established memes and methods feed into this gamer gate thing. Raiding and doxxing was something used against Habbo Hotel and racist radio hosts and so on, Then as the misogyny increased they became “acceptable” methods for going after females. There was that meme about attention-whoring gamer girls which I at first dismissed as the perennial fandom storm about who is a true fan and who isn’t. Except as female participation and visibility rose at fan conventions the tone became more irritable (get off my lawn cosplayers!). 4channers also have this wonderfully self-depreciating humor about being losers, virgins and 2D lovers but somewhere along the way it turned into self-pity: “I’m a nice guy, why won’t girls have sex with me”. Then they they try to console themselves by claiming girls aren’t worth it, they are cheating sluts and whores. Even so they can’t help it, some of them are so obsessed with sex they think it will improve their lives and social standing if they could just have sex once. So when you got a female game developer, apparently cheating on her BF, it was like blood in the water for the sharks.

I also suspect this is why some 4channers are so upset at their demonization, because they thought they were doing what they have always been doing on 4chan. It was just a female this time, nothing personal, just a bit of fun. This kind of fun is seen as being part of the community they like, which is probably why some are so keen to defend the gamer gate hashtag. They’re just sufficiently confused that they don’t realise they’re defending the tribe, not a tag or a cause. They can’t rehabilitate Gamer Gate but they’ll try because convincing people it’s legit makes the tribe look good, as if it was actually fighting a good cause. And you gotta admit, they’re pretty darn good at convincing themselves.

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This “gamer gate” thing almost completely a product of 4chan, and in that respect it is no different than Anonymous.

It’s funny how the way these children are perceived changes depending on where one falls on the ideological spectrum relative to their current target.

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Just as the poor white Christian Right has been the unwitting pawns of the elite for quite some time, trapped into serfdom by those whose power they protect, so too are the Internet’s “beta-males” protecting a patriarchal system which keeps them in social shackles. And this attitude of yours and other belligerent seekers of justice isn’t helpful. There is every right to be angry at the millennia of misogyny weighing down Humanity, but I believe that meeting anger with anger simply fuels the current system.

If you really want to disarm “this kind of adolescent trash”, you will respond to their pathetic trolling attempts with superhuman kindness. The rancorous shitposting of the misogynists is part of a positive feedback loop of hate. You break the loop by feeding it inverted signals at the critical points.

At the core of the misogyny are two kinds of people:

  1. Spoiled brats who can’t take “no” for an answer;
  2. Frustrated adolescents who have only known “no” for an answer.

4chan users largely fall into the second category. For the most part, they ultimately want someone to help them, though the patriarchy has conditioned them, and those who might help them socialize, to stay put. By being kind even in the face of the vilest of invective, you can show them that the world is not filled with gorgons and cockatrices.

But, well, you know, that’s just, like, my opinion, man.

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Tell us all about how the “Mouth-breathing, basement-dwelling nekckbeards” (AKA people who don’t agree with you) are treating other groups as subhuman.

The SJW kids are playing a game just as much as the angry young men, they’re just better at it because they’re more used to playing social power games, their feminist predecessors built most of the tools for doing so. I’m pretty sure Meredith Patterson has this right (in both Okay, Feminism, It’s Time We Had a Talk About Empathy and When Nerds Collide: My intersectionality will have weirdoes or it will be bullshit), what we’re hearing is mostly the sound of subcultures with different value systems trying to impose their values on each other. No one has a right to be comfortable in all contexts, because the context people are comfortable in vary; that’s why we have subcultures.

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If being a mysogynistic twerp who rails against injustices suffered under the yoke of feminism is a “subculture”, then there is something seriously wrong with the parent culture.

And further, even if it is a subculture, it doesn’t mean that its members are suddenly elevated above reproach.

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The article says we live in “a culture where it’s normal to hound women out of their homes for daring to demand fairer treatment, normal to shame girls and queer people into silence for suggesting that there might be other interesting stories to tell.” Is there any evidence that this is normal, as opposed to done by a few freaks and disapproved of by most of society? One of the big arguments today is whether there is massive structural oppression in our society, or whether things have been consistently getting better. (Well, those two things aren’t incompatible, come to think of it.) And while I’m not saying there is not structural oppression, the existence of sexists does not prove that society approves. As the article notes, many of the old shaming techniques don’t even work anymore.

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They are winning because they are being allowed to win by the plutocrat powers that (shouldn’t) be. This is because the culture wars of identity politics are a perfect distraction from the more relevant issues: wealth distribution and wars of imperialism. Therefore, identity politics are the “safe and acceptable” form of progressive politics, which are vetted by the mainstream media and politicians.

LGBT and feminists issues, while legitimate in themselves (I’m not disputing that), are being used by the US State Dept. as ideological weapons in a much bigger fight: the preservation of the Washington consensus and the Petrodollar War (a.k.a. WWIII). Any “Social Justice Warriors” who are blind to this and let their progressive cause be perverted are just tools for the reactionary forces. They are the Faux Left.

