Why “waking up” became toxic LGBTQ


In the West, the term “awakening” has become a lightning rod on both the left and right, a symbol of a modern cultural war.

But its origins are not at all modern. It first emerged in the United States in the 1940s from the word “awake” and was used to describe someone who is well-informed about issues of social injustice, especially racism. In its original use, it meant being aware of the specific discrimination and systemic harm that African Americans suffer. So being “awake” implies that you have “woken up” from a sleep, rather like the protagonist, Neo, after being disconnected from Matrix in the movie of the same name. More recently, it has been adopted as a ubiquitous keyword for a wide variety of social movements, including LGBTQ issues, feminism, immigration, climate change, and marginalized communities.

But this widespread use of the term has caused it to be heavily armed by both the left and the right, turning what was once a host creed into a toxic and divisive word, particularly in Western countries, including the United States, the United States. Canada, the United Kingdom and other European Nations. This toxicity is largely due to activists failing to develop the coalitions needed to inculcate the change advocates they advocate.

It’s a shame because the messages of inclusivity and diversity that underpin the “awakening” should not be so easily ruled out.

So why has the term “awakening” become so divisive? The problem begins when campaigns overreact, alienating moderate supporters. It’s easy to see how this has happened. Examples include knocking down statues of war leader Winston Churchill, loved as a hero by many in the West, or companies that have received “advice” to stop using the word “mother” for LGBTQ + Stonewall charity, which operates a “Labor Equality Index” in the UK. For large sections of the general public, all this drove all the cries of political correctness crazy.

Awakening also implies that those who are not part of the club are asleep, deceived or wrong. This instant trial forms a dividing line, forcing the other side to defend itself and further consolidating the debate. The platform of moral superiority is hardly a way to incorporate skeptics, especially when privileged, wealthy advocates who have opted for surveillance don’t even follow their own standards, such as the famous Dame Emma Thompson, who flew all over the world. world to join an Extinction Protest for rebellion over climate change in London in 2019. This particular protest involved the blocking of bridges and roads in central London, including the ambulance stop, and public outrage. it was so large that it damaged its own cause as it provided the impetus for a new police bill that would restrict noise levels and schedules for future protests.

Another example is the turbulent debate over trans rights and gender identity. Trans people want to be accepted for what they are, including being legally recognized as the gender they want. The UK already provides a gender recognition certificate, through which you can change your legal gender, but only after time requirements and medical checks, which many in the trans community consider degrading. Therefore, trans activists campaign to reduce these controls to facilitate legal gender reassignment. These voices deserve to be heard. However, it is also reasonable to listen to women expressing concerns about what this may mean for women in private spaces, such as locker rooms, toilets, and, more significantly, in prisons and services such as domestic violence shelters.

Unfortunately, the modern surveillance instinct seems to be to close this debate. Famous Harry Potter author JK Rowling found herself in the middle of an awakening storm after liking a tweet from Maya Forstater, who lost her job in 2019 after tweeting that “men are not women.” . The reaction was immediate, with some accusing Forstater of “killing trans people with his hatred” for simply expressing an opinion. Rowling wrote an emotional essay to explain her reason for supporting Forstater. In it, she confessed that she had once had an abusive relationship and was therefore able to see why single-sex spaces should be protected for vulnerable women.

British tabloid The Sun blatantly jumped at the opportunity to sell more papers by producing a front-page interview with the man who had abused Rowling, under the headline: I slapped JK and I’m not sorry. The response aroused to Rowling’s trial had essentially provided a platform for the right-wing media to make a domestic aggressor happy about his abuse.

The aforementioned Maya Forstater took her former employer, the International Development Center, the Washington-based center for global development, Hillary-Clinton, amicably, to a labor court to challenge the decision not to renew her contract. . But he ruled that his views were “incompatible with human dignity.” This was recently overturned after an appeal, on compliance with legal evidence that Forstater’s right to express his views was protected by UK equality laws. So she is protected by law, but in the end, she still lost her job.

Awakening can also stop good causes. In 2019, Canada’s oldest Vancouver-based domestic violence shelter for women was withdrawn from local government funding because it refused to accept trans women (who were biologically male). Perhaps the shelter should have treated the problem differently, as the local authority won a short-term victory in the name of “inclusion”. But stopping an essential service only meant further division and long-term damage to the cause.

It seems that some civil society institutions have also become more radical, leaving even their original champions confused. Simon Fanshawe, a pioneer in equal rights and founder of Stonewall, was rejected by the same charity he founded for simply highlighting women’s concerns about the introduction of personal identification for trans people, indicating that now charity only demands rigid compliance with its new focus on gender ideology and a wake-up call hierarchy that divides the progressive agenda.

Social media has also increased the stakes. When once an offensive comment may have caused a sudden outcry from a friend or foe, now people are only left with a tweet of being “canceled,” a relatively new term for withdrawing support from a person, which could lead to job loss or worse. Marion Millar, a feminist and “gender-critical” accountant, was arrested by Scottish police earlier this month for posting tweets expressing her views. One of them was the image of a suffrage ribbon tied to a fence, which one complainant had described as a bow. His tweets may have been poorly written and deeply offensive to some, but he now faces a possible prison sentence of up to six months (the same maximum length as a common assault charge against an emergency worker). with the possibility of taking their children autistic. to care.

The way some companies have tried to market and adopt social movements and their language has also devalued and trivialized the notion of surveillance. In 2017, Pepsi launched a high-budget TV ad featuring (rich and privileged) model Kendall Jenner in a protest simulation reminiscent of Black Lives Matter. In the ad, the conflict between protesters and police is quickly resolved, amid applause and flattery from the crowd of protesters, when he presents a can of Pepsi to a handsome police officer. The announcement received a barrage of criticism for monetizing social justice and trivializing the Black Lives Matter movement.

McDonald’s in California celebrated International Women’s Day in 2018 by reversing the Golden Bows logo to W, sparking union outrage over McDonald’s historic resistance to raising the minimum wage, which especially affects women given labor statistics of the United States showing how women make up nearly two-thirds of the minimum wage in the country. All of this results in a climate of resentment, as “waking up” is now as likely to trigger a glance as describing a progressive philosophy.

Socially progressive policies have long supported the support of all populations, even in conservative administrations. The current Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Boris Johnson, often perceived as a right-wing populist by the left, was actually one of five Conservative MPs who voted in 2003 to repeal section 28, which banned local authorities teach or publish materials that could be published. since it “intentionally promotes homosexuality.” The Conservatives subsequently passed the same-sex marriage bill in 2013, a major progressive success. It is now difficult to imagine the same success if the campaign had been labeled as an “awake” movement, given that the term has been put together.

The challenge for socially progressive activists now is to ensure that the next priority, tackling climate change, is not included solely as an open-ended project, otherwise right-wing and center-right parties could be more reluctant to jump in, such as as has happened in the American Republican party, skeptical about the climate.

No systemic problem can be solved without both parties listening. How do we allow people to debate without slapping them to have a different view? How can we create a shared perspective without alienating another group? Where do we place the threshold between an honest misunderstanding stemming from his upbringing and a hate crime? These questions aren’t asked enough, let alone answered, but if we do, we could move forward without having to say the word “wake up” again.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial stance of Al Jazeera.

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