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Gen Y Speaks: This is why I don’t want to be woke. Don’t cancel me for it

Being “hella woke” is foolish. Lower your pitchforks, and hear me out.

“Wokeism” and cancel culture threaten genuine collaboration and discussion, and subsequently, the expansion of thought and knowledge, says the author (pictured).

“Wokeism” and cancel culture threaten genuine collaboration and discussion, and subsequently, the expansion of thought and knowledge, says the author (pictured).

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Being “hella woke” is foolish. Lower your pitchforks, and hear me out.

There are some aspects of the woke movement I genuinely applaud. For example, cancelling slurs like “slut”, “faggot”, and “tranny”.

Language shapes how we think, and consequently, how societies function. 

In cancelling words and phrases that perpetuate negative stereotypes — women should not be sexually promiscuous, being gay or transgender is derogable — I believe we are making the world a better place.

What I cannot get on board with is the cancelling of people and organisations for believing or saying something that opposes the “woke stance”, whatever the issue. 

The push for kinder and more inclusive norms should not entail condemning dissenters.

I’ve included a screenshot of JK Rowling’s fall from grace in 2020:

Ah, she would rue the day she put this on Twitter.

The tweet exploded – it was quoted (retweeted with their own response, mostly negative) over 33,000 times and a whole bunch of news media outlets picked up the story, reporting it with woke undertones (read: “J.K. Rowling was so wrong for this”).

A year later, she still seems to be lying low — I haven’t seen her name in a while.

That is insane to me. Can we no longer have discussions? To what extent are we going to take this “cancelling” (extreme censorship)? 

Perhaps Ms Rowling phrased her stance in a less-than-tactful manner. But she was trying to say something, wasn’t she?

She was trying to say that to her, in her personal opinion, trans women are distinct from cis women (cis is a term referring to a person who identifies with their birth gender).

And at the risk of getting cancelled, I’m going to say there’s nothing wrong with that.

There’s nothing wrong with saying, believing, and perhaps even convincing some people that what she thinks is true. Everyone is entitled to the freedom of thought, if not of speech.

I myself am not particularly well-versed in trans issues, trans rights, and the trans experience overall. I’d say I’m pretty ignorant on the topic.

But as a young person who lives on the internet, I would never ever admit that I think being transgender is a little out there for me.

Being transgender is a concept that I (a straight, cis person) still grapple with — I do not fully comprehend the trans experience. 

However, I would like to know what someone else — who may be very different from me —  thinks about an issue as novel as trans rights and transphobia. Someone who’s trans, maybe.

But I can’t even admit that I’d like to know! Because now, even asking can be construed as disagreeing or being unsupportive of “the cause”, and thus, offensive.

And that sucks, because we are all still learning about this fairly new phenomenon (not being transgender, but living openly as a transgender individual).

Being woke encourages narrow-mindedness, says the author. Photo: Raj Nadarajan / TODAY

In a room full of woke people, I would probably just sit quietly, smile, and nod if someone said: “Children should have access to puberty blockers, no questions asked!”

And that doesn’t help the trans community at all. All I’d be doing is pretending to understand and embrace all their choices, a facade erected to mask how ignorant and uncertain I actually am.

If I were allowed to speak freely without risking being crucified, I’d ask questions like: “There are people who de-transition (regret and reverse transitioning), if you halt puberty in children, could that be really bad for them? Because de-transitioning already sounds like a complex process. 

"Add in the fact that they never developed fully — would it still be possible to help them de-transition? Also, how young is too young?”

Then we’d be able to have a real discussion, instead of just agreeing like sheep.

Being woke isn’t just being sensitive or caring. It also encourages narrow-mindedness, and refuses to acknowledge, let alone respect, even the mere suggestion of differences in opinion.

So what? So, people end up opting for fake niceness over their true opinions, presenting an inauthentic (but acceptable) version of themselves to you, Mr Hella Woke.

No, you haven’t influenced them. No, they aren’t woke like you.

But yes, your outrage has created such a climate of fear that no one will ever speak their minds around you. 

Congratulations, you’re officially in a room full of virtue signallers. Who, by the way, may behave badly in private, hurting the communities you so vehemently claim to protect.

The fact is no single individual is capable of gathering all the information there is on any topic. 

The world and the repositories of information it offers are far too large and complex. 

Which is why we actually need others to find out about these things, create their own views, and share them with us. Even if they come to us with opinions we deem less-than-savoury.

Of course, in a perfect world, we would all be single-minded — we would agree on these grey-area issues, and everyone would live happily ever after. 

But we don’t live in a world like that. We live in a world where people read, subscribe to, and preach different things.

That is the richness of the human experience — everyone brings something unique to the table.

“Wokeism” and cancel culture threaten genuine collaboration and discussion, and subsequently, the expansion of thought and knowledge. 

Taken to an extreme, they are truly a disservice to humanity.

So if you’re anything like me, I hope you can find the courage to disagree with the mob and speak your mind. And if you’re “hella woke”, please don’t cancel me. 



Dana Teoh Jia Yi, 24, is a final year communications and new media student at the National University of Singapore.

EDITOR'S NOTE: An earlier version of this article contained insensitive language which has been removed.

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woke activism cancel culture

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