The trouble with Twitter feminism

I love the internet. I really do. And I can’t stand the luddites who romanticize the days where people talked. Face to face. Or called each other. The phone? Really? Please. Fuck the phone. The internet is magic.

I have found dozens — I’d even be so bold as to say hundreds — of brothers and sisters across the globe who I would have otherwise never found, if not for the ability to connect online.

So I have no interest in blaming technology or social media for people’s behaviour or arguing that Twitter is unequivocally “bad” (or “good,” for that matter). Things are never quite that simple. But what I will say is this: Most days I hate Twitter. And many days I think Twitter is a horrible place for feminism.

While I would never argue that feminists stay off of Twitter and do tend to believe it’s a necessary evil, of sorts, if you are in media/writing/journalism, I don’t think it’s a place for productive discourse or movement-building. I think it’s a place where intellectual laziness is encouraged, oversimplification is mandatory, posturing is de rigueur, and bullying is rewarded. I think it’s a place hateful people are drawn towards to gleefully spread their hate, mostly without repercussion. And more than half the time I feel as though I’m trapped in a shitty, American, movie-version of high school that looks more like a popularity contest than a movement to end oppression and violence against women.

Here is a list of FACTS I hear about myself on a daily basis on Twitter:

– I am a white supremacist

– I am rich

– I am getting rich off of someone’s “back”

– I have some big, fancy “job” that requires me to promote radical feminism and if I don’t make critical statements about the sex industry I will be fired from said “job”

– I love Hugo Schwyzer, am his BFF and his Number One Top Defender

– I am evil

– I hate women

– I hate prostituted women

– I am literally responsible for the rape and murder of women

– I am in charge of feminism

– I hate sex

– I am Satan

Who is this lady!? She sounds like a shithead. Somebody fire her from the internet! LET’S START A PETITION.

Now, that list was hardly comprehensive, but I think you get the point. On Twitter, it’s easy make up whatever the hell you want, put it out into the world, and many, if they so desire, will take it as TRUTH and spread it far and wide.

And it isn’t just me. Many, many women are maligned on Twitter on a daily basis, in much worse ways than I. Just the other day I was informed that Gloria Steinem has been a “catastrophe” for feminism. A catastrophe!

While Steinem may well be problematic in ways, every single feminist (and person!) who ever lived is problematic in ways. But Twitter doesn’t like nuance. Twitter likes statements. Preferably dramatic ones. And once you’ve made said statement, be sure not to back down. Twitter doesn’t like wimps, either.

Lest we get sidetracked by debates on the life and work of Gloria Steinem, my point, to be clear, is not Gloria Steinem. She’s doing fine as far as I can tell. My point is that this is how feminism works on Twitter. We have 140 characters and are making public statements. And this is where the posturing comes in. We are made to care more about appearances than compassion, and more about winning than understanding.

People tend to treat Twitter like they do hockey fights. Because we are fighting in public, we can’t back down, and we get either egged on or booed by fans or haters. We’re all showboating, trying be Most Right, trying to gain fans and supporters, and we have a ridiculously tiny space within which we can do it. We often succeed in being Most Right by proving that someone else is terrible. Winning by default or destruction is a popular Twitter strategy.

Rumours spread quickly, lies and myths become fact. When you question the lie or “fact,” you are chastised: “HOW COULD YOU NOT KNOW.” “LOOK IT UP.” “I’M NOT DOING YOUR RESEARCH FOR YOU.” “DO YOU SEE THIS BITCH. SHE DOESN’T KNOW THINGS THAT I CLAIM TO KNOW AND NOW SHE’S DARED TO ASK ME HOW I ‘KNOW’ THEM. GET HER.”

This response is typical because, generally, the accusers actually have no idea where they’ve received their libelous information, or are just speculating, but are unwilling to admit it. Rather than appear “weak” on Twitter, we like to turn it around on the the other person, preferably in a way that pretends our beef is political.

Honestly, I’m sure I’ve probably engaged in this behaviour myself. I don’t think I’m at my best on Twitter either, which is part of the reason I dislike it so. Nonetheless, I don’t think it’s so much to ask that we explain ourselves when we make sweeping generalizations or paint individuals as “Satan,” for example (as I was recently labelled by the editor of The Good Men Project), or as A CATASTROPHE FOR FEMINISM.

Friend, feminist ally, radio guy extraordinaire, and comrade, Ernesto Aguilar (founder and editor of the now defunct People of Color Organize!) told me this, when I talked to him about this piece:

Within organizations, there’s an internal culture and discipline where you have debate, but the goal isn’t to destroy comrades, and the infrastructure keeps debate on fair footing where people don’t get to just bully people. On Twitter, so much of this is left by people’s moods and reactions with no agreed-upon movement standard. Thus, you get the 50 shades of cray we see on Twitter.

Twitter seems not only to be anti-human, but anti-movement.

And speaking of human beings, here’s a thing: The vast majority of people I know, like, in real life, aren’t on Twitter. I’m going to go ahead and say that about 90% of people I know and interact with, in real life, go Twitter-free on a daily basis. The ones who are there maybe follow some public figures or joke accounts, but say little. Beyond that, the majority of women I know who are actually working with battered women, rape victims, and prostituted women don’t use Twitter with any regularity, if at all. The women who built this movement — now relegated to snarky quips by third wavers whose postmodern indoctrination have them believing feminism is a series of made-up words and that identity politics are radical — are not on Twitter.

What does this tell us about representation on Twitter? What does this tell us about feminism on Twitter?

Twitter feminism is all about hashtags and mantras. We all compete to make the most meaningful, (seemingly) hard-hitting statement in order to gain followers and accolades. Invent the right hashtag and you can become a feminist celebrity. While I’m not excluding myself completely from this phenomenon, as I do participate from time to time, I find it all a bit empty.

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.

But, for the most part, I haven’t found Twitter to be a positive experience. And I’m not just talking about harassment from misogynists, I’m talking about the internal shit. The mean girls-style popularity contest so many of those on feminist Twitter engage in. The take-downs, the bullying, the mocking, the defamation, the snide remarks, and the absolutely endless stream of hate.

And sure, you might say, people behave like that in the “real world.” But the funny thing is that, in the real world, I’m happy. I generally enjoy my life, despite common challenges like rent-paying, work-finding, relationship-maintenance, etc. I don’t feel or see an inordinate amount of hatred among the feminists I know and work with on a human-to-human level. It happens, sure, but not daily. Not constantly. And the vitriol is decidedly muted.

While writing this piece I came across an article by Ngọc Loan Trần which talks about “calling in” instead of “calling out.” They* write:

we have been configured to believe it’s normal to punish each other and ourselves without a way to reconcile hurt. We support this belief by shutting each other out, partly through justified anger and often because some parts of us believe that we can do this without people who fuck up.

While Trần doesn’t suggest we stop calling people on their behaviour, they* do suggest that the way we do it might be unproductive and a fear-based response:

in reality, we are just really scared. Scared that we will be next to make a mistake. So we resort to pushing people out to distract ourselves from the inevitability that we will cause someone hurt.

Movement and coalition-building does not happen by attempting to destroy those you disagree with or perceive to have made a mistake. Ernesto told me this:

Often shaming people for their mistakes, tearing down people for perceived failures and so on are really the province of subcultures (recovery programs and religious groups come to mind, as they seem to present that accepting one’s mistakes is a first step in renewal) and not (forward-thinking) political organizing.

For these reasons, I see the trouble with Twitter feminism as two-fold:

1) It is not at all representative of the feminist movement and the actual beliefs of and work done by feminists around the world.

2) It is a, generally, toxic and unproductive place for feminism and movement-building.

We seem to dehumanize one another on Twitter. I understand this is a larger phenomenon online because we aren’t face-to-face, sometimes we are anonymous, and because we are dealing with people we don’t know in real life and, therefore, often don’t see as full, complex, real, human beings. But I haven’t experienced the emotional, mental, and physical breakdowns (yes, physical — being attacked and bullied and called names for days on end is mentally, emotionally, and physically exhausting), the days and hours spent crying, the nasty mean girls shit, the bullying, the lies, and the attacks, and the defamation, on any other medium, in the way I have on Twitter. And again, this isn’t just from men. Frankly, I don’t give a shit what men think about me. This comes from women. Women who likely see themselves as feminist.

Maybe-probably Gloria Steinem doesn’t give a shit what people say about her on stupid Twitter. And gosh I wish I didn’t care what people said about me on stupid Twitter. But I do. Because surprise of surprises, I’m a real human being with feelings and thoughts and other such frivolities. I don’t have some big fancy job, I don’t have a comfy income, I don’t have the backing of an institution, and when people say things about me that are untrue and/or nasty, it bothers me. When people completely misrepresent my work, my beliefs, my life, and my intentions, it bothers me. People often tell me to ignore it, and I try, but whether or not we take Twitter seriously, no one likes being hated, no one likes being bullied, and no one likes being lied about. No matter where it happens. So I don’t find “just ignore it” to be particularly useful advice.

Twitter is not representative. But we seem to believe it is. Twitter tends to amplify certain perspectives and voices and erase others — either because they aren’t there or because they’re too scared to speak up, lest they become the next target. Thinking about who is on Twitter and whose voices are loudest on Twitter is worthwhile. Are poor women on Twitter? Are people who are busy working on Twitter? Are people who are sick of being harassed and bullied and attacked on Twitter participating in conversations? Who’s there? Who feels safe to speak there? I’m preeeetty positive that marginalized women living and struggling on the Downtown Eastside aren’t all up on #SexWork Twitter every day, for example.

Simply because you see a perspective shared widely on the medium, doesn’t mean it’s representative. And it doesn’t mean it’s right.

We know full well what to say if we want to be popular in internet feminism. We know how to get followers and cookies. It’s easy. Toe the party line, spout fakespiration. If you hate on someone you know others hate, you’re sure to be rewarded for your valiance. If you support those internet feminism have deemed BAD, you will be excommunicated. We all learn the rules quickly.

But as someone who is not only very far on the left end of the political spectrum, who leans heavily on the radical and socialist end of feminism, and who is critical of choice feminism and empty, apolitical mantras, my arguments are never going to be the popular ones.

