Saturday, 2 July 2016

Blaise’s Opinion: SJW & Intersectional Feminism - Problems Solved!

Author: Blaise Wilson
Caveat: These are the thoughts and ramblings of Blaise Wilson, they do not represent the EgaFem Community as a whole. Opinion posts are often poorly researched and highly biased. They are useful to start a discussion on a topic. Comments, debate, evidence for and against, and feedback are welcome.

Hypothesis: Is Self-Esteem the Root Cause?


While visiting Intersectional Feminism and Social Justice Warrior sites I find myself yelling repetitively at my screen ‘Self-Esteem, the solution to your problem is not forcing society to change for you, the problem is YOU! The problem is your lack of self-esteem!’

And after getting horse and bored from repeating myself I realised a subtle flaw in my actions. My screen is not a microphone and they can’t hear me.

However, this set me off thinking, ‘is self-esteem the root cause issue with most (not all) intersectional feminist and SJW problems?’

So I set about researching self-esteem and my findings were far more interesting than I could have hoped.

What is Self-Esteem?


Self-esteem is how you see yourself. Not how others see you, not how society reacts to you. Your own personal perspective on you.

‘Healthy’ self-esteem is having a generally positive personal narrative about yourself [1]. Whereas a ‘negative’ self-esteem puts yourself down, focusing on weaknesses, mistakes, finding it hard to see anything positive [1].

Self-esteem is different from self-confidence. Self-confidence is how you feel about a specific ability, self-esteem is how you feel about yourself as a whole [3]. Confidence changes with context [6], for example I am very confident in my ability to write articles, but I have no confidence in my singing ability. I feel great about myself because I focus on what I can do, and don’t let what I can’t do bother me.

Self-esteem is not your successes or failures. Someone can be amazingly successful but still have low self-esteem. Conversely, but more rarely, someone can be a complete failure but have great self-esteem.

How Does Low Self-Esteem Develop?


Low self-esteem can be taught or developed through [1, 2]
  • systematic punishment, neglect or abuse
  • failing to meet parental standards
  • failing to meet peer-group standards
  • being on the receiving end of other people's stress or distress
  • belonging to a family or social group that other people are prejudiced towards
  • an absence of praise, warmth, affection or interest
  • being the odd one out
  • bullying or intimidation
  • abusive relationships
  • persistent stress or hardship
  • traumatic events
  • difficult life events (e.g. divorce)

Some people’s personality and temperament make them more likely to have low self-esteem [1], however this doesn’t mean they are doomed to stay this way.

Getting into negative thinking patterns can reinforce low self-esteem [1], making it a hard to break habit.

The Impact of Low Self-Esteem


People with low self-esteem may create defence mechanisms and strategies to protect themselves. These include avoiding failures by not trying [5]. When they do try they focus on the negatives, such as the slightest criticism from others. This supports their ‘I’m rubbish’ narrative they have in their heads and take any negative comments (however constructively given) as a personal attack [4].

Low self-esteem can impact people’s daily lives in many ways. Low self-esteem: [1, 2]
  • is linked to mental health issues such as depression and anxiety
  • makes it hard to try new things due to a fear of failure
  • makes it hard to take risks
  • causes social isolation
  • contributes to alcohol and drug use
  • contributes to eating disorders
  • makes people worried what others think of them
  • makes people interpret others and make it personal e.g. if someone compliments you on your appearance, you might think they meant that you must have been looking unattractive before – purposely taking offense at everything
  • makes people become judgemental of others, as they are judgemental of themselves. This encourages projection, also known as Sargon’s Law - what you say of others is true of yourself
  • produces a low expectation of yourself
  • creates an expectation of failure, sometimes to the point of sabotage your own work. This creates a fear of success
  • encourages a personal narrative of “better not to try , than to fail”
And when taken to an extreme, a special snowflake is born. Someone who can’t handle any negativity, to the point of being unable to handle the slighting disagreement of opinon, as that means they could be wrong. And being wrong is failure.

They need a safe space to protect them from people who might commit ‘the microaggression of disagreement.’

The Narrative and Low Self-Esteem


I’m sure reading through the list of ‘impact of low self-esteem’ I wasn’t the only one who had that ‘ah ha!’ moment of recognising the actions of many SJW and Intersectional Feminists. If you didn't, you can find an example of their actions here: [10] http://www.breitbart.com/education/2016/02/10/fake-blood-and-war-chants-milo-yiannopoulos-event-at-rutgers-disrupted-by-feminists-black-lives-matter-activists/

I felt like I was onto something with my hypothesis. But the next question… does the SJW or Intersectional Feminism narrative encourage low self-esteem in those who follow its tenants?

One of the key parts of the Intersectional Feminism and SJW narrative is the Hierarchy of Oppression [9], also known as Privilege Theory or when only considering gender, Patriarchy Theory which is also supported by Radical Feminism.

