Tuesday 13 September 2016

Of “Safe Areas”, “SJWs”, And No One Caring About The Chiefs.

SJW? The abbreviation SJW stands for “Social Justice Warrior” and it is used pejoratively by the Right against those who defend the strictures of political correctness as the only effective means of combatting the use of hate speech and other discriminatory behaviours against women, minorities and the LGBTI community. SJWs are dismissed as self-validating attention-seekers using social media to advance socially progressive views as inauthentic as they are strident.
YOU CAN LEARN A LOT from blog comments. A recent posting on the Rugby Union’s report into the Ōkoroire Hot Pools incident attracted this terse response:
“I thought you would have heard the news, Chris. No one cares about people who take offence anymore. Maybe you could go to a safe corner till you feel less offended. Take an SJW with you.”
There’s a lot packed into these four short sentences, so bear with me while I attempt to unpack them.
Let’s begin with the commentator’s central assertion: “No one cares about people who take offence anymore.”
Taken at face value, this is obviously false. Just consider the Rugby Union’s swift response to the avalanche of criticism that came crashing down on its report. Given sponsorship’s vital role in the funding of professional rugby, the game’s administrators’ acute sensitivity to such sustained public criticism – especially in relation to the vexed issue of gender relations – is readily understood. That the Union felt obliged to announce that it’s seeking the help of anti-sexual-violence campaigner, Louise Nicholas, shows how much they needed to be seen to “care”.
At a deeper level, however, the commenter is more accurate than many New Zealanders might care to admit.
It is one of the proudest claims of the Baby Boom Generation: that it confronted the racism, sexism and homophobia of its parents’ generation; defeated it; and ushered in a new era of tolerance and social equality. The Boomers point to the Black Civil Rights struggle in the United States; the onrush of so-called “Second Wave” Feminism; and the Gay Rights Revolution of the 1970s and 80s. Without these “new social movements”, they claim, neither the dramatic and permanent shifts in social attitudes, nor the legislative reforms they inspired, would have been possible.
But the question seldom asked of the Baby Boomers is whether their much-vaunted changes were the product of an entire generation – or just a fraction of it. Just how deeply did the ideas of the new social movements penetrate? All the way down to the public bars and rugby club changing-rooms? Or only as far as the common-rooms of the universities; the editorial offices of the more respectable media outlets; and the screenwriting teams of movie and television studios?
Politically-speaking, it has long been the contention of the Right that the social changes of the 60s, 70s and 80s were only ever the project of a wafer-thin layer of left-wing activists. As proof they point to such contrary historical indicators as the white riots against Dr Martin Luther King’s attempt to racially integrate Chicago’s public housing in 1966; the defeat of the feminist-inspired Equal Rights Amendment in 1982; and, to use a New Zealand example, the 800,000-signature petition (the largest in the country’s history) against the decriminalisation of homosexuality in 1986.
It is this conspiratorial version of the West’s recent social history (in defence of which, rightists love to quote the 1960s student radical, Rudi Dutschke’s, advice for comrades to undertake “the long march through the institutions”) that spawned the notion of “political correctness”. According to the Right, political correctness is the method by which left-wing elites impose their ideas about what is, and isn’t, acceptable political discourse on the rest of society.
The references in the comment quoted above to a “safe corner” and an “SJW” trace their origins to this Left-Right struggle over political correctness.
“Safe Areas” are spaces to which university students in the US are able to retreat when the language and behaviour of the politically incorrect on campus is deemed to have grown too confronting and/or dangerous. Derided by the Right for pandering to the alleged preciousness of the students making use of them, safe areas are also assailed for implicitly curtailing the rights of those from whom their users are seeking refuge.
The abbreviation SJW stands for “Social Justice Warrior” and it is used pejoratively by the Right against those who defend the strictures of political correctness as the only effective means of combatting the use of hate speech and other discriminatory behaviours against women, minorities and the LGBTI community. SJWs are dismissed as self-validating attention-seekers using social media to advance socially progressive views as inauthentic as they are strident.
Unpacked like this, our commenter’s observations offer us a clear insight into the Right’s estimation of the Ōkoroire Hot Pools incident, and the Rugby Union’s response. The key suggestion on offer is that any and all offence taken as a result of the interaction between the stripper “Scarlette” and the Chiefs at Ōkoroire is, or should be, a matter of indifference to those mainstream New Zealanders who remain unconvinced by political correctness, safe areas, SJW’s – and left-wing writers. He further assumes that these unoffended Kiwis constitute a clear majority.
The scary thing is – I’m not so sure he’s wrong.
This essay was originally published in The Press of Tuesday, 13 September 2016.


Polly said...

I do not support the notion that unoffended NZrs are in the majority, though in saying that I believe that some sports like rugby union or rugby league, with the high pay and stardom given to players who in the most part are as thick as two planks lends itself to abusive and macho behaviour.
The Haka which is connected to these sports also has a lot to answer for so does the names of the teams, Warriors, Chiefs ect are grandiose in bullshit in name tagging and some of the administration and playing staff must think they are what their team names say they are.

