Dear Other Internet Feminists

Did anyone but me notice how nasty things got on the ol’ blogeroonies over the summer? It seemed that everywhere I looked, all I found were posts explaining why this feminist or that feminist was the asshole du jour. It got to the point where it had bummed my party out so hard that I didn’t feel like writing, and I think the paucity of posts over the last few months might be attributable to that more than anything else. I know that feminist-on-feminist shit talking isn’t exactly a novel phenomenon, and that it has gone on and will go on as long as we have had/will have feminists who can talk or write, but it’s destructive. I mean, fuck, I watched a bunch of BDSM porn and didn’t get too freaked out to write, but watching feminists rip on each other over points of ideology sucked the will to rage against the ‘chine right out of me.

I suppose that’s because it made me feel a little hopeless. I mean, how are we going to fight an oppressive, repressive, hegemonic, destructive, and stupid social system if we can’t get together to do it? Ripping on feminists, no matter how egregious their fuck-ups, doesn’t bring us any closer to the extirpation of the phallocracy. You know who benefits from internecine throw-downs among us? MRAs, anti-feminists, porndogs, Van Halen fans, Rush Limbaugh, the people who make Axe commercials, plastic surgeons, the fashion industry, etc. They benefit because we waste our time ripping on each other rather than them. They benefit because they can use the arguments we use between each other to try to discredit feminism as a movement.

Because I’m arrogant, presumptuous, and full of goodwill, I have a suggestion. Next time you find yourself sitting at your desk, hands poised above the keyboard to let the world know just how hard some other feminist is blowing it, don’t. Instead, write about the real enemy. If you can’t come up with any material, turn on MTV for about 30 seconds, walk down to the newsstand and leaf through a copy of Details, google something like “women are” and see what you find. Think about recent interactions you’ve had with men and other women. Write another post about how wack porn is. Write another post about how much you hate Tucker Max. Whatever, just aim your weapon at the real enemy. And if that doesn’t work, head over to a blog you like and tell the blogster (I don’t use -ess endings) that she rules and to keep on stickin’ it to the Man. I promise, it’ll make you feel better than spewing personal attacks will.

I know I’m not exactly breaking theoretical ground as far as recommending that members of a countercultural social movement not tear each other down, but it seems like it needs to be said. I’m sure I’m guilty of a little bit of it myself, but I’ve always tried to avoid it as a matter of course, simply because it’s not an interesting topic. I can’t get as mad at another feminist as I can at Max Hardcore, know what I mean? In any case, it’s now official policy at the ‘chine.

* Note: If you aren’t a feminist, then I guess this doesn’t apply to you. Oh, and you’re an asshole.

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44 thoughts on “Dear Other Internet Feminists

  1. I try not to get involved in such foolishness, but I regret to admit that it happened anyway. Crazy summer, indeed. I’m really glad you’re back. SHARING THE LOVE is totally where it’s at.


  2. Don’t give up. What you do here is important. In the seventies and eighties I felt hope. We seem to have advanced not much and slipped back in many ways. I’ve never seen such disrespect for women in my lifetime as there is now. Not only boofhead blokey disrespect but really nasty stuff. The original Stepford Wives book and film disturbed me. But I live in Remoulded Replico Woman and Shrouded Woman World and sometimes feel like a scared Stepford wife before she too was “altered”.


    1. This is probably going to sound corny, but there’s a quote from The Dark Knight that describes this situation pretty well:

      “The night is darkest just before the dawn, and I promise you, the dawn is coming.” -Harvey Dent.


  3. I just wish we could have space to disagree without descending into a vicious spiral of misinformation, slander and vitriol. I can’t say my record is totally unblemished when it comes to conflict with other bloggers, but the majority of disagreements I have had have been incredibly civil, enjoyable and instructive. Unity is important but it shouldn’t preclude differences (reconcilable or not), dynamism and debate. I think we all need to be able to negotiate boundaries, to establish when we can trust each other and when we can’t and, whereever possible, to make our disagreements intellectually and politically productive. I think this can be done. Thanks for the reminder. ;)


  4. And can I respectfully suggest people who are an expert on how to run blogs start their own and stop telling other people what to do.


    1. Was that directed at me? I was just reflecting on my own experience. When I say “we” I’m refering to the imaginary feminist community in my head, not specific individuals. I don’t consider myself an expert by any means…


        1. I think one problem, obviously, is people go into things with the conclusion drawn and the justifications blank. Once they figure out a random way to feel the way they feel, they get critiqued because it’s often half baked, and since they feel like they “own it” because they said it, the attack feels personal. The vicious circle starts there. The only thing a Blogster can do, I suppose, is be as informed as possible and remind people they disagree with ideologically that they are on the right track (if they are) but should look into (insert feminist musing here).