I’m not trying to turn this into a Meghan Murphy pity party. I don’t feel sorry for myself. There are women who suffer far more than I, online and in real life. The point is not WAH TWITTER IS MEAN (though it often is). This isn’t just about being “nice.” This is about the validity and purpose of Twitter feminism, as well as the toxicity, silencing and take-down culture it not only accepts but promotes. It is about the way we treat one another and the way we encourage others to behave. It’s about discouraging critical thinking, humanity, and going straight for the jugular, while onlookers cheer on the virtual blood bath.

And so my question is this: What is it we think we’re accomplishing with our hashtags and our bullying and our shit-talking? Do we take Twitter feminism seriously in any way? Do we realize that this behaviour has nothing to do with movement-building? Do we recognize that, simply because we don’t completely agree with every single thing a person says or believes or because we don’t like every single person they tweet at or follow or retweet or don’t immediately attack on demand because it’s the bandwagon we’ve all been told to jump on, that it isn’t reasonable to vilify them? Do we realize that bullying people, calling them names, and encouraging your followers to join in isn’t actually activism?

Here are some actual truths, for the record:

– I am not rich

– I am not evil

– I am not a white supremacist

– I don’t hate women

– I don’t hate men

– I don’t hate prostituted women

– Blogging about feminism has never been, nor will it ever be, lucrative

– Freelance writing is extremely difficult, a constant struggle, completely disheartening, a lot of work, and not a feasible way to make a living

– I have never publicly defended Hugo Schwyzer or suggested anyone else defend Hugo Schwyzer. I have been consistently, publicly critical of him, his work, and his teaching, from the moment I was aware he existed. I challenged his involvement in Slutwalk back in 2011, his position as a self-described “male feminist” and a gender studies teacher, as well as his “work” on porn and prostitution. I was friendly with him, periodically, for a short time, on a personal level. I interviewed him once, two and a half years ago. A gross mistake, in retrospect. I hoped his personal tale of redemption was true, at the time (enmeshed as I was in a relationship with an addict who kept promising me change), but did not demand or even suggest others believe this. All the work I produced, then and now, with regard to Schwyzer, was extremely critical. His politics were never acceptable to me and I was loud about that. I was derided for being critical of him, after the most recent shit storm. The myth of my support of Schwyzer came from a bully and it began because I dared challenge her behaviour by saying, as I watched her blame woman after woman for the abusive, sociopathic, manipulative behaviour of a man:

I will never — not now, not ever — apologize for a man’s behaviour. No woman should. To demand such a thing of our sisters is the antithesis of feminism. It isn’t ok to blame the victim. And women were Schwyzer’s victims. I don’t believe Schwyzer is feminism’s fault. I was attacked and slandered and bullied because I asked that we blame a man for his behaviour, not women. And because of that, these kinds of statements have become common place:

Despite what I said, over and over again, those who wanted a reason to hate me or who were too lazy to do their own research, were only too eager to turn me into something imagined, leaving the perpetrator and his actual defenders and supporters, alone. What this told me was that they were willing to side with those they liked or agreed with on other issues, or who they felt had real power in this world, and were attacking me because of my relative lack of power and my unwillingness to kowtow to popular feminism/ts. What was clear was that, in attacking me, they would prove themselves to be the True Best Rightest Feminists — but only in relation to the Wrong Bad Worst Feminists.

Whether or not I’ve made mistakes or had bad judgement from time to time is not debatable. I have. I will likely continue to. As human beings do. But the mythology built around me, my thoughts, my beliefs, and my actions, primarily via Twitter, is quite insane. Especially considering that my entire body of work exists online, for anyone to look at. Those who know my work, know better. Those who don’t care to know better or to know my work, don’t.

What I’ve learned from Twitter is that it doesn’t matter what I do. It didn’t matter what I’ve done, what I’ve said, what I’ve written. My body of work doesn’t matter and my actual thoughts don’t matter. Not to those who have decided to hate me. What matters is to destroy and silence. And that, dear friends, seems to be a goal of Twitter feminism in particular and, sometimes, of internet feminism in general.

It’s one thing to disagree with someone on a point of inaccuracy or ideology, i.e. “You stated _____ and it’s untrue/misrepresentative/inaccurate, etc.” “I don’t agree with you because _____.” But when when the aim is not only to smear, but to marginalize and to say a person’s body of work is to be ignored as a result of the smear, I fail to see the purpose, either in terms of feminism or in terms of human decency.

Twitter is not for nuance or humanity. It is for sharp words, glib remarks, and inspirational quotables — feminist greeting card style.

So as someone who is on Twitter often, talking about feminism, arguing about feminism, and engaging with other women and feminists, my opinion is this: Twitter feminism is, in it’s current form, toxic, unproductive, and far from representative.

That said, I have no solutions to offer, except this: Consider the humanity of those you are tweeting at or about. Consider that Twitter represents very little about real women’s lives and the state of the movement. Consider whose voices you hear the most and why. Consider who isn’t there and who isn’t speaking. Consider that, simply because you saw it on Twitter, doesn’t make it true and that you might consider exploring a woman’s actual work before vilifying her. Consider that we are human — neither all good or all bad. Consider that feminists are, most likely, in feminism because they have good intentions, rather than malicious ones. Consider that political disagreement is just that — political disagreement — not an excuse to call another feminist the devil or tar her entire body of work or her very being because so and so tweeted that she was a Rich Elitist Woman-hating Devil Bigot From Hell. Consider that your words impact people in their real lives. Consider that feminism is a political movement to end patriarchy, not a popularity contest.

Ripping women to shreds and piling up the virtual bodies in order to reach the top of the heap may bring you more followers, but it won’t bring us any closer to liberation.


*Edit, December 19, 2013: It was brought to my attention that Trần does not identify as “he,” but “they.”

Meghan Murphy
Meghan Murphy

Founder & Editor

Meghan Murphy is a freelance writer and journalist. She has been podcasting and writing about feminism since 2010 and has published work in numerous national and international publications, including New Statesman, Vice, Al Jazeera, The Globe and Mail, I-D, Truthdig, and more. Meghan 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.

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  • I thought you were still the leader of feminism. I didn’t know that was changed…

    Seriously, Twitter is a waste of time. I never go there. It’s becoming a parody of itself, what with all the ridiculous hashtags and such. #hashtagtuesday #twittersucks #meghanmurphyforpresident

    • Meghan Murphy

      HAHAHAH. You are great, Francois.

      • Thanks Meghan. More seriously though, your entry reminds me of Chomsky talking about media exposure. He rightly points out that in a fast-paced media where people can’t really have discussions, which is more true in the US than in other places, positions that require no further explanation (e.g. the war in Iraq was justified) are privileged over positions that require explanation (e.g. that the US army is the biggest terrorist organization on the planet). It is necessarily the case that such media will perpetuate the status quo. Twitter, being an extremely stunted form of communication, must therefore perpetuate the status quo as well.

        So radical feminism, as a position that does indeed require explanation because it is not widely accepted or understood, cannot be furthered on Twitter nearly as effectively as, say, pornsickness or woman-haters. It takes a lot shorter message to say “the Patriarchy is a myth, go make me a sammich” than to explain why that’s wrong and imbecilic.

        • True… but if encapsulating a position as imbecillic is an objective, Twitter does the job pretty well…

    • marv

      I would like to see the hashtag, #meghanmurphyforabolishingthepresidency.

  • I’ve never even been tempted to start a Twitter account. What I read about it leaves me thinking that if the Internet was drugs, Twitter would be crack.

    You do good work here. Don’t let the haters get you down.

    • Meghan Murphy

      It does feel as though it has an addictive quality about it, to be honest…

      • Dave

        I just wanted to say thank you for writing that piece. I wish I could pass it on to my ex girlfriend. Twitter and reddit fights dominated our three year relationship. Three years of transgender and lesbian politics and rape rape rape 24 hours a day. It’s just too much. I felt like I didn’t exist whilst if we had a fight in our private life she’d go on Twitter making me out to be “all men” and seeking ego stroking. (Anti?) Social glory. And what’s worse is she’d get it, so the higher and higher she’d climb pushing away the tears. Meanwhile I’m holding my hand up trying to get attention. I’ve never felt more alone in my life being with somebody. So thank you. It takes a brave one to go against and say anything against the pack.

        Yes it has an addictive quality like everything on the internet. As one of those kinda luddites you speak of I don’t hate all technology. It’s hard to even hate the internet when it plays games or listens to music with me.

        But the effect on society? Damn.

        Maybe meeting 200 people like yourself isn’t the best thing. That’s what I’m finding. But that’s just personal cause of my ex I guess.

        I wish Twitter and Facebook and all the selfie posting photo sites would just die already.

        • I can’t tell about your relationship’s problems, Dave, but I want to say I am glad that your friend found a sounding board even if it didn’t validate *your* reading of the situation. Try to imagine what it would have felt like for her to be isolated with you in the relationship *without* others to speak to about it.

        • lizor

          “… and rape rape rape 24 hours a day.”

          Seriously? You’re looking for sympathy on this?

          You do realize that real female human beings – a horrifically high percentage of them get raped, – an unspeakable number even in the time you have taken to read this – right? And you realize that these people have to live with “rape rape rape 24 hours a day” in the form of entertainment and advertising that glamourizes their assault and trivializes their pain and trauma?

          But I guess THAT form of 24-hour a day rape is something you are pretty comfortable with.

    • Internet is a drug. Look how often people rather sits in front of a computer (or looks with their nose down in a smartphone / mobilephone) screen instead of engaging in healthy relations out in the real physical world..and this is especially true among today’s teenagers

  • Matt Markonis

    I like the direction you’re taking here on the site, for what it’s worth: “Who is this lady!? She sounds like a shithead. Somebody fire her from the internet! LET’S START A PETITION” made me lol.

  • Elizabeth

    Twitter’s obnoxious word count requirements definitely contribute to this problem, but I disagree about the negative impact internet communication as a whole has had on the discussion. I don’t use Twitter, so I cannot speak from experience, but the rest of the internet seems just as inhospitable. This is particularly true for websites that have a wide audience. Some of the comments I read on HuffPo and other news websites make my blood run cold.

    A substantial chunk of these comments are well-written, even if they are poorly reasoned, and suggest a relatively high level of education. Most of these men are married and many have daughters. I (hopefully) assume their views are not expressed with as much vitriol in daily life, which makes identifying misogynists very difficult. I wonder how many of the guys I talk to at school feel this way? My father, who I believe is an otherwise intelligent, understanding, and moral man holds some very deep-seated misogynist views. It took such a very long time for me to realize this for that very reason. Reading comment after comment just makes me feel like I can never escape this – that, no matter what, the overwhelming majority of men in my life will inherently disrespect me.

