It probably comes as no surprise that I really hate the term “fee-fees.” For those of you more fortunate than I, “fee-fees” is a disparaging term that SJ folks throw around. It means “feelings” and is usually used in the context of “I don’t care about your fee-fees,” or “oh no, your precious fee-fees!” or other statements of obvious merit and discursive might.
So this is bad. Obviously, there’s that whole thing where I don’t think that scorn and derision belong in discourse. I also have more specific objections to this issue.
It erects a dangerous double standard.
First, imagine that you’re new to this whole SJ deal. You read some blog where someone is calling the depiction of people of color, or women, or trans* people problematic, zie is demanding that things be changed, zie is angry, vociferous. And you disagree with zir course of action, finding it problematic or offensive and zie strikes back, “Oh, your precious fee-fees. Go away.”
What can you do but be confused? Why is it the case that the feelings of women, of trans* folks matter, but yours don’t? If I were in this position, I’d probably come to the conclusion that, weirdly, social justice puts the feels of certain groups on pedestals at the expense of others. That it’s this thing that actually generates inequality. Being who I am, I’d disagree with that very strongly, call bullshit, and leave.
I think these attitudes absolutely scare off the uninitiated and likely give them negative ideas about what social justice is.
Secondly, I think that the attitudes embodied by “fee-fees” actuallydo generate inequality. When you repeatedly tell certain groups (ex. straight, white, cis men) that their feelings don’t matter and that their voices aren’t welcome just because of who they are, you silence them and create a space in which they experience something that feels, or at least looks, like oppression. Even when oppression is tiny, it’s still not a good thing.
These double standards are bad news and I think they’re to be avoided at most costs.
It Undermines This Whole SJ Deal
Feminism and social justice are built on notions that feelings and lived experiences matter. They are important and are to be respected. If they weren’t, then then there wouldn’t be a need to eliminate hate speech, slurs, and negative stereotypes so long as they only harmed feelings.
If there is any reason why your feelings unequivocally matter and mine do not, then I actually don’t know why we’re doing this. I can’t wrap my head around the notion that, for reasons beyond their control, anyone matters more than anyone else. I don’t know what the point is unless it’s to make the world a better place for everyone. And, frankly, two wrongs do not and will never make a right.
The attitudes that cause terms like “fee-fees” are pretty much exactly as harmful and problematic as the attitudes that we’re fighting against.