Thursday, March 10, 2016

Being a Social Justice Warrior Means Losing More Than a Few Friends

          In order to be myself, I advocate for social justice all the time, this loses me friends like you would not believe. I have an incredibly difficult time with making new friends, and even keeping the ones I have because I am found to be offensive, when that is never EVER my intention. So let me get this straight: me being in favor of equality is seen as in bad taste? My support for all lives having value is too politically correct? My being in a field where I get to research facts about social injustice and the reality of poverty, racism, multiculturalism and misogyny (among countless others under the umbrella of social justice) does not make my stating thoroughly studied facts at all correct? I am doomed to be told I do not know what I am talking about politically, socially, multicultural, or racially.
          I cannot possibly argue facts when no one will listen with an open mind and open heart. If you truly know me at all you know I hate inequality and I have a streak where I will try to use my arsenal of knowledge in a kind and gentle way to reveal the facts where I feel it is needed. Even though I do this as a defense for those who cannot advocate for themselves, I know that I am seen as trying to be bombastic and combative.
Some of my values are as follows:
          I am a realistic optimist who wants to help those in need, no questions asked. I support raising the minimum wage because many of our society’s problems stem from poverty. I feel that if no one had to worry about working three jobs to make ends meet the world could improve drastically. I do not mind the lazy hangers-on who would benefit, as long as those who need it get the help. I feel it is my responsibility to humanity to help where and how I can without being greedy. I believe that my giving in taxes to support free healthcare, childcare, etc. benefits all of society over time. I cannot see how this is a bad thing, to give my money to those in need is seen as a sacrifice worth making, but the second it is mandated, even if it is the same amount you would have offered otherwise, that is somehow wrong to help others. I know there are others who would feel that their hard-earned money should not go to someone else at all, and would never give it willingly, and never give it without begrudging if it were mandated. I feel that it would be a forced humbling of society to see how much our money all pooled together can help those in need. Canada is right now toying with the idea of free money for everyone, a living standard boost. It has worked in other countries, and if America were to propose this, it would immediately be dismissed because of the innate American greed.
What is America’s core value? Money. We act as if this stupid paper stuff is more important that people! We waste our health on working ourselves to death to “keep up with the Jones’”. Americans work more and vacation less than practically any other developed country in the world! We glorify being busy, and to take time off is to be “lazy”. It is most certainly NOT lazy to take care of yourself, and many people need more to recharge than others. Not only that, but why judge others by your standard? “Oh, if I work a 60+ hour work week, those lazy bums can too!”, but this begs the question: “Why would you and why should they?”
          This goes along with the need for paid family leave. It should be a right and a necessity to help families adjust to the inevitable changes a child coming into their home can make. America is the only civilized country without mandated paid family leave. Bonds will grow stronger between parents and child, productivity is boosted by the parents not having to worry about money or losing their job for taking time to care for a new child. It makes all the sense, and yet it comes down to the “bottom line” which always entails how much money can be made rather than who it helps.
          Despite the vast amount of researched evidence of systemic oppression against several minority groups such as women and lower socioeconomic status peoples, I know several people who refuse to acknowledge an issue, to the point that they argue that I am being a racist or anti-men. There is a thing called the “pink tax” were the exact same item marketed toward women is higher in price than one marketed toward a man. Then there is the issue that being a woman makes our products a “luxury”. Feminine products are taxed as luxury items! A period is no luxury by any stretch of the imagination, my friends. This is a core point in the systemic oppression of women. Poor kids have, on average, lower grades because of less parental involvement. This is a fact because the parents of the poverty stricken children have to work all the time to make it, not because of not caring about their children as so often they are stereotyped as. And those one welfare by and large do work at least part time! The propaganda to the opposite I never see in print except when being spouted by a friend who disagrees with me.
          Racism is not dead and gone, in my classes we talk all the time about how when someone states “I don’t see color” they are lying to themselves. Because the fact of the matter is that as a human being, we do see differences, and if we can evolve ourselves to be loving and accepting of differences, that is the goal. The fact is, many people deny their baser thoughts, and that not only is inauthentic, it is damaging. It is damaging in that ignoring a problem almost always makes it bigger. Everyone has a privilege, be that you are straight, you are white, you are Christian in a nation full of other Christians. We are also intersectional, which means that we have overlapping privileges and overlapping disadvantages. A black gay woman has more obstacles to face in society than a white straight man. It is that simple and yet it is somehow offensive to state this as a fact.
          Considering I am working towards a master’s degree that discusses all of these things as facets we need to take into account when counseling our future clients, you would think I would be heard instead of shut down at every turn. I would hope that my education would help bolster my level of expertise somewhat. I could surely argue that my status as a woman is a contributing factor as to why I am constantly told I am wrong. It is a condition known among my fellow feminists as “man-splaining”. It is when men tell you what you really mean even when you are more knowledgeable in the area you were speaking.  No only this, by societally women are stereotyped as submissive and less educated then men, this leads to underestimating women. Men and women both underestimate a woman’s knowledge, it is how we are raised: girls like dolls and clothes, boys like science and getting dirty. Those are by no means factual, each gender is equal in mental capacity and there will be men and women who are smarter than one another in a given field. Stop dismissing my knowledge because of my gender!
          Each gender had similar capacities outside of strictly building muscle (men win that by virtue of biology), women can be a brilliant scientist or mathematician, men can design beautiful things, they are not, and never should be considered, mutually exclusive. Also, it should be considered perfectly fine to have traditionally “conflicting” traits, such as a female body builder who likes to bake, or a working father who enjoys children. Hopefully in the future we can learn to embrace our duality without judgment and critique.

          But we are all also much more than a mere label, more than a stereotype. As human beings who are able to transcend these labels, we should strive not to be blind to differences, but to embrace them as the spice of life! Ignoring differences does not help anyone, acknowledging them and accepting them can. I hope I shed some light on a few subjects close to my heart, but I know there will be someone who vehemently disagrees. Bring on the debate, but make sure you have got credible sources (not mass market media, which has been proven to be skewed to the left or the right with the highest bidder, academic or independent media would be a better source).