Sister Trinity’s Feminist Q&A
Everything you always wanted to know about (radical) feminism but never dared to ask
This here is the introduction post to the Q & A. It isn’t necessary for you to read all this to participate in the Q & A, but if you are interested, read.
If you are more the impatient sort, go straight to the Q & A page.
Lately I have seen a mountain of evidence that there are countless women on the Internet who are afraid to even say what’s on their minds or to ask a question. Because girls and women have been relentlessly attacked and bashed not only by the usual suspects, the misogynist trolls out there, but by supposed fellow feminists.
Now, I’m for not mincing any words here: it is mostly radical feminists who have been attacked online by other feminists and by trans activists—in addition to the usual misogynist suspects, because of course those don’t take time off. Many of these attacks have been utterly frightening, with threats made against women and their children. (And now, most recently, trans activists have undertaken efforts to have the radical feminist conference Radfem2013 kicked from the venue that was booked, supposedly because we’re the fascist danger to free speech and feminism…)
While there may indeed be a few women who identify as radical feminists who have engaged in abusive online behavior of their own, this is nothing like a feud or a war. The greater mainstream side has declared radical feminists the Bad Guy, and one of the huge reversals that has conquered the mainstream perception is that radical feminism is about being hateful, exclusive, about bullying and putting down other women (and killing all men, I guess)—all terrible lies.
As this relentless barrage of smears, sabotaging and harassing shows, it’s a clear reversal. Those vilifying, shaming and bullying are actually the same ones claiming to be the victims of radfem bullying. This is why they feel justified in their behavior. I have literally been told I am ‘evil’ (just for having a Twitter profile that says “radfem” and wanting to attend a radical feminist conference that’s only for radical feminist females) and thus deserve to be treated like shit when talking about my rape on my blog and Twitter. The same people would be outraged should a radfem even suggest that a rape survivor could deserve different degrees of sympathy based on how much you agree with their political views. Outraged doesn’t even come close. I suspect they would revoke all feminist membership cards and call them pariah.
Note how radfems become the misogynist antifeminist stereotype incarnate in people’s minds. It’s a convenient way of showing oneself as a ‘progressive’ feminist to throw those stereotyped “hairy manhating lesbians” under the bus. The backlash against feminism and all the misogynist baggage is rolled off onto radical backs so that others can appear enlightened (when in fact they question the status quo far less than radicals do, than everyone should).
The result of all this witch hunting is that radfems often can’t speak properly or safely with other women who do or don’t share their identification with radical feminism, and young feminists are scared speechless, lest they be tarred and feathered and called names like radfem sisters have been in front of their eyes.
Take it from me: we don’t believe in the things we believe because we are bitter and hateful. Quite on the contrary, you have to be very committed to making the world a better place to put up with everyone rejecting and hating you and still stand by what you know. Almost everyone who doesn’t identify as a radical feminist hates us and treats us like shit. But I have yet to see a radical feminist utter a single threatening sentence toward someone else on the Internet. Weird, considering we’re these dangerous, unhinged witches who abduct and eat children.
But the problem is of course not limited to those who identify as radfem, not by far. When we engage with people, sooner or later we face someone’s attempts to silence us, whether for being female or for being a feminist or for being the wrong kind of feminist or offending someone’s all-important sensibilities. All these little attempts–some successful, some not– add up, and before you know it, smart, eloquent and kind girls and women are sitting in front of their screens like tongue-tied spectators, with questions swirling in their heads or criticisms to add, but no courage to communicate.
This is what the patriarchy wants. It’s inbuilt into oppressive systems that those who question them, who work to dismantle them and who visibly reject the system’s values, face intense pressures to ‘go away’: change to fit in, withdraw from society, descend into mindlessness or self-destruction.
This is what feminists and radical feminists in particular are supposed to do for this Death Machine system of ours to continue unchecked. The patriarchy needs females who are afraid, insecure, and uncritical, who police and fight each other and drag their sisters back down into the mud every time.
