It is difficult these days to find or partake in activities with an intrinsic entertainment value, intended purely as amusement, that also remain unaffected by the influences of politics or so-called 'social justice'. Yet, at the same time, we are witnessing rising terrorism involving repeated attacks even on children in the UK and across the globe.
Gamergate, Feminism, and the SJW - Infection or Remedy?
GIVEN THE TITLE of this article one may wonder if the apparent rise of the 'Social Justice Warrior' (SJW) is more sinister and damaging than it at first appears.The SJW, for those less familiar with the term, represents an individual who typically advocates for inclusion, tolerance, and more generally equality for minority groups and/or individuals in spaces where they might be considered unrepresented or mistreated. These spaces include, but are not limited to, socio-political arenas such as feminism, multiculturalism and human/civil rights.
One issue, however, arises within this very explanation of the SJW. The word 'equality' is perhaps conveniently implemented equivocally as having a time-selectable duality of meaning. Consequently, if the notion of the equality of opportunity (everybody has an equal and fair opportunity) is being discussed, one might be hard pressed to find a rational human being in existence that would not agree. If, however, the focus actually lies on equality of outcome (for example, everybody is paid the same, regardless of job and hours worked), that presents a potential conundrum of a substantially different magnitude and there are many who disagree with this approach to social justice in general. This was exemplified by the #Gamergate controversy that began back in 2014.
It would appear that on this occasion many gamers had simply had enough of having social justice crammed down their throats by feminist claims that nearly all video games of the time were ‘problematic’. The SJW’s (in this case, the feminists and even the news broadcasters) were even making wild accusations that games (BBC, 2014) made gamers sexist, an allegation that to this day has never been validated. Inadvertently this suggested that the opportunity for women in the gaming industry was somehow restricted and unequal which eventually lead to gamers, tired of their own press running feminist narratives against them, effectively revolting with a movement that became known as #Gamergate.
Unpacking the two concepts of equality, of opportunity and outcome, is significant in this particular case as it demonstrates that there were actually no barriers to equality of opportunity whatsoever. Nothing was holding women back in the gaming industry. What the relevant SJW’s actually desired was in fact opportunity of outcome. And not only this, equality of outcome had already been decided by these SJW’s as immovable - they sought to reap all the benefits of a ‘social’ victim (such as, attention, fame etc.) just as a matter of course, simply because they are women, not because they were underrepresented, mistreated, disadvantaged. Moreover, they were prepared to go to any lengths to gain this advantage, even to the extent of falsely branding an entire collective of games and gamers as sexist.
In contrast however, one must be careful to not undermine the honourable principles of social justice, when considering events that lead the path to present principles of equality. The inception of the Equal Franchise Act (1928), for example, truly gave equal rights to women in the form of voting powers in the UK, a process that might very well not have transpired if not for the feminists of the Women's suffrage movement of the time. It would be hard to dispute that it resulted in a much more balanced system for both men and women alike. The feminist of those days had an understandable abhorrence for a system that regarded them as less than men, so much so that some men were even involved in the push for equality.
Returning to the present, however, we are now confronted by so-called disputes such as the mythical gender pay gap or, the present topic, how female gamers are, and remain, underrepresented in the gaming industry. The real problem with these ‘apparent’ disputes is that they are not honest at their core and very often leave questions unanswered or details unannounced. For example, the fact is that it is still a majority of men that choose to play video games (Statista, 2017) as opposed to women (although the gap is closing). The gender pay gap, on the other hand, has been debunked many times by people such as Kate Andrews. Andrews, a news editor at the institute of economic affairs, also points out that less reputable societies such as The Fawcett Society go so far as deliberately using the Office for National Statistics (ONS) mean calculation, as opposed to its official figure, to deliberately inflate the so-called gender pay gap number (Kate Andrews, 2017).
The incursion of the modern SJW has reached new heights however in recent times. A YouTuber by the name of ‘NeoUnrealist’ released a video (NeoUnrealist, 2018) criticising some of the reviewers working for a video games journalism company known as Waypoint, owned by VICE. These reviewers apparently refused to review or play a game entitled Kingdom Come: Deliverance that, at the time, had sold more than one million copies worldwide. The reviewers, it was claimed by NeoUnrealist, refused to review this particular game because of the political beliefs of one of its developers.
One must take a serious pause for thought and question whether the reviewers are so biased as to be unable to put aside their distaste for a single developer that they were inclined to force their own beliefs and judgements upon an audience of viewers, many of whom were likely gamers, without a care for the actual artistic value of the game and its many developers. This group of SJW's are apparently falling foul of their own ideology and are willing to smear a whole team of developers over the thought crimes of a single individual. Is this not virtue signalling at its finest? One can only wonder.
