What is an SJW?

Applying the Dharma to social justice issues – race, religion, sexuality and identity
Cinnabar
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What is an SJW?

Post by Cinnabar » Wed Feb 13, 2019 5:32 pm

I'm curious what makes a person an SJW?

Bundokji
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Re: What is an SJW?

Post by Bundokji » Wed Feb 13, 2019 9:04 pm

It is often a form of deluded role playing hiding behind shiny ideals. It is akin to an actor who believed/lived his role in the theater more than he/she should, becoming a genuine drama queen in the process.
'Too much knowledge leads to scepticism. Early devotees are the likeliest apostates, as early sinners are senile saints.' – Will Durant.

justsit
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Re: What is an SJW?

Post by justsit » Wed Feb 13, 2019 10:13 pm

Bundokji wrote:
Wed Feb 13, 2019 9:04 pm
It is often a form of deluded role playing hiding behind shiny ideals. It is akin to an actor who believed/lived his role in the theater more than he/she should, becoming a genuine drama queen in the process.
That being the case, how then does one distinguish between a "SJW" and a person who is genuinely committed to promoting social justice?

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Kim O'Hara
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Re: What is an SJW?

Post by Kim O'Hara » Wed Feb 13, 2019 10:37 pm

justsit wrote:
Wed Feb 13, 2019 10:13 pm
Bundokji wrote:
Wed Feb 13, 2019 9:04 pm
It is often a form of deluded role playing hiding behind shiny ideals. It is akin to an actor who believed/lived his role in the theater more than he/she should, becoming a genuine drama queen in the process.
That being the case, how then does one distinguish between a "SJW" and a person who is genuinely committed to promoting social justice?
It's easy, really, since no-one sees their own behaviour as being inauthentic: by looking at who is doing the labelling.

:meditate:
Kim

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Polar Bear
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Re: What is an SJW?

Post by Polar Bear » Wed Feb 13, 2019 10:46 pm

Cinnabar wrote:
Wed Feb 13, 2019 5:32 pm
I'm curious what makes a person an SJW?
Do you mean in the derogatory sense or in the original/semi-literal sense? Or are you asking for a total history of usage and how it plays out in different demographics?

You’ll get confused answers if we try to mesh the two senses/meanings of the acronym together.

I suggest reading this article: https://fee.org/articles/how-the-term-s ... an-insult/

:anjali:

Cinnabar
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Re: What is an SJW?

Post by Cinnabar » Wed Feb 13, 2019 11:33 pm

Well. Language is big part of my practice.

In another post about the hellish psyches of SJW's there was a link to an article that also makes no definition.

What I see is a moving goalpost. A potential one at least.

If you want to discredit somebody's activism you just point to their afflictive emotions and *poof* they are a SJW-- don't take them seriously.

In which case-- only those who have no afflictive emotions can legitimately engage in justice? That's darn few of us.

Who decides?

At different times of my life I was angry and upset about things. Service and activism was a way of transforming those emotions. Was I an SJW?

Or great beings. I am sure MLK Jr. had dark moments. Gandhi. Vaclav Havel. You name it.

chownah
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Re: What is an SJW?

Post by chownah » Thu Feb 14, 2019 2:37 am

It is all just fabricating and indulging in identity (self). The buddha says don't do that.
chownah

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fwiw
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Re: What is an SJW?

Post by fwiw » Thu Feb 14, 2019 4:10 am

It's a smear used by people who are intellectually and morally bankrupt, and as a result short on arguments, so the only strategy left to them is to attack the messenger.

I guess some in the lot actually believe it's impossible to genuinely care about other people in society

Also worth noting that the negative use of the term comes from the "gamergate" controversy, in other words a squabble among video game addicts with both sides engaging in excessive rhetoric, not really an estimable intellectual reference
... in my opinion

Bundokji
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Re: What is an SJW?

Post by Bundokji » Thu Feb 14, 2019 5:45 am

justsit wrote:
Wed Feb 13, 2019 10:13 pm
That being the case, how then does one distinguish between a "SJW" and a person who is genuinely committed to promoting social justice?
I guess a genuine sense of fairness (i prefer not to use the word justice) begins within the individual himself. To promote a solution to a perceived problem often conveys that the individual is free from this problem.

