Sunday, February 15, 2015

Redefining words to match an agenda

One very common characteristic of social justice warriors is that they throw namecalling at their opposition completely regardless of what those words actually mean or whether the word is accurate in the situation, just as generic insults. The intent is to be as condescending, hurtful and offensive as possible, while still maintaining the illusion of having the moral high ground. Thus the actual meaning of words do not matter, only the feelings they convey.

These words can be very effective in the place of more "mundane" insults. For example, rather than calling your opponent an "idiot" or an "asshole", call them a "misogynist". You immediately give an air of intellectual superiority instead of vulgarity, and the word can actually be even more insulting and hurtful than those other more vulgar ones. It doesn't really matter whether the other person actually is a misogynist or not. You can maintain your moral high ground while calling your opponent petty names.

Of course this raises the question of how they can justify using terms that don't fit, just to insult the other person. The solution? Redefine the words so that they include the other person you don't like.

For example, what is the actual definition of "misogynist"? The dictionary defines it as:
a person who hates, dislikes, mistrusts, or mistreats women.
Feminists love to throw the word towards their critics, but it can be hard to actually argue how these critics "hate, dislike, mistrust or mistreat women".

They also liberally use the word to describe, for example, works of media that present female characters in an overly sexualized manner. A man who is a womanizer is also commonly called "misogynist". However, it can be difficult to argue how such a work or such a person "hates, dislikes, mistrusts or mistreats" women. For example, it would require quite a lot of stretching to argue that a womanizer "hates" women (when in fact it would be quite the opposite.) You have to be really creative about the definition of "hate" to include this.

Almost invariably the word "misogynist", when used by a feminist, has an implied "opposes or critiques feminism" added to it. In the other context there's an implied "objectifies women" added to the term. (In this latter case a much better argument can be made, but it's nevertheless hard to find it in any actual definition of the word. It also shifts the question in many situations on whether something really objectifies women or not, and also here there's often much stretching of the meaning.)

In practice, in feminist vocabulary "misogynist" (and also "sexist") is pretty much a synonym for "non-feminist". And this is not something that only I claim; this is, in fact, what even some feminists say.

How about the term "patriarchy", which is something that many feminists love to use, and repeat like a mantra? Let's see what its definition is, shall we?
1. a form of social organization in which the father is the supreme authority in the family, clan, or tribe and descent is reckoned in the male line, with the children belonging to the father's clan or tribe.
2. a society, community, or country based on this social organization.
Hmm... Somehow this does not sound like what the feminists are talking about when they use the word. This might still be the case in some countries, but the vast majority of modern western countries do not adhere to this notion. Nor is it what feminists really mean when they use the word.

Thus we have to turn to the "feminist dictionary", which redefines words to better fit their agenda. There it means something like (and this is a direct quote from a feminist): "Social system in place that values masculine traits over feminine traits, and in which men are considered dominant to women."

The point here is not whether our society is like that. The point is that "patriarchy" does not mean that. But feminists need to redefine the word to make it mean it.

Feminists also love to use the word "bigot" to describe their opposition. This is actually quite hilariously hypocritical when you look at the actual definition of the word:
a person who is utterly intolerant of any differing creed, belief, or opinion.
The irony meter just goes off the roof with this one.

Of course not all word redefinition is related to feminism/sexism. Let's take another common insult: Racism. The dictionary defines it as:
1. a belief or doctrine that inherent differences among the various human racial groups determine cultural or individual achievement, usually involving the idea that one's own race is superior and has the right to dominate others or that a particular racial group is inferior to the others.
2. a policy, system of government, etc., based upon or fostering such a doctrine; discrimination.
3. hatred or intolerance of another race or other races.
Especially the third definition is the most common in practice. However, do you see what the major problem with all those definitions are, especially the last one, from the perspective of a social justice warrior?

No? Well, the major problem with those dictionary definitions is that they can apply to everybody regardless of ethnicity. In other words, according to those definitions, non-white people can be racists too.

Granted, some social justice warriors are fine with that (at least as lip service if nothing else). However, others are not, because they have this dogma that only white people can be racists, and only non-white people can be victims of racism. Anything else would be ludicrous.

So how to get around this problem? Append the definition of the word by adding the requirement that for a person to be racist, he or she not only needs to be prejudiced against other races, but also have the power to apply that prejudice and discriminate against people. If someone is not in a position to discriminate, then it's not "really" racism, no matter what their personal opinions might be.

This solves the problem for them. Since in their environment typically white people are in power (or at least that's how they see it), then only white people can be racists.

A closely related term that's likewise misused is "minority". Rather obviously, the word means in this context:
2.a smaller party or group opposed to a majority, as in voting or other action.
3. a group in society distinguished from, and less dominant than, the more numerous majority
However, this has the same problem: Any group of people could be a "majority" or a "minority" regardless of ethnicity. This won't do! Only white heterosexual people can be the "majority", and all non-white and non-heterosexual people must always be the "minority", regardless of actual numbers. The meaning of the word "minority" doesn't matter, only the political message that it conveys.

So how can we define the word so that only white-people can be the "majority" and all non-white people are always the "minority"? This is actually something that has partially got into the dictionary definition (emphasis mine):
4. a racial, ethnic, religious, or social subdivision of a society that is subordinate to the dominant group in political, financial, or social power without regard to the size of these groups
Of course this definition still has the problem that it allows for non-white people to form the majority and for white people to form the minority even in this sense. Fortunately for the social justice warriors, this minor problem can be largely ignored because white people are the major political power in most countries they care about, and those countries where they are not don't matter that much when talking about the subject.

1 comment:

  1. In sociology, I think Goldberg's definition of patriarchy is relevant. Patriarchy is manifested in three ways:
    1. The society is organized around male dominance.
    2. Most high-status positions are occupied by men.
    3. In dyadic relationships, ceteris paribus, male dominance is assumed.