Snowflake: A story of tattoos and insults

So, very important fact about me: I got my first tattoo at the age of 26, and it is 2 small snowflakes on my right wrist. I got it in December of 2016.

You may be wondering why anyone on earth aside from me (and my mum) would care about whether I choose to get a tattoo and what it is, but the reason I am telling you this is because before 2016, I had never heard the word “snowflake” used as an insult. I had however gotten very used to it as a term of endearment and nickname from someone who means a great deal to me, and I had always thought that if I was ever brave to get a tattoo I would get a snowflake because it is feminine, meaningful and I just like it.

This article does a much better job of explaining the intricacies of the origin of snowflake as an insult, but in summary, snowflakes are used as an insult because actual snowflakes don’t withstand heat, are considered feminine, and finally, all snowflakes are unique.

The usage of snowflake as an insult is definitely not new but it has seen a resurgence in recent times and has spread with the aid of the internet and the global nature of media we currently experience.

Historically speaking, in the United States as early as the 1860’s, snowflake was used as an insult. In this particular context it referred to people who opposed the abolition of slavery, it was used because it implied that these people viewed white people as more important than black people.

Cue 2016 and the frankly surprising election of Donald Trump and suddenly everyone who disagreed with him was a snowflake or “sad” or any number of insults from his infamous twitter tirades (I’ve linked to his entire twitter there because frankly there’s such a constant stream of juvenile insults that I’ve no doubt whatsoever that you’ll find one of his dummy spits within seconds).

This insult caught on with such a vehemence that it was impossible to avoid it and I quickly realised that my tattoo was going to garner more than admiring looks, it was going to result in snickers about how I must be an easily triggered SJW. The thing is, I am absolutely, undeniably a Social Justice Warrior and I am so proud of it. The notion that fighting for social justice is supposed to be embarrassing or shameful is merely a tool used by the far right to shame those who stand up and oppose racist/homophobic/sexist/transphobic policies, speeches and actions by those in positions of power and the global community.

I refuse to bow down to the social and peer pressure that is increasingly present in my life to be silent when I see injustice. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I am angry, I am furious at the state of the world. When people I know and love are being threatened every day, you bet your ass I am going to stand up and be as loud as I can, but more than that, even if I didn’t know a single person being affected by the current political climate I would stand up and say that what is happening is categorically wrong and it shouldn’t be allowed to happen. When my own country is interning refugees and asylum seekers indefinitely, leading them to commit self harm or suicide or go on prolonged hunger strikes out of sheer desperation, I will stand up and fight for them, because the government of my country has silenced them so effectively it is frightening.

When the government of my country aligns itself with Donald Trump and continually announces itself as an ally of the US government, I will stand tall and say that they are not my government. I refuse to ally myself with a man like Donald Trump who has been accused of sexual assault no less than 15 times since the 1980’s, who has promised to build a wall between the United States and Mexico to prevent people crossing the border, who has incited racial and religious hatred through his comments about Islam, black people, and women.

I will be an ally to those who need it, those who are being oppressed and treated unfairly in a new political climate driven by fear, ignorance and bigotry.

I will proudly wear my snowflake tattoo because even though it didn’t start as a signal for being an SJW, it sure as shit has morphed into one, and I’m proud of that. I will always fight for Social Justice.

 

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Facebook, feminism and fuckery: A tale of one man’s anger.

MASSIVE TRIGGER WARNING: THIS POST DISCUSSES THREATS OF VIOLENCE TOWARD WOMEN.

Okay, so I’m angry. So angry. As per the title, there’s probably going to be a bunch of swearing and unkind language in this post, and I’m not even slightly sorry for it.

Gather round, I’m gonna tell you the story of how I got called a “man hating bitch who is easily triggered”.  It all began on Tuesday night, when I was scrolling through facebook, and found a post in one of the groups I’m in which professes to be fans of two well known youtubers who are brothers (yeah, you know who I mean). These two youtubers are very into social justice, equality and fairness, including rights for groups which are discriminated against (this is relevant, I swear). So imagine my surprise when a woman in the group posts about receiving an obscene, disturbing and threatening message from a “friend” via facebook messenger, and many people told her to block him and move on.

That part, I could deal with, it’s like sticking your head in the sand and pretending this sexist, violent, and threatening scumbag doesn’t exist in the real world, but I do get that sometimes its easier than trying to report something of that nature and hoping that some sort of acceptable outcome will evolve from it. The thing that got me really mad, was one commenter in particular who made a comment consisting of “I keep my friends list to 100 people who I know well, and also I’m a man”. That’s actually not paraphrasing at all… Can you see why I got mad?

That had the double whammy of victim blaming (by implying she had too many friends on facebook and therefore was inviting this) AND making the blunt statement that men aren’t the target of this kind of thing (Which is completely untrue). Over the next 90 minutes we commented back and forth and it got heated at points, I’m not saying I was perfect in my language. I was definitely angry and not very polite and I make no excuse for that, however what really got me boiling mad was when a third party commented that “man-hating women are so easily triggered” and the first commenter, henceforth known as Douchenozzle A latched onto that and called me a misandrist on numerous occasions, for my repeated assertions that women receiving online threats was not uncommon, should be taken seriously and should definitely be reported. Somehow this guy totally Jumped the shark into a discussion about how women can victimise men, how he has received unsolicited nude pics and therefore he is a victim too. I agreed, he is a victim, he’s a victim of unsolicited nude pics. However the woman who posted the original status that kicked this whole thing off, had been told by a male friend that he wanted to lock her up and use and torment her at his whim. I know unsolicited nudes is not cool, but there’s a huge gulf between “here’s a dick/a pair of tits/an ass” and “I want to use and torment you in a locked room.”

All of this is to say that fighting online produces no victors and will only suffice to raise one’s blood pressure to dangerous levels, but it also speaks to a frighteningly common trend in society:  the notion that threats made online are not taken seriously and are dismissed as “just words” by many people, and especially by those who the threats aren’t aimed at. We see this time and time again when it comes to any marginalised group: women, people of differing races, genders, sexualities etc. Those who aren’t being threatened are much more likely to say “well they only said it, it’s not like they actually acted on it.” But then, when a person is killed by their verbally abusive partner or the behaviour escalates in other ways people shake their heads and say “Well why didn’t they just leave the partner before it got worse?” Victims of any kind are rarely likely to catch a break from those who don’t understand what it is like to be a victim in the first place.

When I tell people that I got into yet another “facebook debate” about some issue or another, they’re likely to respond “just don’t get into it, people aren’t going to listen,” which is faulty logic. How are we to change problematic behaviour if no one says a word?  If those who opposed slavery in the US had said nothing, or the Women’s Suffrage movement had stayed quiet, there would still be huge numbers of slaves, and women wouldn’t have the vote. And frankly, I’m tired of staying quiet, for the sake of not having an argument. If I have to argue with 1,000 people about equality, then I will.

You know, being called a misandrist by a man who asserts that rape threats aren’t something to be concerned by if you’re a woman probably isn’t the worst thing I’ve ever been called, but it’s probably the most ironic. Only a true misogynist would invalidate rape threats.

As a nice little cherry on top of this bullshit soufflé, Douchenozzle A later came back to “clarify some points” by editing his posts to paint himself in a more sympathetic and less misogynistic light. Dozens of commenters called him out on it, and posted screenshots of his original statements. That part was sorta delightful, I’m not gonna lie, if that makes me a bad person then so be it.

This entire post has been brought to you by the internalised misogyny and anti feminist sentiment that has pervaded human societies for thousands of years.