It is 1987. Princess Diana of Britain is among the first public figures to openly shake hands with patients suffering from AIDS, with widespread fears that the disease could be spread through such contact. Since the early 1980s, AIDS and HIV had been and continues to be in many countries, considered a form of “gay cancer”, spread by promiscuous gay men. This stigma is often used to reinforce laws criminalizing same-sex sexual intimacy, with punishments ranging from jail time to the death penalty.
It is 2016. The National Union of Students’ LGBT+ Campaign passes a motion that states that “gay men do not face oppression as gay men within the LGBT+ community and do not need a reserved place on society committees”. The conference also promoted necessity that one “encourage LGBT+ Societies that have a gay men’s rep to drop the position”.
This trend of those in the social justice movement turning against some of said movement’s most fervent proponents is becoming more and more prominent with the search to represent the “most oppressed.”. No longer can you be only “gay” or “lower class” – you must meet the movement’s implicit standards for what constitutes oppression. Your issues do not matter unless you are a queer, trans, and poor woman of color or a similarly oppressed identity.
This hypocrisy bred within a movement that often prides itself on lifting minorities to a position of equality has festered within sites such as Tumblr and the Huffington Post, both representing massive echo chambers for portions of the social justice movement.
Tumblr, a blogging site, has become particularly notorious as the stomping ground of social justice “activists”, where you can be racist for not matching the race of the character you’re cosplaying as and be privileged as a homeless person solely for being white. And, if you happen to disagree with the hivemind, then you must be a privileged white person or an ‘Uncle Tom’. There is also no chance for forgiveness – if you’re popular enough and commit one of the “isms”, one must anticipate several callout posts and the potential to be “doxxed”, also known as having one’s private information published in a public space online.
Overall, one could be content to ignore the rampant hate spread by the social justice portion of Tumblr, if not for the site’s spreading influence outside of the Internet. The site has driven people to attempt suicide for drawing cartoon characters the “wrong” way, romanticized mental illness and shoplifting numerous times, and supported numerous false accusations.
If you’re looking for your daily dose of hypocrisy in the news, look no further than the social justice-focused news sites The Huffington Post and Everyday Feminism. The sites include articles that tell straight people how to reduce homophobia but also to poke fun at the idea of a gay Donald Trump. It’s also hilarious to mock male reactions to a new form of birth control, despite said birth control causing extreme side effects. Everyday Feminism would like you to know that thin people don’t deserve body positivity and that sex positivity should be challenged in LGBTQ+ spaces.
The attitudes supported by these sites need to be discouraged. The validity of a person’s opinion, as well as their individual worth, should not be based on an implicit system where we rank people based on their various “oppressions”. People cannot, and should not, be slotted into the general categories based on their race, sexuality, and gender. We need to acknowledge the individual complexities that characterize us as humans and leave room for debate.