As a woman, going about her day on the internet, being labelled an SJW is definitely not the worst thing that has happened to me. Though it is something that happens on a pretty regular basis. For those unaware, SJW is a term that means social justice warrior, but has recently become a derogative term for insulting those who don’t necessarily agree with you. More often than not, it is used as an insult for those who are attempting to speak about issues that affect marginalised communities (LGBTQ+ community, POC, women, etc), if it’s not hurled at those marginalised themselves.
But the term SJW is less a label, and more an insult used to silence people from voicing their opinions. It’s less about being labelled an SJW, and more about the people who completely disregard anything you have to say, and would much rather call you names.
Last week, I wrote an article on Colin Moriarty’s resignation from KindaFunny, and the comments sections was livelier than on most other pieces I had written in the past. But it’s easy to see those who are interested in having constructive conversations, and those interested in shutting you down because you dared to have an opinion that differs from theirs. The former will engage with you about the topic, while the latter have little at their disposal but ad hominem attacks.
The funniest thing to me was the guy who sought me out on twitter. His first tweet was a pretty clear indication that this was nothing but an attempt to tell me that I was wrong. My opinion was wrong. My opinion was unimportant. This was an attempt to shut me up. His tweet suggests that those who disagree with his opinion are a “bunch of oversensitive crybabies trying to destroy comedy.” Me being the biggest oversensitive crybaby of them all. Obviously.
His second tweet was a little less on the polite side, though his use of quotations does rid him from personal association. But his suggestion is more or less the same: If you’re offended, you’re a cunt. You wouldn’t be offended if you weren’t a cunt.
@adiba_j like Joe Rogan said: “That tweet doesn’t offend you if you’re not a yappy little cunt.”
The irony of all of this, of course, is that the people who are attempting to shut up “SJWs” for being offended are trying to shut them up because they’re offended. Their labels – or insults – are a tool that they use in an attempt to control your messages. You’re an SJW, or a crybaby, or offended too easily, so why would anyone take your opinion seriously? But the fallacy here is that they are using the same tactics that the alleged “SJW” is – giving an opinion borne of offense.
But this is not language or rhetoric that most of us are unused to – especially if you’re a woman that frequents the web and dares to share her opinion. If your opinion is controversial, if your opinion is different, if your opinion treads on their territory – you are quickly labelled an SJW – and are most likely on the receiving end of a whole host of other insults. Your opinion is quickly dismissed. You are suddenly open to attacks – most of them completely unrelated to the topic at hand.
Unfortunately, there is simply no way to avoid this. There will always be people on the internet who are more interested in shutting you down than anything else. So if you really don’t want to risk being labelled an SJW, the only way to avoid it is by not having opinions – or at least by not sharing them publicly.