Dear Citizen Radio (and the rest of those grandstanding on my back)…

Hi there,

I listened to one of your recent shows wherein you reference me and my piece, “The Trouble with Twitter Feminism.”

I’m disappointed that you chose to misrepresent my background, my article, my work, my arguments, and my statements, to be sure, but I’m more disappointed that you misrepresented the entire conversation and the issues at hand.

I suppose it’s easier to build a strawman to tear down than to form a real critique, but what’s easy isn’t always what’s right.

My article was not about women of colour or about race. It did not reference any of the hashtags started by women of colour this year and was not even about hashtags, specifically. It was about toxic behaviour on Twitter — mostly behaviour I’ve witnessed from white people. It was about the ways in which folks are ready, willing, and eager to not only misrepresent but to outright lie and then spread around defamatory statements about others, without questioning the statements or source. In fact, since I wrote the piece, this behaviour increased ten-fold; I’ve watched people lie about me without shame, in order to push their message or to position themselves as “allies.” The world is all too willing to destroy radicals and feminists so these efforts will, in fact, take very little effort. I’m an easy target. Such bravery my enemies possess! Armed with snark, iPhones, and zero accountability, they can stand tall on my shoulders, knowing that their empty words and lack of integrity will be cheered on by the masses.

I include myself in my critique of “Twitter feminism” as I argued that the medium didn’t encourage nuance and that, because we are making public statements and because when there are disagreements they happen publicly and are limited to 140 characters, we tend to perform more than we try to understand or build alliances. Many of us behave badly, encourage nastiness and bullying, and forget about compassion when communicating on Twitter. I have behaved badly on Twitter, having felt attacked and having had to respond publicly. I regret many interactions on Twitter and am trying to do better.

I did not, as you claim, dismiss specific hashtags such as #solidarityisforwhitewomen, #notyourasiansidekick, or #notyournarrative. I don’t think it’s “cute or fun” when white people start hashtags, for the record, nor do I believe that, somehow, when people of colour start hashtags they are bullying. I’ve actually never heard that argument made by anyone (if I’ve missed something, please feel free to send it my way) and doubt anyone who’s paying attention would. I spoke with my sisters at Affi3rm this year about their #notyourfetish action because it was an important conversation/critique. The notion that any feminist would dismiss that action as “silly” or “bullying” is ridiculous — these women are powerful revolutionaries. My critique of “Twitter feminism” had very little to do with hashtags at all, and certainly my critiques were directed at white women AND white men. Like yourselves.

You claim I “got feedback” and “freaked out,” calling those providing “feedback” “an unruly mob.” You also say that I said this with specific reference to people of colour. This never happened. I did not refer to anyone, ever, as an “unruly mob.” I did not “freak out.” I responded to some critics (many of whom were white men, jumping on an opportunity to attack me using the excuse of “allyship”) but mostly tried to avoid a purposeless back and forth with those who were intent on misrepresenting or name-calling or with those who had no interest in developing an honest critique to the actual points I made, but were merely looking for a target or to join a pile-on. To frame defamatory comments, misrepresentation, bullying, and verbal abuse as “feedback” is problematic, to say the least, but to outright state that I said things which I did not, shows an incredible lack of integrity. You might claim you were speaking about someone else, but the implication was that it was me. If someone else said this, state it. Be clear. Speculation does not equal journalism. And if you can’t even be bothered to read the piece you are purporting to critique or to even learn the last name of the author you are trashing, you might consider leaving those statements out of your show.

I have never been on CNN or MSNBC. I don’t write for The Nation, for Mother Jones or, actually, any mainstream media outlets. As a socialist, a Canadian, and a writer whose work is based in socialist and radical feminist theory, there are very few media outlets I have access to. As a working class woman, I don’t have the privilege of moving to New York and making contacts in the industry, attending shmoozy happy hours, nor can I afford to do the unpaid internships one is expected (and practically required) to do in order to get jobs and make contacts in media and journalism. You, on the other hand, DO have access to these platforms and contacts and have taken full advantage of that access. And now you’ve used your platform to misrepresent an underemployed, struggling, feminist writer. “Critique” yourself.

I will never be “in the mainstream” despite my white privilege. And the accusation that critics of “Twitter feminism” are somehow “mainstream,” coming from someone who’s been on Conan, is pretty rich.

To be clear, I am Canadian, not American (as you assumed). Not everyone is American, despite what Americans seem to think. My work and voice is marginalized because it is radical, socialist, feminist, and Canadian. I am not wealthy. I’m not even middle class. It is a struggle to get published anywhere. It will always be a struggle to get published. I can’t afford to rely on freelancing, because I have to work to survive and eventually, I will need to pay off thousands of dollars in student loan debt.

I don’t think Twitter is meaningless. I think it’s very important for many women and I acknowledge this specifically in my piece:

I don’t want to completely decry ‘hashtag activism.’ It can be potentially worthwhile in terms of consciousness-raising as well as a way to raise awareness about particular issues and events. Many women value the space it provides for their voices and I support women speaking out in whatever ways they can and sharing their stories, opinions, and experiences in ways that suit them. If you need to or find value in doing that on Twitter, I completely respect and encourage that.

