Anti-SJ people say that those into Social Justice care too much about other people’s problems, that they should be more worried about their own. The implication is that it is impossible to care about more than one thing at once, much less more than one person (Number One) aside from blood relations or people we know personally. On the other hand, there is the implication that if you cannot care about or prioritize everyone (including oppressors) you have failed in SJ and are a bigot. Clearly, the “offense” here is caring about those less fortunate.
With the artificial scarcity of resources created by capitalism, we are conditioned to have this view. Not only people who must do so to survive but especially people who are privileged enough to live beyond the minimum level of survival and who even thrive – stepping on other’s backs is how they got there and how they maintain their position of power. And not just for a while, but forever – that’s the capitalist way.
To that end, I want to bring up the following image:
Remember this? A similar message was being used as an advertisement by sex industry advocates – namely, that prostituted women are mothers. Both are intended to humanize women and get men to empathize with them. Feminists rightly pointed out, however, that a woman’s worth is not measured by her relationships with men or the role of motherhood. It is just more patriarchal bullshit.
In talking about misogyny I get from misogynistic men (and handmaidens) that “I don’t really know them.” In other words, if I talked to them more I’d be convinced they are really Nice Guys or that they’d have other qualities that redeemed them as Not So Bad and “not all men.” So it’s totally okay to write off women you don’t know personally (such as the prostituted) but not men? I don’t buy it.
Furthermore, this applies to being a parent as well. I still get asked by people (usually men, strangers who by the way are the only ones telling me to smile, not women) why I don’t want to have children, and telling me how wonderful of an experience motherhood is (of course it is since, as a male, you don’t have to carry a fetus and can always leave that responsibility with the mother!) When I tell people I plan to adopt, they look at me funny. I am fertile, why would I consciously desire to adopt? “It’s not the same as having your own child.”
Okay, so what if it’s not? Why are orphans (including the abandoned and homeless) less worthy of good homes, to be relegated only to people who 1.) Already have children, 2.) Are foster parents (who receive funding) or 3.) Are infertile or cannot otherwise reproduce (straight or gay couples)? The answer that few people want to come out and say is: Orphans don’t matter that much and it’s easier to turn away and pretend they don’t exist because hey, eventually they’ll get older and not-cute anymore anyway. Then they’ll be adults and once that happens, they’re on their own in society and will either be forced to be of value with labor or thrown away (women, for example, are taught to “earn their keep” with sex). Too bad they were born in the wrong circumstances; namely, ending up not “belonging” to people that can care for them. Sucks to be them!
“Maternal as well as paternal love, as long as they are normal and healthy, are purely animal instincts. There is no reason to celebrate as “divine” or “superior” the feelings which humanity frequently exhibits with less perfection than other members of the class of mammals (or even the same members of other classes of their phylum!). When the feeling that a mother, or a father, has for their son, or their daughter, leaves the level of instinct, it enters, inevitably, into the level of the libido. Any feeling of human affection is basically sexual in its origin, as Freud said; and it is for this reason that men who jeer at homosexuals, or who humiliate them while they use them, are suspected of similar pleasures. Such men, in general, have a “bosom buddy,” or belong to a favorite gang, or have annual reunions with college or university fraternities.
Eça de Queiroz defined the family, on a certain occasion, as “a group of egoists licking their own boots.” In what concerns egoism, this fine epigram is applied to any human group; the problem consists in that egoism can become excessive, as in the father’s case (typically a Brazilian super-father) referred to above. This subject of genitor’s possessiveness (or perhaps we should say genital!) was delicately dealt with by Kahil Gibran in one of his poems:
Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.
You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them,
but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.
[…] What is a superstition? Dictionaries define the word as meaning exaggerated attachment to some belief or dogma without basis in facts. But even though humanity, as Fernando Pessoa said well, tends to be stupid, it is not stupid to the point of spontaneously attaching to what is not practical. A superstition, therefore, is an exaggerated attachment to some fact, or set of facts, that was once practical and adequate upon human well-being; but which stopped being so, for some reason.
However, the most common reason by which attitudes stop being practical is the evolutionary process, that is: the Law of Change.
In pre-historic times the family was a source of union and force for a group of human beings; together they were more efficient against other groups, or against the great dangers that they faced.
In historical times, before the industrial age, even the family was useful — but principally useful to the parents, whose principal reason for having children was the attainment of workers in farming or in an artesan to whom they did not need to pay wages.
In modern times, with the industrialization of cities and the mechanization of agriculture, the family stopped having economic direction. Children, not being for the very poor or for the very rich, are a burden and a disadvantage.[…]
I think that the definition of the problem should include any group of people that have interests in common which they hope you share. Our group, our club, our firm, our party, our country: any one of these can sufficiently be irritated if you interest yourself in subjects which have nothing to do with them. But the family is the classic type, because their attraction is so potent and persistent. The conditioning started when you were born: your personality is deliberately repudiated and contorted to adapt to the code of your parents; and the knowledge that you have of zoology is so imperfect that you are always sure that their Ugly Duckling is in reality a Black Sheep.
Note that there never was, in the formation of the family, any true feeling of “love” or “friendship.” The legend of “brotherly love” is denied by the legend of Jupiter killing Saturn in order to inherit the throne; the legend of “fatherly love” is denied by the legend of Jehova banishing Adam and eve from Paradise; the legend of “maternal love” is denied by Cybele, emasculating her son Attis in order to keep him imprisoned.[…]
The renouncement of individual liberty on behalf of a group, arduous it is, enabled the survival of our species in pre-history; but in modern times it is not necessary for us to keep a group conception that was only really useful to troglodytes.
We all know that the “revolution” of 1964 e.v. was made by Roman Catholics and had “family” as a group tactic. The pretext of this financial undertaking on the part of shady interests was precisely that “atheist materialism” would go to “destroy the family and Christian values.”[…]
The existence of the family diminishes the possibility of revolt against the System — whatever the System is — because it diminishes the initiative and the spirit of adventure of each individual citizen.”
– Marcelo Motta
(It is interesting to note that in matriarchal societies it is not the biological father who raises the children but an uncle, so as to avoid the jealousy and possessiveness that results in control and repression of the child’s developing sexuality with all the hang-ups that occur in patriarchal ones)
This issue is even relevant to patriotism and extended, to nationalism and xenophobia:
Now we have established that our society is definitely inegalitarian based on who you were born and the circumstances you were born or raised in. It is a hierarchy based on perceived worth. We are conditioned to only care about blood relations or people we know personally. Additionally, the “individualism” spouted by libfem rhetoric is really based on collective conditioning in a Western society. The poor, gay, homeless, orphans and minorities are valued less. This is a general point with Social Justice. Since it does not have the same values as society to assume that it inherently has ulterior motives or a secret agenda is bogus. In fact, such discrimination prevents SJ arguments from being addressed on the basis of merit but by who is making the arguments. In other words, the oppressed will encounter stigma when associating with people from the dominant classes of power.
The very thing I am describing is the Othering the dominant classes do to people outside of their social classes – sex, religion, economic class, marital/reproductive status, etc. It keeps them down, preoccupied with survival and earning and spending money (consumerism), and from attaining solidarity. Conditioning is inevitable, but people should have a say in the values they are conditioned with.