Now, if the individual was capable of/succeeded in eliminating the problem within himself by living in the corrupt system he seeks to change, then why does he assume that other people are not capable of doing the same thing? If he came to be fair in an unfair system, then he can begin by acting fairly and reasonably. He would remember that he acted unfairly in the past (and still vulnerable), and this would serve to hold him back from being too critical of people or the system who he came to perceive as unfair. A fair and reasonable human being does not need to be obsessed with the idea of fairness, but rather, acts on it.

Over emphasizing collective solutions comes at a huge expense in my opinion. It gives the impression that all of our problems can and should be solved collectively reaching an imaginary utopia at the end, unwittingly reducing the individual to a mere member of the herd through the delusion of freeing the individual from the tyranny of the herd.
'Too much knowledge leads to scepticism. Early devotees are the likeliest apostates, as early sinners are senile saints.' – Will Durant.

WatRatPanyo
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Re: What is an SJW?

Post by WatRatPanyo » Thu Feb 14, 2019 7:51 am

Bundokji wrote:
Thu Feb 14, 2019 5:45 am
justsit wrote:
Wed Feb 13, 2019 10:13 pm
That being the case, how then does one distinguish between a "SJW" and a person who is genuinely committed to promoting social justice?
I guess a genuine sense of fairness (i prefer not to use the word justice) begins within the individual himself. To promote a solution to a perceived problem often conveys that the individual is free from this problem.

Now, if the individual was capable of/succeeded in eliminating the problem within himself by living in the corrupt system he seeks to change, then why does he assume that other people are not capable of doing the same thing? If he came to be fair in an unfair system, then he can begin by acting fairly and reasonably. He would remember that he acted unfairly in the past (and still vulnerable), and this would serve to hold him back from being too critical of people or the system who he came to perceive as unfair. A fair and reasonable human being does not need to be obsessed with the idea of fairness, but rather, acts on it.

Over emphasizing collective solutions comes at a huge expense in my opinion. It gives the impression that all of our problems can and should be solved collectively reaching an imaginary utopia at the end, unwittingly reducing the individual to a mere member of the herd through the delusion of freeing the individual from the tyranny of the herd.


Completely off base. During slavery did slaves need to solve the issue of being tortured to death before proposing a solution? Not being slaves.

I think your comment is one built on deep and sustained privelaged. Likely white privelage as you are so Keen to be violent towards social justice activities and those that support them.

It's really off base.

Women have the right to vote because of collective action.

The list goes on into infinitum.

And yes. We continue to improve. We move forward into better and better situations.

This is both the personal path and the community path.


I don't understand why you are on the engaged Buddhism forum
To be violent towards social justice?

Bundokji
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Re: What is an SJW?

Post by Bundokji » Thu Feb 14, 2019 8:52 am

WatRatPanyo wrote:
Thu Feb 14, 2019 7:51 am
Completely off base. During slavery did slaves need to solve the issue of being tortured to death before proposing a solution? Not being slaves.

I think your comment is one built on deep and sustained privelaged. Likely white privelage as you are so Keen to be violent towards social justice activities and those that support them.

It's really off base.

Women have the right to vote because of collective action.

The list goes on into infinitum.

And yes. We continue to improve. We move forward into better and better situations.

This is both the personal path and the community path.


I don't understand why you are on the engaged Buddhism forum
To be violent towards social justice?
Your reply is not engaging, but appears to me as a set of assertions. I am not against solutions, but against "vested self interest" in making problems, which is a human tendency that is rarely acknowledged.

It is not white or black as it appears. It is more of being aware of how things can go wrong. Both activism as well as lack of, can be done for the wrong reasons. If we become aware of what is wrong, not as a mere assertion, but through investigating together, we can engage in better ways without causing unnecessary harm.

Even if some would misuse the term SJW by using it to degrade or shed doubts on every act of activism, it can serve as a reminder of some unnecessary excesses which caused a reaction on the other direction.
'Too much knowledge leads to scepticism. Early devotees are the likeliest apostates, as early sinners are senile saints.' – Will Durant.

Cinnabar
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Re: What is an SJW?

Post by Cinnabar » Thu Feb 14, 2019 3:35 pm

Bundokji wrote:
Thu Feb 14, 2019 5:45 am
Now, if the individual was capable of/succeeded in eliminating the problem within himself by living in the corrupt system he seeks to change, then why does he assume that other people are not capable of doing the same thing? If he came to be fair in an unfair system, then he can begin by acting fairly and reasonably. He would remember that he acted unfairly in the past (and still vulnerable), and this would serve to hold him back from being too critical of people or the system who he came to perceive as unfair. A fair and reasonable human being does not need to be obsessed with the idea of fairness, but rather, acts on it.
Bundokji...