I understand that Twitter is a valuable medium for those who don’t have access to other platforms or who, for example, have disabilities, are otherwise stuck at home alone a lot, or feel isolated or voiceless without it. I know there are many marginalized voices on Twitter. I also know that there are many, many marginalized voices that are NOT on Twitter and who don’t have access to this platform and, for that reason, I argue that Twitter isn’t representative. There are thousands and thousands of voices, perspectives, and experiences that are not represented on Twitter for various reasons: access to computers, understanding the platform, those who are simply too busy to spend their days online, etc. People who are trafficked, incarcerated, homeless, who don’t speak English, who are busy working three jobs to feed their families — these people are not participating in your Twitter conversation. To claim that Twitter is somehow the great equalizer — Twitter — a company whose purpose is profit — seems deeply ignorant to me and, yes, reeks of privilege.

Who has ever said “your Twitter thing is just a game, I’m going on CNN?” Who are these people?? They certainly aren’t anyone I know, work, or ally with — radical feminists, socialists, those in the labour movement, working class women, Aboriginal women, prostitution survivors, those who are on the front lines working with victims of abuse, or those working with underfunded feminist groups and organizations to advocate for change. Are any of us writing for The Nation or going on MSNBC (apart from yourselves, of course)? Are we allied with people going on CNN? No. Of course not. The people I work and ally with are largely invisible, ignored, and erased by the New York/American liberals who DO have access to these platforms. They are largely ignored by Twitter activism. Canada and Canadian feminism and activism is generally invisible to Americans. You complained that you didn’t see any of us on the street during Occupy in NYC — well, that’s because we live in Canada.

For the record, critiques of Occupy, in Canada, were made by the far left and by those engaged with the labour movement — not by rich white people writing for The Nation. They were made by unpaid bloggers.

The Americentrism and ignorance of the conversation you had on your (relatively) huge platform is truly astounding.

Twitter is neither all bad or all good, yet you characterize the argument in this binary way as though that is representative of the conversation. Social media IS amazing, but there are also a lot of problems that exist within, and with the way we behave towards one another on social media. My point was that it wasn’t all one thing or the other but that people treat it in this way. Of COURSE social media is important. No one has argued otherwise.You’ve made so many assumptions about my life and work, stated them as fact, were condescending and insulting, and you completely mischaracterized my article beyond all recognition. Call yourselves allies, journalists, activists, radicals, or feminists all you like — but that’s a hard pill to swallow, based on this display.

The least you could have done would have been to read my piece before discussing it on your show. If you have questions about my life, ask. The irony of your complaints about “factually incorrect” journalism while refusing to include facts or research in your own work is glaring.


All the best,

Meghan Murphy


Meghan Murphy

Meghan Murphy

Meghan Murphy, founder and editor of Feminist Current, is a freelance writer and journalist. She completed a Masters degree in the department of Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies at Simon Fraser University in 2012 and lives in Vancouver, B.C. with her dog. Follow her @meghanemurphy

  • stopsnwa

    Thank you Meghan Murphy!

  • stephen m

    The hard stats, Category – Most visited website in the world: – 442 – 754,718 radio) – 2,063,973
    – I wonder who bankrolled these buffoons since they started in 2008?

  • Lizzy Eberhardt

    Hello, Citizen Radio is 100% sponsor free. It is funded only by listeners. The majority of whom pay $5 per month. They have two employees who they refuse to pay less than a living wage.

    This article is full of inaccurate assumptions about the hosts of the show, while also berating their fact checking abilities.

    Allison built her writing career while she and Jamie were living out of their car. The picture you have painted is so far from the truth it’s shocking.

    • Meghan Murphy

      “This article is full of inaccurate assumptions about the hosts of the show, while also berating their fact checking abilities.”
      Excuse me? I have made absolutely zero “assumptions about the hosts of the show.” Not one. I responded to THEIR mischaracterizations of me and my work. Try again.

    • Jay

      I’m a Citizen Radio fan as well, and for what it’s worth I didn’t feel that Meghan misrepresented them. There’s a lot of vitriol in her characterization, obviously, but Jamie and Allison are in a position of significant privilege now, and I can’t imagine they would disagree.

      • Meghan Murphy

        Indeed. I’m not saying they don’t work hard or even that they don’t deserve the platform they have. I’m saying it’s wrong to use their relatively large platform to misrepresent the work of others and to build strawmen on the backs of those with smaller platforms in order to prop themselves up as Best Progressives.

    • Dory Leitch

      That seems as plausible as Anne and Mitt eating dinner off their ironing board.

      • Dory Leitch

        Sorry that response was to Lizzy’s comment about them “living in their car”.

  • Jay

    Huh, I just listened to the Citizen Radio show again and there appears to be a misunderstanding. Here’s the snippet where Allison mentions ‘Meghan’:

    I’m a little confused as to why feminists, when they write really provocative — what is this woman’s name, I’m spacing, Meghan-something, who wrote the original article? — okay, well there was a piece in NY Magazine basically dismissing all of the hashtags … dismissing all of them saying they’re useless.