This ends here. At least in this space, nobody will be dragging anyone anywhere.
I’m not the godmother of good feminism. I’m not even that experienced or anything, since I haven’t been around all that long. But I like to believe I know a thing or two, and I’m also very well connected with a network of other women who know A LOT about feminism, who live it. Many women, most of them radical feminists and all of them wonderful people, are more than happy to answer your questions (and even if they weren’t, I’m also here and I’m certainly going to do my best).
A place where your intentions do matter and nobody’s feelings trump your right to ask questions
I once thought I was just asking a question (with the intention of becoming a better feminist and just wiser and more understanding), but found that it made me the object of hate and ridicule and that no answer was forthcoming (also no explanation for the offense I’d caused). It was very intimidating and painful because my intention was never to be hurtful, disrespectful or anything like that, and I didn’t understand how my behavior was seen in such a light (otherwise I would have behaved differently, that’s a no-brainer). Of course we still have to watch what we say and do, we can’t just say “I didn’t mean it” and that makes everything okay. But to a certain extent, people’s intentions do matter. Ignorance is not a crime. It’s clinging to that ignorance when someone has shown you the error of your ways that deserves scorn, maybe, but certainly not a lack of understanding and a wish to remedy that condition.
I don’t want to see anyone punished for not understanding something and striving to understand it better. If this person steps on some toes in the process, then, sure, that can be part of the learning process. But I seriously need to get biblical for a second and say that none of us get to cast the first stone in this. None. We’ve all learned the things we’ve learned at some point, and we didn’t choose many of the things we learned. It’s not where we come from that people should judge us by, but rather where we’re trying to go.
This is the very same reason I don’t judge anyone who eats animals, even though I do actually regard it as something horrible people shouldn’t do. How can I think that and not think of individual people as ‘bad’? Well, how was I any different some years back? Did I deserve to be judged because I hadn’t understood something that I understand now? No. Was I, if not callous, then at least a stupid person? No. I was just raised in this world in which things are done a certain way, and I did what I had been raised to do. People do that. It’s possible to condemn the whole damn system without being angry or hateful toward any single person (not that there aren’t people who deserve for others to be angry at them; that does happen).
I can deal with hate from men, because everyone knows many men hate women and hate feminists in particular. I expect their misogyny. I wear thick armor against it that fits me snugly, that I don’t even feel. But what can really rob us of the last bit of confidence is when not even our sisters treat us decently.
So, if you have thoughts and questions on feminism (and radical feminism in particular), dear sister, bring it on. You will get nothing but our best intentions, collective knowledge and my fierce protection from all rudeness, anger and abuse. You’re welcome here, anonymous or not, as long as you mean well, too.
You have a brain and it is a wonderful thing. Use it, talk to me, let us know what you are thinking. You are worthwhile and I want you to speak up.
- You will be able to post anonymously, but it would be wisest to pick some kind of handle, or things may get a little confusing on here.
- You may ask absolutely anything you want, provided it has something to do with feminism. That’s a really wide range of topics and that’s good.
- Everything will go through my moderation. Slurs will only be allowed if you are talking about what others have said to you; nobody here is to use them against anyone else.
- Absolutely NOBODY is going to be accused of being ‘ignorant’, ‘bigoted’ or a ‘bad feminist’, no matter what they write. You can criticize what someone has said, but you do not attack the sister speaking.
- If you are being deliberately abusive with your words, I will either edit or delete your comments. This is so everyone else can feel safe.
- This discussion space is for females. If you were born male, sorry, this here is not for you and it’s nothing personal. This is about females finding their voices after being pressured and intimidated to shut up since the day they were born. Many of us struggle to even reach the conclusion that we are allowed to have our own views and express them. Females are being silenced and its females I’m trying to engage and encourage and hopefully enlighten a bit with all this. Since this is the Internet and I’m letting people be anonymous, I will just have to appeal to you to be respectful of this.
Now go to the Q & A page to take part!