Don’t feed the trolls! Time to boycott the media feminists

While newspaper and magazine columns dedicate pages to debate trans lives, Stephanie Farnsworth examines the issue and calls for a boycott.

White, cis media feminists are doing everything they can to hold women back so it’s time to stop funding them. A boycott of their ridiculous, self-indulgent and hate-filled Guardian and New Statesman columns and guest pieces are the only way to try to bring about a representational feminist fight back in the media.

Lewis, Burchill, Greer, Moore, Criado-Perez, Moran, Bindel all represent the politics of hate. Google any one of their names (or even do a Twitter search) and you’ll find a long list of transphobic hate speech. There’s often quite a few pieces on whether sex workers deserve to be protected from violence too. You’ll also find racism, Islamophobia, classism and biphobia from a lot of them. Despite the fact that they hate so many women, it hasn’t stopped them from being the go-to in the media for anything even remotely linked to feminism, and they’re all too happy to soak up the limelight. A few of them made their entire media careers by initially wearing the intersectional mask, only to ditch it when their platform became so secure that they didn’t need to hide their bigotry any longer.

There was recently criticism of Criado-Perez for interviewing Dapper Laughs and refusing to challenge his violent misogynistic attitudes, but I think those claiming to be shocked are the ones having the laugh as there was nothing remotely surprising about this. Dapper Laughs is the only kind of person that the media feminists can share their platforms with; they come off wildly progressive next to someone like Dapper and so the attention and praise once again falls to them. What exactly have any of them done to help women of colour? Or trans women facing hate every day? Or to help sex workers living in poverty and being targeted by the police? They’re following in the footsteps of Margaret Thatcher by smashing the glass ceiling for themselves so they can reinforce it with concrete behind them.

What exactly have any of them done to help women of colour? Or trans women facing hate every day? Or help sex workers living in poverty and being targeted by the police?

Take Moore’s rantings on what genderqueer people should do for the oh so progressive Guardian. She spends the entire piece brushing off people coming out as trans, gender fluid or genderqueer as being in any way significant, and then argues that such people should pay tribute to, and respect, radical feminists – the same group of women who are so often transmisogynistic towards them. Burchill, Greer and Bindel, who are radical feminists, have all gone out of their way to promote hatred towards trans people: from violent and graphic hate speech, to trying to no-platform trans speakers. At this point, their whining in national newspaper columns and on the BBC that they’re the ones being no-platformed is a pathetic joke.

What they’re campaigning for isn’t worth the paper Jane Austen’s face is printed on. Marriage certificates that have the mother’s name on? If anything proves the point that their campaigns are vacuous and don’t impact the lives of women then this is it. Marriage certificates should only feature the consenting adults in the relationship – children are not the property of their parents. Many LGBTQ+ people wouldn’t want their parents anywhere near a document about their relationship. Plenty of people also just don’t like their parents, or don’t feel it’s appropriate. They could have campaigned for anything, like the spousal veto (which directly harms trans women) but of course they would never do such a thing as to try to help trans women. Then there’s the passport images and other similar campaigns – like bank notes – designed to ensure better representation in the world for women, except that they only want it for white, cis women just like them. They don’t care about the representation of women, rather the presence of themselves. They’re the gatekeepers for women as much as the misogynists writing for the Mail. Don’t even get me started on feminist knickers.

What they’re campaigning for isn’t worth the paper Jane Austen’s face is printed on.

I do support cultural changes as well as political ones. I think good representation is much needed in society as it helps achieve acceptance when done properly. The problem is that these campaigns help nobody – they exist solely to satisfy their desire to generate more headlines. Women’s rights advocacy has got to mean more than that.

People may question why it matters but they’re doing harm in several different ways, the most obvious of which is that they’re perpetuating harmful ideas about different groups of women in the media, which isn’t just sickening but actually endangers women. Take a look at Jonathan Boniface’s brilliant take down of Helen Lewis where she defends transphobic hate speech. Their narrow media narratives also have a severe impact on grassroots campaigning and politics – these ridiculous and damaging campaigns take all the attention and they’re stifling off funding. Decent projects that are intersectional and help vulnerable women are getting zero attention, and very little chance to raise funds because of this group’s stranglehold on the media. This is why we need people in media who in their hearts are feminists and who will do whatever they can to make sure that women are represented fairly, as well as demanding equality.

Their narrow media narratives also have a severe impact on grassroots campaigning and politics.

Their insipid diatribes do not have to go unchallenged. While it is crucial that they are held to account – and that is now possible as social media has given those who were voiceless a right of reply, which is exactly why so many journalists despise it – it’s also of the utmost importance that we challenge the very fact they are given these platforms at all.

