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)