Anya Palmer

Twitter is the real world

I deleted Twitter last night after I found I couldn’t silence my own opinion. I deleted it because all the things I have been accused have been perpetrated by all of my critics but they have stifled any retaliation. They are bigger in numbers and their actions trigger a collage of white voices; manipulative and powerful.

When I first joined Twitter, I unfollowed anyone RT’ing the EDL into my timeline. I wasn’t being ignorant but trying to protect myself from mental harm. I don’t belong in this country and I found, after visiting the ‘homeland’, I didn’t belong there either. As a 31 year old woman, I am still affected by the subtle ways in which WoC are controlled. It is very easy to monster us and depict us as damaged and untrustworthy, heck, we’re so often used in this way, we start believing it.

Tell me how, any woman claiming to be intersectional can allow discourse that alienates another woman? Why is it EVER ok to allow TERF voices into an intersectional movement? Because they are women we must listen to their bigoted views and allow them that power? If trans* women are fair game, how long before they allow similar discussions for WoC? Cos that’s how they used to talk about us y’know? TERF allies can lie until they’re blue in the face that they are intersectional but when they haven’t grasped the very basic concept of TRUE EQUALITY for ALL WOMEN, which means zero tolerance of ‘other-ing’ any woman, they are the facilitators of oppression. I’ve been watching them for some months now. They gush and eat cake and use the word sister without the slightest hint of irony. Then they stab you in the back. Mendacity is not a feature of my feminism.

This behaviour affects me so because I have had a lifetime of it. ‘Sister’ doesn’t mean anything in my world. Unless you fall into line, pray to the same God, ask your oppressors for forgiveness for your clearly demented individual ways, nobody is interested. You are not allowed to challenge, or grow, or make amends. And that’s what’s happening right now. Growing up, I was the minority voice. I was bullied and beaten for acting like “a white girl”. Today, I am facing the same again; I am a minority WoC. I am a minority ally of trans/non gender binary comrades. I am the antithesis of the mainstream white rationale and reasoning. And I am glad.

The hypocrisy of the last few weeks is not lost on me. There is nothing honourable about these people. When you have the privilege of a position that allows you an opinion and then PAYS you for making it, it’s a given that criticism is part and parcel of the package. The commentariat get PAID to use an immense platform. They remind me of spoilt film actors, playing the camera when it suits them and then bemoaning their lack of privacy when they inevitably fuck up. I don’t get paid to do anything. I do it because it is my reality and I have no choice. But I also cannot handle the onslaught of abuse I have been subjected to. I managed a week of engaging, of methodically deleting every comment calling me a whore. Do you know how mentally exhausting it is to be abused on a daily basis? I didn’t ‘flounce’, that’s what white women do when they can’t be bothered to engage you anymore and want it to look like they’ve been bullied off (remember: manipulation). I chose to delete my account before I said something really hurtful. Hurtful because it is painfully true.

I started doing Twitter because I had a cause. I found some wonderful people who now exist in the real world. These are the allies I’m going to continue to work with. I will never forget the rest of you though, I will remember your faces and your thoughts and when you fuck up, as you inevitably will (just like we all do but some of us are more allowed to than others) I will be there. I will be watching.

I am disengaging for today but that doesn’t mean I am gone forever. I am waiting for the bullshit to subside and for intersectionality to rise up again. I’m sure it’s only a matter of time.

What I learnt this week

On the 23rd January 2013 I made a terrible mistake. It was a duvet day because I was in a fair bit of pain due to a spinal injury. I knocked a cocktail of drugs back and settled under the covers so I could Twitter. After a skim read of the timeline, I posed a tweet to Mary Beard. I mistakenly accused her of racism. Out of nowhere I was met with a tweet from Helen Lewis who demanded I prove it. Still none the wiser to my mistake, Helen’s tweet got my back up. It’s what they say when they know your proof won’t matter. But Helen had prompted me to think about what I had just tweeted and so I thought I had better make sure.

On realising exactly how big a mistake I made, I immediately apologised. I wasn’t cajoled, I wasn’t defiant, I was honest. And I believed I deserved the fallout taking over my mentions. I bowed my head in shame but I was determined to turn it into a positive thing. I was grateful for the amicable respectful exchanges between me and Mary. I chose not to delve too deeply into what people were saying about me, I didn’t have the spoons. After many requests from fellow tweeters, Helen agreed to delete the storified set of events. I thought it was because she understood that I had meant no malice. I also thought she might have understood that even though she was fighting with my peers on all matters regarding intersectionality, this incident was separate. It wasn’t in any way connected with her other battles. But she saw an opportunity. If she could make an example of how terribly wrong it can sometimes go, it maintains the power structure and status quo. Rather we have 100000s of ethnics suffer real racism than let one white person be wrongly accused.

