Not My Problem

 

One of the concepts that Tim Jordan explores in Chapter 7 of Activism!: Direct Action, Hacktivism and the Future of Society is the idea of defining the Self and the Other and how that relates to activism. Defining these terms requires simplifying issues of exploitation to the central root of inequality which comes when one defines the Self, inherently creating an Other by exclusion. An example of how this happens in society is given: “Men create themselves as men, they define themselves as a man, by establishing and maintaining social relations that create woman as the Other” (Jordan 144).

As Jones later continues to explain, it can become even more complicated when considering that there are almost always more than one Self and Others. The different combinations of Self and groups of Others can create a vast chain of exploitation. Instead of different Others competing over who is being exploited more, the goal of activism should instead be to illuminate all forms of exploitation and work to fight them.

This last part I found particularly relevant to the different social justice movements that I have seen in my communities. In my high school, there was a huge feminist movement that gained momentum and strived to change many things about student life culture. One of the backlashes against the movement, however, was that it was almost entirely run by white females who all had a rather uniform vision of what feminism meant that still created a Self and an Other within the group of people that feminism was supposed to include. Jones mentions other similar ways in which this concept has taken root within movements and how this relates to the idea of “power”. It definitely got me thinking about what structural requirements could be implemented within group leadership help to alleviate this common issue within movements.

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One thought on “Not My Problem”

  1. This makes me think of the Black Power movement; within the movement, power was placed almost exclusively in male hands, and patriarchal attitudes dominated much of the rhetoric and actions among leadership. Thus although the movement sought justice in countless ways for the Black community in the U.S – through national breakfast programs in schools across the nation, providing fair home mortgages to families in Black communities, etc. – the movement also created a “self” and “other” gender division that fostered exploitation.

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