The woman canceling cancel culture: How an academic’s ‘support group for the unwoke’ is helping people fight back against social justice office culture – including a black man who was sick of being told he was oppressed
British academic Helen Pluckrose helps people avoid succumbing to the pressures of woke-ism through her firm Counterweight
An academic who specializes in liberal ethics has set up a ‘support group for the unwoke’ that is helping to push back against social-justice culture in the workplace.
Helen Pluckrose, founder of the social justice ideology advice firm Counterweight, said she helps about 100 clients a month, mostly people who are being forced out of their jobs for defying social justice dogma in schools and the workplace.
Pluckrose, who previously researched medieval religious writing, set up Counterweight last year, after the brutal police killing of George Floyd inspired Americans to combat racism and social injustice.
She said Floyd’s murder triggered a flood of emails from people who were suddenly ordered to comply with new workplace social justice standards that forbade them from having independent thoughts on racism, gender norms, and sexism.
She says her clients have included a black man who ‘didn’t want to be told what black people think and feel constantly,’ and a Muslim woman who failed a course on Islamic attitudes toward woman because she doesn’t ‘think they’re that great.’
And an academic who was bullied for using the term ‘mother’ to describe someone who gave birth.
‘People want a way to say “I don’t believe what you’re trying to get me to pretend I believe,” Pluckrose who lives in London told Dailymail.com.
‘I want to be able to be able to oppose racism, or homophobia, or sexism from my own moral values and not from these particular America-central theoretical ones.’
The brutal 2020 police killing of George Floyd reignited social and racial tensions in the US
Pluckrose said 99 percent of her clients are at risk of losing their jobs or volunteer positions for refusing to acquiesce to their employers’ social justice guidelines.
Most of her clients are in Britain and the US, with others scattered mainly in Canada, Australia, Germany, the Netherlands, and France. Counterweight is based in the UK.
Through Counterweight, the married mother of one helps people facing problems related to critical social justice by providing them with resources, supporting them, and connecting them with others who are experiencing similar challenges.
The organization also educates people, and helps employers build liberal policies that don’t interfere with freedom of thought or belief.
‘We are a liberal humanist organization and then we define that broadly so that we’re there for anybody who believes that it’s important to fight racism and other forms of discrimination but doesn’t want to be compelled to do so using what we call critical social justice theories, which are colloquially known as woke-ism,’ Pluckrose said.
‘Someone, for example, who believes racism is wrong might believe it’s wrong because they’re a Liberal, and they think people should be treated as individuals, or because they’re Conservatives who believe that individual responsibility is important, or because they’re a Muslim who believes we’re all children of God.
‘They shouldn’t have to pretend to believe that racism is a particular system of power and privilege that manifests in whiteness which permeates all levels of society through people’s unconscious brains and then needs to be dug out using a particular theory developed in America.’
Pluckrose also edits the online magazine Areo, which contains articles on ‘enlightenment liberalism, humanism, secularism and freedom of expression.’
She’s co-author of ‘Cynical Theories: How Activist Scholarship Made Everything about Race, Gender, and Identity – And Why This Harms Everybody.’
The graduated from the University of East London with a literature degree, and received her master’s in early modern studies at Queen Mary University in London.
The woke-ism trend is beginning to temper in the US, but doesn’t appear to be seeing much improvement across the pond.
Pluckrose has written a template for Black and South Asian Brits who want a list of assurances they won’t be racialized by an employer before accepting a new job.
The primary problem, she said, is that people are being called upon to pretend to believe things they don’t.
Robin DiAngelo, an anti-racist author who wrote a NYT bestseller ‘White Fragility’
She referenced the approach of academic and author Robin DiAngelo, whose work suggests white people are inherently racist, and that all Black people have common experiences of racism.
DiAngelo believes that people must recognize and dismantle their inner racism, but Pluckrose takes issue with that position.
She likened it to making all employees recite the Apostles’ Creed every morning, regardless of their religion.
