Happy 2018, People: How the Reputation of Social Justice has Reversed

The feminist movement has always been fractured. In the beginning, groups of women opposed it, fearing they would be called on to fight in wars and to leave their children. To this day, feminists are those who want equality – but also those who want to support what they view as a female way of life.
Basic principles of reputation management advocate that there is a trickledown effect in place when it comes to the opinions of key ambassadors. What the top believes, in most cases, so does everybody else. We place certain people on pedestals and say – surely they know what they’re talking about? 
Similar to the world of social influencers who tell us how to get rid of acne, or what books to read, or alert us to sales in our favourite shops, we have listened to influencers in boardrooms and in city hall about culture and politics.

From its inception, feminism has alienated the powerful. Political and business influencers were never going to be our ambassadors, because they are most likely to be in the demographic of straight, white and male. Feminism is – in many ways – against them. It alienates them and takes them out of their comfort zone. Instead of endorsing it, they labelled the movement and the word as extreme and dismissed it as female hysteria. Conservativism is the product of these leaders, who want everything kept in its place to ensure the security of their own standing and of a world where they prosper.

Those who think that the social justice movement is wrong have been misled by powerful ambassadors of the patriarchy and the system to endorse a toxic culture that they will never benefit from. In this social Stockholm syndrome, oppressed groups advocate against their best interests by the influence of people who view them as second class citizens. In exchange, they are offered a fake kind of acceptance into the world of these top-dogs. When you see a room of powerful, white, conservative men, with one woman amongst them, she has most likely allowed them to believe that they deserve to be there more than she does in order to keep them happy, and to have them tell her that she can work with them because she’s sane and not one of ‘those’ girls. These women don’t see that they’re losing out, because they have profited in the short term by playing the game.

The reversal of the negative reputation of feminism in select parts of the world has come, too, from the work of social ambassadors. Opinion formers were changing, and oppressed groups came to know that old world leaders didn’t have their best interests at heart. Millennials called bullshit as a mass generation, and instead sought out the guidance of Beyonce and Emma Watson and the UN as forces in progress and globalised thinking. We have pop culture to thank for making the world a more feminist place, and now we seem to be entering a brand new world of men being held accountable. The political economy of power is shifting.

What’s really interesting is the next steps that we’re seeing. So much of the western world has now accepted social justice and human rights as almost mundane. Feminism? Duh. The conversation has taken on new levels in 2017 and 2018, centring on inclusivity and intersectionality. Yesterday, I attended the women’s march in NYC. Having not been in the states for the first march last year, I had only read reviews – some of which were awe-inspired, while other were disappointed at the presence of white feminism. Passion seemed to slightly outweigh political intelligence, resulting in signs and banners saying things like ‘Fuck You, You Fucking Fuck’. Surely not the best we can do? I think the 2018 march, for the most of what I saw, covered a wider range of issues that the previous year, including racism, homophobia and Islamophobia, which hopefully moves the occasion further away from exclusionary practices – but then again, I’m not the person to ask. What is clear is that now that we’ve accepted feminism as the norm and surround ourselves with people with the same priorities, we need a message that unites us. That’s the next step in conquering the world. Happy 2018, people.