Still I can see some light, Louisa Nicholas, Susan Devoy race relations commissioner, some leading MPs like Hekia Parata or Ann Tolley are real people who speak out despite the criticism they receive, there are others of course.

WE could be a lot better but I do not think, I have lived in 3 countries, that we are worse than most countries, in fact lining up against the Middle east and Muslim countries we a paragon of virtue.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

You know, if anyone thought I'd done enough social justice warfare to be called a social justice warrior, I'd be quite proud. But of course they're using it as a pejorative. And yet the anti-SJW's are the most sensitive of us all. They're always whining about something. "Why do we have to have Maori words on radio New Zealand? Why do sportspeople have to pronounce PI words properly instead of mangling them like we always did? Why do they have to do that 'war dance' before the football games? Why can't we make sexist and racist remarks like we used to? Why are we always being criticised? Why won't that guy stand up for the national anthem? Why did they have to remake Ghostbusters with all women in it – and one of them is black! God help us, they're so delicate these people on 4Chan :).

Robert said...

Strip clubs are very much a minority activity. The attendance at most of these clubs is fairly minimal and there will only be a few serious clients there. There will be odd riff raff, criminals, tourists and a few others pretending not to be gay. As for the girls there are relatively few true professionals who work in the industry for say 20 years, for a long term career extensive plastic surgery is essential as in the modern video world anything other than the full gloss look is high unacceptable and few patrons will arrive without the aid of a few drinks and drugs and for most people nightlife venues are intolerable unless your loaded, desperate or under 25.
Most of the media comment on these matters are ignorant or uninformed, the day where stirp clubs were about working class men shouting out 'show us your growler, disappeared about a quarter of a century ago although that sort of attitude could still be seen in back bars in Christchurch 15 years ago in the less respectable places.
Most of the dancers will be good looking students or tourists. A lot of Australians work the circuit and German and French tourists often highly intelligent 19 and 20 years are common. If the girls are ordinary New Zealander's they will probably be hairdresser, Keeler or Mandy Rice Davis types who have been preparing for nothing else but a glamour life since early secondary school.
Some girls just want to dance and its a right of passage or a chance to tweek and wind up men. In quite a lot of cases, their real aim is to find a rich businessmen to spend the weekend in a hotel for a $1000 +. Quite a lot of the Africans and Australians have a price for anything off premises if your game and the Russians and East Germans and other Eastners are often diplomats in training brushing up their English and interpretation skills.
The girls generally the nights of big Rugby matches. The chiefs are the equivalent of modern factory fodder. Modern Rugby or League is a good way to destroy your body and their basically worked to death from 20-35. I don't really have much time for them as to me Rugby is a partnership between European Pakeha and Maoris and the Polynesians are too big for our society and wreck our culture.
An Australian model Elle McPherson said in response to criticism of partying Kate Moss ,'shes a model not a role model'. In my view while Kate Moss is admirable in that she has no interest really in anything but sex, parties, drink, drugs and possibly family and does not try for anything more serious. No one should expect the Chiefs or Blues to be role models. But there not nice. This is not really a matter to be publicly debated , but its really the womens choice not the mans. It not something for the press, law or rugby authorities.

Charles E said...

Yes an interesting parallel Chris, even at quite a stretch. By which I mean you are comparing racist murderers getting off because their peers share their racism with some of a losing football team touching and insulting a naked woman at the losers' drunken party, and being safe from prosecution as there were conveniently 'no witnesses'. Yes similar but very common when crimes are committed in a close community. Like those Maori child murders when nobody came forward or would talk. That is a better parallel because of it's seriousness and racial/cultural aspect.

And they have not actually got away with it like that Sheriff have they. Also these defeated rugby players are not from the 'ruling class' or supported by the majority here in NZ are they. They are, in that team, mostly from the Polynesian (inc Maori) minority in our society. So perhaps we should also enquire if their sub-culture that has contributed to their poor attitudes to women, as well as the rugby sub-culture many deplore. Is there a sexist macho aspect to Polynesian cultures that adds to the NZ male attitude, that needs reformation? A truly bi-cultural problem?

Robert M said...

Austin Mitchell said of NZ in the late 1950s that it was remarkably asexual society and my view part of the reason for that was it was isolated islands without big cities and an egalitarian rural culture. Sex of whatever kind is not a democracy and largely about bodies not minds.It might even be called Nazi. To be a good female porn star or hooker you really have to be athletic and to go on having lots of sex you need to be either a freak or maintain the body. Go into any stylish brothel or Massage Parlour in the 1990s and the selection, on the board would be 60 percent 18-20 year olds, and the age would be accurate enough and in strip joints 16 was legal. What attracts men to women and what sort of man, young women are prepared to have sex with free or for hard cash tends not to conform with what a religious based egalitarian society would regard as desirable. That we think we have the right to think and say what is desirable in this field, shows that New Zealand is an entirely artificial society shaped by ideas and laws that are based on what people think is right rather than any real knowledge or experience
The baby boomers who have largely shaped NZ over the last 40 years are first generation boomers over 60 and the age of Goff and Clark is before much sex happened in their class in NZ probably. The real age of sex in NZ only started with licensing, censorship reform and contraceptives in the late 1960s. And it seems to me those born after 1960 largely left the country if they had real talent. Good sportsman like good militarists are inclined to be highly sexed as are the most intelligent men and women and polticians were the same in the past. The truth in this field tends to be the opposite of what ordinary people and common sense would think. Intelligent vigorous women tend to just want sex or the alternative coffee, not a relationship.

manfred said...

