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Julie Burchill: "Why I loathe the woke"
290

beastlyslumber · 29/11/2021 19:14

Just thought I'd share this piece of joy for anyone else who is fond of Ms Burchill...

OP's posts:
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LobsterNapkin · 29/11/2021 21:09

Totally disagree that it is trying to describe a bunch of unrelated things.

That's really why it gets used, I think, people want to describe things they see as connected but they don't have a good "official" word to do so.

It doesn't help that when they try to pick a descriptions, something like Critical Theory say, they get all kinds of people telling them it's WRONG and they are just making things up. So they just use a word that seems descriptive.

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Shedmistress · 29/11/2021 21:12

@foxgoosefinch

Interestingly I’ve heard people similarly object to the term “snowflake” on the grounds that it is a far-right 4Chan invention -- actually it wasn’t, it was first used on the US-basses university teachers’ online forum of the Chronicle of Higher Education in the very early 2000s to mean middle class university students, who were such delicate flowers that they practically melted if they didn’t have everything spoonfed to them, depended on their parents for everything and made constant complaints about being offended. Grin

It was in Fight Club in 1999 I first heard it. [written 1996]...

'You are not a beautiful and unique snowflake'...and from then on yes it has been used [quite rightly] for the people you mentioned.
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CharlieParley · 29/11/2021 21:14

Interesting discussion.

It undoubtedly is an important word to black civil rights activism, but neither the word "woke" nor the concept behind it originate with the black activists using it today. It comes from the writings of post-modernists and post-structuralist, and found expression in various critical theories, around the 1950s and 1960s. Hence it does not merely describe someone awoken to the realities of racism, but it describes anyone who develops a critical consciousness around any aspect of social justice. (The consciousness raising sessions held by second wave feminists are another example of this.)

And the underlying concept, arising as it does out of critical theories and post-modernism is not without problem. (But nothing ever is when it comes to ideologies. Especially those intent on breaking and remaking the world in their image.)

Likewise "Karen" is not originally a word used to refer to white women in a context of racial prejudice but a misogynist slur coined by a very bitter man who posted about his wife, Karen, and how much he hated her. It took off from there. Later, black activists started using the term in the manner described. It always was and, I would argue even in the context of the discourse about race it continues to be a misogynist slur.

I think we should be able to at least consider that as the word woke is claimed by a number of other social justice movements, that there's some justification in Burchill using it the way she does.

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foxgoosefinch · 29/11/2021 21:16

Yes absolutely @Shedmistress! That was the origin for its use on the Chronicle (the boards were chock full of contemporary American lit people!)

They also tried to invent a gender neutral pronoun “hu” around the mid-2000s which didn’t quite catch on then, but there was already a lot of pronoun stuff mixed up in it all even then.

Personally, I rather prefer the daft “hu” to the singular they - it was pronounced somewhere between “hoo” and “huh” as I recall 🤣

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MichelleScarn · 29/11/2021 21:20

@foxgoosefinch now all I can think of is 'Horton Hears a Hu' by Dr Seuss!

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TheAntiGardener · 29/11/2021 21:24

@lightand

I agree with Hazel and Classica. The label is divisive because its original, still valid, meaning has been hijacked

Once a term has moved on from it's original, it cant be brought back, can it.
Language evolves.
You only have to look at old maps, or speak to a linguist.

I take your point, but I have read threads on here by black posters bemoaning ‘white feminism’ and giving the use of this term by white women as an example. Hazel has come on to express just this POV and was shot down. I find a split between white and black women in feminism alarming and depressing, but it’s a natural consequence of not listening. It’s really clear to me in any case that the meaning of ‘woke’ has not changed for many people.
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foxgoosefinch · 29/11/2021 21:25

@MichelleScarn 🤣 I know, it does sound so delightfully daft! Better than xie/fae/xir or whatever!

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Shedmistress · 29/11/2021 21:31

Hazel has come on to express just this POV and was shot down. I find a split between white and black women in feminism alarming and depressing, but it’s a natural consequence of not listening. It’s really clear to me in any case that the meaning of ‘woke’ has not changed for many people.

What's wrong with loathing these people that are misappropriating the word?

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HazelCarbyFan · 29/11/2021 21:33

The notion of “class consciousness” goes back to Marx, but nobody was using the specific term “woke.” The concept is not new, but the post-structuralists (largely writing in French) were not using “woke.” That is a term originating in contemporary Black culture within the last decade. Before that we talked about developing racial consciousness but we used to just call it “being conscious,” being real, etc.

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LookNorthbyNorthWest · 29/11/2021 21:39

When it comes to the internet, "Woke" = clickbait and is guaranteed to get people thinking with their emotion rather than their reason. Serious people don't use it as a form of criticism. I do sometimes agree with Burchill, but I don't have much respect for her as a person. She's always been half intellectual, half drama llama.

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foxgoosefinch · 29/11/2021 21:44

I do actually agree with you, Hazel - it’s unfortunate that the white Tumblrati adopted it for themselves, especially on identity / gender issues.