Speaking more broadly, one resounding problem with the modern SJW/feminist is the areas they seemingly choose to centre on. For example, rather than focussing on women’s rights across the globe and, particularly, in third world countries where some women are being forced to wear certain attire and remain indoors else risk a beating from their husbands, or attempting to speak out against the many girls and women who have suffered physical and sexual abuse across the UK at the hands of predominantly Muslim grooming gangs, third generation feminists choose instead to focus on the previously mentioned mythical ‘gender pay gap’. Would it not be more productive to be a warrior for those truly oppressed, subjugated, women as opposed to complaining about something that does not exist? The actions of today’s feminist SJW’s certainly suggest otherwise and make a mockery of the true feminists that fought for over a century to give them the very freedoms they now possess.
Of course, feminists and feminism are only a single area of the much broader category that is social justice. There exist many types of SJW some with, it could be argued, more serious and genuine plights than others. Those, for instance, portrayed in the video entitled ‘Exposure: Islam’s non believers’ (ITV, 2016) that shows the abandonment, abuse and general mis-treatment that ex-Muslims go through when leaving the religion of Islam. Of particular interest in this video is a lady named Maryam, herself an ex-Muslim. Maryam campaigns for and supports those who have left the Islamic faith and consistently receives death threats and attacks because of her actions.
Maryam can of course be considered a social justice warrior for protecting and aiding the kafir or, the unbeliever, as apostates (those that abandon Islam) are named within the Islamic community. Cases such as these reflect a necessity to support and promote certain forms of social justice. Such SJW’s as these, by definition, exhibit the very real dangers that those in a vulnerable position might face and, without support and guidance, may fall victim to.
When considering the broader picture in this analysis of SJW’s it appears some might be considered the infection itself yet others the remedy. It might be easier, therefore, to create two subgroups that represent the types of social justice warrior being discussed - those with significant and real plights that most rational people would recognise and those that are virtue signalling to achieve an inequality in their favour. The latter, one could argue, might consist of those crying about the non-existent gender pay gap or the ‘games are sexist’ rhetoric of the news broadcasters during the #Gamergate controversy, while the former group could consist of those such as the women’s suffrage movement or the previously mentioned ex-Muslim Maryam.
This distinction is important because it allows one to quickly see the complexity of the question itself, using just one of the separated groups would surely sway the decision in a specific direction, of course dependent upon the individual’s views regarding the particular topic. Perhaps the better question might be, do all social justice warriors have a genuine discrepancy?
In conclusion, what an SJW is and the breakdown of equality into two fundamental concepts, that of opportunity and the other of outcome, demonstrates how perhaps some of the motives of particular SJW’s are not authentic at their core. A discussion on the women’s suffrage movement that ultimately led to equal rights for women to vote was then used to exhibit the positive effects that they can have. Following on a video was used to show how the effects of social justice and SJW’s might then seep into areas such as video gaming and gaming reviews. This is where one should probably presume objectivity is paramount and how it might ultimately end up incorrectly branding an entire group or company as something they are not. The importance of SJW topics generally was then used to demonstrate that areas such as the non-existent gender pay gap are not only dishonest but quite frankly insignificant comparatively. Finally, a distinction between types of SJW was presented showing that while there are poisons in the world of social justice warriors (gender pay gap, news broadcasters etc) there are also those more genuine campaigners and activists. These we find in the form of true feminists that fought for the right of women to vote. Otherwise there are those sincere present-day SJW’s working tirelessly to protect and aid those seeking sanctuary from a hostile environment – choosing, for example, simply to leave Islam.
BBC (2014) ‘Why does sexism persist in the video games industry?’. [Online] Available at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-27824701. Accessed on 07/03/0218.
ITV (2016) ‘Exposure: Islam’s non believer’s’ [Online] Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bupBgmtsNWU. Accessed on 09/03/2018.
Kate Andrews (2017) 'The gender pay gap is largely a myth' [Online] Available at https://blogs.spectator.co.uk/2017/11/the-gender-pay-gap-is-largely-a-myth /. Accessed on 08/03/2018.
NeoUnrealist (2018) 'Kingdom Come Sells 1 Million 1st Week - Forces SJW VICE Game Journos to Cover It' [Online] Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SGLlOQgIT9c. Accessed on 07/03/2018.
Statista (2017) 'Distribution of video gamers worldwide in 2017, by age group and gender' [Online] Available at: https://www.statista.com/statistics/232383/gender-split-of-us-computer-and-video-gamers/. Accessed on 08/03/2018.