This quality of being just, impartial, or fair has, in its time, been abused as much as the marginalized people this quality should represent. These appropriations are not as publicized as infringements upon one of the values that the United States is founded should be, especially in a time when justice is being tested by modern politics.
Among these fouls, in a social justice sense, is the notion of for-profit feminism. Brands have realized that as a result of a growing feminist movement, manifesting itself in the global community of thousands of women that participated in the Women’s March, they can stand to make money off of these women. Some commercials that are explicitly feminist have reeled in over 90 million views. This in mind, a SheKnows study conducted on 600 women in 2014 found that fifty-two percent of women had purchased a product due to seeing its pro-woman stance. Using these statistics, that results in over forty-six million sales for a company. While it is extremely important, psychologically speaking, for girls and women to see themselves portrayed positively in media, it is naïve to think that these corporations do so for women’s sake. Twenty-four Fortune 500 companies have boards without any women on them, and it is in these men’s interests to use a feminist message to line their pockets.
On a more individual level, people wear social justice sentiments with pride on online dating profiles, but in reality do not accurately portray the ideals they claim to stand for. In an eHarmony statistic, fifty-three percent of people lie on their online dating profiles. This idea, along with the pervasive nature of right-wing articles proclaiming hatred for social justice warriors, provides an opportunity to reasonably assume overlap between the two ideas. But these individuals online are full of a sort of hypocrisy. The same people that read and believe these articles want to get with those thousands of women that marched on Washington and the world over, so they wear a false identity to physically exploit women that truly believe in the ideals they falsely wear.
Some of the most dangerous misuses of justice are the ones that perpetuate injustice. Specifically, I am talking about its role in intimate-partner violence. Every Day Feminism does an excellent job of breaking this down, but in essence abusers that are subjected to more oppression use that as an excuse for violence. To support this statistically, The Advocate published the statement that
The CDC’s 2010 National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey, released again in 2013 with new analysis, reports in its first-ever study focusing on victimization by sexual orientation that the lifetime prevalence of rape, physical violence, or stalking by an intimate partner was 43.8 percent for lesbians, 61.1 percent for bisexual women, and 35 percent for heterosexual women, while it was 26 percent for gay men, 37.3 percent for bisexual men, and 29 percent for heterosexual men (this study did not include gender identity or expression).
In relationships with LBGTQ+ individuals, it is a tactic used by those individuals that have been oppressed for too long and take it out on their partner. The person then believes that because they have been a victim, they do not have to take responsibility as an oppressor.
However justice is not merely a social idea. In a political sense, the ascent of Trump is paved by a less-than-fairytale relationship with justice. His family empire is built on the premise of worker exploitation, which alone is the theft of justice from an entire population. These workers are some of the same immigrants his staff targets today, but this double-dip goes often unreported. Let alone the sexual assault cases that came up prior to the election that he dismissed with Twitter rants or didn’t discuss at all. Never mind all the other questionable acts that jeopardize justice on international scales—those are longer articles for other days.
As a whole, the idea of justice is a core idea to any protest, to most of the messages that Margins as a whole stands behind, and should be defensible at all costs. For its name to be misused and abused is wrong. Should you ever see this, call it out. Do not be scared into silence—callout culture is meant to empower individuals to end oppression, not to be afraid that they’ll be called out in turn. As for intimate-partner violence, should you or anyone you know be a victim, the CDC has a list of resources for you. Love doesn’t hurt or hit or hinder, it helps. Engage in non-profit feminism by supporting non-profit feminist literature—like us!—and by researching the companies you buy from to ensure that they are built not in pure, emotionless capitalism, but that they have women on their executive boards or donate to non-profit feminist organizations. Saving justice begins not with armchair activism, but with active assistance and resistance.