So today I had a bit of a meltdown on twitter. Oops, is all I can say. It’s been brewing for a while. I’ve become increasingly annoyed at some of the behaviour I’ve seen and while it’s possible to ignore it, there comes a point at which it feels irresponsible to do so.
I’m sick of the way in which a minority of largely white, cis feminists and their white, cis male friends have appropriated the concept of intersectionality for self-promotion and bullying. It’s anti-feminist and it’s anti-intersectional. It’s not good enough to pretend you are giving a voice to those who are marginalised when in fact the only voice anyone can hear is you, yelling about Caitlin Moran and Vagenda and why all white feminists should shut the hell up (apart from you, of course).
Over the past few weeks I have seen white, cis, self-proclaimed intersectional feminists indulge in the following:
- lecturing other white women on the terminology “most WoC use” (apart from those WoC who disagree with said white, cis intersectional feminists)
- qualifying support for an abused woman with the detail that said woman is “a transphobic piece of shit”
- writing about their personal lives in the Independent, Telegraph and Evening Standard while mocking all those who’ve sold out to the mainstream media
- appropriating the struggles of trans women and Women of Colour by using the words “cis” and “white” as though, magically, they don’t then apply to the white, cis tweeter
- making racist and transphobic claims in order to insult those they wish to accuse of transphobia and racism (“you don’t follow any black women because their names don’t look black,” “all the women in this photo library look cis” etc.)
- creating fake twitter accounts which claim to parody white feminism by indulging in misogynist mockery of silly women with their periods, childcare issues, body image worries etc. etc.
- blending together the plight of women who don’t have a voice with that of privileged women who somehow didn’t get given a book deal despite being more edgy than Vagenda (oh, the humanity!)
- deciding the most important thing to do if a woman gets rape threats is to mock her for not having being as wary of the rape threat senders as you are
- creating self-satisfied twitter accounts to boast about how you never do anything for cookies (other than create the most boastful, smug twitter account on Earth)
- proclaim that the revolution will be achieved not by people being willing to say what they mean, but by the use of hashtags formally approved by the self-appointed intersectional elite.
This is not intersectional. This is colonialist. This is, to paraphrase Flavia Dzodan, complete and utter bullshit.
I’m sick of it. I will not be complicit in watching privileged individuals sifting through other people’s oppressions and using them as an excuse to bully those whom they envy. I will not be complicit in the patronizing, imperialist appropriation of other women’s stories by those who claim to be shouting out on their behalf (while all the while they’re drowning out the voices we should hear). I will not be complicit in victim-blaming out of fear that I will otherwise be tainted by the victim’s alleged crimes against intersectionality. I will not go along with the lie that any white, cis, middle-class blogger who announces she is [made-up word] sexual is therefore just as oppressed as those she claims to represent. I’m sick of it.
I do not think the mainstream media operates a policy of equal opportunities. I think most people with media platforms don’t get them simply because they’re better commentators than me or you. That’s just not true. There are odd exceptions, such as Caitlin Moran, who came from an impoverished background which her more privileged colleagues are ever eager to discuss (of course they are. It suggests all’s fair and that the fact that they got given a job straight out of Oxbridge is mere coincidence – the same thing would have happened if a genius like them had grown up on benefits… And yes, we all know what bollocks that is).
By the same token, however, I don’t believe all those who don’t have platforms (or who pretend they don’t) are therefore The Oppressed. This is a debate which skims the surface of oppression, one in which privileged women with media platforms are pitched against privileged women with different media platforms who decide the reason why they are not editing a newspaper is because they’re too fucking edgy and shouty and WHY DON’T YOU LISTEN TO ME TELLING YOU ABOUT HOW MUCH LISTENING AND LEARNING I DO.
This is not intersectionality. This is not a recognition of the ways in which different people experience multiple and overlapping oppressions. On the contrary, this is privilege and entitlement. This is a cross between being Ali G (“I hate all the white feminists! It’s not like I’m white!”), Edina from Ab Fab (“Look at how sex positive I am! Look at all the sex I’m having!”) and Wolfie Smith (“Up the hashtag revolution!”).
Feminism doesn’t need white retro comedy characters. It needs honesty, heart and a willingness to engage with intersectionality as an ongoing practice rather than a self-promotion tool. And yes, that’s why I lost it on twitter and I’m sorry. But there we are.