Media feminists who aren’t concerned one jot about women do not speak for me. We cannot let them speak for those of us who care for advancing women’s rights. It’s somewhat ironic that I’m granted this platform when so many are routinely ignored by society, but I feel it is the duty of every single feminist or equality campaigner to do whatever we can to tackle the very worst oppressions in society. Mainstream feminism has failed in this ideal, settling instead to keep the power among the few women who make it in the media rather than supporting those most oppressed. It’s not good enough and it stands to reason that if they built their platforms by pretending to support all marginalised women, then the very same women they’ve abandoned can knock them back down again. Stop buying, stop falling for the clickbait because every day they say the same old things and they’re preying on that impulse in the audience to look so that they can keep spreading hate while looking progressive. Let’s boycott them and promote feminists who want to work towards helping all women and not hurting them.

Mainstream feminism has failed in this ideal, settling instead to keep the power among the few women who make it in the media rather than supporting those most oppressed.

If you do want to support women and write about intersectional issues then you’d be more than welcome to join The Queerness whether as a curator or guest writer. There are other wonderful websites and blogs out there too which focus on supporting all women. We really don’t need the harmful narrative they are directing. There are other sources, there are brilliant and wonderful writers and speakers out there who are working every day to address the different inequalities that women face. They need us a lot more than we need them.

Follow Stephanie on Twitter (@StephFarnsworth)

12 thoughts on “Don’t feed the trolls! Time to boycott the media feminists

  1. Some facts (I know those are the tool of the kyriarchy, but bear with me):
    1. Julie Bindel and Caroline Criado Perez withdrew from Feminist in London in protest over pressure on the organizers about Jane Fae’s appearance which led to her withdrawing. I’d be grateful if you could supply one concrete example of any of the women you mentioned asking for a trans woman to be no-platformed, as opposed to the example I’ve just giving you of them doing exactly the opposite.
    2. I’d really like to hear you go on about feminist pants. Please do tell me again how terrible it is to support a women run and staffed business that provides work for refugee women who can’t find other employment. But as you say, nasty white cis women never do anything for WoC…
    3. Apart from speak and attend demonstrations at Yarl’s Wood organized by Women for Refugee Women, when they will be roundly criticised by women like you for taking up space that should have been occupied only by WoC. Do you see the problem here?

    Also, the fact that you don’t understand the representational significance about mother’s on marriage certificates pretty much indicates that you understand nothing about patrilineal descent and the mechanisms through which women’s reproductive and domestic labour have been historically erased in order to ensure the transmission of men’s names and men’s property. If you don’t care about how patriarchy works, fine, but the fact that other feminist women do is indicative of nothing other than them having an analysis. But hey, we’re well aware that we should all give up our analysis because fountains of glitter and unicorns have now made it redundant. And anyone who thinks otherwise should defintely die quickly and painfully in the nearest fire.

    In short, this is the most by-the-numbers poorly evidenced ‘nasty white cis ladies’ rant I have seen for a while. You are totally tearing up that shit. Congratulations.


  2. Wow. There’s a lot going on in this article, isn’t there? And a lot of accusations being thrown around that it seems you would struggle to back up.

    There’s a lot I could say about the errors, false accusations and lies written here about women who:

    1. Commissions a range of voices in their magazine, including sex workers and trans women
    2. Uses her platform to raise awareness of refugee rights and campaigns to close down Yarls Wood
    3. Uses her platform to raise up the voices of women and girls who have surivived fgm
    4. Has campaigned tirelessly for decades to support survivors of male violence

    When, for example, have the women you mention called to ‘no platform’ trans women at feminist events? It’s not true to say that when you google their names, you see the ‘evidence’ of their transphobic hate speech.

    However, the main point I wanted to make was about the ‘feminist knickers’ which you can’t even ‘get started on’.

    I’m assuming the feminist knickers you refer to are Who Made Your Pants. This amazing venture was spear headed by a fantastic woman. She created a business that gave job opportunities and training opportunities to refugee women – women who had survived rape, domestic abuse, male violence in their countries. At a time when the political and media landscape (ran by men, by the way, not white media feminists) seeks to demonise refugees, she provided a space where some of our society’s most vulnerable and marginalised women could find solidarity, friendship and earn a living wage.

    In fact, I would say Who Made Your Pants was exactly the kind of organisation you are referring to when you write:

    “Decent projects that are intersectional and help vulnerable women are getting zero attention, and very little chance to raise funds because of this group’s stranglehold on the media. ”

    Who Made Your Pants was an intersectional organisation and helped vulnerable women. If you had done a jot of research you would have realised this.