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Incidentally, the Culture Wars, as we know them today, have their origin in, or at least were foreshadowed by, the institutional turf wars from the early 1950s onwards between the straight-and-narrow FBI and the anything-goes-for-the-sake-of-U.S.-hegemony attitude of the C.I.A., with its unconventional programs like MKULTRA using drugs for mind control.

J. Edgar Hoover’s language describing the C.I.A. (“gang of weirdos” and the like) could just as well come from a conservative evangelist fulminating against members of the LGBT community or people seeking out alternative lifestyles.

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The subcultures in question aren’t generally defined by being misogynistic twerps, they’re defined by other properties that happen to not align well with the current norms for femininity. I continue to maintain that most of the visible aggression is because people’s norms (and hence their sense of belonging and self) are being challenged.

The example I linked is “hackers”, it’s a culture with a pretty strong put up or shut up attitude, that values scratching one’s own itches way more than being interested how other people will feel about what you did. It’s never been explicitly hostile to women (to preempt: also discussed in the article, “brogrammers,” who may be explicitly hostile to women, are another group of interlopers), and historically has a respected female minority for whom the subculture’s norms work, but it doesn’t match up well with how many women prefer their social spaces (There’s a separate argument about how that breaks down as a matter of essentialism or socialization; I tend to be pretty skeptical of social essentialism in all its forms). That culture is home to a lot of people, and has brought the rest of society some wonderful things as a result of its aesthetic, it’s fine to criticize or challenge, but it’s not fine to dismiss.

There is a much less compelling but similar argument with gamers and some of the women who have intentionally challenged their norms and been attacked (in the ugly way that gamers are used to fighting each other).

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I agree that the negative feedback loop makes both sides look bad. As a wise man once told me, arguing with trolls is like wrestling with a pig: you both get dirty and the pig likes it. The arguments for recognizing that women have basic human rights are ridiculous only because anyone who would say otherwise is not worth engaging with. It’s like trying to explain to someone in a calm and rational way that the sky is indeed blue. You’re wasting time and energy.

Non-engagement is the only way to go. They will eat your empathy and shit hate speech, master trolls who relish the opportunity to twist your own words against you, and who really have nothing better to do. This is not a problem that can be solved with sympathy, this is a job for law enforcement and the courts. Send just a few to jail and the rest will fall in line.

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Right on Laurie!

The single biggest change I’m seeing is easily found in Millennials. They have grown up connected. The little bubbles of culture norms most of us are likely familiar with aren’t the same for them. Of course, they know about those bubbles and can see them, but being as connected as they are means having to also contrast those with their peers.

And their peers are women, gay, black, weird, whatever.

Notably, the idea that we should value people presenting as who they are rather than as some facade seems intrinsic to their social norms.

Count me as a fan.

It’s growing a lot harder to maintain racism, bigotry, theocracy, misogyny… out in the open, because everybody knows somebody who is a target. And now that more of us are connected so well, we understand each other better and all of those things present as barriers that do not really add value, and in fact, do a lot of harm.

Also notable is the fact that it’s not just women. Men are in this fight too. Those of us who are past this garbage see our sisters in pain, unable to share themselves unabashedly as we take for granted, and we will have none of it.

Well said. Love it and just wanted to riff on some resonant observations and experiences.

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I’ve given a lot of thought to the events over the past few weeks, and the thing that has most troubled me as a creator is how the attacks on both sides are clear, but there seems to be no answer as to what SJWs would do if they were allowed to do whatever it is they would want to do. Ms. Penny is very vague in this article on that point. I would suggest that the reason that SJWs in general don’t offer solutions is that they would be called out as people who would choose to censor if they had the chance.
Ms. Penny, who I have met on one occasion, seems to couch everything in political rhetoric, which is fine, but when it comes to creative work, I would hope that all of this bluster not effect the many people who are creating works of all kinds.
As a writer and director, I am interested only in creating something that works and engages with an audience on emotional and intellectual levels, but I must say I’m not very interested in creating polemics or propaganda. Perhaps I am wrong in thinking this way, but I do. And as someone who has actually created propaganda in the past working as a speechwriter for politicians, I have seen how corrosive to the human spirit propaganda can be.
I just wrapped an animated series for children in China, Russia, and Indonesia, and I am so proud of the female characters that we created, and to communicate to girls in a way that I hope would inspire them to do what their hearts desire. I did not do this to ram some political perspective on them, rather, it was a reflection of the many amazing and strong women that I have known in my life. It is on the human level, not the polemical, that I feel that we can most connect though art.
Ms. Penny and people like her have an agenda that is very vague, and as a creator, I couldn’t hope to align myself to whatever it is they wanted if they were in change of the story politburo. Some radical feminists say that all of western culture is misogynist, so perhaps I should just stop now before I pollute the world with more latent sexism.
In all of this I am most worried about self-censorship, and the effect that it has on creative people of all stripes and perspectives. The culture warrior of either side isn’t interested in great art, they are interested in “correct” art. And from my perspective, it doesn’t serve the audience or the art well to start creating down a blind alley. No matter the righteousness of the cause.

