So, yesterday's blog got a wonderful discussion going. Thanks you all for keeping it civil, even when you disagreed with me. It's nice to see people behaving like adults!
A point was brought up by someone who agreed with my post, but cautioned against extremism.
My first thought was, well, duh. Then I thought a little deeper and realised that, actually, yes. I do need to make a distinction between your run-of-the-mill SJW (ie - normal folk who care about making the world a better place) and the extremists. Now, while it is very unlikely that an extremist of the SJW nature is likely to actually turn terrorist, it's really not that unheard of (there have been some pretty horrific instances of domestic terrorism (destroyed labs etc) by some animal rights groups, for example). That would be a very extreme outlier.
But there are extremists; from every movement and faction... even the good ones, guys. Let's be honest.
I'm not talking about people who state their opinions definitively or defend their positions passionately, though they are often called extremists by the other party (femenazi, anyone?) merely for defending their position with passion, or even merely pointing out an action or phrase that was particularly thoughtless.
With people throwing the word extremist around as if everyone who disagrees with them is one, it's hard to know what extremism for any cause is.
In my experience, of course, the accusation of being an extremist is hurled at myself and other members of the feminist movement an awful lot (I note that it's my experience because that is my main social justice issue). Any feminist, not matter how mild mannered, will be called a feminiazi at one point or another. Probably repeatedly. They will be dismissed as militant feminists. All for pointing out that the wage gap is real, or something equally as benign. Facts. Apparently knowing them makes you an extremist.
I'm actually talking about the bullies. It seems like such a weak word to describe the horror these people willingly and gleefully inflict on others.
Don't do it, okay? I know that whatever cause you have going is very close to your heart. It ignites your passion like a spark starting a bush fire. I get it. Trust me. I get it. I'm down here fighting my battles too. At the moment, I'm with the countless men and women fighting to have women recognised as people; to have our reproductive and health decisions be our own, to be paid what we're worth... and to let the world know that our worth is equal to a man's. I'm fighting to end gendered violence, which disproportionately affects women; women of colour especially. I'm battling to for trans and LGBTQ+ rights, because they're women too and deserved to be treated with respect.
Granted, I'm doing it in small ways for now; lending my voice to the growing number of people seeing reason, writing letters to the people who make decisions, and sticking up for myself whenever I face sexism in my life. It's almost an hourly occurrence, by the way.
I get how hard and frustrating and scary it is. I know fighting the good fight is exhausting and people being morons can make you lose your temper sometimes.
None of this is an excuse for extremist behaviour. None. Of. It.
No doxxing, no threatening to do harm, no actually doing harm, no swatting, no harassment or name calling. Just, stop. If you cannot form an argument without resorting to any of these things, then your argument is not as strong as you pretend and you need to do some serious re-evaluating about your position.
If you are fighting for respect by disrespecting others, you've already lost your battle. You see, the minute you devolve into threatening, doxxing, harming, harassment or name calling you're no longer one of the good guys.
You're a villain.
Even if you're fighting for a good cause, the minute you become a bully (an extremist), you become a villain.
Writing note: If you want a sympathetic villain, make her fight for a just cause, but too extreme; she's trying to save lives, but ends up blowing half the city up or something. Those kinds of villains are always the most fascinating.
I know it's easier said than done. My blood tends to run hot when I get on issues that matter to me - Celtic Studies, Writing, Feminism... When I'm challenged on any of these by people who, to my mind, are being wilfully ignorant I lose my temper quickly. I have been guilty of hurling insults at people in the past.
Now I try to walk away before I hit breaking point. I find a heavy bag and pound it for a bit. i go for a run. I cry in private.
You know, whatever it takes to not be one of those people.
So in yesterday's post advocating for being a SJW (because fighting for social justice, whoo!) I was NOT in any way, shape or form advocating we all run out in the streets to beat on one another. There is a line that should not be crossed.
Clear as mud?
I have work to do now. Have a great weekend.