Reclaiming the Snowflake

There’s been a lot of talk about snowflakes recently. When the term was first coined, a “special snowflake” meant someone who claimed that everything was triggering them, even though they did not have post-traumatic stress disorder, were not a rape survivor, nor a survivor of some other significant trauma.

Recently, however, the term “snowflake” has been picked up by right-wingers and applied to anyone with a heart, a social conscience, or who supports a welfare state and public healthcare.

Last year we were “social justice warriors” (a term that originated in the kerfuffle over the nominations for the Hugo awards). Now we are snowflakes, apparently.

Protesters at the Women’s March on Washington and elsewhere have picked up on the term and reclaimed it.


It seems that the reclaiming of “snowflake” started with Houston Kraft, who wrote on Facebook:

I am not a liberal snowflake. My feelings aren’t fragile, my heart isn’t bleeding.
I am a badass believer in human rights. My toughness is in tenderness. My strength is in the service of others.
There is NOTHING more fierce than formidable, unconditional Love. There is NOT A THING more courageous than compassion.
But if my belief in equity, empathy, goodness, and Love indeed makes me or people like me snowflakes, then you should know – Winter Is Coming.

I started thinking about the properties of snowflakes. They are very beautiful and unique. No two snowflakes are alike. If you get enough of them in one place, they can stop trains, block roads, and create a blanket of snow that completely transforms a landscape. So the more snowflakes there are, the more that bigotry and hate are endangered, and the more love and compassion and empathy and equity there will be.

As Melissa McEwan writes:

Snowflakes are fucking beautiful, each one a unique creation that melds fragility with the ferocity of survival on a planet that generally does not support its existence.

As snowflakes move through the environment, encountering different temperatures and pressures, their complex and individual shapes emerge. And once they fall to the ground, accumulating with other snowflakes, they undergo a metamorphosis and coalesce into a snowpack, which itself becomes stronger—and more resistant to being moved—than any individual snowflake.

In German folklore, snowflakes are associated with Frau Holle, Lady of Winter. Frau Holle originates with the Germanic goddess of Nature, witches, and the weaving of destiny, Holda. So, may the snowflakes be protected by Holda, and may she weave justice, and compassion, and empathy into the Web of Wyrd.

E M Forster described a secret aristocracy of “the sensitive, the considerate, and the plucky”. It seems to me that these are indeed desirable qualities, and that they are also the qualities of the “liberal snowflake”.

“I believe in aristocracy, though — if that is the right word, and if a democrat may use it. Not an aristocracy of power, based upon rank and influence, but an aristocracy of the sensitive, the considerate and the plucky. Its members are to be found in all nations and classes, and all through the ages, and there is a secret understanding between them when they meet. They represent the true human tradition, the one permanent victory of our queer race over cruelty and chaos. Thousands of them perish in obscurity, a few are great names. They are sensitive for others as well as themselves, they are considerate without being fussy, their pluck is not swankiness but power to endure, and they can take a joke.”
E.M. Forster, Two Cheers for Democracy

Yes, my fellow snowflakes: winter is coming.

snowflakes (public domain)

Snowflakes (public domain)

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One thought on “Reclaiming the Snowflake

  1. Thank you! Claiming the high ground on language is so important.

    One of my favorite memes on Snowflake. ‘If I am a snowflake, then Winter is coming’ and the image is a mountain Winter scene with intensely deep snow but beauty.


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