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Speaking as a ‘retired’ veteran with service-connected disabilities: a lucky few of us have been ‘saved’ from the illusion. I am happily disturbed (disturbed: to be taken out of the turbis [Latin metaphor for “the crowd”]; to be taken out of the crowd).

Happily (for me), having my middle class privileged status yanked out from under my white ass has made my transition to Social Justice Warrior easier—and more definite. ‘Disillusionment’ is losing the greatest attachment of all

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Oh boy a culture war! A culture war between two sides who both lack so much empathy or the ability to even acknowledge facts not in their worldview. It’s gonna be so fun - not.

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If you were born a girl you might regard the incredible abuse and misogyny that stalks you ALL THE TIME, EVERYWHERE as more than a triviality that could be easily ignored.

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Well, feminists didn’t really “go after” gamers. They (gamers, a group of which I am a member) came after us (feminists, ditto re: membership), and since then there’s been a kind of collective “WTF” going up among feminists and people who, until now, might not have known they were allies.

Anita Sarkeesian has been doing cultural criticism on YouTube for a while, decided to do a few where she talks about video games, and a small, vocal enclave of misogynists went apeshit resulting in a massive swell of interest in Sarkeesian’s work from every side of the “issue”.

As far as I can tell, the worst thing Zoe Quinn did was date a man who later wrote an unhinged screed accusing her of sleeping with video game journalists in exchange for good reviews they didn’t write.

These women were more or less doing their own innocuous thing when anons organized a campaign of harassment and threats.

And now, as a result, people are standing up and saying “Whoah, no, this kind of behavior is not okay.”

Sarkeesian and Quinn were solid figures in their circles but not the names they are today. They weren’t agitators or movement leaders. Without the campaigns of harassment, Quinn and Sarkeesian would still be simply doing their own relatively niche projects.

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I might be misreading him, but I think the wasp’s nest he was referring to was angry gamer manbabies.

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If you are concerned about this

then wouldn’t the simplest solution be to say, stop creating female characters that are bound by outdated structures of things like femininity and gender performance - and write/draw female characters that are as interesting, competent, intelligent, adventurous and developed as the male characters in your series ? Who get equal amounts of airtime and storylines ? Like making them be, say intelligent and equal to the male characters ? I am not sure how this could be interpreted as an outrageous demand ? Ditto for creating characters that are diverse - young, old, athletic, nerdy, small, big, maybe some with different abilities that suggest something other than a pale race or mono-colored/mono-gendered population.

Since you feel that you are a creator, it is time to consider, investigate and educate yourself about other realities. I don’t think that treating girls and women as…wow…equals is in any way a fascist effort to censor creative output. Subscribing to and participating in the dominant status quo (you know, the one where women and girls get death threats for speaking out, where white women are still paid only 3/4 of what a man at the same jobs makes - the stats are even worse for women of color - the status quo where 1 in 4 women will be assaulted by their male partner, the entertainment industries where there are very, very, very few female producers of films, and most actresses stop getting roles after 40…while male actors get routinely paired with actresses less than half their age in even “sensitive” films) - this boring status quo is the biggest enemy of creativity !

But hey, continue thinking that feminist thought/actions are the problem.

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Hey! SJW here! I don’t believe in censorship.

And speaking as a filmmaker, I don’t think it’s a terrible or undue burden to think critically about social issues when developing characters, motivations, scenes, and plot arcs. I think, if anything, getting educated about these issues, problems, and ideas can help you break out of cultural ruts and craft exciting new characters and stories.

I think if your worst fears come true and a creative person begins to write a story that starts with a strong male protagonist with a happy family until his wife is killed right before his eyes, catapaulting him into a quest for revenge and righteousness… and then the creative person says “Fuck, this has been done way too many times. I need to approach this from a different angle…”

Well, I don’t think that’s all that bad.

I don’t even think it’d be that bad if some HBO director, suddenly enamoured with Sarkeesian’s work, found him or herself saying “You know what, we’ll film the lunch scene at a diner. Let’s 86 the strip club. Release the strippers for the day.”

Maybe the diner is the best venue for that lunch scene anyway. The lead will treat the waitress like shit, just like he was going to treat the stripper, giving the audience a small insight to his character, we just won’t have an undulating T&A backdrop for the scene.

I’m not interested in “correct” art. But I am tired of creative people of all stripes reproducing the same old regressive gender roles in sci-fi and high fantasy and superhero stories no matter how fantastical and incredible the rest of the content is. Our creators can do better and we deserve better.

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