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Author Topic: Thought Police: Are we allowed to query 'woke'?  (Read 14686 times)

Tjm86

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Thought Police: Are we allowed to query 'woke'?
« on: 24 September, 2020, 08:01:05 PM »
I think that some of the discussions on the Battle Special thread got me thinking about this issue.  I get how complex it is but at the same time I also find aspects of it uncomfortable.

As near as I can tell, and I'm happy to be set straight, the term 'woke' seems to have been created, appropriated and misappropriated by several different groups.  Like many I'm not sure when I first became aware of it but the origin appears to have been inspired by the idea of an 'awakening' to issues of social importance.  From there it has morphed into a badge of consciousness, particularly among influencers in the social media sphere and now into an insult in the political and media spheres.

What I find difficult is the way in which our thoughts and attitudes are not just seen as possibly incorrect but more fundementally as aberrant.  Irrespective of our own experiences and understanding, if we do not think about things in the 'correct way' then we are castigated for those thoughts.

I'm not talking about hate speech here.  Rather about ideas that we might have grown up with but are no longer deemed acceptable.  Like all of those comedy shows and films that are now being withdrawn from circulation as the ideas they played with are now considered inapprorpriate (and yes, may well be so ...).

It's almost as if we have reached a point where we have realised that there is no point railing against 'the man' since we are powerless against 'him'.  Railing against each other though?  Anger and outrage at the petty injustices of the world?  Now that is something that is acceptable.  Bread and circuses and all that.  Too busy fighting each other to worry about what else is going on.

it feels a little like that line by Dredd from the Apocalypse War:  "The Citizens?  What makes you think they're interested?"  We're all fighting with each other over identity or sexuality or skin colour.  What fight really matters though?

Colin YNWA

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Re: Thought Police: Are we allowed to query 'woke'?
« Reply #1 on: 24 September, 2020, 08:18:15 PM »
Specifically on woke I just find it weird its used as a negative. As if its a bad thing to be made aware of important issues, to grow and progress in understanding and empathy is a bad thing. If a strip is seen as 'woke' well good. If someone thinks that's a bad thing maybe they should reflect on why that is, why increased awareness is a bad thing and what it is they are afraid of about being 'woken' (is that even a term in this context?).

I was a bit shit and ignorant in the past, I can hide behind the context of the times, the fact that very few of us knew any better and the cultural influences in my life renforced my ignorance, whatever. The fact that I've been made all 'woke' to that isn't  a bad thing and is something we should celebrate. Its not easy, but owning my own male white privalege, accepting it and trying to do something about it is making me a better person - I hope.

When I was younger I was apalled by the casual racism of previous generations and even in the 80s and 90s I realised that some of the telly I saw from the 60s and 70s (as an example) was pretty bad. I hope my son and daughter look at me when I'm older as someone - who no doubt will still have faults, but has at least tried to progess and grow up with the world.

Funt Solo

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Re: Thought Police: Are we allowed to query 'woke'?
« Reply #2 on: 24 September, 2020, 08:23:31 PM »
My problem with the term "woke" is that it seems to be used to polarize opinion in what could otherwise be a thoughtful discussion or debate.

So, perhaps someone is saying they were pleased to see a minority represented in a medium where they're not often represented. Someone else says it's just pandering to a woke sensibility. Claws out! Missiles launched! Ding ding - round one!

Recently (if you want to take a different tack) what seemed like openers to an interesting debate about modern transgenderism were shouted down with what seemed like banner slogans as opposed to reasoned arguments. Like "Transgender women are women". Are they? What are non-transgender women, then? It's a fucking fascinating point for debate because it impinges on things like women's refuges. But it's not a debate at all if people just shout seemingly nonsensical slogans at one another and refuse to budge.

I managed to follow the argument quite far for gender being a choice, but now sex as well? Biologists sex animals. Aren't humans animals? Am I allowed to be confused by all of this redefinition of terms? Or will I be cancelled?

Well, we needn't worry too much - Trump is fomenting a civil war and my kind of "hey, can't we just talk it through" approach won't last long against either side. It feels like the end of days - with working class blacks being persuaded to take up arms against working class white militias, while all the rich folk sell them guns!

