Just a reminder: It’s Pronounced Metrosexual (Sam Killermann) has explicitly defended speaking over nonbinary folks and supports deceptively using the term nonbinary for his personal gain. He is a white, class privileged, cisgender, heterosexual, and otherwise extremely privileged man who profits off of the marginalization of oppressed groups of people.
Also keep in mind he thinks allies are part of the queer community. Not to mention tons of other problematic definitions on his “comprehensive list of LGBTQ+ terms” (link).
The above images are several instances of him being called out for justtwo of many of his ads marketing his book, which use the phrase “from a non-binary perspective”. Being a consumable, white, cisgender, heterosexual man, he decided to place himself as the center of the ads, which should really be focusing on marginalized communities if the product is really to be called “socially just”. He also deleted other comments that criticized him in any way.
The words ‘social justice’ and ‘social justice warriors’ are constantly being thrown around on (social) media, without people knowing exactly what they mean, and what social justice advocates are actually trying to achieve. The expression ‘social justice warrior’ was mostly made up by anti-feminists and other anti-’movements’ in order to mock social justice advocates. What is it that social justice advocates are trying to achieve, and why are so many people uncomfortable with it?
First things first: what is the definition of ‘social justice’?
“[Social justice is] a status in society where all people, regardless
of their individual identities and social group memberships,
have an equitable shot at achieving success.” (Sam Killermann, The Social Justice Advocate’s Handbook: A Guide to Gender, 2013 p. 9)
The focus is on achieving equity instead of equality, why is that? As Sam Killermann puts it:
“Social equity is all about creating access to success (wealth, education, happiness, etc.), whereas social equality focuses more on possession of success (everyone gets an equal level of wealth, education, happiness, etc.).” (Killerman 2013, p. 10)
The difference is subtle but important. By saying that you try to achieve social equity, you acknowledge that our societies are inherently socially unjust. That means that not everybody is on the same ‘level’.
Picture the following scenario: an adult, a teenager and a child go to see a sports game, but they have to stand behind a fence that only the adult can look over. Equality would be giving all of them equally sized crates to stand on. Now the adult and teenager can see the game, but the child still can’t. Equity would be giving the teenager one crate, and the child two crates to stand on. Now everyone can see the game and nobody loses.
Then, what’s standing in the way of achieving social justice? That would be oppression.
“Oppression is the exercise of authority or power in an unjust
manner. Oppression plays out between social groups when one
group has power and limits another group’s access to that power.” (Killermann 2013, p. 13)
Generally speaking, oppression is a systemic, perpetual cycle of prejudice and discrimination in which social, economical and political power play a crucial role. Social justice advocates try to actively dismantle oppression. However, in order to do so, you have to understand what oppression and privilege are, and how power dynamics work. This is where a lot of people disagree.
In order to speak out against oppression, it is therefore important to acknowledge in which ways you are oppressed or privileged (or both). Intersectional feminism (see recommended reading) would be a great place to start to learn more about this particular subject. It is important to note that privilege, too, is systemic. We’ll elaborate on this point in a different post.
In short, privileged people hold power whereas oppressed people do not. Before you can appropriately speak out against social injustice, it is crucial to check your privilege. In Western societies, you can have white-, heterosexual-, cisgender-, male-, class-, and/or ablebodied privilege for example. This (partial) privilege can still be used to fight for social justice, which brings me to the next point:
What can you actually do to achieve social equity?
Constantly educate yourself (and others) on subjects/topics you’re not familiar with or have little knowlegde of.
Know that unlearning (internalized) oppressive behaviour and thoughts will last for the rest of your life.
Always try to be more inclusive. This is not the same as “political correctness” (more on this soon).
Refrain from using stereotypes, even if they’re “good stereotypes”, like the “Asian model minority” trope. They are just as harmful as negative stereotypes, because they uphold impossible and unrealistic standards!
Know that there is not one absolute ‘truth’, ‘right’ or ‘wrong’. There are multiple ways to tackle social issues.
Killermann, Sam. The Social Justice Advocate’s Handbook: A Guide to Gender. Austin: Impetus Books, 2013)
Everyday Feminism. Daily articles that help readers apply intersectional feminism in their lives. http://everydayfeminism.com
It’s Pronounced Metrosexual. Articles and graphics about gender,
sexuality, and social justice. http://itspronouncedmetrosexual.com Reason, Robert D.. Developing social justice allies. San Francisco: Jossey- Bass, 2005.
Guy who wants “I Invented The Middle Part” on his tombstone
Breg, whose job is to go into places and change their water cooler bottles effortlessly
dude who has a daughter named Summer Friday
A guy who says Is This Paleo more than anything else that could even be said in the English language
If you looked into Greg’s future, it would include murdering somebody with an axe
This dude’s favorite phrase is “did you notice my pants? There are tiny sailboats on them”
A man who absolutely cannot believe he is falling so fast for this girl
We’ll call this man “tightly coiled spring, just waiting to beat somebody up at a sports bar”
Brag just wants to talk about Shark Tank and how one time he had an idea for a football that had a stock ticker on it
The Zodiac Killer
Man who loves talking about how shoving himself into a small space between two bar seats just to talk to a woman who is so tired of this is his constitutional right
Brag only puts Facebook photos up of selfies with his dog and they are always kissing and honestly, a huge part of me thinks it is kind of weird but I also feel like a jerk for feeling weird about it
Dave thinks the Men’s Wearhouse guy is the same guy who does the Dos Equis commercials
These guys have been trying to get these nicknames attached to them “Roundie” (cuz he always buys rounds) “Seaweed” (loves sushi) “11 Inches, Give or Take A Few”
“I’ve never been in love, but seriously, look at my shirt, there are tiny steering wheels for boats on my shirt”
“My favorite book is the Da Vinci Code, hands down”
Greg thinks he’s actually kind of better looking than Matt Damon, and that no problem, if they switched bodies he could handle that lifestyle, no problem, and that Leo should have won an Oscar for Wolf but he wasn’t as good as Damon in Bourne
Mark took one English class and learned about similes ONCE and now everything is “you’re like an ocean wave cuz you’re watery but unpredictable” and “you’re kind of like a blue button-down shirt because you’re comfortable and available” and “you’re kind of like the heart of the ocean cuz I’m gonna drop you once Bill Paxton turns his back for ONCE SECOND”