A lady I work with is a prime example. Being the two newbies and the two smokers in the office gave us ample opportunity to discover that we are both intelligent and interested people and so we never really waste time talking about the weather: typical lunchtime conversations will cover everything from theories of autism spectrum disorders based on how brains classify incoming data, with reference to Jung, Plato, and apples; systemic prejudice against people with natural Afro hair; the intricacies of incorporating waist shaping into a complex lace pattern repeat; and the peculiar simultaneous push and pull of weddings as bisexual ladies living in a patriarchal society. It is awesome.
So when she came over this morning talking about squirrels, my hopes were high.
You know when puberty begins its relentless assault, the pituitary grand starts sparking and you're more aware of your crotch than you've ever been before in your life - and suddenly everything reminds you of sex? Hayfever (trees spunking on your face!), crossing your legs a little too tightly, the pronunciation of the German word for 'six'. I remember actually getting aroused by an educational film we watched in Textiles class about cotton production. (Something about the motion of the mechanised looms was just really... thrusty.) Months pass in this bizarre la-la-land of giddy, glazed, hormonal lust.
Remember? Yeah? Well: getting interested in social justice is nothing like that.
But! I think this is what people who accuse us of Political Correctness think it is like. As if "trying not to be a dick" were this cool new fad, a perky obsession that inevitably fades with time; a pair of racism-coloured spectacles which make you see the entire world as Problematic. This version of events places the blame for oppression, micro-aggressions (or to use my preferred technical term, "fucked up shit") on the observer: if we wouldn't spend so much time looking for problems, everything would be fine! Because post-racial! Or something!
Which is obviously bollocks. This stuff happens all the time; social justice just gives you the theory to understand it and the language to describe it accurately
The squirrels, if you were wondering, had been accused of Coming Over Here And Taking Our Jobs/Women/Nuts. (There are also black squirrels, which come from Africa, and are more violent than delicate indigenous English Rose squirrels, who do not hold with foreign food or rambunctious behaviour. With the exception of the last clause, I AM NOT MAKING THIS SHIT UP.) Basically, this is the fauna-based equivalent of my current favourite Daily Mail article, the absolute culmination of 116 years of insular, frothing hatred: "IS THE PILL TO BLAME FOR IMMIGRATION?"