It’s interesting just how often “social justice” posturing entails something that looks an awful lot like spite or petty malice, or an attempt to harass and dominate, or some other obnoxious behaviour. Behaviour that, without a “social justice” pretext, might get you called a wanker or a bitch. A coincidence, I’m sure.
There are numerous examples of such behaviour in the archives, including this, this, this, and both of these. One of the more vivid illustrations is this little gem, in which Black Lives Matter enthusiasts at an Ivy League university claim to be oppressed by hats and headphones, and promptly indulge in racist thuggery, targeting random white people with violence and abuse – and with impunity, of course - before being applauded by university staff.
Today, Liz points out another, more recent example – a plan to disrupt Donald Trump’s inauguration by blocking bridges, obstructing traffic and sabotaging all of the Metro trains in Washington DC. Because nothing says “I’m virtuous” like ruining the day of tens of thousands of people and leaving them to worry about how to get home, or to work, or get to the doctor, or pick up their children.
[ Update, via the comments: ]
It’s an odd thing to watch, this “radical” approach to “social change.” You have to wonder, at what point in the little warriors’ planning sessions did the tactics linked above - preventing Wal-Mart staff from getting home to their families, harassing random white people and making them walk through mud, and trapping a woman in a wheelchair and then taunting her – become good ideas, the way to signal righteousness? And as this behaviour is unlikely to result in any social effect that the activists claim to want – and in fact tends to strengthen opposition to their ostensible cause – you also have to wonder what the fundamental motive actually is. Given the vanishingly slim chance of instant social transformation, there isn’t much else to consider, apart from narcissism, selfishness and an obvious delight in having power over others.
See how this is working. If you don’t believe that you are benefiting from “white supremacy,” or don’t believe that you’re being racist because you haven’t engaged in racist behaviour – by “colonising” or “enslaving” or excluding black people from things because of the colour of their skin - then this is just proof of how racist you really are, and of how pervasive “white supremacy” is.
The intrepid SJW Nonsense takes her sanity in her hands and offers a personal guide through Everyday Feminism’s “Healing from Toxic Whiteness” online seminar, the first two parts of which can be found linked below. During the “healing” process, we learn that one baldly asserted but entirely unproven thing somehow proves another baldly asserted but entirely unproven thing, again via bald assertion, and that this is a satisfactory basis for “social justice” activism. We also learn that Everyday Feminism founder Sandra Kim is “super, super, super excited” about her mission to purge white people of mental toxins, that “people of colour” can feel the emotions of their ancestors via “inter-generational trauma,” and that simply being white makes one “complicit with racism.”
Black students’ progress is being stalled by university tutors who are “60-year-old white men” and “potentially racist,” according to students at the School of Oriental and African Studies (Soas) in London. In a report called Degrees of Racism, the student union demands that “all academics must be prepared to acknowledge that they are capable of racism.” It claims unconscious bias is rife at the school — part of the University of London — and that white tutors allow white male students to dominate class discussions and have lower expectations of black and ethnic minority (BME) students because of “racist stereotypes of people of colour as less capable, or lazy.”
Alongside the usual demands for double standards and racial favouritism in hiring, and “compulsory classes for academics to combat unconscious bias,” the students want “all staff [to] feel able to confront each other’s racism.” The report, they say, is intended to address the “significant gap in attainment” between white and ethnic minority students.
[The report] quotes black undergraduates who say their academic progress is being hampered by older white professors who cannot relate to them. “Both of my tutors are white men. How can I have a rapport and feel comfortable talking to a 60-year-old white man?” asks one.
In short, the students are admitting, albeit unwittingly, that in fact they are the inflexible and bigoted ones, the ones preoccupied with racist (and ageist) stereotypes, and are incapable of feeling “comfortable” with people whose appearance differs from their own. Apparently, for them, learning is next to impossible unless they are being taught by people who look just like them, are of a similar age, and who share the assumptions of a subset of nineteen-year-olds.
Perhaps the students are too busy issuing grandiose demands to consider the humdrum fact that a person’s knowledge, perspective and experience, from which one hopes to benefit, necessarily take time to accumulate. Or to consider the possibility that stretching oneself beyond the familiar and comfortable is the general idea of education. And so it seems to me that the “significant gap in attainment” that the student union bemoans may have more to do with the limited abilities, and even more limited horizons, of the students in question.