On the 15th April 2013, I found that Helen’s storify piece was still online. I was stunned. Why would someone agree to delete something only to republish without ever informing you? What were her intentions? When I went to ask her, I discovered I was blocked. After a while I was made aware it was something to do with a blog and the storify had been up for a couple of weeks. My friends politely asked her to reconsider and instead, she left Twitter. It was only when she’d done this that I saw she’d written a piece that day. I still haven’t read it because people believe the ‘bullying’ she received in response to the piece was the reason she ‘flounced’. It wasn’t. It’s because she was challenged and she couldn’t justify what she’d done. I hadn’t blogged about her; I just tagged her on a criticism of a New Statesman piece.

She wants to silence intersectionality. That’s what the offending blog was about. A NS writer had pondered on the least privileged women of them all and I had nominated my mother. It was heartfelt and for that, Helen Lewis decided I’d take the bullet. How many of us have discussed intersectionality in recent months? Why is a 3 month old incident being dredged up to prove her point that privilege is being silenced? Am I the best argument you have against true equality? “Don’t listen to those stupid deranged idiots, they lie or they make things up.”  Except I didn’t lie, I made a mistake. One I publicly acknowledged and apologised for.

But she has her allies. Anya Palmer seems to want to stalk my every move on Twitter. She never speaks to me, just hangs over my shoulder, waiting for the money shot. She seems to revel in the fact that the incident caused me embarrassment. Of course it would, I don’t make a habit of hurting people unnecessarily.  There have been all manner of eggs tweeting racist, ableist, sexist shit at me, somehow strengthening my resolve against all who seek to undermine me. The course of events has quickly spiralled into the honest truth of it all. My feminism is not their feminism. Mine is intersectional. Theirs is bullshit. Their feminism is about: never changing, never thinking, denying privilege as if it’s a zero sum game. All positions are positions of privilege- like the way racing cars start on a sliding scale. You could have the fastest car in the world, but if you’re last you’re gonna have to pull a miracle out of the bag to make it work. I may have had an abusive childhood but I also fit the patriarchal ideal of a cis gendered woman. I may have not had a formal education but I can grasp new concepts without too much trouble. Some people can walk through life carrying their baggage, some people are crushed by it, just getting up in the morning brings back painful memories and triggers etc.  It’s also about justifying using hurtful words because they can’t be bothered to think about their power.

The Mean Girls piece spoke of scary wimminz who attack well known wimminz and we shouldn’t cos sisterhood and that. Well, when we attack the famous ones, we have a few hundred people at most fighting our corner. When the commentariat attack us little people, they have many more thousands poised to crush us. That, my friend, is privilege. All of the arguments the non-intersectional feminists have made in recent months regarding solidarity and the bigger picture, fuck that. This incident has proven that it is not so much we’re all in this together but they will actively stifle any dissent. Just like my mothers and grandmothers before me. “Pipe down now brownie”.

When Helen Lewis showed us words she’d been called, it transpired that she had been searching for her name (lurking, again) and discovered two feminist women using gendered slurs.  Two tweets she had to go looking for. Two WOMEN she was not afraid to make an example of. When I received tweets, they were from accounts set up to hound me, mainly men. I’ve had lot of white ‘opinions’ on this. All of them have also referred to me as some kind of cunt or whore. A few think it’s ok to mock me for my disabilities. And all of them simply do not get, why I, as a woman of colour would feel this in any way than every other time a white person has made me feel shit. I had 5000 views of my blog the other day. Imagine how many comments. People are also searching for information on my family and ex partners names.  It is telling that Helen’s most vocal advocate is a prolific misogynist hellbent on securing an apology from me. If at one time I would have considered approaching this is in a calm and reasonable manner to make amends with my cisters, that opportunity is long gone. The commentariat are quick to identify and expose dissenters, launching their mobs at us with full force but somehow, condemning abuse from a misogynist would be drawing unnecessary attention to us. They suggest they are ‘protecting us’ by not calling out abusive behaviour committed by the patriarchy against another woman.

Nice one Helen Lewis, solidarity from one feminist to another feminist on an entirely even keel in this fuck up a world.

Smash the Kyriarchy

Google ‘Sam Ambreen and Helen Lewis’ and you will see various blogs written by both of us but also two other names. One of them is a prolific misogynist whose life’s purpose seems to be undermining the feminist cause and the other, a woman. Apparently she’s a lawyer called Anya Palmer.

How am I supposed to feel about this? In terms of intersectionality, there is a very definite ‘us’ and ‘them’ and right now the ‘them’ is a coalition of those two. Each has an agenda to slander and vilify me as a lying, manipulative woman of colour. This is about the easiest representation of a kyriarchy I have come across.

Elevatorgate wants feminism to disappear so he spends his time trawling through the net seeking ways in which to damage the movement. Anya Palmer wants to discredit ME as an intersectional woman of colour and so she employs the same tactics as the former, loosely stringing together the worst bits of the whole incident, storifying and screencapping the shite out of anything I say. Challenge Anya and she blocks you.

These people don’t want discussion, they just don’t want us.

I see no difference in the two.

Smash the kyriarchy. Smash it all.