That time I championed feminism on Facebook

The boy and I discuss a variety of topics – from The Lion King memes to politics to, of course, feminism. So one random Saturday night when he posted:

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I initially didn’t want to engage. We’re both strong willed (read: opinionated) and I wasn’t keen on a hearty debate (read: heated discussion) on a public forum. I actually messaged my best friend and said I WILL NOT ENGAGE. I kept an eye on it, anyway, for interest’s sake. The boy has a whole bunch of interesting and intelligent friends, and so do I, so I figured hey, why not.

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I engaged. Didn’t mean to, but I could see a slippery slope fast approaching, as does with most Facebook conversations about politics and sociology. And I felt as though the shot ‘lesser human being[s] are the feminists themselves’ forced my hand. And my, my, what a big hand it was.

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Those two paragraphs are the most terrifying pieces of writing and commentary I’ve ever put my name to. I don’t think I need to mention how utterly scary it is to be a woman writing online. Look at the rape and death threats so many feminists and journalists receive – as I said, the boy’s friends are generally interesting and intelligent, but it only takes one guy taking it the wrong way…. Not only did I type this all out, but the best friend proofread and gave the thumbs up before I posted it. Like I said, scary stuff. First response was good – positive even!

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Ah, I thought, feeling the knot of panic in my stomach ease. See? All fine – mature, reasoned discussion about feminism on a social media platform, and I wasn’t called a feminazi, and it’s all good.

Oh dear readers, how do I wish this was true.

5

I lost my shit. I’m sorry. I messaged the boy saying so, but, to be fair, this transpired in the same week that Anita Sarkeesian had to cancel her lectures because someone threatened to bomb the university she’d been scheduled to speak at. YEAH. UM, THAT’S NOT OK. So I may or may not have been slightly sensitive to the issue – but I was also geared up and ready for this. The best friend was proofreading everything I posted, because I wanted to sound rational and passionate without… you know… sounding like a raving internet lunatic.

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HECK YEAH I TYPE FAST. Watching online debates has taught me, if anything, that typing slowly is like being a slow water buffalo. You fall behind; you get torn to shreds and eaten. You don’t reply immediately? Your opponent gloats and takes the opportunity to twist your words. I’d braced myself for this. I jumped into this Facebook conversation knowing that at some point I would have to do the borderline insane rant that either leads to internet street cred or your reputation taking a turn down the toilet. And this is all on a public platform! If the insane rant image grew any stronger I’d be facing a bit of, well, flack. Which is why I’m quite glad a referee came in the form of my (and the boy’s) friend.

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Whereas Mr Green just managed to set off a different red flag in my mind. Never mind the audacity of misspelling base. Jesus Christ. At this point, I was feeling pretty over it, and I didn’t want to end things with such a sense of animosity and negativity. As a feminist I am ALL ABOUT DAT EDUCATION. I freakin’ love it. Education is empowerment, it’s important , and it should be available for everyone. So I wanted to end on something… positive? Or at least constructive.

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Not surprisingly, Mr Green didn’t respond to this comment, and no one else did either. That’s ok. It’s out there, there’s a whole load of resources listed, and if even just one person following the conversation stream looks up one writer, that’s progress and it’s awesome. I didn’t want to write all of that. I didn’t want to engage, honestly. I just couldn’t stand seeing misinformation and misspelling flying all over my boyfriend’s wall and knowing that anyone could read it all and receive a warped image of what I’d say the majority of modern feminists are working towards. I wouldn’t have been true to myself and my values and beliefs if I’d just let that conversation go nuts without trying to stand up. Not saying anything would’ve left me feeling extremely guilty and weak, and shut up. The conversation was something that I took as a test. A lot of last year I felt like I talked a lot of game about feminism and gender equality but did I walk the walk? Maybe not as much as I should have. So even though I was sort of terrified, nervous, worried and honestly, angry, throughout a majority of that night, I’m glad I did it. Even if the last comment made me want to drive off a cliff.

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THIS IS WHY WE CAN’T HAVE NICE THINGS


Bronte is an Arts student about to finish a Bachelor degree majoring in all things literature and all things ancient and awesome. Currently working in the fashion game helping girls and women find outfits that make them feel amazing. Aspiring ancient worlds’ expert/literature professor/author/stylist/Labrador. A big fan of The Killers, Shakespeare, Homer, Keats, Blake and Rowling; will go to great lengths theorising the Harry Potter series if allowed.