    The point is, I’m not a Luddite – I enjoying using the internet on a daily basis – but communication behind a computer screen is inherently impersonal, and for every website with a tight group of good people, there is another website that hosts the opposite. “Extremists” good and bad can now link up like never before and have a relatively safe place to spread their message – the more hateful, the better, unfortunately. The question is, does this impersonal communication work like alcohol – a la “A drunk man’s words are a sober man’s thoughts” – by allowing people to voice their true feelings? Does it encourage hateful behavior, or merely reveal feelings of hate? I think it’s mostly the latter. Twitter might also work to do the former, but it’s the cherry on top of the inevitable shit sundae.

    In either case, it is both refreshing and depressing, to hear about similar experiences for other people.

  • TotallyUnsexy

    I think this article describes the whole goddam internet, not just Twitter. Or at least it describes any part of the internet that is more of less unregulated, like FaceBook and YouTube. I like this site, because the comment section is moderated and comments like “your an ugly cunt who deserves to die” and “all radical feminists should be killed” are not allowed, meanwhile disagreeing opinions are present (in spite of all the published comments in which the commenter whines about how they won’t be punished). Some might argue that a person can regulate what can be posted on their Facebook and YouTube accounts, but introducing that regulation will cause MRAs to call you a totalitarian monster and your friends to ask obnoxious questions about why so and so was blocked.

    MRAs think of the internet as this lawless region where they can spout whatever filth they want and wage war on anyone who thinks otherwise. Meanwhile, liberal feminists pretend to be all inclusive and claim to protect everyone’s freedom of expression, but the moment you criticise a behaviour people like (e.g. porn watching, BDSM, sex change surgery) you’re accused of “hating” those who engage in the behaviour and try to get you kicked out of their space. So in reality, you don’t have a right to express your opinion in liberal feminist spaces, not in any meaningful sense, unless you’re repeating the same old anything goes crap.

    So radical feminists are forced to pick between the liberal feminist controlled real world of university tutorials and “safe spaces” (where saying anything that might offend people is against the rules) and the part-MRA, part-liberal feminist controlled internet where you get bullied in the most vicious ways if you step out of line.

    At least in real life no one feels they can get away with brutal insults. You can avoid the cruelty if you put up with the fact that people are constantly telling you to shut up in the name of giving everyone a chance to speak (including those who don’t want to.) Real life discussions actually wind up having a (for lack of a better word) “character limit” imposed on them as well. Any time you express radical opinions you have multiple people who argue against you and you are expected to respond to all of them, while not taking up more time than each of them did individually. Radical feminists and their allies need their own spaces. I am greatful to this blog for providing one such space.

    As for social networking, I’m glad people can use sites like Facebook to contact people they couldn’t contact before, but I prefer phone calls and emails, since they actually require effort and thought. They show that the person cared enough about me to take the time to do more than check my status or hit some “invite all” button for an event they planned. When I was a kid I liked giving out invitations for my birthday parties and making phone calls to find out if people were coming. It took work, but when something requires work people value it more. Social networking via Facebook is just too easy. It may be the practical thing to do in some situations, but the easiness makes it emotionally unsatisfying.

    Anyhow, I like this particular part of the internet. I think this blog is well monitered. Thanks you Meagan!

    • Meghan Murphy

      Thanks for your contributions! I find Facebook, personally, much easier to engage on… I feel I have some control over the conversation that happens and the people I engage with are usually people I ‘know’ on some level, and are less likely to spew hatred…. But certainly this kind of thing happens all over the internet, for sure.

  • Just now I got a lengthy reply on a blog comment that started out politely enough and made some valid points I hadn’t considered and then it ended with some smack about “just because something doesn’t fit neatly in your little world view.” Like why is that necessary?

    • TotallyUnsexy

      “…it ended with some smack about “just because something doesn’t fit neatly in your little world view.” Like why is that necessary?”

      Because we live in a world in which post-modernist thinking is socially compulsory. Imply that what you believe is actually true and that contradictory ideas are therefore wrong and people get outraged. They want you to view your worldview as some kind of cute little accessory that you wear around with you, not as something that’s true and worth promoting.

      That whole “just because something doesn’t fit (i.e. contradicts) your worldview, doesn’t mean you have to say it’s wrong” sentiment is just ridiculous. If I have a worldview of course I’m going to think contradictory ideas are wrong. That’s what it means to have a worldview! And if you’re passionate about your worldview, you’re gonna promote it as true and post-modernist liberals can’t stand that.

  • ElizabethP

    It’s taken me awhile to get my FB page and group to look at all like something I like, but I’ve managed in a way I’m relatively please with. I can’t say the same for Twitter. I think it’s fine that some people have no interest in it. But it’s an important medium that social movements simply cannot afford to ignore. What I love about this article is certainly its sense of humour but also its challenge to analyse the medium and the behaviour it generates so that those of us who use it and other social media for social justice organising and info might begin to sort out how we could use all of it in a way that doesn’t mind-fuck-over individuals and actually achieves something. Thanks Meghan – best thing yet imo. No matter what they’re saying on Twit.

    • Meghan Murphy

      @ElizabethP – Yeah I think maybe people discount the usefulness of moderation… I def think it’s relevant, as a medium (Twitter), but I think that so much of the culture there is toxic and effed up that it just kind of ends up being a bunch of grandstanding, as well as, ‘take downs,’ bullying, etc. (also, thanks!)

  • @AmigoJor

    In the spirit of 140 char, I’ll restrict this to a simple, but heartfelt “thank you for this”. #standingovation #intellectualcrush

    • Meghan Murphy

      Thank you @AmigoJor 🙂

  • When I was younger I was pretty interested in luciferianism and satanism (among other “cool” dudebro things heh). I have to say Meghan, you make for a quite friendly Satan I must say 🙂
    And I really liked this post, this problem exists in almost any political or ideological thing that is on twitter. Its impossible to make anything useful out of twitter besides sharing links. For that it can be good but for chatting or debating.. oh no.

  • Agree completely about Twitcher, I mean Twitter. Twitter is to communication as strobe lights are to illumination—fractured and other-worldly in its disconnects.
    I use Twitter for sending out petition notices and, occasionally, to back up a sister who calls out for help on Facebook. I simply do not go to Twitter for any reason other than to post and exit as quickly as humanly possible. I really do not follow anyone. I make occasional tactical posts and *poof,* I close the app and do not see a danged 140-character thing. From anyone.

    So, the GMP editor called you “A CATASTROPHE FOR FEMINISM, eh?
    I know her (actually, there have been two women editors at GMP and this next Twitter-like insult applies to both of them) and she is a shill for MRAs.
    Keep up the wonderful work, Meghan. And take all the Twitter breaks you need. We need you far too much to see you Twitter-burned.
    With appreciation…

    • Meghan Murphy

      She referred to me as “Satan,” actually 🙂

      Also, this is great: “Twitter is to communication as strobe lights are to illumination—fractured and other-worldly in its disconnects.” Yep.

  • Meagan Tyler

    Brilliant. Thank you. I’ve kind of slid off Twitter for many of these reasons, but as you say, it’s not exactly helpful for feminists to retreat from it either. Still, I’m amazed at the lack of serious critique about the limits of Twitter as a platform for political interaction and organising. It seems to go as far as “BUT the Arab Spring!” so therefore it must inherently facilitate radical politics.

    • TotallyUnsexy

      “It seems to go as far as “BUT the Arab Spring!” so therefore it must inherently facilitate radical politics.”

      Yeah, because oppressed nations can’t rise up without the help of transnational US corporations. *sarcasm*.

      Revolutions and uprisings have been happening well before Twitter and Facebook came on the scene. I don’t see any evidence of a correlation between the availability of those sites and increased political activism. People use whatever means of communication they have access to. Many revolutions occured in times and places when the printing press was the main means of communication. In those circumstances the printing press was used to spread revolutionary literature, should the printing press therefore be credited with bringing about revolutions?

      Furthermore, the same technological innovations that give oppressed people better means of communication also give the oppressors better means of communication. They don’t improve the power of the oppressed relative to their oppressors.

      • Meagan Tyler


        I am skeptical about the idea that Twitter is the democratisation of public speech, as some seem to think, for the same reasons. It appears to have escaped the attention of many who should know better that Facebook and Twitter make money and that, as you say, large corporations and those with power are able to use and manipulate these tools much better than those with less power and less money.

        • Meghan Murphy

          EXACTLY. It’s odd to watch a bunch of folks who likely see themselves as “liberals,” “progressive,” or even left-wing, a) try to censor a person’s work because they don’t agree with it, and b) fight to the death to defend a company that’s making millions off of them. Like Twitter’s so radical!

  • Meghan, I think your issue is primarily with Twitter, not with “Twitter Feminism”.
    Twitter can be a pretty shitty place for many people, not just feminists. As someone who experiences a lot of what you write about here (not just because I’m a feminist, but because I’m Black and liberal too), I’m going to say the issue isn’t about feminism, as it manifests itself on social media. The problem is the people who take to social media and claim to be working on the feminist agenda.

    A few notes:

    This is at least the fourth wave of feminism, not the third. Many of you tend to ignore the contributions of women who don’t look like you feminism, totally erasing at least one “Wave”.

    Twitter is absolutely an amazing, productive place for the facilitation of activism. I wrote about it here: I understand that many mainstream feminists don’t connect with these types of movements, because they dont really matter to their personal lives, but hey… it works for many of us. We’re not invited to the table to have the conversations (and make the “BigFem” money that many of you are), so we have to create our own spaces and use what we have to let those voices be heard.

    I’ve met many great feminists offline that I found online and unlike what you’re describing, we love and respect each other and work together. We have dinner, drinks, brunch, party, sit on panels, speak at conferences, and celebrate each others’ work and accomplishments. We can even have respectful conversations about feminism, activism, and the roles we can all play in improving the quality of life for ALL women

    “We’re all showboating, trying be Most Right, trying to gain fans and supporters, and we have a ridiculously tiny space within which we can do it. We often succeed in being Most Right by proving that someone else is terrible. Winning by default or destruction is a popular Twitter strategy.” You’re going to have to speak for yourself, and maybe your cohort, here. I think that’s my biggest problem with this whole piece. You are projecting your own feelings onto an entire group of people and maybe…wait, maybe you’re not even THINKING about those of us here on the other side of the tracks when you’re writing this. Maybe, we remain invisible to you and that’s why you can only speak of the bickering and fighting and nastiness. Ahhhh. I get it. Maybe.

