Ultimately, I think it does come down to a growing internet culture in which those that shout the loudest are the ones which somehow are praised and recognised, everything else is often lost in a swirling vortex of escalating shouting matches which rely heavily upon insults and silencing in order to somehow ‘win’ over their invisible adversary, and one of the most effective silencing methods is to apply the label of ‘SJW’. The mythos that has been created surrounding this word online is nothing short of some Greek epic in the most toxic of fashions; denoting someone ‘too’ left leaning, or affected by every little issue and being militaristic in their tackling of things they take issue with. And like every internet bogeyman, it’s often nothing more than smoke and shadows, creating some monstrous mythical monster that prowls the labyrinthian online corridors with which others can call upon in order to shun and stigmatise the views and discussions whilst offering those using the image of this beast as silencer a victimised narrative for themselves and their own views, and thus avoiding any unwanted debate or exploration of these ideas as to why. And ironically, in defining and calling out this illusory creature, people are antagonised and moulded to fit in its image, making a monster which will in fact shout back at the other sides incessant shouting as well, the vicious cycle goes on and on to no particular end. Of course, there are always going to be figures labelled under the ‘SJW’ banner which do fit these qualifications as well and equally go about shouting down and silencing others in their arguments, but like anything for both sides, these people who shout the loudest are often the exception and not the rule, and it’s especially difficult in such a climate of animosity which rewards hostility in discussion and the bravado of silencing and shutting down another person. But again, this is creating regressive and toxic discourse rather than a progressive and respectful one which I feel like to me, the internet as an ideal has always set out to embody. We are more connected than ever, encountering more different views and information than ever, and we shouldn’t fritter it away with such poisonous ferocity.

There are always going to be issues that need addressing and challenging, regardless of how small or insignificant they may seem, but it’s also about going about it in the right way, engaging in conversation, trying to open doorways even when people are slamming them in your face. It’s not always easy, and it always seems easier to join in the shouting matches and abuse hurling. I just feel it’s sad that such terms as SJW and even Feminist or ‘Feminazi’ have become terms with which to silence opposing ideas, concerns or discussions when at the core of their ideals they seek to open up discussions, change perceptions and provide different insights and perspectives, some of many in a rapidly changing world, and one which we can only hope to change for the better where often nostalgia for a past or past ideals that never really worked or existed are causing conflict and regression.

Published by Rebecca Elise