Online Feminism as “Exclusive Mean Girls Club”

Wow. NewStatesman contributor Sadie Smith has a bone to pick with what she describes as the “online wimmin mob”. Legitimate grievance? Exaggeration? Baseless accusations? Provocation for the sake of provocation? What say you, Disinfonauts?

Excerpt via The NewStatesman:

“Check your privilege!” This has become the rallying cry of the Mob when faced with a woman with whom they disagree. “Privilege”, when out of the hands of Mob bullies, is actually not a bad concept. God knows, party conference fringes involving Harriet Harman chatting to her public school mates about the importance of getting more women into politics have been known to bring me out in a bad case of the hives on more than one occasion. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with thinking, “Woah, there! Is it possible that there are more things in heav’n and earth than were dreamt of in a South Kensington champagne bar over tapas with Jocasta?”

Where “privilege” goes wrong is that it is routinely used for, I’d argue, shutting up women who disagree with the Online Mob. The whole foundation of the argument is flawed anyway; about 35 per cent of the world’s population has access to the internet. Everyone on Twitter is privileged. Everyone. Claiming “unprivileged” underdog status when you are in the top 35 per cent of the entire world makes you sound like the sort of annoying princess who screams that it’s just not fair and she hates you because she only got an iPhone and a pony for Christmas.

All women suffer from discrimination, internet connection or not, in one form or another. For some, it is mild. For some takes the form of sexist comments or harassment or female genital mutilation, rape, crap pay, rubbish pension, the glass ceiling, domestic violence, transphobia, botched abortions, slavery, death in childbirth or as a result of, or in combination with, of all of the above. Not to mention mental health issues such as eating disorders, bipolar, anxiety or depression. It’s not good times.

“Checking your privilege” is about playing an inverted game of Top Trumps where the real message is that it’s not who you are but how you were born that determines whether what you have to say is worth listening to. It’s not a dissimilar message to that of your average bar room sexist – or transphobe for that matter – but so much more depressing coming from our own side.

Keep reading.

31 Comments on "Online Feminism as “Exclusive Mean Girls Club”"

  1. The problem with feminism, as I see it, is that it is too splintered. It’s plain to see that there is only a superficial consensus on most subjects, while nobody really agrees on the details.

    It is an organisation without leadership, without vision and without self-criticism. It’s basically a large group that exists only because people feel they need a group. They feel more powerful when they believe a group is backing them. This is a know psychological fact, group-psychology is almost it’s own field of research.

    The only thing that matters is that there *is* an actual group. Whether it works or not, is of no actual concern.

    Are there spoiled brats out there? Sure there are. Are there women/girls out there who think getting only an iPad and a pony for christmas is unfair? Sure there are.

    All these girls/women with entitlement issues see feminism as a sort of shelter against the critique they get from their environment. So they rush to it and claim they’re being oppressed because they’re female. And what does feminism think of this? It thinks “yay, more members”.

    The unrestricted accepting of anyone who knocks at their door is harming feminism as a whole. Feminism is supposed to be about equality. But there are now so many women claiming to be feminist, women who are just plain lazy and just want to get everything they desire on a silver platter without working for it, that feminism can’t be taken seriously anymore. Because it does not take itself seriously anymore.

    These people are all flocking under the banner of feminism, because they believe it will protect them from criticism. This has to end.

    Everyone knows someone like this. A family member. Someone in your community. Someone in your school or college. People who don’t understand the meaning of “earning” something.

    I call on all feminsts to stand up and kick out those women who ruin your reputation. The lazy. The greedy. The entitled. Those who come to you only for shelter against the reality of their unwillingness to put effort in to their own success.

    Feminism, as it is now, has no standards. They’ll just take in any woman who feels bad about
    anything in her life. Whether is truly deserved or not.

    • Jin The Ninja | Mar 21, 2013 at 3:24 pm |

      another dude telling feminists what to do and how to do it. the irony, oh the irony.

      • you are assuming mark is male (might not be) and not a feminist. also you are implying that males cannot be feminists.

        the only irony here is that you don’t understand feminism.

        • Jin The Ninja | Mar 22, 2013 at 9:53 am |

          actually i am male and a feminist (albeit a queer one).
          so that is 50% of your theory rebuked. also mark consistently says, ‘feminists should do this or do not do this,’ using language to describe feminists as the ‘other’ i.e. not part of HIS group, i think i can safely assume he is NOT a feminist.

          and if you knew my posting history, i understand feminism and intersectionality quite well, but thanks for trying!

          • Then why are you silencing a person with a perfectly valid set of points based on their perceived gender?

            You claim to be feminist but you also silence speakers who happen to be male? Have you never heard of the “teachable moment”.

            I am a male queer feminist too – but seriously, being a snarky jerk online only hurts our cause.

            You could have, should have, and still could engage Marks points. But for whatever reason, you think it is better to just dismiss and belittle them.

            >I understand feminism and intersectionality quite well

            But you are still a mental fascist who uses communication techniques to silence your opposition instead of engage them.

          • Jin The Ninja | Mar 22, 2013 at 10:21 am |

            if you genuinely WERE a feminist then you would understand the concept of ‘agency.’
            which mark seems to eschew, as well, as promoting a rather denigrating view of feminists at large as “spoiled brats.” and ‘entitled.’ all conservative language used to mock and portray progressivism/radicalism as juvenile. his ‘valid points’ miss, frankly, the point by descending into ad hominem name-calling and asserting his view as more valid than any active feminist.

            come off ‘guest,’ and i’d be inclined to take you more seriously.

            and for the record, this is the 2nd article RE: feminism on the main page, my patience for a ‘teachable’ moment was left on the 1st article.