    “Twitter feminism is, in it’s current form, toxic, unproductive, and far from representative.”
    That’s because, like the word “woman”, you’re speaking about a very specific group of people. I’ve seen every type of woman “represented” on Twitter in discussions of feminism, from those living in abject poverty, to those brave trans women, to sex workers (that many of us work with offline or work AS), to women with disabilities, to women with no degrees, to…women of color. Gasp!! OMG… women of color DO actually have a voice in feminism online.

    Whoda thunk it?

    Without Googling, do you know who I am?

    • Meghan Murphy

      I do know who you are, yes!

      “Meghan, I think your issue is primarily with Twitter, not with ‘Twitter Feminism.'”

      Well, yes, part of the problem IS a problem with Twitter and how Twitter works. But the other part is how we are behaving and engaging, in the name of “feminism” on Twitter. And the question of how productive it is in terms of having nuanced conversations and movement-building. “Twitter,” unto itself, can be whatever it is, but within the context of feminism — a movement to end patriarchy — that adds another layer.

      “This is at least the fourth wave of feminism, not the third.”
      But I’m talking about a phenomenon that came about within the third wave, specifically.

    • morag

      I have a feeling that you might have a different opinion on Internet feminism when you decide to post something too radical and all the “brave” transwomen post your address, picture, and children’s names on public forums. Twitter is, in my experience, no safe haven for women-especially Woc.

      • Or maybe I’ve had men do the same to me on my blog, with threats to kill me and my family…or maybe I’ve had slews of people take residence in my mentions questioning everything from my son’s paternity to telling me I should be picking cotton, that I deserve to be raped because it’s the only sex I’ll get, etc

        That’s the thing… you think you know everyone’s lives when you know little outside of your own experiences. Stop with the “me me me” stuff and realize there is a LOT happening to a LOT of people for many different reasons. The problem, again, is NOT “twitter feminism”. The problem is stupid, creepy, dangerous PEOPLE who do stupid shit online

        • morag


        • moira

          If you’re not interested in talking about structural oppression, how the hell can you call yourself a feminist?

    • annika

      Wow, I don’t know why you thought it was a good idea to so hostilely attack Meghan like that. What a surprise that you chose to attack a blogger that doesn’t even get paid instead of, i don’t know, “sex worker advocates” who threaten survivors like Rebecca Mott, or “brave transwomen” who sue Vancouver Rape Relief, or the career feminists like Amanda Marcotte who actually have hurt WOC feminists.

      “That’s because, like the word “woman”, you’re speaking about a very specific group of people”
      All women, no matter their race, religion, sexual orientation, etc face sex based oppression. We’re all united by that, despite the privileges some individual women have. I find it fucking hilarious that you choose Miss Representation as a vehicle to help ALL women, considering that they showcased mostly white and conventionally attractive women. There was only one lesbian-Rachel Maddow- and they didn’t even let her mention she was a lesbian.

      I think maybe it’s time to put down the social justice kool aid and try to reevaluate your priorities.

  • Maureen Master

    Dear Meghan:

    I am deeply shocked and disappointed to learn that you are not in charge of feminism. Of course, I already knew the other stuff wasn’t true, but that particular revelation was a bit tough on me. However, it does help to explain why things are in such a state of disarray.

    I don’t have a twitter account but I “follow” you on twitter as a non-user and I have never seen you act anything but entirely civil to those with whom you interact. It’s really unfortunate that others are not willing to follow your example. For whatever it’s worth I have found your comments on twitter really valuable and hope you continue, but can completely understand how frustrating and exhausting it must be. The recent recent exchange about Steinam was truly surreal and you handled it beautifully.

    Anyway, in order to express my appreciation for all that you do, I just made a donation on your website, which I hope you will feel entirely free to use to treat yourself to a nice dinner or buy yourself a good bottle of wine. I really mean it. You deserve some TLC after what’s been going on.

    Thanks, Maureen

  • I could have written this piece myself, pretty much word for word, as it describes much of my own experience of Twitter. Having been responsible for the revival of the #sharedgirlhood hashtag I went from being congratulated to demonized in about 36 hours as the HT went viral.

    That list you put up–yes, that would be me as described by my critics. Yet how can we both be Satan, Meghan? Shall I take the MWF and you the TTHS and we’ll switch off Sundays?

    My tone might be flippant here, but the number of hours I have spent just agonized over the bullying and defamation and vicious lies on Twitter have brutalzed me. I’m still getting endless crap for the hashtag to the degree that yesterday I had to protect my account. Then this morning I read from @misogyny_online that you’re being attacked.

    For this statement of fact that addresses both our lives and no doubt those of many other women.

    In my real life I’m a respected and award-winning journalist doing serious social justice work in addition to my journalism. On Twitter I am either a well-respected feminist journalist or I am…Satan. Yesterday someone actually tweeted that I was “evil incarnate.” For a hashtag called #sharedgirlhood.

    But as you state so succinctly, if people cared to check to see if I am really Satan, they could read my actual work, as opposed to the detractors effluvia.

    Yet it’s easier to pile on.

    I haven’t an answer. I had hoped you had something snappy.

    What I say, over and over is: “Be nicer.” It seems trite, perhaps, but if someone spoke to me offline the way they do online, I might hail a policeman. I’d certainly run, not engage as I do on Twitter.

    So: thank you for this. For me, for others, I know it will serve as validation of a painful reality over which there is little to no control. It’s poignancy is matched only by it’s raw realities.–Victoria Brownworth

    • Maureen Master

      Victoria, What was done to you over #sharedgirlhood was shameful. There is no other word for it. I’m so sorry you had to go through that. I wanted to send you a note of encouragement at the time but didn’t know how. So I will take this opportunity to thank you for all you do on behalf of women.

  • I think you may be misgendering Ngọc Loan Trần. The biog at the end of that post uses “they/their”.

    • Meghan Murphy

      Hi there! Thanks for bringing this to my attention. I’ve edited.

    • moira

      Oh boo fucking hoo.

    • I don’t get it. Is this person plural?

  • Welp, my experiences on Twitter have been overwhelmingly positive, I’ve learned so much about black feminism and transgender feminism (if that’s the phrase for it). Sorry your experience sucked, but I’m not seeing how your experience was unique to Twitter or any other medium. It’s not even unique to the internet.

  • ElizabethN

    I’m willing to be unpopular here. I love twitter. I’ve learned more about feminism on twitter than I did in either of the two women’s studies classes that I took many years ago. No lie. Mostly due to the famous and amazing “black feminist twitter”. I’ve gone down countless unexplored mental roads thanks to the great minds/souls behind those 140 character postings.

    Voices that are noticed when convenient/otherwise ignored now have a simple digital megaphone. Established public figures can control their message in real time. I can whine in a public digital space about my luggage being lost and someone at the airline appears to care.

    I’m not sure how a platform like that can be considered all bad.

    Granted, there is a lot of noise and nastiness on the internet, no matter where you engage. To me it’s like one giant DMV. Inevitably, you’re going to sit next to someone with BO who is mean and uninformed. But you can’t blame the DMV. That jerkoff was unclean, grumpy and ignorant before they got there.

    Also – twitter is what brought me to you and your blog post – so hey! Added bonus.

  • Tiffany

    This whole post reads as “I am upset that WOC and working class women (often one in the same but not always) are getting more attention in the feminist movement.”

    So many women have been ostracized by the mainstream feminist movement, which is OVERLY white, middle-class, and cis-normative. Now? Women who don’t fall into those narrow parameters are getting more attention, because guess what? There’s ore of those women/non-gender conforming people then there are of the white middle-class variety.

    Just seems as if you can’t handle seeing these women get the attention they so richly deserve.

    • Meghan Murphy

      Hmm… Well it’s not really about “attention.” I think, for most-to-many women and feminists, “attention” is harsh…. it has been for me, in any case… More abusive and nasty than not.

      For the record, I am working class and I have most certainly been ostracized by the feminist movement for my views/work. I have no idea what women you are referencing who are ‘getting the attention they so richly deserve’ or why you think I would be opposed to that — I haven’t referenced any women of colour, working class women, or ‘non-gender conforming people’ in this piece at all, with regard to ‘attention’ and, quite honestly, don’t understand your comment. Did you actually read the piece?

    • Because being called names and / or bullied and putting your foot down towards such poor behaviour is exactly the same as “can’t handle seeing these women get the attention they so richly deserve” ?

  • Anna

    I noticed in the author bio that Ngọc Loan Trần doesn’t use ‘he’ as a pronoun, you might want to change that in your post.

    • Meghan Murphy

      Oh thanks! I will. I didn’t notice that…

  • aarongoggans

    First of all, let me say that I’m sorry you feel so harassed and hurt by the negative comments on twitter. I found this article by following such comments, I can’t imagine they felt nice. I think it is admirable that you continue to speak your mind despite such push back. Yet, to be honest when I read ” I think it’s a place where intellectual laziness is encouraged, oversimplification is mandatory, posturing is de rigueur, and bullying is rewarded. I think it’s a place hateful people are drawn towards to gleefully spread their hate, mostly without repercussion.” I thought, wow, you have perfectly described modern America. I think I see this behavior everywhere. I don’t know much about you or any of the other people who commented but this all just seems like a blown up version on my everyday experience in America. I grew up in Colorado Springs and the laziness and quick to hate speech patterns happened whenever these conditions existed 1. person one disagreed with what person 2 said 2. you were around people you thought agreed with you. I’ve heard Gloria Steinem be called a Nazi in real life, and on t.v. and in print media. I have been attached and threatened as a young black man more in real life “progressive” cities like Chicago than I ever have on twitter. The only thing new about twitter I think is the anonymity means people have the sense that they are surrounded by people who agree with them all the time.

