I speak as someone who expected better

Ah, Twitter feminism. I had such high hopes. Remember ‘I did not report’? Wasn’t that ground breaking? When we told each other ‘I believe you’ it felt like finally, everyone understood and we really could be seen as equals because when twitter feminism allowed for us to be heard it was something many of us had never experienced before. I suppose we took it for granted we could expect solidarity on the back of successes like these. I know that Twitter gave me a voice. I thought people enjoyed listening to it, I really believed I was being heard and that was very empowering. Week Woman, Glosswitch, these women joined Twitter at the same time as I did and I thought of them as friends, sisters definitely. It was all going so well so what happened?

Well y’see, my peers hadn’t actually had a direct falling out with me. As a result of some pretty serious transphobic abuse Twitter feminism was about to suffer a crisis. There were those of us that were horrified at the sort of language leftie white feminists felt entitled to use and we responded accordingly, with refutations on our blogs and zero tolerance for the abuse and oppression of any marginalised group under our feminism. They responded by turning their backs on us. They responded by telling us we were not feminists. They did this by writing their own blog. Many of the older more experienced cisters made their feelings known by simply unfollowing and locking down their accounts. At least that way they could be abusive without being called out. It was perhaps one of the youngest in their set who expressed their feelings for them and consequently suffered a large part of the fallout when it was published. In essence what Hannah was saying was stop telling the white commentariat cisters off for being transphobic; you don’t have to agree with what’s being said but solidarity in the face of patriarchy. She wanted the right to say problematic things and not face the shame of being called out for abusive behaviour; why should she have to dm things that were probably none of her business, dammit, she should have the right to say stupid, hurtful, HARMFUL things whenever she wants. Except what Hannah failed to see was we were protesting because in fact that kind of behaviour was patriarchal in its very nature.

Patriarchy doesn’t like femininity. Radical feminism doesn’t care for it much either. I can’t be the only one to have noticed the difference in how trans men and women are treated, by wider society and in this context, Twitter feminists. Yes, trans men do also suffer abuse but it is trans women who face the worst kinds of persecution. Around half of all trans people will commit suicide. How can anyone actively side with a feminism which encourages behaviour that ensures that figure? Cathy Brennan, assigned female at birth receiving your solidarity is more important than the lives of countless trans women? How the hell do you expect us to react to this? Do you really think we have any option to fall in line? The raddest of radfems were charged by the support of Twitter feminism and they continue their campaigns to stalk and manipulate the most vulnerable people with abandon. If you, Caroline, or you, Cath had given trans women your solidarity then, they would not have to suffer the doxing and harassment they still do. Your silence, your politician’s style of answering the challenges thrown to you meant that you were complicit in the transphobe’s actions; you were complicit in abuse, regardless of whether or not you were showing cister solidarity. You are just as much to blame for the suffering our trans sisters face. When will YOU apologise for this?

We get accused of making people ill by not letting up. What about our mental/physical health? Oh I see, the onus is on us, the oppressed, to make the first step. We must submit and admit we’re wrong. It doesn’t matter that many of us are medicated because we have been denied/minimised/made to feel insignificant/worthless our whole lives and Twitter feminism continues to do that. We must do as we’ve always had to do, apologise when we are victimised, engage with abusers against our will. Yes, it comes back to me because I know me better than anyone else; when I was whizzing off my face on antidepressants and enough codeine to knock out a horse you all stood by while the commentariat lied and fucked me over. Weren’t you worried about my mental health then?

It does amuse me when I see the white cisters exasperated at other white twitter feminists for not siding with them. They can’t understand why anyone would support a cause as though they’re just riding on our coat tails and are defying the cisters out of spite or some shit, what other reason could they have for being so vocal about privilege? I am not trans* but I felt the need to show my solidarity at The Guardian protest. Does that make me a fake? I wasn’t there to fight racism, I was just there as an ally. Do the white cisters know what it means to be an ally? I guess not, perhaps that’s why they struggle with intersectionality so much.

Hey Caroline, how psychologically scarred do you think I am as a result of the past year? I know you literally don’t give a shit. Do you see why you drive me up the wall? How mentally draining is it for me do you think to be perceived as just some Asian girl with a chip on her shoulder when you KNOW the amount of abuse I have suffered on here? Do you remember when I tried to express how wrong it was of Bobbie to repeatedly refer to me as an Indian girl? What did you say then? You didn’t listen did you? You tried to tell me I was wrong for feeling that way about her on account of what a lovely person she was. I think that was more or less the last time we had a civil word. You don’t get to define racism, people experiencing it do. As PoC we are often infantilised and if I had a pound for every time someone assumed my heritage, I’d bury them in it. You’re saying you don’t know this? Or did you think I was lying? Or did you simply not care?

Caroline, if you want our support, issue a statement of YOUR support for marginalised women. You are in a position of privilege and power now you’ve had ‘success’ with your banknotes, you are in a position to do some good. Condemn the abuse our trans sisters face and make changes, you have the following to achieve that. Unless you’re afraid of losing that following? Maybe contact Southall Black Sisters and lend your support to their next campaign, I think that would be amazing really. You could get your Sky News contacts to do a piece about it. No?