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TordelBack

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Re: Thought Police: Are we allowed to query 'woke'?
« Reply #3 on: 24 September, 2020, 08:50:28 PM »
What are non-transgender women, then?

Women. That part is not complicated.

The issues you raise are real, and complex, but the starting point for addressing them has to be universal Human Rights.  If transgender people don't have the same rights in society as everyone else, there's no point in any sort of nuanced debate.  There are just as many - or as few - transgender predators and monsters as there are cis, hetero, gay, white, black etc etc. ones, and we don't restrict their rights (mostly,  anymore), we just deal with the criminals best we can.

It's hard for us oldies to change. We can sort all this important-but-fiddly stuff out,  the sport issue, the refuge and medical issues, but first we need to start with the basics, and that's a level playing field that listens to transgender people and accepts transwomen as women and transmen as men.
« Last Edit: 24 September, 2020, 08:52:03 PM by TordelBack »

Funt Solo

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Re: Thought Police: Are we allowed to query 'woke'?
« Reply #4 on: 24 September, 2020, 09:01:57 PM »
I can't quite go that far.

One probably wouldn't argue (for example) that anyone gets to become any racial identity just because they identify strongly with it or even consider themselves to be it. Why is it different for sex? (I'm deliberately not using gender, because it seems the argument is being taken further.)

And all I'm doing is talking about categories - not human rights. I wouldn't argue that because I see a difference in definition between someone born with a sex compared with someone who adopts a sex that either party should have fewer rights.

Just on logic: there are differences - differences in physicality. To deny them seems like doublethink.
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Tjm86

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Re: Thought Police: Are we allowed to query 'woke'?
« Reply #5 on: 24 September, 2020, 09:03:41 PM »
I have to be honest, I was raised at a boarding school and my early working years were in the armed forces at a time when attitudes to women leave a lot to be desired.  Not to mention the influence that these and other factors have on my perspective on an individual's sexual preference (although if I'm honest I've come to understand the difference between some of these choices and personal experience).

I find myself striving to adhere to the maxim "the unexamined life is not worth living".  At the same time though this is not always easy.  I have colleagues who have what they consider reasonable issues around the Transgender debate.  I also find myself querying scientific evidence on the ways in which biological gender is implicated in medical conditions.  So whilst I appreciate that it is appropriate to recognise an individual's right to specify their gender, I wonder at the consequences of this.  If they are classified officially as their gender of preference rather than their biological gender, could that lead to misdiagnosis with potentially lethal consequences?

So I wonder if it is not just a case of the implications for those of a specially biologically originated gender (ouch, tortuous) but also for those who have made a conscious choice.  Perhaps the solution is to insist that everyone decides their gender at a specific age.  Then each individual has two gender classifications: their biological gender at birth and their preferred gender.  For most social purposes their preferred gender is used but when medical treatment is necessary it is their birth biological gender that is used.  Since this applies to everyone, those who have transitioned are treated equally with others.

There are quite a few folks around here for whom this is far from an abstract issue.  That being the case it would be appropriate to approach this matter sensitively.

I suppose on top of this there is the question of how aware we are of our biases.  Are we willing to admit our flaws and work on them?  Are they 'biases' or just an incompatibility with current cultural mores?  This is part of the problem isn't it?  The lack of rational debate is leading to polarisation and the fomenting of civil or even uncivil war.

Funt Solo

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Re: Thought Police: Are we allowed to query 'woke'?
« Reply #6 on: 24 September, 2020, 09:10:41 PM »
There are quite a few folks around here for whom this is far from an abstract issue.  That being the case it would be appropriate to approach this matter sensitively.

I hope I'm doing that - I don't want to cause offence to anyone*.


*Special exemptions for Trump, Cummings and his puppet Boris.
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TordelBack

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Re: Thought Police: Are we allowed to query 'woke'?
« Reply #7 on: 24 September, 2020, 09:45:27 PM »
And all I'm doing is talking about categories - not human rights. I wouldn't argue that because I see a difference in definition between someone born with a sex compared with someone who adopts a sex that either party should have fewer rights.