    Also, having worked at a low income school in Englewood, Chicago I think you’d be surprised by how many “oppressed people” are on twitter. Me and my friends refer to it as “Black Twitter” because of the number of non-white people [mostly black in my personal experience] we know on twitter. Every kid I taught had a twitter account, even the ones that couldn’t afford to buy a uniform. They hung out at public library after school and surfed the internet. Here some interesting numbers on the fact:

    Twitter just may not be a medium for everyone but I know a lot of people who have had overwhelming positive experiences. It has allowed me to get a lot of exposure for an article I wrote and I’ve learned a lot about Black Feminism and gained a lot of awareness of trans issues on twitter. So as someone who has committed to trying to be an ally to women seeking to end oppression twitter has been invaluable. As a writer I found the challenge of expressing complex thoughts in 142 characters to be helpful in my creative non-fiction. I’m going to read more articles on this site as it seems like there are some great articles on here but I never would have heard of you or this site without twitter. #forwhatitsworth

    • Meghan Murphy

      All true and good points! That said, I do have to wonder how useful 140 characters quips, snarky comments, and the popularity of take down culture on Twitter is helpful for feminism…Which isn’t to say that’s all that’s there, but that sure is a lot of it. Never mind the harassment and abuse…

    • “Yet, to be honest when I read ” I think it’s a place where intellectual laziness is encouraged, oversimplification is mandatory, posturing is de rigueur, and bullying is rewarded. I think it’s a place hateful people are drawn towards to gleefully spread their hate, mostly without repercussion.” I thought, wow, you have perfectly described modern America. I think I see this behavior everywhere.”

      Thank you for writing this. May I extend this that its just not in America but this is, sadly I must say, a pretty common way of behave all thru the whole dominant culture–western civilization.
      Which brings me to the conclusion that these people that engages in nothing more than plain bullying behaviour (and not just on twitter) masquerades in ideologies that claim to be about dismantling this culture but they, themselves, acts out in similar dysfunctional patterns as the culture at large.

      • Meghan Murphy

        That’s an interesting point. It makes you wonder, for sure, how these folks interact in the outside world? Are they bullies there too? I kind of think Twitter encourages bad behaviour… As I’ve said, I’m sure I’m guilty of it too… Not bullying, but being snarky, rude at times, etc.

        • Well, I don’t know how they act out in the real physical world since I never met any of them (and frankly reading some of the comments / blogs etc. made by some of these people I hope i don’t run into them either because they come off as rather evil in my opinion) but what goes on within their minds should be pretty much the same I guess and I would not be surprised if they, even to a lesser degree perhaps, speak out in similar ways.
          Language can, and is often in our culture no matter what form of vocal language we talk about ie. english, swedish, french, be extremely oppressive and / or degrading (if there is a difference) without the one speaking perhaps even thinking about it. How we use vocal language says a great deal about ourselves which is not to say one can’t get mad or angry and so on but what do you do with that emotion ? Do you put it into nothing more than sounding like / becoming the oppressor or do you choose to do something more fundamental with it.
          And I might add that very few of us born into this culture and for various reasons are trying our best to stand in its way (and hopefully shut it down for good hehe) are free of doing / saying dumb things from time to time, but it is one thing to be reflecting upon this and try to think about it and a whole other thing to be engaging in plain bully behaviour and on top of that try and justify that like its totally fine to be an a-hole if your ideology is based on real equality, justice, democracy and so on and so forth.

          To me this connects with the whole human supremacy belief that is so central of our culture–survival of the fittest, humans are on the top of the foodchain (I don’t belive there even is such a hierarchy but that is another discussion hehe), humans are separated from nature and so on and so forth.
          If you value yourself (and your friends perhaps) like a tad better than everybody else than poor attitude is seldom far away I’ve noticed.
          This is more common than not in my experience.

  • Yo, Loan didn’t consent to be quoted in here… you took their comments out of context and you really need to take their words out of here. Thx.

    • Meghan Murphy

      Well, you don’t actually need to contact someone to quote their work and link to them… People do it to me constantly… I’m not quite sure what it is you understand about how quoting people’s published writing works? That people contact a person every time they quote them in a blog or article?

      • LW

        There’s a note on their blog asking for people to ask for permission before using their work, because, you know, consent. As a feminist writer (and especially as a white woman quoting a person of colour) it’s your responsibility to get that consent, and not just assume it’s okay because people do it to you. And in this case, as countless people including the author have pointed out on twitter, you’ve appropriated their words for your own intent, which follows a long line of white people co-opting the words of pocs, and then trying to turn those words against them. If you’re putting your writing in public, it’s on you to be publicly accountable.

        • Meghan Murphy

          Hi there
          People quote my work constantly without asking me. You may want to look up fair use. I’m not sure you understand how writing work? At least, unlike many others who’ve stolen/used/referenced my work without even referencing me by name, crediting me, or linking to me, I quoted, referenced, and linked to the author whose work I quoted — both accurately and favorably, at that.

          • AJ

            Fair use =/= Not being a rude, inconsiderate person.
            You sound like a manarchist free speecher.

          • Meghan Murphy

            Ok cool. So I’m waiting on ALL of you to address Aura Bogado & others taking screen shots off my private Facebook page from two and a half years ago, publishing them (OH GEE DON’T REMEMBER HER ASKING FOR ‘CONSENT’ SO WEIRD EH), lying about the ACTUAL words I say and completely mischaracterizing me, my beliefs, my work, and my writing? Oh, and pretending as though it was a recent thread? Which was an obviously malicious move intended to slander me, destroy my credibility, and start a vicious attack? Because I challenged her attempts to blame other women/feminists for Schwyzer’s abuse? Cool, cool. I’ll be waiting on that, Ms. Ethics.

            P.S. Quoting someone favorably, accurately, and properly referencing them does not make one “a rude, inconsiderate person.” Regardless, that’s hardly relevant when discussing WRITERS QUOTING OTHER WRITERS. What a joke, man.

  • Chris

    Freelance writing is hard, I tried it for a year and a half, and at my best I was making $100 a month. I was on twitter, follwed a fair number of people, and had a fair number of people following me, including some noted names. This was a full-time job for me. You had to read the tweets, you had to respond to them, or at least you had to deal with them in some way. It was hard. When I quit blogging, and got a new job, I deleted my twitter account and started over. I tried to keep up for a couple months, but it was impossible and very stressful.

    I want you to know that I read your articles, and listen to your podcasts, but I don’t follow you on twitter. Based on this article, I think I’ve made the right choice. 🙂

    At the same time, please don’t quit. If people are attacking you and feminism in general, that means you are actually saying something that threatens them. Otherwise they would be ignoring you. Block the sock-puppets, ignore the assholes, and respond where you think it might actually make a difference. Tune the rest out.

    It’s not important that you win every fight, or prove everyone wrong, it’s only important that you uphold a consistent moral and ethical framework. You’ll never convince the majority anyway, so why beat your head against the wall? Change will happen, one way or another, and the longer you stick around, the greater the chance you might influence it in a positive direction. History always moves slowly, until it doesn’t.

    • Meghan Murphy

      Ah thanks, Chris. Appreciate your perspective/comment. It’s hard to see the big picture when things get so intense… I kind of feel like at least shutting down my account for a few days… It’s just too much and I’m not great at coping with it all…

  • Allison Fairey

    Hi Meghan,
    I enjoyed reading your article and think you are very brave to share your thoughts and experiences using Twitter. It is a shame that you are forced to defend yourself but you have identified clearly those faults in human nature that challenge us. I must admit that I find all social media intriguing in that it really is a place where all of the good and bad that we humans are is displayed in all of its complexity…..amazing stuff, but at the same time humbling and sometimes disappointing. For the record, I love Twitter because it as like lolly shop. I love that I can explore and find people, like you, who are interesting and have something worthwhile to say. I like reading and there is always plenty to read and think about on Twitter. I plan to follow you on Twitter so I can learn more about you and the work you do.

    • Allison Fairey

      Hmmm! Watching the drama unfold.Twitter encourages people to believe that they are important and therefore so are their opinions. These discussions are riveting…..intellectual arm-wrestling. See them as such and ignore those who use name calling, they are using the only weapons in their arsenal. One of the risks of putting your opinion out there is that there will always be someone who disagrees. Occupational hazard if you are a writer. Good luck.

      • Meghan Murphy

        I’m not too concerned about disagreement… I’m mostly concerned with avid misrepresentation, libel, verbal-abuse, bullying, and silencing…

  • Hammtime

    Ms. Murphy, with all due respect, your problem is not with Twitter or with the people on Twitter. Your problem is that you are ignorant to your privilege as a white person. I recommend reading the following essay.

    • Meghan Murphy

      I really have no idea what this piece has to do with race, Hammtime?

    • Aph

      @ Hammtime. That is the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard. I hate how there’s a trend occurring where critical, anti-racist, white feminists are being called “racist” because they publicly state their opinions. There are TONS of other uncritical white feminists you could go bother, but Meghan has been nothing but mindful of white privilege.

      As a black feminist who contributes to her blog from time to time, I think Meghan is spot-on with her analyses. Just because she doesn’t like twitter doesn’t mean she’s a racist because SOME women of color like twitter. I am a black feminist who agrees with Meghan’s assertions about Twitter.

      • Maureen Master

        @Aph. I’ve always enjoyed your articles on Feminist Current. They are incisive and thought-provoking and are what brought me to your articles on other sites (Vegan Feminist Network, etc) which I also greatly appreciate. Thanks!

    • White privilege? Are we talking about race? Why?

  • marv

    Uncivil heinous behaviour can be devastatingly hurtful but less harmful than civil libertarianism. The free market place of ideas has spread nearly everywhere by persuasion and force. It might be the most successful ideology in patriarchal history, It has become common sense because it is normalized. You could call it a quasi-religious belief system in which followers place their faith to guide their lives. It is ideologically rigid and institutionally conformist. Some reform groups want to harness the “excesses” of neoliberal individualism yet are not anti-systemic movements. Nice or civil liberalism is killing us softly, making it more insidious than abrasive rhetoric and defaming remarks (which shouldn’t be belittled). Social media in general is infected with the liberal virus.

    Only by recognizing that neoliberalism is a political creation not rooted in nature, can we move beyond it. What was assembled can be dismantled and reconstituted. Twitter too. The foremost group up for the task are anti-class (sex, race, economic, abilities, etc.) egalitarians. You are one of them.