          1. “I think one problem, obviously, is people go into things with the conclusion drawn and the justifications blank. Once they figure out a random way to feel the way they feel, they get critiqued because it’s often half baked, and since they feel like they “own it” because they said it, the attack feels personal.”

            I’d agree with that. I’d also add that a viewpoint that isn’t based on logic or facts cannot be altered with mere logic or facts.


  5. Well, unfortunately, that’s the…I don’t want to say “nature of things” or “way things are”, because those lines tend to be most often used by people I want to set fire to.

    But, historically, heretics have generally seen to be worse then heathens. I guess because they are distorting the One True Vision, rather than denying it, and the besy way to attack something is often to do a poor job of defending it.

    Not to mention that angrily arguing is a form of communication, which you just can’t do with your stereotypical MRA.


  6. I’ve come to the conclusion that the ones that cause the shit the most often – the ones that seem to go looking for reasons to rip feminist women apart – are best if we just leave them the hell alone. There seem to be folks who simply live for starting blog wars.

    There really isn’t anything you can do with people who have that mentality. Just ignore them, ban them if necessary, and keep on keeping on. Those people clearly aren’t terribly interested in actually going after the problems that need to be solved. It’s fairly easy to tell the difference between those who are really interested in accomplishing something and those who have little interest in doing anything but nursing old wounds (real or imagined) and just causing general havoc for everyone.

    “Did anyone but me notice how nasty things got on the ol’ blogeroonies over the summer?”

    Had nothing to do with the summer. It has been going on for as long as I’ve been blogging.


  7. “Well, unfortunately, that’s the…I don’t want to say “nature of things” or “way things are”, because those lines tend to be most often used by people I want to set fire to.”

    THIS! Change doesn’t come about by sitting around staring at our hands and telling ourselves, “Oh, well, that’s the way it is.”


      1. Worse, are the people who claim that the way things are is the way things should be, because otherwise they wouldn’t be that way.

        Women are there for having babies and serving men, because it’s what they do, and so on.


    1. “THIS! Change doesn’t come about by sitting around staring at our hands and telling ourselves, “Oh, well, that’s the way it is.””

      This is true. But at some point you have to accept that some people do not want to change. If they do not want to change, if they are entirely unwilling to change, or to try to live peacefully together, then there is no point in trying to engage them until they decide to evolve to the point that they are willing to listen – or at least stay out of the way and let other’s have their say – instead of attacking.


      1. I actually agree here, too. Hence, my separatism–by which I mean that I refuse to expend my limited energy on “bullshit.” This includes people who call names and otherwise refuse to engage political issues/me with patience and respect.


      2. I feel, for myself, like its more necessary to focus within and try to be a good example my kids (2 boys) and to other men. I gave up on trying to change the world any other way a long time ago.


  8. I also usually drag this one out at this point. It’s from Judith Butler.

    If speech depends upon censorship, then the principle that one might seek to oppose is at once the formative principle of oppositional speech


  9. I could say something about self obsession as well, but hey…..

    Get a grip and a sense of proportion eh, internetz police?

    This is the bestest, and funniest, feminist blog on the internetz ND, don’t listen to them. Please.


    1. Yes! I agree with Polly. Nine Deuce, don’t let them silence you! You manage to impart vital insights and make me laugh at the same time. That’s a rare talent.


  10. i am really troubled by the infighting between radfems and libfems, and frankly between white and minority feminists. i dont know what can be done about it either, if anything. while i think that discourse across feminisms can be healthy, nothing should be taken off the table as topics of discussion. sadly, feminists are censoring themselves and others, instead of talking about the tough issues. like the blatant misogyny, entitlement and male privilege in minority men for example. and the ways that trans-issues have in affect revived the gender binary.

    i think feminists have lost their way when they no longer ask themselves “how does this affect women, as a class? how and how soon will this affect the feminization of poverty; and rape, and domestic violence?” we are addressing “healthy masculinities” (as if there were such a thing)instead of asking how can we dismantle the patriarchy altogether? if we arent asking women-centered questions, i frankly question whether or not there is even a feminist “movement” anymore. i kind of suspect alot of this is cool, lefty college kids playing oppression olympics, rather than having a real concern for women as a class, internationally or domestically.

    i added a new post on my blog addressing international reproductive rights, and birthing injuries in ethiopia. i embedded an hour-long NOVA documentary on the permanent incontinence women suffer when they are impregnated at 12 years old and try to birth their children when the women are not physically large enough to do it. these injuries are called “fistulas” and are also caused by rape. another womans issue.

    my hope is that people will watch the documentary, and experience a sense of “real” womens issues, and the “real” affects of patriarchy, and capitalism, and economic and sexual victimization of women internationally. when i watched the video, thats what i experienced, anyway. and i include things on my blog that cause those reactions in myself. i hope that the feeling is passed along to others who read and watch those things, too.

    PS. thanks to 9/2 for the blogroll love, and for your raging against the ‘chine. well done.