‘This goes against beliefs in freewill, essentially, the liberal belief in free will that people can choose to have or reject racist ideas is being denied,’ she said. ‘If you’re forced to say, “yes I am racist,” or you’re forced to say, “yes, I am experiencing this very theoretically specific form of racism,” when you don’t think that you are, it’s not acceptable on the grounds of freedom of belief, or viewpoint diversity’
Pluckrose said she’s hopeful more people start to push back against woke-ism, and said it’s harming those it’s meant to protect.
‘It’s getting increasingly hard for people even on the liberal left to say that this is OK,’ she said. ‘I think it will get pushed back. My concern is that I don’t want to see it get pushed back by reactionary right-wing forces.
‘I would rather it got pushed back by ethical conservatives and liberals on the left, who are still genuinely caring about racism, sexism and homophobia. I’m worried about the rising support for things on the right who want to kind of ban all of these theories and push back at it in a way that would genuinely affect genuine liberal attempts to improve racism and other forms of prejudice.’
Pluckrose does not take a salary for her Counterweight work, though some of her colleagues are compensated through crowdfunding donations.
Outside of her work helping those suffering from woke-ism, she edits the non-partisan online magazine Areo, which contains articles on ‘enlightenment liberalism, humanism, secularism and freedom of expression.’
She’s also known for some hilarious shenanigans.
Together with academics James Lindsay and Peter Boghossian, Pluckrose helped write phony studies on over-the-top themes, including rape culture among dogs.
Academics James A. Lindsay (left) Helen Pluckrose (center) and Peter Boghossian (right) wrote papers on over-the-top topics as an experiment into the objectiveness of humanities
The pranksters drummed up a paper called ‘ Human Reactions to Rape Culture and Queer Performativity at Urban Dog Parks in Portland, Ore.’, and claimed the intent was to observe dog owners’ reactions to their pets having sex.
The paper indicated that people usually intervened in male-on-male situations, but for the most part did not interrupt when a male dog was mating with a female.
It said, ‘Because of my own situatedness as a human, rather than as a dog, I recognize my limitations in being able to determine when an incidence of dog humping qualifies as rape.’
The authors submitted the bogus paper – and others – to peer-reviewed journals, and some accepted the research as accurate.
Pluckrose was part of a team who successfully submitted parody articles about ‘dog rape culture’, ‘a conceptual penis’ and the ‘fat-exclusionary’ nature of bodybuilding to show how easily morally fashionable political ideas are published
The pranks appeared to be an effort to prove humanities journals will publish work that’s considered morally fashionable.
‘Something has gone wrong in the university – especially in certain fields within the humanities,’ the authors wrote in an online post following the experiment. ‘Scholarship based less upon finding truth and more upon attending to social grievances has become firmly established, if not fully dominant, within these fields, and their scholars increasingly bully students, administrators, and other departments into adhering to their worldview.
‘This worldview is not scientific, and it is not rigorous.’
Pluckrose coauthored the acclaimed novel ‘Cynical Theories: How Active Scholarship Made Everything About Race, Gender and Identity – And Why This Harms Everybody’
The team previously published a paper called ‘The Conceptual Penis as a Social Construct’ in the journal Cogent Social Sciences.
Their scribblings included the phrases ‘gender-performative, high fluid social construct’, ‘exclusionary to disenfranchised communities’, and ‘isomorphic to performative toxic masculinity’.
They even associated male anatomy with climate change.
Another paper published in the journal Fat Studies claimed that body building is ‘fat-exclusionary’.
Floyd’s death prompted anti-racism education campaigns in schools and workplaces
It might come as no surprise that Pluckrose is the daughter of a comedian. But that doesn’t mean she doesn’t take her work seriously.
Pluckrose, a culture and political writer, describes herself as a ‘liberal humanist.’
Pluckrose says it’s important to fight racism, but not by ‘using a particular theory developed in America’ that doesn’t take into account individual experiences or lines of thought