Picture the scene: a local church hall setting, tea and coffee making station on a trestle table at the entrance. Sat in a circle are a group of white men and women looking nervous, scratching their heads and glancing at the clock. A man walks into the room wearing a tie-dye t-shirt and sandals. He smiles at the milquetoast congregation, his community group for woke snowflakes. Over the course of an hour this group shares stories of how they treat people of different colours, sexualities and genders. One even dares to mention the working class; a positively scandalous topic. They end their tolerant’s moot and walk back to their miserable lives in a grey and rocky world.
That’s how ‘woke’ is described as: a creche for people seemingly obsessed with the clearly unimportant topics of *scoff* …identity. As if who you are matters in 2020…
I speak ironically, of course. Being ‘woke’ is no more scandalous or revolutionary than using a bag for life at supermarkets. The term itself is misleading — ‘woke’ implying an awakened state of being. “My eyes have opened to injustice! I am the lizard queen!” etc etc. Awakened? I didn’t suddenly convert to being open-minded and progressive over night, you know. It’s not a switch, nor is it an ideological position. It just is. Wokeness and woke culture is a misnomer for being a generally nice person, tolerant of people’s individual and group identities, respectful and mindful of humanity. That’s not being awakened — that’s just…normal?
It should be said that the only people to use woke as an insult are those vehemently against the concept of universal social justice, or at least leaning towards some form of natural hierarchy. This discussion could explode into the facets of society that entrench a constructed hierarchy, either through race, sex or wealth. But critically, I want to explore what is so utterly disgust-fuelling as the beliefs of the progressive.
I write this piece in the midst of a storm of reaction to Laurence Fox’s outburst on Question Time, and the subsequent explosion of guest appearances where he turns up looking like he’s just got out of the shower. Apparently, he won’t date woke women. Not sure that’s a benefit to you Laurence, most women tend to appreciate being respected. He’s wanked himself onto our timelines to have this ‘debate’ prodded once and for all. Now, you can argue that retweets and coverage is only fuelling his spunky rag of snot further. I disagree. His anti-wokeness is a deliberate challenge, albeit very auto-fellatio, to social justice. He claims to be all for free speech, then surely our opposition to him forms part of that thesis? “I love my free speech because I can be controversial! Don’t you dare tell me otherwise, you fuckers!”
Furthermore, if I share some godawful Hartley-Brewerism to criticise whatever bile has been coughed up, is that not a moment of opposition? Are my Twitter followers, the kind people they are, so gullible to presume that this single share represents a deliberate platform? I’m basically telling them to throw themselves into the canal — it’s hardly the Today Programme.
What is wrong with standing up for respect and tolerance? I bet I could sit Mr Fox down and ask him the simple question: do you think people deserve a right to be happy? There’s only a few morons who’d say no. An individual’s happiness is tied to their state of being, influenced by factors of identity and space.
Being woke is not about egotism or selfishness. It’s about happiness. The trans community are beautifully diverse, colourful and proud. They’re equally under enormous subjugation from societal norms, not believing them or sexualising them to the point of inhumanity. I can’t speak fully for trans people — being mindful of another’s experiences is equally important as being progressive. But if happiness in the world is under threat because of loudmouths hellbent on denying trans people as human beings the rights and privileges that everyone equally should have, that’s a cause for being totally committed to woke.
Being woke isn’t about undermining society, nor is it the electric current to shock people into submission. It’s the simplest message of life. It’s biblical, actually: do unto others as they would do unto you. Love thy neighbour. Treat with kindness, and be a Good Samaritan.
Woke is about humanity, and what’s more human than love?