What's Your Alignment? Social Justice Class Badges

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Social Justice Warrior is a term used generally to insult people who are seen as caring too much about cultural and political issues, especially if the accused SJW also employs the use of callout culture. It seems to have started, along with white knight, as a way to brand the "fanatics" of left-leaning activism. SJWs "dogpile" and "try to get points" as a form of activism... though this is often an accusation made by people who are not open to any form of critique.

What's critique and what's bullying can feel very different, depending on which side of the megaphone you're on.

Then, like the term "politically correct", some decided the term made some sense for their work, and didn't see anything wrong with trying not to offend others, or fighting oppression. A period of embracing it came about, with some (including me) enjoying teasing those who act like being a social justice warrior is some awful thing.

I asked on Twitter how people felt about the term "social justice warrior". Some really dug it, some were concerned about abusive people who used the identity as an excuse to be abusive, some didn't care one way or the other. Me, I think bullies will use any tactic, and it's possible to be a SJW without that meaning you resort to lashing out. It's vital when doing this kind of activism to be constantly open to hearing critique, and to let go of defensiveness... but that's hard to do.

Now it seems we're back to shunning the phrase, as enough folks who call themselves "social justice warriors" have shown themselves to be bullies. We here at Consent Culture are firm believers in Tough Love and saying the shit that needs to be said... but we also try to hold a lot of compassion and loving kindness. "Warrior" may not really be the class for us. According to some who believe we're making major $$$ and getting famous through being feminist killjoys, maybe "social justice rock star" is appropriate (and fuck, if only we were more popular for talking about this shit instead of socially shunned, what a world we'd be in!)

That's where these buttons come in- depicting alternatives to the "warrior" class, they make space for that tongue-in-cheekiness while also not centering violence. I've been told I'd make a good social justice bard. Make of that what you will.

I interviewed Sarah “Chip” Nixon, @chiperoo, about the idea to create these cute 8bit social justice badges. They're being sold for the first time at GeekGirlCon, though they will probably be snapped up fast!

CC-What made you decide to make these clever and cute Social Justice Dungeons and Dragons Class buttons? Are you a DnD nerd? (I am, I usually play a Ranger)

The idea came around while chatting with follow volunteers at PAX Dev while watching twitter. I can trace the idea back to a tweet made by @JimSterling, who said: "Basically, if the line is being drawn between two big cartoon character camps of SJWs and MRAs, then give me my Justice Sword I guess." The visual of Social Justice Warriors having Social Justice Swords pulled my mind directly to DnD. I immediately answered him, "This is one of my favorite tweets to come out of this mess. I want a justice sword. Oh! Can I be a Social Justice WIZARD?"  I suddenly wanted a way for people to identify themselves as their chosen class, and my first inclination is always to design and distribute buttons.

I'm DEFINITELY a DnD nerd. I tend to like playing a range of different characters! The last campaign I participated in was in 4th edition (I started playing while 3.5 was in full swing) and I played was Gnome Druid called Badger. He fulfilled my favorite thing about DnD - being able to tell different kinds of stories and being able to embody and explore different sorts of characters who aren't like me.

CC-The term "social justice warrior" is one often used to dismiss people who critique culture, especially around things like racism, sexism, and transmisogyny. It's being reclaimed in defiance by some who think that fighting for social justice is a good thing, not a shameful one. Have you been called a "social justice warrior", and if so, for what?

Oh yes! I have a somewhat complicated relationship with Reddit, and every once in a while I find I can't resist engaging with misogynists in comment threads. It's a bad habit. I have absolutely been called a Social Justice Warrior by a fellow Redditor before!
The term Social Justice Warrior tends to be wielded as an insult, much like some try to use the term "feminist." (As if that would be insulting!) And believe me, at one point I was also pulled into the idea that being a SJW was a negative thing - like the implication was that an SJW was someone so full of anger, and takes to this struggle by slinging as much hate and vitriol as opponents of social justice. I strive to be reasonable in all that I do and all the decisions I make, so with that sort of definition stuck in my head I wasn't comfortable labeling myself as a Social Justice Warrior.
It wasn't until seeing the most recent controversies - particularly within gaming spheres - and seeing this disturbing polarization within games enthusiasts, that I became more comfortable with it. I sort of realized my definition of a Social Justice Warrior could be expanded to include me. And, much like Jim's tweet I mentioned earlier - if I MUST choose a side, of COURSE my ideals align most with Social Justice Warriors.
The idea behind these buttons, though - and this is important, I feel - is that these buttons are actually pretty neutral as a statement. This is a playful poke at the term Social Justice Warrior, without being any sort of pot shot to other sides. It allows people to display their alignment (as someone who fights for social justice) with a playful and nerdy tone.

CC-How do you think social justice conversations are going within geek spaces? It sounds like you do a lot of conventions, so curious what your insight is!
I'm actually finding myself being frustrated a lot by whats been going on! There is a ton of misinformation being spread, with both sides seemingly truly convinced that they're both fighting for social justice.
Most of what I see with the latest controversies is on Twitter. As soon as you cross over to online spaces, it feels like there is this huge pushback against people striving to make the games industry more diverse and representative of minorities. But when it comes to conventions, like PAX? Well, I consider PAX my "home" show, so I'm most comfortable talking about it.
From what I have observed, PAX is in full support of diversity and social justice. They very intentionally build programming that puts the focus on social issues like minority representation and women in games, and have also implemented things like a no-boothbabe policy. They have had a good amount of success so far with the Diversity Lounge. The overall tone tends to be one of acceptance, and of intolerance for harassment. As volunteers, we always fear an incident happening in one of our social issues panels, or in a panel that features a potentially controversial figure, so we over-prepare. But thus far the attendees of PAX seem to be more interested in striving to be more diverse than to fight against it.
So, from my own observations - when it comes to in-person communities, I think the discussion is going very well! It just doesn't seem that way sometimes from the lens of the internet.
CC-I think it's awesome that you're donating proceeds to a nonprofit! Why did you choose Planned Parenthood as the beneficiary? 

So, when I decided I wanted to make and distribute these buttons, I knew this could be an opportunity to do something cool with it. After a lot of pondering, I decided the best candidates would be Planned Parenthood, the Trevor Project, or Amnesty International. I even discussed this publicly on twitter.
The reason Planned Parenthood took the lead is for admittedly selfish reasons: Planned Parenthood came through for me during a pretty rough point in my life - I wanted a chance to give back to them.
CC-I saw that some Druids and Barbarians felt left out!  Do you plan on expanding the list of available classes in the future? 
Actually, yes! I decided to pare this down to 6 designs at first because I have no idea these would get this kind of response. Now, I'm definitely working on an expansion pack! I'll make four more, I think, to bring the total number to 10.
In fact, I have a poll up about what classes people most want to see, here! Paladins are very much in the lead. :) When they will come out is to be determined, though!

CC-Finally... which class do you identify with and why?

I... choose Wizard! Mostly because I'm a Hufflepuff.

We'll let you know when these rad buttons are available online, so watch this space! 

Categories: geekery, interview, politics, pop culture

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