It definitely has a specific political meaning in AAVE - dating back further than the last decade, though - I’ve read it in that usage in African-American writing from the late 60s/early 70s onwards. I am uncomfortable with its current usage as a result.

I’m not sure the term as it’s used now will be easy to put back in the bottle though, as pp say upthread. I’ve heard my MIL using it and she’s a white working class Daily Mail reader living in Essex with zero knowledge of black political history….

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JessicaPipsqueak · 29/11/2021 21:58

@HazelCarbyFan could you sound any more pompous? Grin

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Momobeats · 29/11/2021 22:00

@BlameItOnTheBlackStar

OP apparently you need to now become the defender of the term woke, despite not actually using it yourself.

Confused

Username checks out.
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Gncq · 29/11/2021 22:02

We do need a word to describe the current political movement originating from North America, so popular amongst middle class university students, that is completely against free speech and is pro language control, that we now describe as "woke".
We need a word for it.
Any suggestions?

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Momobeats · 29/11/2021 22:02

Likewise "Karen" is not originally a word used to refer to white women in a context of racial prejudice but a misogynist slur coined by a very bitter man who posted about his wife, Karen, and how much he hated her.

QI klaxon

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Clymene · 29/11/2021 22:04

@HazelCarbyFan

The notion of “class consciousness” goes back to Marx, but nobody was using the specific term “woke.” The concept is not new, but the post-structuralists (largely writing in French) were not using “woke.” That is a term originating in contemporary Black culture within the last decade. Before that we talked about developing racial consciousness but we used to just call it “being conscious,” being real, etc.

Even wiki says it goes back further

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Woke
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foxgoosefinch · 29/11/2021 22:05

Username checks out.

@Momobeats - blame it on the black star is a lyric from a 1990s Radiohead track about depression. Not a racial slur of any kind, just so you know. [Hmm]

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BlackandGreen · 29/11/2021 22:12

[quote JessicaPipsqueak]@HazelCarbyFan could you sound any more pompous? Grin[/quote]
Well, that's helpful.

I'd like to spend more time on FWR, women united can do wondrous things. However, posts like this, which dismiss an honestly held view from the perspective of a black woman, make me think again. No discussion, no reasoned disagreement, just a rude shout down.

We need to be able to listen to each other, not put each other down like this.

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Momobeats · 29/11/2021 22:19

@foxgoosefinch

Username checks out.

*@Momobeats* - blame it on the black star is a lyric from a 1990s Radiohead track about depression. Not a racial slur of any kind, just so you know. [Hmm]

Fair enough Fox, thanks for letting me know. I think I'm being hypervigilant because I still can't believe this comment from the "Are you watching Womanhood?" thread.

I have varying degrees of fondness for Curtis Mayfield, Jerk chicken and marijuana that somehow makes me black.
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BlackandGreen · 29/11/2021 22:20

@LookNorthbyNorthWest

When it comes to the internet, "Woke" = clickbait and is guaranteed to get people thinking with their emotion rather than their reason. Serious people don't use it as a form of criticism. I do sometimes agree with Burchill, but I don't have much respect for her as a person. She's always been half intellectual, half drama llama.

I agree.
Same for the misuse of " Karen".
Not used at all by BMnetters. (The occasional plopper who uses it on there as click bait gets short shrift behind the scenes.)
Respect and mutual understanding, is the bedrock of women organising together. Not sneering at each other.
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BlackandGreen · 29/11/2021 22:22

I have varying degrees of fondness for Curtis Mayfield, Jerk chicken and marijuana that somehow makes me black.

Just what the fuck is that supposed to mean?

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Clymene · 29/11/2021 22:22

You what @Momobeats? ShockShock

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Franca123 · 29/11/2021 22:25

You couldn't make it up. The woke have now decided it racist to use the term woke. This movement gets more ridiculous every day.

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Libertaire · 29/11/2021 22:26

Some of us have been warning for years that the left’s obsession with toxic, divisive identity politics, hierarchies of victimhood and Stalinist policing of ideas & language would end in repression, purges and draconian restrictions on freedom of speech.

And here we are.

Meanwhile, the right keeps the ‘culture war’ pot boiling, laughs as the left tears itself apart and continues to govern the country, apparently in perpetuity.

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HazelCarbyFan · 29/11/2021 22:28

I agree - at first I thought people complaining about “Karen” were merely being dismissive of Black people addressing power dynamics, but after seeing discussions on here, I noticed how it was being used constantly for no reason completely devoid from any meaning. So I stopped using it. Can’t we do the same thing for mindlessly labeling things woke? It’s like neoliberal - it means something but there was a while when it was being applied to so much it became meaningless and became less useful to use as a result.

I do appreciate the dialogue on here. I posted in upset, which I think is fair, and was really annoyed, and some have been hostile, but others, even if disagreeing have been open. I do believe women can talk with each other!

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