  • Jennifer “Renee” Bernard


    I am so sorry that you have had to deal with all the “haters”. I, too, get very frustrated with the ignorance and cruelty of people in general, not just in America but within the entire global village. People always say “the truth shall set you free”, but telling the truth is considered rude these days. I completely understand the anger when people just say to “get over it” or “just ignore it”. This generally comes from people who want us to shut up because the truth is punching them in the face and they are more likely guilty themselves. You have to stay strong (I know you will!) and continue on with what you are doing. You are very rare and your wisdom and discernment is refreshing. The majority of people cannot interpret things in the way that you do, nor are they as articulate or passionate about anything besides becoming more corrupt and self absorbed. Millions of people are going to want you to shut down your operations, but you can never let anyone defeat you. Soon, I will be waging this war with you and will do my best to be one of your greatest supporters. Until then, hang in there and continue fighting the good fight. xoxoxo

    • Meghan Murphy

      Well considering the response on Twitter mostly demonstrates all the points I make, I guess it’s no wonder they’re so defensive?

      • Jennifer “Renee” Bernard

        Yes. In this situation, i would say that people are “defensive” because they are part of the problem and the truth is a nuisance to them. They probably just want you to shut up and leave them to continue down the corrupt path they are on. You mentioned that twitter was a place for hateful people and I think that corresponds well with their responses to you. I’m not sure that “defensive” is a good word here, but rather “despise” and “hostile” are more fitting. I think there is a difference between being defensive and abusive. The problem is more with themselves than with you. You are just the scapegoat for people who don’t aspire to be any better. Remember, you are a minority because of how you believe. You are an unconventional thinker and controversial writer. Unfortunately, you will face much scrutiny because of this. I completely agree with your analysis of twitter and all of your other “opinions” (I’d like to call them facts, lol) on various topics/issues, but most people are too ignorant to effectively argue any topic, so their only reaction is hostility. I’d say just get rid of twitter altogether.

        • Meghan Murphy

          Definitely hostile…. And yeah, all the women who speak out against the sex industry are in a minority on Twitter and are attacked for sharing their views and critiques in that regard.

      • I think working feminism on twitter is the virtual equivalent of yelling at each other on the street. If all one is doing for feminism is being on twitter, in my opinion you’re doing nothing.

        There’s a petition now pleading with the UN to recognize women as human not f***holes for rent, and it’s only got 200-some signatures.

        I plead with young women to blog. The undecided read blogs.

  • Ash

    I totally deactivated mine for a week…now i’m back. I came back to a bunch of stupid ass comments about stupid shit….

    i loved this post

    • Meghan Murphy

      Thanks Ash! I want to deactivate mine all the time…. And yeah, the amount of emails, messages, comments I got re: this post, from people who agreed and feel like they are too afraid to participate. #twitterfeminism seems to be an echo chamber to me — you can really tell by the politics that are ‘acceptable’ there… It’s odd b/c it doesn’t seem to play out that way in other spaces…?

    • “stupid ass comments about stupid shit….”

      That is describing what Internet is turning into as a whole, as time goes on heh.

  • Pingback: On cynicism, calling out, and creating movements that don’t leave our people behind()

    • Meghan Murphy

      Wherein writer at Feministing (oh wait, am I to use her name?) references me/my article without acknowledging my name, the site published, my words, my arguments, or the use of my ideas. I wouldn’t care so much if folks on the internet weren’t making such a big stink about this nonsense:

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  • My take on Meghan’s essay – which I translated in French with a Parisian ally – is that the bloodletting happening on Twitter and on battling blogs around feminism is not just a matter of form or bad ethics, although these factors play a role. They reflect real struggles over key controversies where there is almost no common ground left between opposing camps on some issues, be they porn/prostitution, m-to-f trans’ claims to be women and entitled to freely access radical feminist spaces, or deference to men in general. So maybe it would be best to conceive of these struggles as opposing entirely different analyses, e.g. ultra-liberalism and feminism, rather than as some misunderstanding or ethical faux pas or degeneration between similarly-minded folks.
    What do you think?

    • Meghan Murphy

      It became quickly clear that most of those who responded negatively to the piece, or who attacked and slandered me, were doing so, not because they disagreed with my analysis or found anything within it that had anything to do with racism (as it was oddly twisted into that), but because they disagreed with my position on the sex industry and were desperately seeking an excuse to vilify me/discredit my work without actually saying, outright, that this was why.

      Aside from that, I think it’s likely many didn’t like my commentary around Third Wave/postmoderism/identity politics.

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  • KittyMark

    I have kinda an explosive question for everyone. I went out searching feminist sites today with a single question: is there a feminist site that does not use the word “white feminist” as a derogatory term? Is there a site where white people can use the term “white” and not mean it to be snark on themselves? Now I’m not talking about sites where race cannot be discussed, but sites where if you participate, you can use the term “white” for yourself and not have to put yourself down before saying it.

    As a large woman, I’ve been schooled on how there are environments of support and others where it is made clear that you are not supposed to like who you are or what you look like. You aren’t supposed to be proud of what you look like and not supposed to have self esteem about that.

    I think a truly supportive environment where everyone is respected for who they are, you don’t have to snark on your race or cut yourself down before self-identifying. Also, it should not be an environment where other races are welcomed to call you names about your race, but hells bells if you should ever be racist. No one should have to be shamed about their race just showing up. People have justified it like saying “those women kinda sorta deserve it for that woman in the 60’s that wrote that book and excluded blacks from the movement.” But truly, I’ve had enough being cut and told I should take the insults and only address my race in snark for something my mother mighta done or Gloria Steinem is rumored to have done that one time. This movement is not about making any woman be ashamed or smaller just walking into a room. No one.

    • Maureen Master

      And I have a question for you: Do you think that feminists should stop using the word “men” in a way that men may find derogatory?

      In response to your question, I think you are falsely equating being white with being large. We live in a culture that shames and stigmatizes large people. It is, therefore, important that we are aware of and sensitive to that fact, and do our best not to participate in that behavior and to correct ourselves if we inadvertently do so. We do not live in a culture that attaches shame or stigma to being white — no matter how bad you may feel when someone uses the term “white feminist” in a way you find to be derogatory. White feminism has often excluded women of color and that is most certainly not something that only happened in the past. It very much continues today. As a white person, and a white feminist, I think we should not be defensive if someone uses the term “white” in a derogatory manner — just as, for example, I don’t need to be concerned if someone uses the term “thin” in a derogatory manner. Thin people are not excluded or discriminated against in our culture.

      I think that white feminists should be attentive whenever women of color criticize “white feminism” to try to hear what they are saying. Often, the person will have a point and it will be something we can and should learn from. However, sometimes, such as in the recent attacks on Meghan, the accusations are spurious and used as a pretext for something else about her that her detractors did not like, i.e, her radical feminist critique of the sex industry. Certainly, baseless accusations of racism hurt, but they are never the same as racism (as some like to claim) and we need to remain open to legitimate critiques of white feminism’s exclusions, intentional or not, of the analyses, interests and lived experience of women of color.

      • martindufresne

        Hear, hear…

        • molly

          I issue a challenge to anyone. Take any feminist blog. Take any blog article. For 2013 find a single instance where the term white feminist is used in a positive context.

          Hell I’ll go further. A neutral context.

          A single sentence.

          Perhaps: “she’s a great white feminist” or “ms. Sally, a white feminist” where it’s a description and not a prelude to an indictment for being white or white and therefore wrong.

          Just a single instance. Find it.

      • Meghan Murphy

        “We do not live in a culture that attaches shame or stigma to being white” — yes. This is the key thing, here. Which isn’t to say that the glomming together of ‘white feminists’ is always used in a way that makes sense, because, ideologically, we tend to differ quite extensively, but considering that white people are not oppressed, as a group, and that we have been historically responsible for the oppression of other groups and have held most of the power and and privilege in this world, undeservedly, I don’t think it makes much sense to oppose conversations of ‘whiteness’ that are derogatory… The comparison to ‘men’ here is apt.

        • martindufresne

          Is being derogatory to people – even when discussing a category of people – ever admissible in our culture of escalating “smarm”*? We ought to be clear that it is criticism of any kind, especially political criticism of a dominant category that is at stake when some people feel superior batting down certain categories of people deemed incorrect by new standards.
          Yet, I have noticed that it isn’t long before one finds that the “dominant” group being lambasted isn’t really that dominant. Although apparently the nec plus ultra of aware liberalism, critiques of “white feminists” are often stoked by traditional misogyny and antifeminism, just as the critique of Black capitalism was leveraged by a racism that had finally found a grip.

          • Meghan Murphy

            That’s true…

            Honestly I feel a little torn about this subject. I completely agree with Maureen’s points and at the same time the ‘white feminists’ thing is simply not a useful descriptor and, as you say, is sometimes cloaked in misogyny and used by men to silence feminists who challenge them in ways they don’t like. That said, I don’t have a problem with ‘whiteness’ in general being talked about in a ‘derogatory’ way… What I do have a problem with is using ‘white feminism’ as a way to silence radical feminism and to group radical feminists (who aren’t all white and, as a result, erases radical feminists of colour and also tends to erase working class women from feminism as well) in with feminists who we aren’t aligned with, ideologically, at all….

            I think it is relevant to point out/acknowledge that white voices have dominated, well, most everything, historically, including feminism. But there’s also no such thing as ‘white feminism,’ and, as Maureen pointed out, lately that descriptor has been used to silence critiques of the sex industry and is unfounded.

          • lizor

            Oh Jeez – I did not read the whole thread before commenting. I did not even consider the use of accusations of race and class privilege to silence rape-commerce critiques. this is a very important point and a too-effective derail.

            That said, I don’t see a united voice of feminism telling white women to employ snark and feel shame.

          • NerdLand

            I think there’s a bigger point to be made that has not been mentioned here. Why in the hell are black feminists trying to work in solidarity with white feminists? And why is not seen as suspicious that white women want to be in the same space as black women? White women share in white privilege; they don’t have the necessary experiential requirements to even begin to understand what black women have to face. White feminists think they are being radical or progressive because they mention “race” and have no clue what in the hell they are talking about. If patriarchy is the enemy, why trust men to be feminists? And if patriarchy is coupled with WHITENESS, why trust white women?