    1. I’m not sure I’d put it that way. This isn’t a call for ideological unity, it’s a call for feminist bloggers to write about something other than how much other feminist bloggers suck.


      1. put what, what way? as far as ideological unity…isnt advancing women as a class, and eradicating rape and domestic violence an ideology shared by all feminists, by definition? if its not, then i think that may be where the problem lies. if those goals arent at the core of all feminist ideologies, then i frankly am not sure we are even talking about feminism anymore. if thats the case, then feminists *arent* writing about how much other feminists suck. we have various nonfeminists (equalists? race activists? trans activists?) criticising feminists. and putting other goals ahead of feminist goals…and shaming feminists from even examining WTF is going on, by telling them that they are being racist or trans-hostile or whatever. and yes, letting it rip on the internets.

        thats not to say that the non-feminsts are anti-feminists, just that they dont share the primary goal of advancing women as a class. their primary goals are something else, and their allegiences lie elsewhere. thats why we cant discuss things like the misogyny of minority men, or the problem with trans-issues. its why we cant rightly even discuss porn. some people have been willing to let there be “as many feminist ideologies are there are feminists” but WTF is that supposed to mean? that would never have worked for civil rights activists. and its not working now.


        1. I agree completely. I was telling Gorgias that I wouldn’t call people in the BDSM community my allies if they think there’s nothing wrong with aggressively intertwining power with sex when we live in a male supremacist system propped up by just that dynamic. What I wanted to get across is that I’m not asking people not to argue, and I’m not asking people who identify as feminists to avoid discussing the best methods for reaching (what should be) our common goals. What I was taking issue with was the nasty personal squabbling that seemed to saturate the blogs over the summer.


          1. Which was all about people trying to use other people’s blogs to pursue their personal vendettas against certain individuals. And then getting upset because the blog owners didn’t fall into line the way they were *meant* to.


          2. LOL i would like to know exactly how BDSM and radfems are “natural allies.” particularly the poster who is a 20-something male who literally gets off on being dominated by aggressive and entitled men. whereas radfems…lets just say we dont care for that a whole lot? i can see where BDSM and the “fun sexy feminists!!!111!” might get along ok. the first step however would be in learning how to tell one from the other.


  11. Why do we rip each other up? I thought about this a lot after the IBTP forum blew up, and then Lacey’s subsequent forum also closing. It seems practically a given that feminist forums will eventually implode. I don’t have answers but here are some theories (which probably apply to blog-fights as well as forums).

    We all have real-world needs for safety, empathy, community, AND autonomy.

    We desire control – fighting the feminist fight makes us all too aware of our lack of control and justice in the “real world.” We try to carve out spaces online where we have some control. But, this leads to…

    Purity tests and witch-hunts – this desire for control leads some of us to try to micromanage each other. We have our pet causes and anyone who doesn’t follow the party line gets smacked. If one writer allows comments on her blog from someone another blogger doesn’t approve of, delinking and ostracizing follow. There’s little room for humor, discussion, negotiation, or agreeing to be allies on issues where we intersect.

    Being anonymous and mistrust – back to control, partially – we get screwed IRL, and are expecting to get screwed online too. This is exacerbated by the reality of trolls/4channers/MRAs/ etc. who really will try to hack your forum/blog, threaten you with violence, attack you with porn, etc. It’s hard to know who to trust, if anyone. And our own ability to be anonymous means we don’t have to own our words, we can lash out in ways that we never would if our words were linked to our faces and ‘real lives.’

    Insistence on “safe spaces” – this is a problem because creating safe spaces online is extremely difficult. Interacting with other people is always risky. Someone might hurt your feelings. Someone might say she’s a woman when really she’s a man.

    Lacey talked about an inherent problem with feminist forums – someone has to run the thing. Then the members who have lots of real-world experience with being screwed by various hierarchical structures, feel like they are being forced to submit to yet another hierarchy, with them on the bottom – even though at some level everyone knows the forum was a labor of love, meant to make a place for feminists to talk. It seems inevitable that some members will replicate their own personal issues with authority, family/mommy, school-aged popularity contests, etc.


  12. Pingback: Bad habits « Bean
  13. Just googled ‘women are’. First result? A site all about how men are better than women. Didn’t waste the energy it would take me to click on the link in order to see whether it was a joke page or not, but I think your point has been made – we (feminists) have way, way bigger fish to fry.


  14. M*n are better than wom*n is the creation of some dude with a book to sell, who decided MRA’s were the perfect audience because they were gullible, sorry highly literate. It is the creation of some dude called Dax Herrera, better known as “Dick Masterson”.


    1. I see. At any rate I think it establishes the point that if this is the FIRST thing to come up when ‘women are’ is googled, then feminists still have a long way to go. I agree with the sentiment of this thread that any differences between and among feminists are of secondary importance to the main goal we share in common: female equality.


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