Welcome to the first annual Grievance Studies Awards! I combed through over a hundred papers in search of the most absurd, pointless, nonsensical, and pathologically postmodern selections. I named a total of 21 winners in seven categories. Buckle up.
Three or four years ago, I got called out for something I said about rap music: that I didn’t like it and that many musicians’ names started with “Lil” and were thus hard to tell apart.
“Called out” is a gentle way to put it. “Viciously attacked” would be a more accurate description.
It was a group conversation. Someone had brought up rap. I said I didn’t like rap. The caller-out asked me a question. In retrospect, they were probably eager for me to say what I said, to have the chance to pounce.
About a year ago, my younger sister embarked on a mission to misuse the phrase “per se” at every possible opportunity. “I’m probably going to go to bed a little early tonight, per se.” “Do you think it’s, per se, going to rain tomorrow?” “I’m getting strong whiffs of”–long pause–“turmeric, per se?” After a few months of this, I couldn’t for the life of me remember how to use “per se” properly. Even now, I leave it out of my writing because my memory of the term is so muddled.
Everyday Feminism’s articles follow a predictable set of formulas. They’re all essentially reaffirmations of positions the website espouses: center the marginalized voices, everything is critical theory, we live in a racist sexist ableist classist cissexist adultist dystopia, science is oppressive. I don’t think it would take a particularly sophisticated algorithm to keep producing this sort of content, because it’s incredibly trite and predictable. Most titles include a number; a buzzword; and a stock photo that probably wasn’t intended to be hilarious, which only makes it more hilarious.
There are some questions that I’m not supposed to ask. It’s not because I don’t want to ask them, or because I think they’re bad or wrong. It’s because I’m told that these questions are too inflammatory, too controversial, and that I’ll be eaten alive for trying.
It doesn’t matter if I do so respectfully or curiously or with no intention of hurting anyone. Many people, particularly at Stanford, where social justice culture is thriving, don’t believe intention is important. It doesn’t really matter what you believe or how you form those beliefs or whether you’re willing to change them. It matters that you align yourself visibly and vocally with whatever cause is deemed right, and that you agree to view yourself and the rest of the world through the simplistic framework of privilege and oppression.