Sohrab Ahmari on the narrowness and tedium of leftist cultural criticism:
Culture is the whole constellation of practices, norms and institutions that help people think through big questions -- about truth, beauty and the good… The problem with identitarianism is that it… reduces all these mysteries -- the things great art and culture have grappled with for millennia -- into grievance and propaganda… Open up your social-media newsfeed, or go to nearly any cultural criticism website, and chances are you’ll spot the new philistinism right away: “Did you know that yoga is cultural appropriation?” “Your sushi restaurant is actually part of a structure of colonial oppression!” “Why the new Spider-Man movie is terrible for trans people!” And on and on. For millions of people, all thinking about culture is summed in the question: Does this affirm the feelings of the “oppressed” or not? Nothing higher, nothing transcendent or universal.
The [on-campus] microaggression programme teaches students the exact opposite of ancient wisdom. Microaggression training is — by definition — instruction in how to detect ever smaller specks in your neighbour’s eye… It’s bad enough to make the most fragile and anxious students quicker to take offence and more self-certain and self-righteous. But… what will happen to a democracy as students graduate from college and demand that microaggression training be implemented in their workplaces? If you think American democracy is polarised and dysfunctional in 2016, just wait until the baby boomers have aged out of leadership positions and the country is run by a millennial elite trained at our top schools, which immersed them in a microaggression programme for four years.
Damon Linker on the crab-bucket world of intersectional identity politics:
It should be obvious that this brand of politics is profoundly poisonous. Instead of seeking to level an unjust hierarchy, mitigate its worst abuses, and foster cross-group solidarity, intersectionality merely flips the hierarchy on its head, placing the least “privileged” in the most powerful position and requiring everyone else to clamour for relative advantage in the new upside-down ranking. Those who come out on top in the struggle win their own counter-status, earning the special privilege of getting to demand that those lower in the pecking order “check their privilege.” This is a sure-fire spur to division, dissension, and resentment.
Ned Resnikoff, senior editor of the leftwing publication ThinkProgress, encounters a tradesman:
I had a plumber over to my apartment to fix a clogged drain. He was a perfectly nice guy and a consummate professional. But he was also a middle-aged white man with a southern accent who seemed unperturbed by [the election] news. And while I had him in the apartment, I couldn’t stop thinking about whether he had voted for Trump.
One notices, of course, that feminists never criticise gay men for adoring male beauty, nor are lesbian preferences subject to feminist critique. No, in feminist discourse, it is only the heterosexual male’s attitudes and behaviour that are the target of this kind of “fuck your beauty standards” rhetoric.
When English turned into a practice of reading literature for signs of racism, sexism, and ideology, it lost touch with why youths pick up books in the first place, said University of Virginia Professor Rita Felski. And Duke professor Toril Moi told the Chronicle of Higher Education, “If you challenge the idea of suspicion as the only mode of reading, you are then immediately accused of being conservative in relation to those politics.
The idea that such street behaviour does not have a classroom counterpart is ludicrous. Black males between the ages of 14 and 17 commit homicide at ten times the rate of white and Hispanic males of the same age. The lack of socialisation that produces such a vast disparity in murder rates, as well as less lethal street violence, inevitably will show up in classroom behaviour. Teens who react to a perceived insult on social media by trying to shoot the offender are not likely to restrain themselves in the classroom if they feel “disrespected” by a teacher or fellow students.
Democratic voters are almost three times as likely to have “blocked, unfriended, or stopped following someone on social media” after Donald Trump’s victory, according to a study… The survey shows considerable splits along gender lines as well. Women were “twice as likely as men to report removing people from their online social circle because of the political views they expressed online,” 18 percent to 9 percent, according to the study conducted by Daniel Cox and Robert P. Jones… Meanwhile, 5 percent of those polled said they will alter plans to spend less time with select members of their family because of their political views. This, too, showed a partisan divide: 10 percent of Democrats said they planned to avoid certain family members, and 2 percent of Republicans said they would do likewise.
In which we glimpse the world through the eyes of our self-imagined betters.
The year began with news that living in Glasgow is now to be considered a work of art, according to Ellie Harrison, a taxpayer-funded artist who, coincidentally, lives in Glasgow. We also witnessed the talents of Sandrine Schaeffer, who teaches the subtleties of performance art to those less gifted than herself, and who unveiled “a series of research based actions in public spaces” – i.e., walking repeatedly past automatic doors. Gorged on art, our attention then turned to academic matters and the ruminations of Dr Riyad A Shahjahan, an exponent of “social justice theory” and “pedagogies of dissent.” Dr Shahjahan wished to impress on us that “the norms of neoliberal higher education” – specifically, expectations of punctuality and academic competence – are both racist and oppressive.
