The Urban Dictionary defines the social justice warrior as a “pejorative term for people who acknowledge the existence of racism, sexism, homophobia and other forms of bigotry” and that “it was created by insecure straight white cisgender men who are terrified of losing their privileged status and preferential treatment in society”. Calling someone a social justice warrior implies that the accuser thinks that the person is unreasonable, stubborn, and wants to propel their progressive agenda. This term previously was just a description and often even a complement but from the years 2011 to 2018 it became a derogatory name and the subject of various internet memes. This word gained so much popularity on the internet that the Oxford Dictionary added it to their book in 2015.
The word gained popularity in the online controversy of “Gamergate” in 2014 which had a significant impact on the gaming community and still does today. The conflict was centered upon the role of women in gaming and around the ethics of gaming journalism in such a male-dominated field. The opponents of Gamergate asserted that the gaming community was collaborating to oppress women in the industry. On the other hand, those who supported Gamergate believed that the “gaming developers and journalists were colluding to make the gaming industry fit for their own cultural agenda”. Due to this controversy, many people across the internet joined to ridicule the caricature of the SJW and thus the popularity of this word rose rapidly.
Although the social justice warrior is supposed to be the face of progressive thought and societal change, many think that the internet phenomenon of social justice warriors has harmed rather than helped the causes of minorities in America. For example, there was a protest at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts because the museum let visitors try on the Kimono but many “social justice warriors” called this cultural appropriation much to the shock of Japanese American and Japanese consulate staffers. In fact, there have been many comparisons of social justice warriors to George Orwell’s novel 1984, in which Winston Smith lives in a dark dystopian society where the totalitarian government tries to control people’s thoughts and lives. Many have compared the social justice warrior quest to rid the world of anything “oppressive or invalidating” to the thought crimes in 1984 and have called SJW rhetoric “Socjus” which is a variation of the totalitarian ideology in the novel called “Ingsoc”. This is due to both ideologies being so focused on ridding the world of ideas and thoughts that they perceive are bad and almost stomping out discussions that pertain to more controversial issues.
Some have also argued that social justice warriors drown out the voices of POC and other minorities which actually goes against all the claims that SJWs have made about their stances on progression. It can be said that many white SJWs propagate white supremacy unknowingly through their tendency to speak over POC and claim offense to things that don’t actually affect them. To truly get rid of white supremacy there need to be POC voices being uplifted instead of being trampled and there needs to be a fixing of racist policies in the government. Huge underlying issues such as voter suppression, generational poverty, and the lack of education in POC communities. Progression is more than arguing on social media, it needs concrete action and concrete results.