As a simple explanation Privilege Theory claims the majority is privileged by virtue of being the majority. And any minority is oppressed by the majority by virtue of being a minority. This is especially true when considering positions of power.

As an example, the UK government tends to be made up of heterosexual, white, cis-gender men. Therefore under Privilege Theory all homosexuals, non-whites, trans people, and women must be victims of oppression by all heterosexuals, whites, cis-gendered, and men respectively regardless of personal circumstances.

Egalitarian Feminism not only disagrees with the collective notion of Privilege Theory, but finds it to be actively detrimental to society. Lets revisit the way low self-esteem can be developed with Privilege Theory in mind:
  • systematic punishment, neglect or abuse
  • failing to meet parental standards
  • failing to meet peer-group standards
  • being on the receiving end of other people's stress or distress
  • belonging to a family or social group that other people are prejudiced towards
  • an absence of praise, warmth, affection or interest
  • being the odd one out
  • bullying or intimidation
  • abusive relationships
  • persistent stress or hardship
  • traumatic events
  • difficult life events (e.g. divorce)
Being constantly told you are either a victim or you victimise others by virtue of a trait you have no control over, in my opinion, meets all these criteria. For example 'failing to meet parental standards' may happen if your parents are SJW/ Intersectional Feminists and you happen to be born as an 'oppressor class' by having the audacity of being male.

The Hierarchy of Oppression pretty much promotes low self-esteem for both the oppressed and oppressing groups. After all it’s pretty hard to feel great about oneself when you are constantly told you are either a constant victim or you constantly harm others just by existing. Those who subscribe to this narrative are destroying their own self-esteem, and the result is the 'special snowflake'. Low self-esteem seems to be the root cause of many of the perceived problems,and certainly drives many of the actions of SJW and Intersectional Feminists.

Empower Yourself to Raise Your Self-Esteem


But don’t despair, there’s hope! There are ways to improve self-esteem. That first step is to recognise low self-esteem. It may be hard at first, but it is hugely important to build enough self-esteem to be able to listen to alternative narratives and criticism.

Here is a list of things you can do to improve your self-esteem [1, 2, 8]:

  • Accept your mental wellbeing is your personal responsibility, and no one else’s
  • Accept building self-esteem will not be easy or quick, and could even be painful, but it will be worth it
  • Do things you enjoy such as hobbies
  • Allow yourself time to enjoy things, give yourself permission to be happy
  • Address underlying issues, for example feelings of guilt
  • Work, even if it is a volunteer role
  • Learn to ignore the haters, but not by avoiding them through censoring/ blocking them
  • Build positive relationships, and get rid of negatives ones. Positive friends will
    • Show you they care with action, not just words
    • May be critical but will be positive about it, help you to grow and develop not tear you down and discourage you to try
    • Don’t blame you for things outside your control
    • Are patient
    • Are supportive
    • Are encouraging
  • Learn to be assertive
  • Look after your physical health
    • Exercise
    • Sleep
    • Diet
  • Challenge yourself
  • Learn to identify and challenge negative beliefs - perhaps starting with Privilege Theory if you believe that
  • Build positive habits
  • Don’t take things personally, when you do think about why you took it that way
  • Think about why others might have said something you took personally, were they having a bad day? Where they projecting? Do they have low self-esteem?
  • Concentrate on positive things about yourself, not the negative – beware of biased negative thinking
  • Have a feel-good box or list
  • Try to learn mindfulness
  • Do positive things, like helping others or animals

Treatments


If you feel you need additional or professional help counselling, therapy, and Cognitive Behavioural Theory [6] are recommended treatments.

And don’t forget, there are plenty of people in the world with low self-esteem. It is nothing to be ashamed of. But it is your personal responsibility to address your relationship with yourself. No one else’s. And definitely not societies.

References

[1] http://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/types-of-mental-health-problems/self-esteem/
[2] http://www.overcoming.co.uk/single.htm?ipg=8611
[3] http://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/buildingselfesteem/2012/05/the-difference-between-self-esteem-and-self-confidence/
[4] http://www.overcoming.co.uk/single.htm?ipg=8612
[5] http://www.overcoming.co.uk/single.htm?ipg=8611
[6] http://www.overcoming.co.uk/single.htm?ipg=8613
[7] http://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/buildingselfesteem/2012/05/the-difference-between-self-esteem-and-self-confidence/
[8] http://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/types-of-mental-health-problems/self-esteem/how-can-i-help-myself/
[9] http://egafeminist.blogspot.co.uk/2016/01/blaises-opinions-hierarchy-of-oppression.html
[10] http://www.breitbart.com/education/2016/02/10/fake-blood-and-war-chants-milo-yiannopoulos-event-at-rutgers-disrupted-by-feminists-black-lives-matter-activists/

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