Just on logic: there are differences - differences in physicality. To deny them seems like doublethink.

Of course there are differences in biology,  and of course you wouldn't go so far as to discriminate on rights; you're a reasonable, highly intelligent, decent person. The problem is that many others aren't, and that's why we need to start with the higher level position of simply accepting the basic principles of transgender rights, and once that's in place we can - together - dig down into how the implications play out.

Otherwise we're being like oh-so reasonable plantation owners claiming we accept the humanity of slaves but objecting to abolition because we can't see how the regional economy will survive and how former slaves will possibly support themselves and their families. Those are second-level problems: we have to make the initial leap and accept that people's rights of self-determination already exist because they are humans, and we don't get to make any decision that limits that.

It's precisely because we face the uncomfortable practical realities of our collapsing world that we have to assert universal principles that can't be denied.

Well, that's my perspective anyway.

The Legendary Shark

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Re: Thought Police: Are we allowed to query 'woke'?
« Reply #8 on: 25 September, 2020, 01:21:17 AM »

I think that human rights, and human responsibilities, should be our twin foundations upon which we build everything else. Human first, everything else is negotiable.

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Funt Solo

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Re: Thought Police: Are we allowed to query 'woke'?
« Reply #9 on: 25 September, 2020, 03:15:11 AM »
Well, that's my perspective anyway.

I expect I'm doing that focusing on trees thing which is leaving the woods out of my grasp.
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Andy B

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Re: Thought Police: Are we allowed to query 'woke'?
« Reply #10 on: 25 September, 2020, 04:23:20 AM »
Specifically on woke I just find it weird its used as a negative.

I think there’s been an evolution here. When I first started noticing the term, it was applied to people who adopted extreme positions, to whom more or less everything involving minorities is ‘troubling’ or ‘problematic’. Only black writers should write black characters, only gay actors should play gay characters, wearing a kimono is ‘cultural appropriation’: that sort of thing. Such people were perceived by some as primarily interested in demonstrating to the world how much more enlightened and unprejudiced they were than you, over actually caring about true equality. So, “woke” was used as a negative, to describe an allegedly attention-seeking person who patronizes minorities.

Trouble is, it was then jumped on by the right as a great word to use to disparage any decent opinion, and that’s where we are today.

As a general rule, if somebody nowadays complains that something is “woke”, I feel I can safely ignore them.


Andy B

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Re: Thought Police: Are we allowed to query 'woke'?
« Reply #11 on: 25 September, 2020, 05:11:56 AM »
Trouble is, it was then jumped on by the right as a great word to use to disparage any decent opinion, and that’s where we are today.

Thinking about it, this is similar to what happened to “politically correct”. Correct is a good thing to be! But now tr*mp can boast to his cult that he isn’t politically correct, and get a round of baying applause: it’s an easy way for him to say “it’s OK to be racist again!”, without actually saying it.

For this and for ‘woke’, I can’t help blaming the people who go too far in their enthusiasm to denounce pretty much everything as offensive: they give the Right a stick to beat us with, and, by looking ridiculous to normal people, devalue all criticism of actual racists, homophobes, transphobes and so on, giving them a free pass.


Jim_Campbell

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Re: Thought Police: Are we allowed to query 'woke'?
« Reply #12 on: 25 September, 2020, 09:49:08 AM »
For this and for ‘woke’, I can’t help blaming the people who go too far in their enthusiasm to denounce pretty much everything as offensive

The problem with that is that it's a very moveable line. There are plenty of people who think complaining about misgendering a trans person is "being too sensitive".

I mean, you could draw the line as being: when the person being offended has the 'right' to be offended then it's OK for them to say something (ie: it's gay person objecting to a derogatory term for gay people or it's a transgender person objecting to being misgendered) but I've never met one trans person who thinks misgendering is OK — and I've done it. Unintentionally, but I still did it.* Do I, as a white man, have to sit quiet while racists spout off because only people of colour have the right to be offended by it? I'd argue not.

