I wrote The Feminist Yawn and received enough responses to realize I’d offended some of the feminist community, but what I didn’t expect was my broad generalizations would hurt someone I’d grown close with while collaborating for months on feminist projects. And for that, I’m sorry.
The response I wrote to feminism was mainly over two issues: UniteWomen.org and Daniel Tosh. When I blogged, “I’d been a moderator on one of the larger groups on Facebook for women’s rights (and enjoyed it) and had been involved in a growing women’s group, which I later found to be full of growing scandal/greed,” the latter part of that statement is directed at UniteWomen.org. I’d read a really powerful response by a woman of color who attended the UniteWomen rally and left disappointed. Although her post had to do explicitly with race, I felt utterly disappointed by UniteWomen, as well. For months, I felt women had so much momentum politically and UW came in and dismantled it all with their desire to be the lead group for the moment. They wanted to build a grass-roots movement and be the front-runner, and they did. However, they immediately proved to be utterly disorganized, to make excuses for not uniting women, and they treated individual state groups with disrespect. I became infuriated with UniteWomen and how they had selfishly redirected all of the energy some of us had worked so hard in gaining within the movement toward their personal agendas.
I know this because I was collaborating for months with women doing our own grass-roots movement online. I’d gotten a lot of friends politically charged and we were all moving forward. I’m not quite sure what happened to me, but I felt I needed to take a back seat, despite enjoying the work. There were too many other groups who needed help and wanted me to join in a leadership position and to be honest, I was getting pulled by a few of them very strongly. I’d enjoyed working with my friend J. and we’d become very close, but I had a difficult time saying no to other groups and requests for my leadership skills. I became overwhelmed.
I joined a UniteWomen group in Southern California before UW started pissing me off. The stateside leadership was wonderful but were not directly related to UW. I loved working with them and they transitioned away from UW and into their own group–a group I like very much. They are hard-working women who put their money where their mouth is, so to speak.
And then another group came along around the same time to ask me to be on leadership, which I don’t want to get into personally before speaking with the leader of the group; however, I was a bit taken aback by the personal agenda that steamrolled this group into the mainstream. I was also kind of offended, because I take pride in not using my platform for instances like that, although I could. I don’t believe in exploiting the masses and with UniteWomen’s ability to do that, I was wary of any new group. I was also protective, like an angry mother protecting her brood. I felt like some of us had worked so hard at uniting women and a few opportunists, who hadn’t lifted a finger the whole time, wanted to come scoop them up for their own agendas. That’s NOT why we worked so hard and I felt very frustrated.
My second issue with the feminist community was how quickly we attacked Daniel Tosh. Women writers I respect immediately took to their platform. I was confused over the fact that I personally didn’t agree with Roxanne, because I usually really like her writing. However, I’d been feeling a bit of a disconnect from some of the academic community, and her response seemed very high-tower academic instead of human. The human in me was upset at Roxanne’s response because I felt that she was taking a stance for all of us and leading the feminist community into an army of Tosh.0 haters-as if he were a rapist. Years before this incident, Daniel Tosh had been one of the many comedians I would watch weekly, in my attempt to re-enter the world of pop culture after being isolated from it when I lived in a cult. However base my taste is, I felt personally insulted at everyone’s attacks. Objectivity and rational thinking seemed to go out the window after Roxanne’s article went up and feminists I knew started personally attacking me over my taste in Daniel Tosh’s comedy.
All of a sudden, the community I’d been part of for so many months turned their back on me and attacked me. It wasn’t a good feeling. I suppose that’s when I realized how fickle mobs can be. One minute they love you. The next minute they’re stoning you.
For what it’s worth, I’m still feminist. I’m not feminist in the way my friend Marty is feminist, though. When we were discussing his post, he shared why he was a feminist: “I consider myself a feminist, but that’s just part of being a humanist. It’s okay to be seen as a feminist in my eyes. Just not hysterical, or ranty or attention seeking…”
I’m not a feminist because I’m atheist or humanist nor do I feel it’s fair or accurate to call the feminist community “hysterical” or ranty or attention seeking.
I hope that I represent one feminist well, but I also hope to be seen as an individual. As a former cult member it’s very important for me to have freedom to have my own opinions and taste, even if that means I’m not “part of the group.” I do also hope we can all work together on being objective when we need to be and to think critically instead of jumping onto a bandwagon because it’s popular. Despite our differences of opinion (of which I’m sure there are many), there are a great number of people within the feminist community I admire and enjoy working with. Thanks to one in particular who helped me see that.