I appreciate this and would agree wholeheartedly.

My fundamental question is whether all good is achievable simply through personal action.

A couple issues close to me are domestic violence, sexual trafficking and sexualizing children.

I have to question whether my not beating my partner, my not buying selling people for sexual pleasure or profit, and my not sexually relating to children is the fullest extent of the good I can do?

It certainly fits your narrative. I saw these things and learned to be fair in an unfair world. And having seen these things I have learned to have compassion for the perpetrators and society that suffers from these things. Perhaps even enables or turns a blind eye.

But it seems selfish and self absorbed to see that the end of my work. Simply because I understand the causation involved in these matters.

And so I call out people who are violent towards intimate partners. I encourage people to not support trafficking by consuming porn or sex work. I call out sexualizing children.

At that point I am no longer just making personal choices. I am an activist and feminist whether that is my intention. Whether I am militant about it. Whether I am vocal about it. And whether I am part of an organization.

I came up in a time and place where there were no social justice warriors, no activists. But certainly no sense that one's personal moral choices were the limit of one's ethical obligation.

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Re: What is an SJW?

Post by Bundokji » Thu Feb 14, 2019 6:31 pm

Cinnabar wrote:
Thu Feb 14, 2019 3:35 pm

My fundamental question is whether all good is achievable simply through personal action.
I think "good" begins with personal action. I find Confucian proper order to be wise:
The illustrious ancients, when they wished to make clear and to propagate the highest virtues in the world, put their states in proper order. Before putting their states in proper order, they regulated their families. Before regulating their families, they cultivated their own selves. Before cultivating their own selves, they perfected their souls. Before perfecting their souls, they tried to be sincere in their thoughts. Before trying to be sincere in their thoughts, they extended to the utmost their knowledge. Such investigation of knowledge lay in the investigation of things, and in seeing them as they really were. When things were thus investigated, knowledge became complete. When knowledge was complete, their thoughts became sincere. When their thoughts were sincere, their souls became perfect. When their souls were perfect, their own selves became cultivated. When their selves were cultivated, their families became regulated. When their families were regulated, their states came to be put into proper order. When their states were in proper order, then the whole world became peaceful and happy.
I have to question whether my not beating my partner, my not buying selling people for sexual pleasure or profit, and my not sexually relating to children is the fullest extent of the good I can do?

It certainly fits your narrative. I saw these things and learned to be fair in an unfair world. And having seen these things I have learned to have compassion for the perpetrators and society that suffers from these things. Perhaps even enables or turns a blind eye.

But it seems selfish and self absorbed to see that the end of my work. Simply because I understand the causation involved in these matters.

And so I call out people who are violent towards intimate partners. I encourage people to not support trafficking by consuming porn or sex work. I call out sexualizing children.

At that point I am no longer just making personal choices. I am an activist and feminist whether that is my intention. Whether I am militant about it. Whether I am vocal about it. And whether I am part of an organization.

I came up in a time and place where there were no social justice warriors, no activists. But certainly no sense that one's personal moral choices were the limit of one's ethical obligation.
When i investigate such issues, i try to avoid a linear way of thinking. Slippery slops seem to be an inevitable outcome of this way of thinking. I avoid using it to make conclusions about what is right and wrong.

For instance, we had slavery and great amount of cruelty and injustice in our recent history, and due to activism, we created a better society. We ended slavery and liberated women to a large extent, so there is a clear direction of where things should go. The more we move into this direction, which is often called "progress" is the better.

The slippery slope continues like this: if changing our world happened through changing the way we think, then there are no limits to these changes. Nothing is sacred or stable in our human world. Thoughts are simply tools at our disposal. We can begin by changing language, teaching kids to think and act in new ways. There are no meaningful differences between men and women. Let people be themselves, of course unless they are satisfied with the old ways.

The best way to deal with slippery slopes is to present them as they are, because a part of the slippery slope is an endless chain of control. Once you begin to try defining what constitutes right and wrong ways of activism, there will be no end in sight. Instead, getting back to simplicity and common sense can be a good way to begin with.

I happen to live in a Muslim and conservative country. Not long ago, we had an intern from Denmark who studies anthropology and who wanted to stay at a village in the Jordan Valley to experience how tribal communities live, so we helped her find a home stay family. After finishing her internship, and before going back to her country, i talked to her. I asked her about her impressions and her experience. She spoke about inequality between men and women and the strict gender roles in the village. I asked her if she can find a major difference in happiness and general well being between women who live in the village, and women in Denmark, and she was honest enough to say no.