I don’t find any pleasure from yet another Twitter feminism fight. I was sad in the early days, angry for a long time and just very bitter now. I am sorry Twitter feminism failed so spectacularly but I am not worried about this. What we say play out was an example of feminism irl. It doesn’t matter that feminism looks broken from the outside or that some women don’t even want to be feminists at all, feminism isn’t dead, it’s evolving. The only people who think it’s had its day are the ones who subscribed to the old equality for white women brand. That’d be patriarchy and the white cisters. In my opinion there has never been a more exciting time for all those who didn’t belong. Twitter feminism gave us our voices and the opportunity to meet up irl. Our protests are getting bigger and louder because unlike the white cisters, we’re all in it together.

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11 comments

  1. Hi Sam, firstly I would like to say that I am sorry it has reached this point. I believe you when you say you don’t enjoy the fights and I know I certainly don’t.
    Sometimes I just don’t have the time or the energy to respond to some of the stuff that’s around on Twitter. It drains me and leaves me with anxiety and panic attacks. There are times when I literally don’t want to log on because I’m scared of what I might see. I’m sure you understand what this is like.
    Today I’ve had conversations with women I haven’t spoken to for months so maybe we can do the same and resolve some of the issues? This is not a demand, nor are there any strings or conditions attached. It is simply an offer to talk and see if we can understand one another better.
    If you feel like this is something you might want to do then the best email is planetcath@me.com
    I fully understand if this is not something you would want to do & I have no expectations of you.
    Planetcath

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    1. I appreciate you getting in touch, and also hearing me. Obviously it has been a while since this all kicked off and whilst appreciated this message is a little bit out of the blue so I need some time to think on this before we open communication. Thank you.

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  2. “Patriarchy doesn’t like femininity”. Are you fucking kidding me? Patriarchy has created a web of ‘feminine’ behaviours/expectations/desires/jobs/clothes/roles/toys and on and on forever! Patriarchy uses it as a tool of oppression. Whilst undermining and devaluing femininity, it loves it as it keeps women and girls in their allotted space. Radical feminists dislike femininity as a patriarchal construct, but we love all things female. Big difference there. Oh and nice one, naming women. That demonstrates how you and your so called ‘cisters’ would rather defend men than do the right thing by women. Could you not have had a word with them in private, if you are so outraged that they have voices???

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    1. Patriarchy doesn’t ‘like’ femininity, it controls it.

      Also what do you mean ‘naming’? These people are on huge public platforms and everyone knows who they are, it makes no difference if I name them or not, everyone knows who I mean. Seeing as I’m actually speaking to them in the piece, it makes sense to use their names.

      And I’m sorry, defend ‘men’? Don’t think I’m doing that ‘mate’.

      Have a word with them in private.. When that courtesy is extended to me, I’ll be sure to reciprocate.

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      1. Femininity is not some autonomous thing that just evolved. It is a tool of patriarchal oppression that shifts over time and space to maintain the hegemony or male supremacy. You are conflating gender and sex when you say patriarchy doesn’t like femininity. It is true though that patriarchy as a system of power devalues females. As femininity has been constructed within an oppressive gender dichotomy and applied to female, then femininity is devalued also because of its association. Jobs such as nursing or child care, for example, have traditionally been devalued because of the sex of the people who have performed them, not because they are inherently feminine.

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  3. Great post, i find all the twitter is terrible stuff really amusing, i learn every day from twitter, yes, its a pity that the refusal of a free privilged women to care about others means mass appeal isnt happening, but so much more is. If twitter seems hostile to some, and not others, maybe they need to consider why…

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  4. Well said Sam and thankyou. You’re a wonderful ally for trans* people.

    I had such high hopes of TWR etc when they came about and I pitched in happily. I’m still in touch now but I find it all very oppressive and depressing so I’ve mostly walked away. I don’t understand the hatred some cis-feminists seem to have towards trans* women. We’re in a great position to describe gender inequality as we’ve seen it from both sides; I mistakenly thought my voice would be welcome but not so. I’m appalled by some of the dismissals of minority voices and the outright persecution of some groups from within feminism yet I still defiantly call myself a feminist. I don’t understand how a trans* woman can be anything else.

    Keep up the good work.

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  5. To be fair, it isn’t just the white Cisters, there’s a level of mostly privileged with maybe two or three oppressions people who consistently oppress minorities they don’t belong to and defend it. Only difference I’ve noticed is White Cisters often argue that so and so isn’t being bigoted because they’re a “nice person” and other privileged folk usually resort to demonising the minority complaining about whatever bigoted stuff was said. So, no, it’s not just the white cisters who think “all in it together” actually means “Everyone else supports our issues and waits for their rights”. I think we all should expect and have better, it’s not like we can stop oppression for just one group after all.

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