The Inadequacy of SJWs and the Harm of Intersectionality

I came across this article by Laurie Penny late last night, and, at first blush, it was largely agreeable. Every right-minded person likes to see misogynists dragged through the mud every once in a while. However, one of the comments was rather apt. In response to the idea that we make progress by targeting our enemies where they are weakest, a commenter pointed out that the whole thing, gamer gate, the phenomenon of Social Justice Warriors in general, it’s all bunk. As the commenter in question pointed out, all the work being done here is only to secure a small portion of society, that, after this is achieved, SJWs and their allies:

“passively acquiesce to a society of massive inequality and injustice, continue to enjoy the perks of that unequal society (video games, fandom, technology), and yet persuade ourselves that we are after all very good and moral people, because we fight the good fight online as regards scrubbing video games of dumb representations of women, so we can enjoy those video games even more.”

 It’s unlikely to come as much of a surprise to anyone who has thought on it, but it deserves re-stating nonetheless. Penny likens this effort to a ‘culture war,” high esteem, to be sure. At least with regards to the American situation, the last 30 odd years have seen a collected effort towards a “culture war” because the real stakes for the Left had been lost. People gravitated towards fighting for a Liberal sense of equality because the real fight, the fight for economic equality, for social security, for real, unfettered emancipation for peoples of all sexes and genders, that was lost. The Left has been smashed, and remains largely directionless.
All the more reason to see this tempest in a teapot for the waste of effort it is. We need to take the fight to where our enemies are strongest, if ever we are to break them. We need to confront authoritarian, fundamentalist religions of all stripes, we need to dismantle the political class that sits on our societies like a hydra-headed parasite, we need to renew the connection between theorists and a vibrant labour movement. What we don’t need is self-congratulatory carving-out of meager Liberal fiefdoms, while our societies are made less and less feasible for the non-upper-middle class who can’t participate in our vapid “safe-zones.”

If you’re current with the North Star, and you should be, you’ll likely remember the flurry of discussion surrounding Intersectionality that erupted last winter. I thought that Rectenwald‘s article was a good summation of my own position on the matter, stating that, identity politics, rather than being an emancipatory project aimed at freeing individuals from static identities that are imposed on them by a classed society, merely entrenches the supposed-differences. Furthermore, because the idea of Identity reigns supreme, even criticism aimed at examining the theory itself is disspelled as language from a privileged position. All discussion ends, and we all sit tight in our self-imposed camps. Meanwhile, while we worry about stepping on each others’ toes, our enemies run wild, tearing apart any gains our predecessors made and ushering in a new Gilded Age. It’s bad politics. It doesn’t work, and it burns up energy direly needed elsewhere.

So, yes. I think that it’s a good thing that middle-class women are finally finding their voice, and that, despite very real and noxious set-backs, progress is being made. However, we cannot stop there. The progress being made is largely ephemeral. Targeting the symptoms of Patriarchy, the vile, immature attitudes expressed in gaming culture, on 4Chan, in society-at-large, isn’t going to root out the disease itself. Less self-congratulation, more, better-oriented work.
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Posted on October 5, 2014, in Maunderings and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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