    She says “Meghan,” but she meant Maureen O’Connor. The confusion probably results from the fact that O’Connor mentions your name, Meghan, in her NY Magazine piece which does do all of the things you mention here: object to the hashtags, reject Twitter as a valid platform for revolution, and so on. (It also links to your Twitter piece in the context of toxicity on Twitter.)

    I assume that’s why it appears as if they haven’t read your piece: they’re not actually talking about it, and it doesn’t appear to me as if anyone has (except accidentally) attributed any anti-feminist notions to you.

    • Meghan Murphy

      My article was the original article.

      The NYMag article was written about the conversation and hashtag instigated by my piece. I was the first interviewee contacted (though Maureen, and then my, messages both ended up in one another’s spam folders and so we weren’t able to talk until the evening before the piece was published and she had to quickly edit some of my quotes into an already finished piece, which is why I’m featured less prominently than the other two) about the NYMag piece. O’Connor covered the story, she didn’t present an opinion or ‘dismiss’ ‘Twitter feminism.’ The #twitterfeminism hashtag exists in response to my piece. All articles written about #twitterfeminism are written about a conversation instigated by and in response to my piece, despite the fact that some have neglected to credit me or have opted to misrepresent my arguments/me/my work.

      They aren’t talking about the NYMag piece (though they reference my article via the NYMag piece), they are talking about my article and ‘critics’ of ‘Twitter feminism’ (i.e. me). They know who and what they are talking about, just as everyone else in this convo knows. If anyone doesn’t know, they could easily figure it out via 2 minutes of Googling. Other outlets and writers (like Feministing, for example) talking in and around the subject could have bothered to reference me had they chosen to. It seems #twitterfeminism is very attached to properly crediting people for their work, unless of course they don’t agree, politically, with the author in question or if said author isn’t part of the popular crowd (I have to admit I find it a little funny that someone who is so consistently and intentionally erased and ignored by popular feminism is now somehow lumped in with all the mainstream/liberal/popular AMERICAN feminists who are, for the most part, politically at odds with me because of the decidedly NOT mainstream/popular arguments I put forth in my work and the decidedly NOT mainstream/popular women/theorists/activists I align myself with).

      It’s completely baffling to me that you could listen through and believe that all of those snide remarks were made about a journalist who covered a story, without presenting any opinion whatsoever, written about my article/critique/a conversation that began in response to my work, WHOSE NAME IS NOT MEGHAN. Are you also wanting to join the ranks of those co-opting my work without crediting me? Come on.

      • sheela

        Jay and Lizzie, The Citizen Radio piece was a clear attack on Meghan’s work and critique of her ideas while trying to avoid mention of her name to deflect any potential publicity for this blog. Through her response though, I heard about Citizen Radio, which from listening to a few of the shows seems to embody some of the more tiresome aspects of the American left: shouty, gossipy, reactive without having a genuine class analysis or understanding of power. The piece on how Meghan represents a feminist ‘gatekeeper’ was an example of this.

        Meghan is allowed to criticise social media, particularly a huge corporation like Twitter which, she rightly points out, lends itself as a medium a lot more to point scoring/trolling than developing understanding or political analysis. Attacking her for being racist because some WoC use Twitter is bs, total pretzel logic. Voice-less people using social media is an unintended consquence of the corps carrying on accruing profit and information gathering. (though Meghan did not attack blogging or the internet in general.) And it does seem to be true that for every social justice Twitter user there are a dozen trolls cheerily issuing r and d threats.
        So yeah, Meghan is allowed to critique the corporate megalith of social media and, further, allowed to critique any form of media and the effects it has on radical journalists like herself. She should be allowed to get on with promoting genuine anti-capitalist feminist analysis, without the shallow, posy, ad hominem attack she was subject to.

        Meghan, this is such a good blog. Keep up the astounding work.

        • Meghan Murphy

          Thanks Sheela. I completely agree with you about the weak analysis/lack of a real understanding of how class/power/systemic oppression works, re: Citizen Radio.

          • Grant T B

            I agree. Jamie’s a blowhard. I’m done with him and just cancelled support.

  • Laur

    In this show, Jamie gives an example of his white privilege moment as stealing a black man’s wallet, telling him to pull himself up by his boots, and throwing water on him. This is apparently meant as humorous. He then goes on to state what a great ally to WOC he is. “Aspiring ally” would be a better, albeit rather generous, term.

    If they really cared about white supremacy, the hosts could have WOC survivors of prostitution on their show. How blissfully unaware they must be of the fact that girls growing up in communities of color, specifically black and native communities, are being pimped out to WHITE MEN.

    No, it’s easier to pick on women, women who have their own struggles that they neither know nor care to know about.

    (as a side note, Jamie verbally dominates the show; repetition of hegemonic speech patterns much?)

  • Andrew Pari

    You are an amazing voice and fresh, different viewpoint in the landscape of feminism and social justice.
    Would that you had the platform of a Citizen Radio.

    It’s been awhile and I just wanted to say hello!

    • Meghan Murphy

      Hi Andrew! (And thank you!)