The social justice movement aims to achieve equality and fairness for everyone, but is it actually causing social change?
Nick West and Clémentine Boucher discuss both sides of the debate
Would I say that the Social Justice movement was effective? No. My personal belief is that the social justice movement, as it currently stands, is facing a PR crisis of unprecedented proportions, and a large part of the movement are willing to dismiss this or even outright say that this is what they want.
A commonly heard statement in the movement is “We’re not trying to befriend our oppressor, we’re fighting for our rights and nobody ever won anything by being nicey-nicey to their enemy”. What they forget is that, historically, the reason gay people, PoC and other minority groups gained rights was by convincing ‘the oppressors’ that their movement had worth. It’s a sad fact, but ultimately it was always the cis, straight white man who gave them the rights and that is how their movement moved forward.
Many feel very little need to educate people who disagree with them. Yet, a sizeable number of people not in the movement don’t understand why there still needs to be a push for equality. Among the apolitical, you hear “but women already have all the same rights as men” for example. If people don’t understand why your movement even exists, then they probably won’t have the impetus to actually research the topic. The lazy and arrogant response of “google it, I’m not here to teach you” is a phrase I have frequently heard. Without educating people outside of the movement and controlling your public relations, you’re going to end up with more opposition and resistance than you need – and overcoming that becomes even more of a challenge. As with any group, you have toxic elements who take the core beliefs and twist them into something morally questionable.
Just as within Islam, there are those who take the core beliefs and use them to justify acts of atrocity, you have members of the social justice movement who believe men can’t get raped or abused; publicly elected SU officials tweeting ‘kill all men’; or bullying a trans boy who tried to turn a ‘down with cis’ meme into ‘down with hate,’ sending him messages telling him to kill himself.
These are not the beliefs or actions of most social justice activists, but rather than visibly shutting these people down and saying ‘no this isn’t what we believe in or condone,’ they get ignored or, worse, sometimes protected and condoned.
The social justice movement is tackling important issues, things like rape culture, racial inequality (a recent study showed that black graduates made a quarter less on average), and the fact that trans people on the whole are still fighting for their gender to be recognised by the government. In other countries, people can be put to death for who they are and women are still considered property. But with prominent figures campaigning against ‘man-spreading,’ tweeting #KillAllMen, #DownWithCis, you end up with a movement a lot of people won’t take seriously. And that’s a real problem.