Fish and Cherries Productions

Creative content from a mad mind.


Justice For All

Want to know a term I never want to hear on the internet again? Social Justice Warrior, or SJW. Not because I’m against progress and social justice (I mean, have you read some of the writings I post here?), but because of its use as a degradation and as a blanket term for people who have absolutely no concept of what social justice really is.

When people throw out this insult (usually on the internet), they’re not referring to your average activist. SJW, as it has come to be known in certain circles, refers to people who militantly pursue arguments concerning social justice matters online and habitually declare their opponents to be bigots with wanton abandon, often with the weakest of legitimacy. You know those stereotypes of feminists or black rights activists in old cartoons who only accept paraphernalia that depicts their demographic and derisively attack the other side with “reverse racism,” the ones who were such caricatures that you knew they couldn’t possibly exist? Well, they do and this label has been forced on them. They’re stereotyped to be the majority of tumblr users, but as we’ll see later, profiling can greatly harm an argument you’re trying to make.

So why do I bring this up? Because a kerfuffle arose with such people during this past E3. The game Deus Ex: Mankind Divided premiered its trailer and dropped a few details of the game, one of which involved the term “mechanical apartheid.” Some of the more sensitive people on the internet went off on the company and dropped insults and accusations pertaining to white ignorance and the inappropriateness of the term’s use from a nation who has had a problem with colonialism in the past ( The person who coined the term, Gilles Matouba, former director of the game, took issue with that and made a lengthy Reddit post on the matter. For those who don’t want to read the entire post, here are the important bits:

“Thing is… I am Black (& French…). And Andre [Vu, Deus Ex’s Brand Director] is Asian (& French). …

Racism is a [very] dark part of our human nature and we wanted to treat this subject. It was especially important for ME to treat this.

So it makes me sad and angry that these ignorant people just ASSUME that everyone behind this game is ill-spirited, stupid, and more importantly for me, that they that they are all WHITE. (For them devs==white, gamers==white)

What these bloggers and tweeters did to me here is beyond mere insults: They have degraded me and have literally erased my identity as a black developer and as a black creator that just wanted to share a piece of himself with this game.”

Well, shit.

Mr. Matouba brings up a very uncomfortable truth: for all the accusations of racial insensitivity, the accusers were very quick to assume that everyone involved was white. All this would have left a powerful impression, but then the post had this closing line:

“[Long story short,] Asian guy and black guy came up with the term Mechanical Apartheid 3 years ago. Black guy not happy about the SJW shit tweets and wants to call them out and expose their stupidity. Black guy is not their shield.”

It’s hard to know whether Mr. Matouba himself wrote this or the subreddit it was posted on (which identifies as a gathering for GamerGate members) added this in, but either way it’s problematic and distorts the bigger message. SJW is kind of a blanket ad hominim insult on the internet and it gets worrisome when actual professionals start to use it or are associated with it. American McGee dropped the term in a rant a while ago and it kills a lot of credibility. Anyone looking from the outside in will be very confused and maybe appalled that people are leveling inflammatory attacks against people who fight for social justice.

But that’s not the only reason I’d like this term to get sucked into the Warp and dissolve. It’s because the term is completely nonindicative. These people have absolutely no interest in or concept of social justice. They attack things that make them specifically feel uncomfortable and use a cause of social justice as their armor and crutch. I’d be willing to bet that a good majority of the people who went after Mankind Divided have no connection to apartheid and simply flared up because they detected a hint of what they thought was cultural appropriation, despite the fact that the term could be entirely appropriate and that no culture in their right mind would ever want to claim Apartheid. This kind of mindset is incredibly worrying, especially when it’s masquerading as a fight for social justice. But to really show what I mean, let’s look at our old friend, Anita Sarkeesian.

Yes, as you may have noticed, I’m not a fan of the woman who has been touted as the face of feminism in the gaming world. I said that I wasn’t going to devote an entire article or video to tearing her down and I hold to that promise. However, I will show you a collection of tweets straight from Ms. Sarkeesian herself:

“Not a coincidence it’s always men and boys committing mass shootings. The pattern is connected to ideas of toxic masculinity in our culture.”

Ummm… I don’t know what most people call that, but where I’m from, that’s called profiling.

“Princesses are part of deeply authoritarian monarchy systems and as such should not be something we encourage young girls to aspire towards.”

Not that I don’t see the problems with the princess fantasy, but declaring all monarchies, especially the constitutional monarchies employed by dozens of countries, as authoritarian is straight up culturally ignorant.

“I’m not one to shy away from expressing unpopular opinions. So here goes. I saw Fury Road. I get why people like it. But it isn’t feminist.On the surface, Mad Max is about resisting a cartoonish version of misogyny. But that resistance takes the form of more glorified violence.Fury Road is different from many action films in that it lets some women participate as equal partners in a cinematic orgy of male violence.”

Male violence? Are you real?! The entire point of feminism is equalization and equal opportunity between the sexes! Isn’t declaring that violence is exclusively male kind of sexist?

“There’s no such thing as sexism against men. That’s because sexism is prejudice + power. Men are the dominant gender with power in society.”

…there is not a desk in the world hard enough for me to slam my head on.

She may be pushing for female empowerment, but here’s the truth: Anita Sarkeesian is not a feminist nor a progressive. Feminism is defined as “the advocacy of women’s rights on the grounds of political, social, and economic equality to men,” but Anita defiles this goal with misandrist and derogatory comments. Equality seems less her goal than to declare certain things as masculine values to be avoided. She mentions in another tweet that the violence in Bethesda’s E3 presentation made her sick to her stomach. Violence isn’t an intrinsically masculine value, it is something Sarkeesian finds objectionable and attaches a social value to it to give her some shadow of moral credence for disliking it. For all the talk of how Femme Fatale from The Powerpuff Girls was an insult to feminism through her straw political behavior, Anita seems to embody her characteristics to a tee.

And that sums up how problematic the term “social justice warrior” really is. It lumps people who are actually fighting for noble causes in the world with genuinely unpleasant people who butcher those causes. The fight for social justice is a long, hard, uphill struggle with plenty of setbacks. But when the term “social justice warrior” gets appropriated for people like this by folks who see social justice as an obstacle to the utopian world in their heads, it comes as a slap in the face, one I take very seriously.

Because I am a social justice warrior. A real social justice warrior. I’ve been marching in anti-racism parades since I was six. I’ve called delegates and heads of faith to get their attendance for meetings concerning the commonwealth of the citizens. I’ve gone before San Jose City Council to push for a minimum wage raise in the city because $8.50 an hour is impossible to live on. So when the title of my friends, coworkers, and I gets bastardized into a label for misanthropes by misanthropes, it feels downright disrespectful and disheartening. What political activism have these people ever pursued? Odds are, none. Their attitudes would get them pushed away from any outreach organization, which is why they and their detractors stick to the internet where anonymity can shield them from any consequences of their hostile demeanor.

Call them zealots. Call them militants. Call them separatists. Call them bigots if the glove fits. But do not fold them in with the people who work tirelessly so that everyone, and I do mean everyone, gets their fair share of society.

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