It is good to keep in mind few things when we think about issues such as fairness and activism. Humans are both adaptive to their conditions, and at the same time vulnerable to suggestions. If i come across a man who is adapting well to his conditions, i don't need to go and tell him that he is not free. When it comes to suggestions, sometimes introducing a new law have a suggestive power of imposing values on people, even if this law appears as "giving them the choice to be what they want". It is understandable why asking the majority to respect minorities is essential, but also encouraging minorities to be adaptive is good for the overall well-being of society.

Another antidote to linear thinking is contemplating different ways of looking at history (without taking it as a given) such as Hegelian dialectic. If the excesses of Fascists and Nazis and the subsequent wars as well as technology helped revolutionize our ways of thinking and the emergence of civil rights movenments, then the excesses of this era seem to have produced a new reaction evident by the rise of right wing movements including labels such as SJW. It could be a sign to slow down, or that pushing in a certain direction, at this period of time, unless really necessary, is not bearing fruits, and potentially causing more harm than good.
'Too much knowledge leads to scepticism. Early devotees are the likeliest apostates, as early sinners are senile saints.' – Will Durant.

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Kim O'Hara
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Re: What is an SJW?

Post by Kim O'Hara » Thu Feb 14, 2019 10:10 pm

Bundokji wrote:
Thu Feb 14, 2019 6:31 pm
... getting back to simplicity and common sense can be a good way to begin with.
Yes.
Remain in the present, avoid labelling, resist labelling ...
Remain in the Brahmaviharas, practice Right Speech ...

Words, particularly labels such as "SJW", are barriers to accurate perceptions.

:namaste:
Kim

Bundokji
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Re: What is an SJW?

Post by Bundokji » Fri Feb 15, 2019 6:32 am

Kim O'Hara wrote:
Thu Feb 14, 2019 10:10 pm
Words, particularly labels such as "SJW", are barriers to accurate perceptions.
I agree
'Too much knowledge leads to scepticism. Early devotees are the likeliest apostates, as early sinners are senile saints.' – Will Durant.

Cinnabar
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Re: What is an SJW?

Post by Cinnabar » Sat Feb 16, 2019 4:01 pm

Bundokji...

I appreciate the sentiment of cultivating oneself first. It isn't without precedent. It is also something I have heard echoed in many sanghas.

Cultivate oneself and one qualities permeate the world. This approach prevents the fault of adopting ideologies that are contaminated and broadcasting them into the world. It also prevents taking on service beyond one's capabilities.

You speak of simplicity.

The most simple and immediate practice is awareness. BOOM. There is suffering. Now what?

Personally I think it is perverse to know that a person in my circle or community is being abused and to respond in the spirit of: OK. I'll cultivate myself. And my qualities transform my family, community, the world.

Perhaps that approach works and is reasonable in cases where immediate action is impossible. But if faced in personal immediacy with the cause or effect arms of violence how is that possible? Could I say to the raped and beaten spouse: Well, I am helping you. I'm self cultivating. Or the person begging for food: Sorry. No food, but I'm self cultivating. That will feed you someday.

I think it's possible to keep it simple without ideological elaboration by simply being mindful of suffering. And engaging it directly.

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lyndon taylor
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Re: What is an SJW?

Post by lyndon taylor » Sat Feb 16, 2019 4:09 pm

:goodpost:
18 years ago I made one of the most important decisions of my life and entered a local Cambodian Buddhist Temple as a temple boy and, for only 3 weeks, an actual Therevada Buddhist monk.

http://trickleupeconomictheory.blogspot.com/

Bundokji
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Re: What is an SJW?

Post by Bundokji » Sat Feb 16, 2019 7:16 pm

Cinnabar wrote:
Sat Feb 16, 2019 4:01 pm
Personally I think it is perverse to know that a person in my circle or community is being abused and to respond in the spirit of: OK. I'll cultivate myself. And my qualities transform my family, community, the world.
Do not you think that we are a bit drifting away from the context of this thread?

The context of this thread, as i see it, has more to do with political activism than one's immediate circle or meeting someone needy down the road!

When i joined this site, from the outset, i tried to widen the concept of activism to include what you just mentioned, but this is not what we are discussing in this particular instance.