In March, we beheld the artistic work of Sandrine Schaeffer’s students - feats that included drooling, doomed horticulture and masochistic thigh-scarring. And feminist “creative” Katherine Garcia attempted to justify her sub-optimal life choices. Ms Garcia, who describes herself as a “multi-dimensional creature” doing “enlightening work,” was shocked to discover that getting heavily into debt to pursue a grad school degree in Women and Gender Studies isn’t a sure-fire path to status and prosperity.
April was enlivened by the highly-wound students at Edinburgh University, whose meetings forbid expressions and gestures that “denote disagreement,” and where even quietly shaking one’s head is a scandalous transgression. In the pages of Everyday Feminism, Ms Kai Cheng Tom bemoaned the fact that “disorders like violent psychopathy” are “generally considered unlikeable,” and that “compassion for psychopaths, pathological liars, or narcissists” – people such as herself – is hard to come by. And over at the Guardian, Grayson Perry, a part-time transvestite and maker of unattractive pottery, disdained masculinity as “useless” and “counter-productive,” a mere “hangover” from more primitive, less Guardian-friendly times.
In May, the “social justice” juggernaut Hari Ziyad railed against conformism and idle stereotypes, while denouncing the “white supremacist cisheteropatriarchal capitalistic gaze,” and exhorting us to spend more time fretting about “gender non-conforming Indigenous people with disabilities.” And the no less non-conformist Laurie Penny announced that she “leans towards anarcho-communism,” which, rather conveniently, means that your money actually belongs to her.
I’ve always been a feminist. I’m lucky. My mother, Jane Caro, is a feminist, as is my grandmother, and both always have been. It’s something I’ve never questioned and always felt confident and strident about. Just ask me about it at a dinner party (if you dare...)
Setting aside the prospect of some horrendous dinner parties, note Ms Dunning’s satisfaction with a set of assumptions that are stridently voiced and “never questioned.”
Motherhood has been quite a confronting experience for my feminism so far, and I'm sure it will continue to be. Ever since discovering I was pregnant it’s been a process of adjusting and reconciling my biology with my ideology, particularly when I discovered that my baby, my most-beloved Alfred, would be a boy.
That little red light is a warning sign.
I had never wanted a son. In fact, I had decidedly not wanted one. I wanted daughters, probably because I am one of two daughters and six granddaughters, no sons or grandsons. This seemed altogether to fit in with my feminism better… There were dark moments in the middle of the night (when all those dark thoughts come), when I felt sick at the thought of something male growing inside me.
Yes, I know. The little red light is flashing now. Best cover it with a towel.
In this patriarchal world, this world where even the best men (and women, for that matter) engage in casual and ingrained sexism, how will I raise a son who respects me the way a daughter would?
Oh sweet naïveté. But thank goodness that Ms Dunning, who “felt sick” at even the thought of “something male” growing inside her, is totally opposed to all that “casual and ingrained sexism.”
The white walls of the space are copiously hung, salon style, with a mélange of disquieting drawings and small, black, figurative sculptures.
Oh dear. Never go full mélange.
[T]he artist really delivered the feminist mayhem she is known for, presenting a series of fresh and topical works that may just as well have come from the mind and hand of an artist half her (73) years.
Or even, as we’ll see, some fraction smaller than that. Readers curious as to what form this “feminist mayhem” takes will be thrilled to hear that Ms Messager has “created an eccentric menagerie of mythologies suggestive of the complexity of the female body, therein exploring concepts of the feminine.” Specifically,
Messager takes as subject free-flowing breasts, uteruses, and menstruation, pushing her ongoing artistic probe of the female body from outside and within... Perhaps the strongest works here are the loosely-drawn, menstruation-based pieces. “Mon Ketchup” (“My Ketchup”) focuses on the red menstrual flow of a seated woman with her panties around her ankles.
This, then, is the high point of the exhibition. Or put another way, it’s all downhill from here. And so we arrive at an artistic feat titled “Mon utérus à mon désir” (“My Uterus to My Desire”) and which, we’re told, “depicts an anthropomorphised, left-handed uterus, flipping the bird.”
The reviewer, an artist and author named Joseph Nechvatal, is rendered breathless by this endeavour. For him, it “sums up the intensity of the show… female flesh enacting insolence.” Well, the disdain is hard to miss. Though, given the hackneyed themes and general incompetence, which we’re expected to find both sufficient and compelling, perhaps while rubbing our chins, I can’t help wondering at whom said disdain is actually being aimed.