Who is the Social Justice Warrior Fighting?

I read this blog titled What Do We Deserve? by Erin Bailey as it came across my newsfeed the other day. It understandably went pretty viral because it has a message that any decent person can support: women face sexual objectification and/or harassment that is unjust regardless of whether or not they show modesty in their attire.

I want to be careful not to come across as insulting because I obviously have no clue what the experience of this type of mistreatment is like and it was certainly courageous to go public with this message.

My point is generalizable to really any form of social justice advocation via the internet: what exactly is being accomplished? At the end of the day you can have hundreds of thousands or even millions of people reading, sharing, and applauding your words but are you actually affecting any form of change? With regards to specifically this “What Do We Deserve” piece I asked a friend who had also read it whether they thought this article would change the actions/perceptions of even one person out their who could be considered a perpetrator in this case.

With pre-cautions for stereotypes, does anybody expect that the type of person who is inclined to sexually harass or degrade women is going to be seeing or clicking on this article? Maybe I am a bit cynical but it seems pretty obvious to me that in the case of this article, as with any form of internet social justice advocation, we are merely just echoing our points to those people who already agree with us. It seems about as useful an effort as Hilary Clinton running her campaign trail through California…there’s no need to persuade people who already agree with you of course.

So my friend and I got down to discussing the issue: if the SJW is only successful in catering to their own contingent what form of action could actually affect substantive change?  With regards to this specific issue of sexual harassment, he volunteered the opinion that perhaps such pieces should be targeted to those individuals who witness the perpetration rather than towards the perpetrator themselves. Maybe what SJWs need to be arguing is that in the case of any form of social injustice there is no such thing as an innocent bystander.

I tend to agree with this opinion if for no other reason than that I imagine a perpetrator will be much more likely to alter their future behavior if they receive negative social cues and reprimanding in real time. A person who is willing to get into another person’s face and be openly disrespectful doesn’t seem likely to respond to internet think pieces. You wanna be a social justice warrior who actually makes a difference? Convince people to react when they witness injustices in real-time…or better yet, do it yourself.

Written by Jonathan Zelman
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