          • Maureen Master

            If a white feminist thinks she is being radical or progressive simply because she mentions race, then she is not acting in good faith and should not be trusted. As you note, white women share in white privilege and, as a result, we have no experience that can allow us to understand what black women have to face. Nevertheless, the fact that we can never understand what it is to experience racism should not excuse us from making a genuine effort to understand the powerfully negative and oppressive affects that racism has had and continues to have in our society and how that impacts Black women. This involves much more than clicking on a link that takes you to a one-pager on white privilege. It involves a lot of reading, a lot of studying, a lot of listening, and a lot of soul-searching. If a white woman is not doing that then, of course, you have no reason to trust her. Even if she is doing that, you may not have any reason to trust her. The onus is upon white women to earn the trust of women of color, not the other way around. We have no particular right to be trusted. But we have a duty to attempt to be trustworthy.

        • sally

          The only shame or stigma attached to being a white feminist is on sites claiming to be feminist.

          Oh and oddly white supremist types. They blame white feminists too and to them white feminist is a slur.

          It makes sense to oppose racism and if you use the words “white feminist or feminism” only as a negative you are racist. Full stop.

          No one’s race should be shamed.

          And neither should criticism of bullying.

          • Donkey Skin

            There is no such thing as racism against whites. Nice try, though.

      • annika

        “just as, for example, I don’t need to be concerned if someone uses the term “thin” in a derogatory manner. Thin people are not excluded or discriminated against in our culture.”

        This is simply not true. There’s absolutely no such thing as thin privilege, because all female bodies are discriminated against underneath a patriarchy. There’s enough body shaming to go around! Thin people face job discrimination and aren’t taken seriously by doctors either. And if you think thin women are “adored” in this culture, here are some comments I found on magazines and internet forums about thin celebrities:
        “Worst beach body of the year”
        “Anorexic twig”
        “Looks like a Holocaust victim”
        “She looks a 12 year old boy/only pedophiles would find her attractive”

        And who can forget the myriads of comments from men waxing idiotic about why they would or wouldn’t want to violently sodomize her. I wonder what other kinds of comments non-conventionally attractive thin women are subject to.

        I definitely agree with what you wrote about white privilege, because that is a real tangible and historically based oppression, just like able bodied privilege.. This whole resurgence of thin privilege, however, is frankly dangerous.Just like “cis privilege”, it erroneously places women as a privileged group based on a quality that is actually a result of sex based oppression.

        • Maureen Master

          I agree that all women’s bodies are judged and found lacking regardless of size, but I also believe that large people in our society are stigmatized and shamed in a way that thin people are not. As far as “thin privilege” I’m not really a fan of understanding everything in terms of privilege, so I don’t use that term. But I do believe that there is discrimination against large people (in employment, for example) and general ridicule of large people that thin people don’t generally face. There may be exceptions to this that I am not aware of and I certainly did not intend to cause offense or suggest that mocking women’s bodies when they are thin is somehow acceptable.

      • KittyMark

        I don’t conflate insulting one group with another – so that is sort of a cheap shot. No group, race, sex, gender should walk into a feminist conversation automatically being less than.

        I also don’t think that white feminists owe a “freebie” hit where things are discounted because of their race or they may be directly personally racially insulted. To ask for civility and mutual respect in conversations is not being defensive. To knee jerk reach for the defensive card of shame has been what abusers and bullies have done forever.

        I don’t agree that any white feminist walking into a feminist conversation kinda sorta deserves sneers or snarks on her race. It is not the privilege of any group to insult one race as a community norm. Let me be clear and give you examples:

        1. When someone makes a Meme art with a white feminist performer or current feminist saying something racist she never said. While to do this with any other race is forbidden so it’s not a case of just comedy. Oh, and to say in editorial that if you criticize Beyonce, you’re racist.
        2. When you are asked “are you white? you must be white” when you simply state your opinion on a site.
        3. When the act of one white feminist triggers a flaming that “that is how they all are. you can’t trust white feminists.”
        4. When white vulgarities are used on the site and allowed by the administrator.
        5. When the argument is that white feminists cannot be feminists and that there are no white feminists that ever did any good. And if you defend that, you will be deleted or jeered as racist in an ironic twist.
        6. When the argument is that black people can never be racist and are above criticism.
        7. When in the description of their blog they state they are against white feminists and I’ve also seen “their industrial complex.” Really?

        On Autostrattle last week, the editor noted that any positive comments about DiFranco would be deleted and white feminists should be aware of that policy. Really? You must be racist and white if you say anything outside the party line? Furthermore, we’ll have none of that.

        Yeah. You can google on the term “white feminist” and find all of those in the first page of results. There are no positive results except like 23 pages in. So much for the white feminist power structure that schemes. By the way, in doing this search, there were conservative sites cheering that the black women hate white feminists. Hey, they have something in common.

        Using the term “white feminist” for a term of shame is hateful, especially since they are sitting beside white feminists. I wonder if they say some of their best friends are white feminists, and there are “the good ones.”

        Nope I don’t believe white feminists owe a freebie of abuse and when they walk into a room they are owed disrespect.

        I also think, to answer your question, that the term “male feminist” is not a curse word. Guys can be feminists.

        Sure, have a conversation about how you disagree with this feminist or that. But I won’t co-sign on a norm that you have to be apologetic white (like apologetic fat) in order to be socially acceptable.

        • Maureen Master

          So it sounds like you are posting things on sites that are being responded to with “are you white? you must be white.” I don’t know what it is you are posting that elicits this response, but I would suggest that you think about why this is happening. Usually when whites are racist, it’s not because we intend to be. It’s subconscious. We don’t think we are being racist. But we will never move beyond that if we are not willing to think about the criticisms. That was, more or less, what I was trying to say in my first response to you. People are often “over the top” on the internet. I wouldn’t let it get you too upset.

    • lizor

      “I’ve had enough being cut and told I should […] only address my race in snark…”

      I have been reading feminist blogs for years and I have never seen instructions such as these. Can you provide an example?

      If a person were actually telling us to refer to our own privilege in snarky tones, I can’t quite see what that would achieve anyway. IF there are blogs out there that actually tell white feminists to practice shame (and I am skeptical about this), I don’t see much point in doing this as apolitical strategy. It’s not the same as learning to consider other perspectives and/or one’s own blind-spots. A non-white feminist pointing to incidences of privilege on the part of white feminists is worth listening to – and again, I have yet to read anything that has no other content than an instruction to feel shame and self-refer with snark.

      White privilege is a fact. I suppose it can be easy to confuse a statement of fact with “snark” – especially if I’m not practiced in identifying my racial and class privilege.

      I also agree with Maureen’s point about conflating lookism/sizeism with whiteness. The sizeism in our culture is out of control and wreaks horrible emotional and psychological damage. I have been subject to this myself, so I empathize with where you are coming from, however, I don’t get the same feeling at all from writing that addresses my own privilege as a white person.

      At any rate, I’ll look for your example links.

      • KittyMark

        Well, here’s the first page of Google results on “white feminist”. Since you can’t be bothered to. By the way, you know that thing where as a feminist you owe educating people stuff. Yeah, it’s like that.

        1. Whitefeminist the twitter account – just a fake snark about how white feminists are horrible.

        2. “We fully understand that much of what white feminists have said about Beyoncé has been in line with the same misogynoirist language and attitudes that white feminists have been displaying towards black women since…well, forever. We hear the code words, we see the upturned noses.”

        Here’s my comment – “white feminist” is now a code word for the bad things people should shun. Also, when I search on Beyonce – all I get is white feminists defending Beyonce outside the article she references. Want change, don’t say white feminists are all alike and always do this or that. That’s divisive and not intersectional. Want allies? Don’t do that.

        3.The site “white feminists quit goddamn fucking up” No dialogue is closed.

        4. Lay off Michelle Obama: Why white feminists need to lean back

        Again. If you actually do a search there are tons of white feminists defending Michelle Obama. Every place from Shakesville, to feministing, to jezebel to…Ms magazine to anything is pro Obama and I couldn’t find a white feminist published against Michelle in the feminist blog0sphere where white feminists contribute. To conflate that there is a mass conspiracy of white feminists with a racist agenda is false.

        The criticism is about two articles that women wrote hoping Michelle would be more politically active. That’s not race hate, and using the term “white feminists” as a broadstroke is a lie. Hey, the author thought this is racist – I disagree – but to conflate two women to the whole white feminist complex is a shit move. But ya know that two white women…well they are all alike. Because they said they wanted Michelle to do more on this issue or that. Clearly racist.

        The author says “And until white feminists share this kind of anti-racist agenda”

        Umm…when I look at all the feminist sites, all are 100% pro Michelle Obama. We do share an anti-racist agenda. She believes and putting out there that white feminists are racists and don’t have an anti-racist agenda. Current white feminists. Broadly. Across the board. Because two wrote a thing about Michelle.

        5. From the site: Black Feminist Manifesto there’s a piece of art of Gloria Steinem laughing. The text over the photo is: Beyonce a Feminist? LOL She probably can’t spell feminist.

        Not that they want to insult anyone or create hate…You know. A person. Still alive. Devoted to civil rights….

        I could drill into comments and cut and paste vulgarities assumed white commenters have gotten. Also clear instructions they are to leave the comment section since they are white. These are so called feminist sites.

        The term “white feminist” is now code for the bad thing – the thing to jeer at – I could go on. Just Google on “white feminist” and dig in.

        Problem is. There are whites. And they are feminists. If you mean you are criticizing some historical fore mothers or contextual culture, say it. Don’t create a culture where the race attribute is jeered at.

        I know, I know “you don’t mean them….it’s there are some good ones….”

        If you walk into a conversation and you have to do a shame curtsy of saying “I know I’m white so discount what I say” or you have to cut yourself a bit before speaking, it’s not an intersectional conversation. If others are free to use your race as a snark term – a thing of derision is what you are, it’s a racist environment.

        • Maureen Master

          As a white feminist, I am in no way offended by either of these articles. I found them both insightful and illuminating. In fact, I had read them both before you posted the links and had enjoyed them.

        • lizor

          Kittymark –

          Thanks for those links. I have seen the first two articles but I had not seen Black Feminist Manifesto, so thanks for bringing it to my attention.

          I still don’t relate at all to what you are saying. As another pic on Black Feminist Manifesto says “racism is hard to see if you are white”. Reading critiques like the ones you point to are very helpful in breaking through the blindness of privilege to at least some degree, if that happens to be something you feel is important, and I do.

          White European Hegemony (and its twin, neoliberal capitalism) exists. It privileges some at the expense of others.

          My point was not that no one critiques the blind spots of white middle and upper class feminist perceptions and the strategies for change that come out of that particular world view. These critiques are essential to an effective movement for social equality.