The term "SJW" is often used as a derogatory towards certain type of activism which you seem to know but choose to ignore by providing irrelevant examples.

I totally agree with your statement:
Cultivate oneself and one qualities permeate the world. This approach prevents the fault of adopting ideologies that are contaminated and broadcasting them into the world. It also prevents taking on service beyond one's capabilities.
In the current political atmosphere, especially in the west, it seems to boil down to mindless ideologies instead of thoughtful engagement from both sides of the political spectrum. The above is evident by the fact that if you know one's position in relation to one controversial issue (such as abortion) you are capable of guessing with high amount of accuracy what they believe in relation to other controversial issues including immigration, gay marriage, environment ...etc. This seems to imply that it is very likely that people did not think deeply about these issues, choosing to belong to a herd instead, cheering each other up against their political rivals. Political reality seem to be reduced down to two alternatives!

In relation to knowing one's capabilities, sometimes hyped up slogans such as "saving the planet" can have an adverse effect. Instead, one can discuss more sustainable ways of living, or investigate the conditions that brought us to the current situation and suggest alternatives.

Finally, a balanced approach to activism implies seeing the positive as well as the negative. We can always work toward improving what we came to share, but at the same time, we can have appreciation of what we already have. Sometimes, when you listen to some activists, you get the feeling that the world is about to end!
'Too much knowledge leads to scepticism. Early devotees are the likeliest apostates, as early sinners are senile saints.' – Will Durant.

Cinnabar
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Re: What is an SJW?

Post by Cinnabar » Sat Feb 16, 2019 9:38 pm

Budokji...

I don't think I'm at all drifting away from the context of the thread. I can say that with some authority-- as I'm the original poster of the thread, right?

My hope was to actually explore what is and is not a social justice warrior or SJW. The term seems to be thrown around quite a bit. It has meme-tier usage. But it's application and definition seems to slip and slide.

According to the dictionary, an SJW is somebody who has socially progressive viewpoints. That would include many things an engaged Buddhist might care about.

In truth it would include many things Christian faith-based activists concern themselves with. Things NGO's concern themselves with. Things governments concern themselves with. Poverty. Education. Reproduction and population control. Healthcare. Violence. Justice.

Some definitions specifically mention civil rights, feminism, environmentalism, multiculturalism, and so on. That would mean Martin Luther King Jr was an SJW. As was Gandhi. And Thomas Merton. And if him then Dorothy Day. Sophie Scholl. Caesar Chavez. Ai Weiwei. The Dalai Lama. Thich Nhat Hanh.

But that's not true. Such a list gets quickly sorted. So it's-- specific types of civil rights activism, feminism, and so on...

I would be the first to admit that slogan-driven, Tumblr meme, and ideologically obsessed activism is often damaging to the very causes they wish to support. Which is why I bring it back to immediate experience. There is a woman with a black eye and split lip. There a hungry child. There is man raped in prison. I don't think it's lost on anyone that posting memes on social media to people who agree with one's politics is no form of activism. Nor is demonizing people with alternative political and social views.

From what I can tell, in my personal experience, what makes someone an SJW is really just the tone and the extent to which social criticism cuts tradition and the status quo.

As an example. I can get anyone to agree that pedophilia is an abomination. But if I speak against sexualizing children, child pageants, child marriage, simulated child porn-- then I am an SJW.

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Kim O'Hara
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Re: What is an SJW?

Post by Kim O'Hara » Sun Feb 17, 2019 8:06 am

Hi, Cinnabar,
I'm not at all clear about whether you distinguish between the label "SJW" being something you apply to yourself and the label "SJW" being something others apply to you (or you apply to others).
To me, they are quite different things. If I apply a label to myself, or claim that it applies to me, I am buying into the whole package. If (purely for example!) I say to myself, "I am a Catholic," I commit to belief in God, intercession of saints, virgin birth, authority of the Pope and his bishops, priests, etc. None of those are optional. If I say, "I am a Catholic," to others, they can expect me to have all those beliefs - and to be able to call me a failure if I don't live up to them. But if I don't claim that identity, there is no obligation on me - ever - to behave as one or believe as one, even if someone else says, "You're a Catholic!" until they are blue in the face.

I used "Catholic" instead of "SJW" for my example because a "SJW" is not so well defined as "Catholic", which introduces an extra complication: if I claim the label, just what is the package I'm buying into? And if someone applies it to me, just what are they applying to me? Generally, I think, the meaning is whatever is in the mind of the person using it.

:thinking:
Kim

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