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social "justice" & thinly veiled cyber-bullying
When mobs of young women attack one another.
In recent internet news, a group of young women aspiring to perform as J-pop-style 'idols' have become the targets of a widespread hate campaign. Sorb3t, a group of three girls from Southern California, faced backlash simply for uploading a video on TikTok. The received 4.1million views in one day and within the weeks the girls found themselves doxed.
At first glance, the video appears innocent enough: three girls with a cheerful demeanor practicing a call-and-response chant in the style of Japanese pop idols. They are of mixed ethnicity and incorporate some Japanese phrases into their performance. This type of performance, where non-Japanese individuals, often described as nerdy women fascinated by Japan's hyper-feminine pop scene, is quite common. I can relate to this as I transitioned from making similar videos like Sorb3t's to receiving a contract from a talent agency in Japan at the age of 17, appearing on Japanese prime-time television. However, nothing could have prepared me for the deluge of hate and personal harassment I faced, largely from fellow Western girls. Although troubling, I did not experience even a fraction of the targeted harassment that Sorb3t is currently enduring.
So why is Sorb3t being harassed? The claim is cultural appropriation. However, their actions did not involve wearing Shinto religious garb disrespectfully, which would truly fall under the definition of appropriation. Their offense was pronouncing a Japanese romanized word correctly. Yet, regardless of the claims made by commenters, the real reason Sorb3t is being harassed by other young women is because they dared to stand out online and attract attention. Notably, the hate mob consists mainly of non-Japanese commenters.
Thus, the cycle of young women canibalizing themselves continues.
Contrary to popular belief, the recent online-based social justice movement that gained traction from Tumblr blogs in the late aughts is not entirely modern. Many of the ideas associated with this movement can be traced back to the academic work originating from the Frankfurt School in the mid-20th century and postmodernist thinkers. While these principles can be genuinely critiqued, they have been exploited by malicious actors who have distorted them to be largely unrecognizable from origin.
These actors, not funded by shadowy states or large corporations, are equally as terrifying. Mobs of young women armed with nothing more than smartphones possess the power to ruin the lives of their peers.
The anti-bullying movement gained momentum with the rise of social media. After a series of suicides in the late 2000s and early 2010s, our nation decided to take a stand against bullying. This was a positive development overall. However, what followed was the acceptance of socially sanctioned bullying disguised as social justice.
Technology has been instrumental in empowering women, from the advent of birth control pills to the #MeToo movement, which brought about significant progress in improving the lives of women. It is time to acknowledge that "social justice" concepts have long been used as excuses for mobs of young women to subject one another to cyber torment. Today, if a group of young girls like Sorb3t were considered nerdy in their community, they might have faced mockery from a few dozen peers. In 2023, they become fodder for abuse in viral cringe compilations, causing distress to young women as a means to blow off steam. We must recognize this behavior for what it truly is: bullying.