I wrote something fairly short and to-the-point for The Guardian last week on why it’s unfair and counter-productive to dismiss ‘slacktivism’ as quickly as we often do. I felt like the subject merited a bit more discussion so I’ve posted both the Guardian article and the long, unedited version of my thoughts before I stripped it down for publishing.
Last week I appeared on Jeremy Vine’s radio 2 show debating with Kate Smurthwaite (who was no-platformed by Goldmsiths Student Union) about safe space and whether it’s a threat to free speech. (If you’re in any doubt I was obviously defending safe spaces and the rights of unions to protect their members and use their resources as they choose). Listen again below if you fancy: … Read More
Be a woman with opinions on the internet, goes the saying, and prepare to trade in your comfort, safety and self-esteem for an endless drip feed of abuse, threats and insights into the innermost thoughts of misogynists and mansplainers alike. While this very blatant assertion of power against women who dare to challenge a sexist status quo is nothing new, being reduced to a bubbling, mascara-stained mess over the words of a faceless egg might be – but only because their words feel all too real against the backdrop of a society where 1 in 4 women will be victims of sexual violence and where 2 a week will be killed by men (statistics from Rape Crisis and Women’s Aid).
If your politics are anything remotely close to mine, you’ve very probably also spent today in a cyclical state of delirium, heartbreak, confusion and fiery rage, wondering where on earth all these bloody Tories crawled from. If your extended social circle is anything remotely close to mine, you probably don’t even know where to start; I identified perhaps one solitary happy Tory this morning and promptly deleted him with a particularly aggressive click, boosting my mood for all of 0.25 seconds. The truth is that my entire inbox, newsfeed and twitter timeline is filled with bemused and dismayed people – the overt right-wingers and their sympathisers are hard to find in the cocoon I’ve diligently built myself over the last few years. Easier to identify, though, are the well-meaning liberals; those who know that voting Conservative isn’t the done thing but who … Read More
As we head towards 2015, the internet groaning under the weight of a million boring white boys’ end-of-year indie tracks lists, there are plenty of names on everyone’s lips and open Google Chrome tabs. Taylor Swift, maybe; Nigel Farage, unfortunately; Russell Brand, probably. Emma Watson likely keeps cropping up, too. Jeremy Clarkson is only ever a few clicks away. But while the latter is most likely to be found in ‘Villian of the Year’ or on some kind of ‘Facepalms of 2014’ Buzzfeed-style feature complete with gifs, the former seems to be singlehandedly propping up trade in this year’s favourite end-of-year list: the ‘Feminist Moments of 2014’ one found everywhere from The Huffington Post to Cosmopolitan magazine. Of course I couldn’t help but add my own tuppence worth to the 2014 reviews hailing this ‘the year of women’ and ‘a turning point for feminism’ – because boring indie white boys I can just about deal with, but rubbish feminism is a whole other matter. … Read More
As a woman who has – shock! – dared to be vocal about misogyny on the internet, I’m painfully familiar with the cliches that my ‘aggression’ is detrimental to the cause, or that it’s feminism’s failure that women don’t want to associate with the ‘hairy lesbian’ stereotype. While my instinctive reaction might be to sigh, or downvote the comment, or slam my head against my keyboard on a particularly bad day, I also recognise that feminism is a journey and I’m forced to think back to when a younger me might have peddled the same rhetoric, unequipped with the learning I’ve done since. Learning that’s allowed me to think critically about these ideas through a lens that recognises my privilege as a straight, white, middle-class woman, and sees these accusations as symptoms of a patriarchal society rather than blueprints for a feminist success story.