          • Matt Staggs | Mar 22, 2013 at 2:31 pm |

            I’ve recently learned that when someone attempts to delete their comment it still saves it as “guest”. I’m working to try to address this “feature”. I, like you, assumed that people were anonymizing their comments somehow. It isn’t so. I don’t like having it where people can’t reconsider hasty words.

          • Jin The Ninja | Mar 22, 2013 at 3:31 pm |

            alright, fair enough. thanks for the heads up.

          • Matt Staggs | Mar 22, 2013 at 4:56 pm |

            Check your email, by the way. Interesting opportunity.

          • In order to actually delete something, you have to use “Edit” to remove all the text of the post, then “Save” that edit.

            Then you can “Delete” the empty post.

            But there’s still some strange blank post with “Guest” as the poster.

          • TennisBallsBounce | Mar 22, 2013 at 2:53 pm |

            Now you’re talking about “Genuine” feminism. So, you get to decide what’s real and what’s not?

            Also, in Mark’s text he writes:

            “Are there spoiled brats out there? Sure there are. Are there women/girls
            out there who think getting only an iPad and a pony for christmas is
            unfair? Sure there are.”

            He’s clearly putting these people apart as a smaller group. And you’re now claiming he says *all* feminists are like that?

            That’s the 3rd time now that you’ve twisted the truth in to something that can offend you.

          • Jin The Ninja | Mar 22, 2013 at 6:42 pm |

            “Are there spoiled brats out there? Sure there are. Are there
            women/girls out there who think getting only an iPad and a pony for
            christmas is unfair? Sure there are.

            All these girls/women with entitlement issues see feminism as a sort
            of shelter against the critique they get from their environment. So they
            rush to it and claim they’re being oppressed because they’re female.
            And what does feminism think of this? It thinks “yay, more members”.

            context really really really matters.
            note again “all these girls/women with their entitlement issues.”
            denoting a large group of feminists are such people.

          • TennisBallsBounce | Mar 22, 2013 at 10:46 pm |

            Large? Why large?

            Because of the word “all”? That doesn’t indicate size.

          • Jin The Ninja | Mar 23, 2013 at 10:24 am |

            But mark DOES in fact assert feminist numbers are swelled by the this ‘large’ demographic of ‘entitled brats.’

          • TennisBallsBounce | Mar 22, 2013 at 2:50 pm |

            Again, no he doesn’t. You’re making it all up. The word “should” isn’t even in his text.

          • Jin The Ninja | Mar 22, 2013 at 6:37 pm |

            it’s implied via his recommendations and i’m not fabricating anything. above is a prescribed list of things for feminists to do and not to do. re-read it.

          • TennisBallsBounce | Mar 22, 2013 at 10:48 pm |

            I’ve read it several times and I don’t what you’re getting at. You’ll have to provide concrete examples. You can’t just claim that something is patently obvious when discussing it.

          • Jin The Ninja | Mar 23, 2013 at 10:22 am |

            subtext and implication is everything. if you cannot read beyond a primary school level, there is no reasoning a point beyond your comprehension.

          • TennisBallsBounce | Mar 22, 2013 at 10:50 pm |

            Also, why do you use “recommendations” as a synonym for “list of things to do”. The difference between those 2 terms is that the first is a suggestion, while the second is forced. You can’t just claim it’s the same thing when it isn’t.

          • Jin The Ninja | Mar 23, 2013 at 10:27 am |

            it is clear neither you/mark understand the implications of a non-feminist, non-ally relating a veiled ad hominem and subtextually conservative attack as ‘recommendation’ of an ideology that neither of you know anything about.

      • TennisBallsBounce | Mar 22, 2013 at 2:49 pm |

        Nobody is telling anybody what to do. The text at the end is a request, not a demand or a threat of any kind.

        So why are you saying he’s telling feminists what to do? Why act insulted when there’s nothing to be insulted about?

    • Uh, “feminists” isn’t a single cohesive group any more than “activists” is. Thanks for pointing out that sometimes different people have different causes or different priorities I guess….

      • TennisBallsBounce | Mar 22, 2013 at 2:56 pm |

        Are you trying to be sarcastic about this text? Because nowhere is it suggested that feminism is a cohesive group. You could make it up out of some parts, if you want to act offended over the text. But that’s just what it is: making it up.

    • Human beings are not a hive mind.

      • Eric_D_Read | Mar 21, 2013 at 5:06 pm |

        …yet. But we are definitely moving in that direction.

      • TennisBallsBounce | Mar 22, 2013 at 2:57 pm |

        And I don’t see how that’s being implied anywhere in Mark’s text. You’re the second person to claim something to that effect and it’s nowhere in the text. It’s just a call to any individual who might consider themselves feminist or part of feminism as a movement.

  2. Hadrian999 | Mar 21, 2013 at 2:17 pm |

    applies to just about every community on the internet from gamers to UFC fans. people like to stake out territory and look down on everyone not as “oldschool” as themself

  3. Having been told to the point of fatigue by Second Wave feminists that my male opinion isn’t welcome in discussions between women, all I’m qualified to say is “this sure is an article.”

    Regrettably Necessary Disclaimer: I mention what I’ve seen of the kind of behavior that this article specifically describes, NOT with the intent to make it about my male feelings, but rather to offer empathic support to the author, to assert that she’s not the only one who sees this, and to express shared concern that a movement that actively pushes allies away does more to serve the few at the top of the pecking order than it does to accomplish its stated goals.

  4. landydavis | Mar 22, 2013 at 5:42 pm |

    every type of “status” tracking whether one percieves their status to be that of the best worst most or least deserving is always self agrandizing and in that oppressive. Every single poster here does not get it. Noone is different and noone earns or is worthy or unworthy of ANYTHING. For goodness sakes do you realize all of you on every side are asserting value judgements? Oppressor all.

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