‘Wokeness’ Should Not Be a Signifier of Change

Almost every day we see men in power take advantage of women just because they can. Not only that, instances of abuse (especially that of minorities) only become more radical as time goes on. You may see people defending or coddling them and their actions for whatever reason they make up, but luckily, intersectionality has gained more prevalence in society. While there are still alt-right trolls, being intersectional, or ‘woke’, is usually associated with being correct.

But with these labels being flaunted like badges of honour or things that grant moral ascendancy, it begs a few questions. After all, do people use these labels because their beliefs are aligned with them, or because not doing so will make them more prone to being disliked and detracted? Furthermore, how can one prove that a person’s social awareness is genuine?

One’s ‘wokeness’ may be measured by the amount and gravity of the issues they address.  Sure, people get confused with the definition of all the ‘-isms’, and you’re free to tell them that it is ‘the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes’. But firstly, you’re probably stuck in 2013 if you think you can just do that and call it a day, and secondly, in this political, economic, and social climate, wouldn’t it be apt to use more inclusive descriptions of whatever ‘-ism’ is being discussed?

Feminism, for instance, is for all women, most especially those part of other minorities, but while ‘support all women’ is a good notion at first sight, does that mean we’re supposed to coddle privileged women who have exploited the less privileged? Conversely, can someone automatically be right in an argument just because they’re part of more minorities?

The term ‘Oppression Olympics’ is often used to poke fun at the constant infighting within the ‘woke’ community. But while the term is usually used to mock minorities, one can’t help but get tired of the seemingly endless debates on who’s the most oppressed.  The ‘woke’ community’s essential reason for existence is arguably to welcome and uplift all minorities. However, it doesn’t always serve its purpose. At times, it is an arena for the aforementioned oppression Olympics: an echo chamber for fallacious yet widely accepted views, and a place that encourages violent call-out culture and overt public shaming.

That being said, this doesn’t mean that the idea of calling someone out should be abolished. In fact, in a society where fake news and problematic ideologies thrive, it should be encouraged. However, if and when one abuses call-out culture by making it an excuse to start petty fights for clout, then they’re doing more harm than good. Moreover, the concept of problematic needs to be more nuanced and we need to accept that all of us have been problematic one way or another. What sets us apart, however, are the ways we learn and grow from our wrongdoings, and how we let others do the same. Most importantly, we need to draw the line between one-time problematic and borderline abusive.

In conclusion, the woke community is more complex than whether or not someone’s problematic or socially aware.  Intersectionality makes it thrive, which we can prove through the issues the community focuses on. But because it thrives on intersectionality and complexities, there is yet to be a perfect set of criteria to measure woke.  Probably the most effective way to measure it is to stop focusing on being the best ‘-ist’ and start creating, doing, and saying. Whether it be going out to the streets, putting your thoughts into words, or informing yourself/others, action should be the forefront of progress.

And with the appalling events happening around the world, we need less petty infighting and heartier fights for what we believe is right.