    Instead, you chose to believe what you read in the Telegraph.


  3. It’s interesting to notice that Farnsworth’s call to action is entirely negative: “Let’s boycott them”. She adds: “and promote feminists who want to work towards helping all women and not hurting them” – but has not one positive suggestion to make. Women’s names, which dripped from her pen so fluently when seeking to attack, are nowhere to be found in the call to support. The “support” part of feminism is TBD. The important and urgent thing is to stop listening to women.

    What we’re looking at here is not a call to abandon one kind of feminism in favour of a better kind of feminism; what this is is a call to ignore, erase and lie about the work done by feminists we don’t like in favour of turning feminism as a movement into a snide and badly-written blogfest. This is admittedly less work and a lot less dangerous than doing what the women accused of “not doing anything” are actually doing; I am not surprised that this piece was called “important” by some. It legitimises their inaction and obstruction as a superior form of “feminist praxis”.


  4. No support for the claims of transphobic hate speech or that the maligned media feminists think that sex workers do not deserve protection from violence, I see. I suspect that is because the claims are misinformed, hyperbolic nonsense that border on libel. Absolutely appalling to see feminists trashed in this way, all in the name of inclusivity.


    1. I specifically didn’t include links because it’s a piece boycotting their hate. I included a link to Jon’s takedown of Helen Lewis’s awful defence of transphobia and also said users could easily Google or Tweet search them for examples. I’m not here to earn them more attention for hate speech. It’s really not hard to search online. My Twitter feed for years has shown examples of their ridiculous posts. It is backed up as I have said where to go to find these examples but like I say, I’m not here to win them yet more attention.


      1. Yes Stephanie, you said we Google for evidence, which very conveniently absolves you of any responsibility to back up your claims, and puts it all on the reader. Just FYI: that is not how journalism or scholarship or any kind of writing that shows respect for its audience, and for the value of truth, operate.

        However, when I google I don’t find any evidence for your claims. I find other people making those claims as if they were fact, mere assertion without evidence or sheet wilful misinterpretation, just as you have done here. I suppose the next malicious attempt to smear these women will link to this piece as “evidence”, and on it goes.

        Frankly this article is an absolute embarrassment to everyone associated with this site. How anyone with an ounce of self-awareness could write an article devoted to nothing other than slagging off women you don’t like, while simultaneously accusing those women of being full of hate is beyond me.

        It would be laughable if it wasn’t so malevolent and damaging to feminism. Look at all the men RTing this approvingly, delighting in their opportunity to bash some powerful, successful women. Sterling work, Stephanie. The patriarchy salutes you. Hope that male approval you got for trashing other women makes you feel good!


  5. It’s unfortunate to have to make this personal, but since this whole article is a personal attack, I think it’s justified.

    Stephanie, I was just wondering if you can tell us, what you personally have done to help women of colour? Or trans women facing hate every day? Or to help sex workers living in poverty and being targeted by the police?


    1. Volunteered for years at different charities, use my online presence to always boost sex workers, trans women and women of colour and I regularly campaign in my area for equality issues – whether that’s making spaces I’m in truly inclusive or to just something little like lobbying my MP for better rights. I’ve done loads of different things over the years,. Of course, it may fade into significance compared to someone who has a national platform such as running the New Statesman but I’m a full time uni student and have a long term illness and I do the best that I can every day. Also, ye, my attacks may come off as personal but what exactly is transphobia, racism, whorephobia and biphobia? They are personal, as much as some may like to claim it’s only political it hurts women every day.


      1. “It may fade into significance compared to someone who has a national platform such as running the New Statesman”: I did not say that. But now it seems you are acknowledging that these women do do things to help disadvantaged women? So what are you saying now? That because they are privileged, these efforts can somehow be discounted? In case you weren’t aware, Helen Lewis is chair of a charity that provides services to women and girls who have experienced male violence, and gives up a lot of her free time to that. Sarah Ditum has a full time job and a family, and gives up her free time to sit on the Executive Committee of Abortion Rights. Caroline Criado-Perez has written repeatedly about the situation for refugee women in Yarl’s Wood, and has campaigned to have it closed. And this tiny little space couldn’t begin to do justice to all the work that Julie Bindel has done to help women over the years….

        And of course, you still haven’t provided one iota of evidence of their transphobia, racism, whorephobia and biphobia, and are essentially committing libel against them in this article. Fortunately none of the women you’ve maligned here would be bothered enough by your spiteful and vindictive attacks to sue you for it. But if you’ve got aspirations to a career in the media, you might want to read up a little on libel law before writing hit jobs like this.


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