It's not about being 'offended' that's just a nasty put down used as a cheap distraction.This is often a case of people wanting to end discrimination. Whether people are offended or not is beside the point. It's the truth of the argument which is the issue.

Galeandra said...

"a matter of indifference to those mainstream New Zealanders who remain unconvinced by political correctness"

Unfortunately this chimes with what I have read in Yanis Varoufakis's And The Weak Suffer What They Must? about the rise of Golden Dawn in Greece, a rise antedating the economic meltdown that occurred with the GFC. He attributes rising neo-Nazi/thuggery to the inequality of opportunity and material security imposed on the poorer sections of society so that violent scapegoating of migrants became an easy option. Varoufakis went so far as to suggest that that social democrats passed laws (eg compulsorily testing immigrant prostitutes for HIV and requiring police applicants to have proof of 'ithageneia- Greek bloodlines) which were intended primarily as a sop to this increasingly virulent anti-migrant element in Greece.

The sneering of the hard-core conservative NZer (usually male?) is a constant undertone if you read the comments section of almost any journalistic foray into areas where social justice at issue. We have all heard throw-away lines involving sandals,tree hugging, sisterhoods,nannies, moustaches, hairy-legs, gravy-trains, treaty industries....

Maybe NZers are just the same as everybody else except that we think we are better? I grew up in a household which reckoned that NZ was God's Own and that its welfare state was generous and unstinting compared to places elsewhere, but even then (late 60's) there were studies showing that our state provided generosity was predicated on a kind of selfishness, a prosaic pragmatism rather than principles of justice or ideals of charity. And Frank Sargeson's narrator tells us in his 1930's short story 'The Making Of A New Zealander' that she (the boss) had a heart that was in good condition apart from the fact that it 'was in the wrong place' Nothing much has changed, it seems.

Nick J said...

Oh dear Polly. The players are you and me in terms of intelligence, the standard range. Abusive macho? It is something those paragons of grey haired white misogyny have set out to eliminate. It's not tolerated.

The Haka I despise. Of course that makes me racist but I wish the English would respond with a Morris dance. And I don't like the tag names, they lack parochial identity.

Like your list of ladies. Sue Devoy seems particularly in tune with NZ as it is. I'd vote her for PM.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

A Morris dance? LOL. I can't see why despising the Haka would make you racist. But then I can't see why you would despise it in the first place. It is loosely speaking, art and therefore a matter of taste. But I wouldn't have thought that the Morris dance would do a lot for team morale and spirit somehow. And of course they'd have to take off all those stupid jingly bells before they played. But a stirring tune or two from the war–pipes might be of some use to those pallid poms. Having said that Nick, you are a prime example of the point I was making above. Whiny anti social-justice warriors abound. The political correctness of the centre-right.

Nick J said...

The racist comment is tongue in cheek GS. But the Haka to my mind is nothing unless reciprocated....but nobody much has a similar "challenge" so we get a monopoly on what is really a very intimidating act. So the other sides watch our guys strut their stuff. Yawn.
Thanks for awarding me primacy of example: what as I'm not sure...There's an incoherence in your words but if you say so and it makes you feel better soon be it.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

The racist comment is passive-aggressive 4Chan bull shit – or rather what passes for humour in those circles I imagine. If you could point out the incoherent bits I'd be happy to clear them up, but to be honest I think it's pretty clear what I said.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

Further to that now I've got more time. Nick you made the statement that you despised the haka. When what you really meant was you despise the tradition of performing it at the beginning of a rugby game. You realise that it is used in other situations as well? Or not? And despise is rather a strong word for something that has long and honourable tradition. But then I guess some people are against tradition – particularly Maori tradition, which can't seem to get a break in this country.
I realise that your other statement was tongue in cheek, but it fits neatly into the meme of those Alt-right passive-aggressive statements such as "I opened the door for a little old Maori woman who had her hands full with shopping – I guess that makes me sexist racist and ageist." Only funny in certain circles, and essentially adolescent. That's your primacy of example if you like.

Nick J said...

GS in the kindest terms I cannot be bothered fighting with you. So far here and in the past you have labelled me with no substance racist and now right wing. You are off my radar permanently. I will neither read nor respond. I encourage others to do the same. Goodbye and good riddance.