          My point was that I have not seen – and do not see in your linked articles – white feminists being told that addressing themselves in snarky tones is going to do anyone any good, anymore than male posters on feminist blogs who piss and moan that feminists “just want them to feel guilty for being men” is true or a suggested strategy to dismantle existing power hierarchies. Feminists want men to put a bit of energy into increasing their awareness of their own privilege in the hopes that they might not reproduce that hierarchy to the same degree that someone in denial of privilege is bound to do.

          Molly challenges me to “find a single instance where the term white feminist is used in a positive context.”.

          Now why would I want to find such nonsense? Why, if I want race-base power structures to dissolve, would I spend my time searching for some writing that lauds people for being white? If somehow the British National Party has sprouted a radical feminist wing, I may feel its necessary to examine that, just as it is important to examine some of the more twisted hybrids of political agitation that have sprouted up in late capitalism, but I’m probably not going to see such a thing as progressive.

          As for both your and Molly’s contention that you are somehow being unfairly oppressed by feminists of colour and their critiques of the dominant narratives of feminism that are also infused with race and class privilege, I’m not buying it.

          • Maureen Master

            Well said. I couldn’t agree more.

        • NitroGirl

          This is embarassing to read and I am not even White. What you’re complaining about is snark and all White women have to do to reduce snark is to stop being so engulfed in their White femaleness that they exclude,talk over,or down Women of Color. If your pride is what is hurt then ,please let me remind you many Women of Color have more things to be worried about than hurt feelings (like unique racial+gendered issues).

          Honestly there is such a huge similarity in the way which many White Feminists and White Male Privilege Denying Dudes react when their Whiteness is mentioned it’s baffling. The same kind of White women to do this are the same ones who tatter “lol misandry” on their blogs,or make some kind of snarky remark to their White Male counterparts whenever they decide to self-victimize and pretend they’re being oppressed.

          Sorry, I’m just sick of reading about how mean WoC are to White Feminists. You don’t have to hold your head down in shame ,shame isn’t doing anything for Women of Color,in fact it often garners more pity and support for White Women. Women of Color cannot be racist against White Women,and since your last little line,I can see why some of us roll our eyes at “White Feminism”.

      • molly

        I issue a challenge to to you lizor. Take any feminist blog. Take any blog article. For 2013 find a single instance where the term white feminist is used in a positive context.

        Hell I’ll go further. A neutral context.

        A single sentence.

        Perhaps: “she’s a great white feminist” or “ms. Sally, a white feminist” where it’s a description and not a prelude to an indictment for being white or white and therefore wrong.

        Just a single instance. Find it.

        • martindufresne

          A funny thing happened on the way to contemporary times: Supremacy got a bad rap.
          It is hard to acknowledge today how enthusiastic some white male affluent writers and politicians were about manhood, whiteness and class privilege, throughout the nineteenth century and far into the twentieth.
          It took bloody thankless struggles by women, Blacks and the poor to roll back that arrogance and problematize these identifiers. They were fought all the way: reactionaries railing at men for not affirming manhood enough, not flaunting richness as a social good, giving in to equalitarian demands by “ethnic minorities”.
          A statement like “Sally, a white feminist…” would probably be resisted by Sally herself, eager not to be labeled in a reductive manner, one suggesting that white feminism is somewhat less then feminism unqualified.
          Positive statements about “white feminists” as a category would be acknowledged as partitive, suggesting that non-White feminists do not deserve the same accolade.
          In other words, under a regime that remains male-supremacist, White-supremacist and classist, it is my impression that these three identifiers are appropriately overshadowed by the struggles at hand.
          If romanticist and classist ideology did not weigh so heavily in the general population, statements about men and the rich would probably also be implicitly critical.

        • sally

          They won’t do it. Don’t bother the haters and bullies with facts and figures (even faux academic tones can’t hide their racist ideas).

          • martin dufresne

            Anti-racism is the new racism, is it?

    • Maureen Master

      Apologies in advance for the very long post.

      I think there have been a lot of interesting and useful comments to this discussion. Since many of them seem to be in response to my response to the OP, I would like to clarify and expand a bit on my views. First, I do not think there is anything valuable or productive about baseless charges of racism leveled for the purpose of silencing a particular critique or political position. Quite the opposite, such attacks are counterproductive and do nothing to advance the interests of anyone, and certainly do nothing to advance the interests of women of color. As Martin pointed out such “critiques” are “often motivated by traditional misogyny and antifeminism.” This does not mean that there aren’t very legitimate critiques of racism or exclusion in feminism that deserve attention and careful consideration. I hope that the fact that there are those who are happy to use spurious charges of racism to silence feminists will not be used as an excuse not to listen to sincere criticisms, which are often based on genuine problems, an understanding of which can lead to a better, stronger, more inclusive feminism.

      I was careful in my comment to state that we should listen to women of color when they criticize “white feminism.” I did not say, and I do not believe, that we need to listen to porn-loving dudes (white or otherwise) when they claim that their attacks on a radical feminist are being carried out in the interest of protecting, defending or speaking on behalf of women of color. To do so would be absurd. Many of Meghan’s attackers were those very dudes and they should be quickly dismissed along with their misogynistic ulterior motives. As far as the women of color who made this charge, I believe that had they brought forth an argument, it most certainly should have been considered. However, they proceeded from the very weak premise that any criticism of twitterfeminism was inherently racist because some women of color like twitter. This is a rather bizarre assumption that was never explained and must ultimately be dismissed for lack of substance. It is also quite relevant that most, if not all, of the women making this charge were pro-sex industry.

      In the short time I have been following some of these exchanges on twitter, I have noticed that baseless charges of racism against radical feminists are part of a wider strategy to discount radical feminism’s critique of the sex industry by painting radical feminists as a homogenous group of pearl-clutching, bourgeois white women who want to both silence women of color and “rescue” non-white, non-Western women from prostitution. This narrative completely discounts and erases the critically important roles of radical women of color in the struggle against sexual exploitation. For example, in the midst of the frenzied (and mindless) twitter assault on Meghan, the radical feminist group Indigenous Women Against the Sex Industry (IWASI) issued a press release condemning the Supreme Court of Canada’s decision in the Bedford case. This press release expressed support for the Nordic model and urged “all those who seek justice, freedom, and equality to view prostitution as a colonial system and as a form of violence against women and girls that must be abolished.” The press release was also published on Feminist Current, but it does not fit with the pro-sex industry lobby that paints radical feminists as only privileged white women so it was ignored by them, as was the position of the Asian Women Coalition ending Prostitution, which also supports the Nordic model and has highlighted the sexualization of racism in prostitution.

      When the sex industry lobby paints radical feminism as a bourgeois white women’s movement, they erase Najat Vallaud-Belkacem, a woman of color and France’s Minister of Women’s Rights who fought tirelessly to ensure that France adopted the Nordic model; they erase Kamala Devi Harris, a woman of color and San Francisco, California district attorney who has done more than any other official in the United States to educate the public about the reality of prostitution and who passionately opposed efforts to legalize prostitution in San Francisco; they erase the women of Apne Aap, an NGO founded by Indian women in prostitution, which supports the Nordic model and has started a global campaign to oppose the move of some UN agencies’ to promote the decriminalization of pimping and buying sex. The list of women who are erased by the pro-sex industry narrative goes on and on.

      Listen to what Alice Walker said in an interview in Ms. Magazine when asked about the resurgence of prostitution in Cuba:

      “When I see older white men with these primarily young, educated women of color, it is hard on the spirit. The women are too naive and inexperienced to know that they are engaging in an ancient system that oppresses women. They think of what they’re doing as a lark because it enables them to get a new tube of lipstick or some shampoo. But it’s very dangerous for them.”

      Is Alice Walker a moralizing “whorephobe” who is denying young women of color their agency by claiming they are the victims of “false consciousness”? Or is she engaging in a critical and radical analysis of racial and sexual oppression in the institution of prostitution? The sex industry says the former; radical feminism says the latter. But it is in the interest of the sex industry to ignore, erase, or misrepresent, Alice Walker and other radical women of color, because to acknowledge them is to acknowledge that the insights and contributions of radical women of color are vital in the fight against sexual exploitation and that radical women of color bring a critical analysis of racism and colonialism to the discussion that is often otherwise missed.

      The fact that this narrative is oft repeated on many corners of the internet is, in my view, not coincidental, but quite intentional. It appeared in the attacks on #twitterfeminism and #sharedgirlhood and reared its ugly head again recently in the hashtag #notyourrescueproject . This narrative means to erase radical women of color. That is its purpose. If the sex industry can characterize feminist opposition to it as coming only from privileged white women who are on a rescue mission, it is much easier for them to claim to speak on behalf of those most affected by the sex industry – i.e., poor women of color.

      As you have probably figured out by now I could go on and on, but I will stop here and simply say that for me the erasure of radical women of color is the central issue, as well as the erasure of the voices of survivors, which I have not touched on here but is also critical. I have great sympathy for those who have endured unjustified, defamatory, personal attacks, such as those launched against Meghan and Victoria Brownworth. They were entirely undeserved and both women handled them admirably. But rather than focus on those, I would suggest that radical feminists ensure that the voices of women of color are lifted up in this struggle and that attempts to silence them are called out for what they are – cynical, racist and sexist.

      • Meghan Murphy

        Thank you for this comment, Maureen. I agree wholeheartedly.

      • martindufresne

        Could I quote you, on my FB wall, about that Alice Walker quote, Maureen?

        • Maureen Master

          Absolutely, Martin!

      • lizor

        Wonderful and insightful comment Maureen. Thank you!

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  • I think the haters come from a capitalist take on media that encourages – through reality shows such as X factor – to vote people out of groups. It encourages bullying as people are always looking for fault in the group and to maintain position by hating on others.This in turn keeps people from being able to form groups under any sort of pressure, which is very useful for capitalism since it negates things like uprisings, unions and anything else of consequence. Coupled with a neoliberalistic ‘there are no facts, just opinions’ take on the world, feeding into the headline grabbing soundbite media that is Twatter, and you have a perfect storm scenario. I try to keep off most social media since it seems to be wall to wall peopled with trolls or bullies, as it used to be called. Sometimes the most difficult trick is knowing which arguments to engage with … and which to flush down the toilet as the bullshit they most obviously are …

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