So, yeah. No easy answers. But, honestly, if it's a line between offending people and not offending people then I don't really have a problem with erring on the side of not offending people. The key distinction here (and I'm sort of fumbling towards a conclusion as I go along, so forgive the rambling post) is between what people are and what they do. Some trans people, gay people, people of colour, are shitheads — white men don't have an absolute monopoly on that. And it's fine to tell them they're shitheads if they're being shitheads… but they're not shitheads because they're gay/trans/POC, they're just shitheads irrespective of that.

I have no idea if any of that makes a lick of sense.

*It's OK for this to be a process. I struggled with the whole transgender thing for a long time, partly because it's something so unaligned with my own experiences that I found it difficult to relate, and partly because the first transgender person I had more than passing contact with was a childhood friend who I'd known as male for thirty-plus years… and it's really difficult to make that adjustment in your own head, but, eventually, I realised that just because it's difficult, doesn't mean you shouldn't try to do better. My problem, not theirs.
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Barrington Boots

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Re: Thought Police: Are we allowed to query 'woke'?
« Reply #13 on: 25 September, 2020, 10:21:02 AM »
Some really good points made here, this is something I've been thinking about a fair bit.

I'm pretty sure the term itself originated in the US, as I can remember it being used there a while before I heard it being thrown around in the UK, to refer to being aware of issues with racial justice. I'm not sure if it's now morphed in the same way over there as it's generally used in the UK as a general term of derogative sneeriness for left-wing / liberal / social awareness / PC by the Daily Mail and it's ilk.

A bit like the term 'SJW' I'm appalled that a deroagtory term exists for someone who'd express what I consider to be decent opions like a desire for equality. Who on earth thinks that being pro-social justice is a bad thing? That's basically setting yourself up as saying "I hate social justice and love inequality". It reminds me of a picture I saw of a person with a sign saying 'I'm Anti-Antifa'. There's a quicker way to make that statement...
At the root though I think it's just an indicator of someone being scared of a change of status quo. People like to subsconsciously rewrite the narrative to always protray themselves as the good guy - I know someone who never gives money to the homeless, for example, because he thinks they've all got secret houses and stashes of weath gained from duping unwitting members of the public. He can't have a narrative where he is witholding money from people who are literally dying in gutters, so instead now he's the good and clever one because he's avoiding their evil and cunning tricks. We're living in a time of great social upheaval and a lot of ideas for people like this guy are being challenged, and they don't want to be the ones in the wrong so it must be us lefties with our 'woke' agenda. I really don't understand why people would complain about such stuff like a dance routine highlighting racial injustice, or a public figure urging us all to be more compassionate, or poor children not starving to death, but if I've learned one thing in my life it's that I really don't understand people at all.

What hasn't helped, just IMO, is that this upswell of desire for social change has seen a lot of corporate gestures and box ticking that dilutes the issues at hand somewhat and makes it easier for serious problems to be lumped in with small ones as PC nonsense by people. For example: I read that Aliens now carries a warning because Jeanette Goldstein portrays a hispanic character when she herself isn't hispanic (and had to apply skin bronzer for the part). My first reaction was that that was over the top. But you have to check yourself and realise that as a white middle class male this wasn't done for me - that I wasn't the one with the potential to be offended here. It's not hurting me, and if it's helping redress the hurt that someone else has been enduring then I'm for it. Miss that step though and suddenly something like BLM suddenly looks like a 1984 style movement, with a leftie Big Brother banning and changing all the stuff you like and policing what you can say and think.
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Barrington Boots

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Re: Thought Police: Are we allowed to query 'woke'?
« Reply #14 on: 25 September, 2020, 10:25:51 AM »
*It's OK for this to be a process. I struggled with the whole transgender thing for a long time, partly because it's something so unaligned with my own experiences that I found it difficult to relate, and partly because the first transgender person I had more than passing contact with was a childhood friend who I'd known as male for thirty-plus years… and it's really difficult to make that adjustment in your own head, but, eventually, I realised that just because it's difficult, doesn't mean you shouldn't try to do better. My problem, not theirs.

Wise words Jim and I really think this is the key, if everyone took this attitude then I suspect we'd be enduring a lot less negativity right now.
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