Here’s The Thing About Internet Feminism
Let me get this out here, right in the first sentence: I’m a feminist. I believe in the elimination of gender inequality through focusing on the negative effects that gender stereotypes project onto all genders. There are various reasons that my feminism only reared it’s #feministsareugly head within the last year or so, but that’s not what I want to talk about today. I want to talk about feminism on the internet.
With the rise of sites like Twitter and Tumblr, and with the focus and debate raging over feminism that’s taken place over the last eighteen months, feminism has been forced to defend itself. BBut the problem with feminism on social media platforms is that it gets scattered; opinions are vehemently divided over almost every issue, and critics of feminism brandish this lack of unity as proof that the feminist movement may as well not exist. If we can’t even agree with each other, how are we meant to propagate any effective change in the wider world? If we can’t criticise people who openly declare their misandry (and not in the dark-toned jokes so often plucked up by the #feminismisawful hashtag, but those who actually, openly believe that men are inferior and deserve to be oppressed), how can we claim to be fighting for gender equality?
Being a feminist active on social media right now is to spend half your time dancing around a minefield of potential hypocrisy. So many issues who’s context and impact informs so much of the opinions we hold on them rise up and demand attention, while critics demand that feminists present some united front on the issue. Failing that, the front that’s attributed to us is the most controversial or the most synonymous with the misandry that many antifeminists attach to the movement. The waters become muddy with people declaring their agreement or disagreement with the most prominent opinion on the matter, and casual observers or critics are often left with a variety of vastly dissenting opinions that fail to leave any cohesive impression.
I think the size of the current feminist movement and the voracity with which people engage with feminist issues in a positive way is fantastic, heartening stuff. And eliminating those dissenting opinions entirely is surely a bad idea, as it removes the onus of debate from the movement. So here’s a New Year’s resolution for all internet feminists who feel the way I do about the movement. Next time you see an opinion that’s being attributed to feminists-whether it came from feminists or not- that you don’t believe jives with the gender equality feminism should be striving for, say so. Blog about it, tweet it, post it on Tumblr or Facebook. Say that you’re a feminist, and you don’t agree with this opinion. Give your reasons. Don’t silence voices, but try to add yours to them. Call out misandry, hypocrisy, and sexism when you see it, whether it’s within the movement or not. Forcing the feminism movement into one, single-voiced bunch is too simplistic, but providing opinions that challenge popular, seized-upon “proof” of problems in the movement can do nothing but strengthen the feminist cause.