If you’re not in the area of Twitter I frequent then you may not know there is a war between feminists raging once more. It’s another situation where countless passive-aggressive blog posts appear and all the people who like those on both sides are forced to pick a team and stand beside them, or else just avoid Twitter altogether. It’s shit and it’s not what I signed up for.
I’m kind of like a shorter, heavier, femaler version of Neil from the Young Ones. I came to feminism with the bizarre belief that ALL people should have equality. That includes people of the rainbow of genders, races, healths, religions, non-religions, ideologies (though not fascists obvs because that would be paradoxical), sexualities, and wealths inter alia. I had this wonderful idea of bra burning, and posters with ban the bomb signs on them and tie-dyed t-shirts with slogans such as “Love One Another” printed on them. It turns out it’s bullshit.
Feminism is much less like my youthful quixotic fantasy of people fighting for their and others rights and more like my classroom in secondary school. I regularly stay off Twitter for lengths of time as I’m energy poor and for many days of the month a Willo the Wisp descends on my brain and eats my ability to think straight, I then return only to discover the friendship groups I once had have been shattered into a million pieces and I’m being expected to pick a side. It’s tiring and not at all fair.
You know I give a shit about the rights of women, and that means ALL women, whether they’re queer, straight, cis, trans, WoC, able bodied, disabled, flying a pig or a sex worker. I like women. I’m not going to sit here and say that any of them don’t deserve the right to freedoms that everyone else deserves. I don’t like mainstream porn, but I am interested in the idea of feminist pornography, I don’t think that heterosexual sex, video’d or not is a misogynistic act. I don’t agree with tits in newspapers, but if a woman wants to get her leaky chest pillows out in an adult magazine, I’m not gonna judge her. Do I think it’s entirely helpful for other women? Not always. I see that it can reinforce an objectification culture. I’m not going to say it leads to rape culture though. The more I learn the more my ideas evolve and now I’m utterly convinced that people are going to abuse women regardless of whether Stacey from Surrey lifts her t-shirt other her surgically enhanced breasticles. But that doesn’t mean I agree with banning it. I don’t agree with that level of censorship for one. But I also don’t believe the path to freedom for women is in telling them how to behave. I used to be opposed to sex work, though I always have believed in legalisation of sex work to ensure their safety. I am not opposed to it as I once was. Talking to men changed my mind (big eye roll and groan time), these men had disabilities. Some couldn’t reach their own penis, and society sure as heck was structured in a way that meant these men couldn’t find relationships, they sought out the assistance of sex workers. It occurred to me at this time that it isn’t the men who were turning sex work into the commodification of womanhood, but the feminists themselves. These dudes saw sex commodified but not the women. They treated the women with respect, they were grateful to the women. I’ve seen far less respect towards sex workers from other feminists, than I witnessed in these chats with men. I believe in sexual exploitation, but I no longer believe that sex work is necessarily the same thing. I’ve also kind of gone towards the view that the repeated mantra of “ALL men who seek out sex worker s are exploitative pigs” is also quite ableist, which leads me onto my next paragraph.
Fucking hell is feminism ever chockfull of ableism. Every other fucking post you read there is every type of woman listed other than those with disabilities. It’s disgusting that some of the most oppressed women within society are invisible to so many feminists. Get a fucking grip on this guys. It’s serious.
On another note, I do actually believe that women get more attacked by other feminists when they become more in the public eye. That’s because the few feminists who are in the public eye are generally white, cis, middle-class, and able-bodied. People should be pissed off about it. Hell, I know I am. But we need to disentangle the women from the structure that only allows repeated versions of the same women to have a media presence. That said, if they say something shitty that others disagree with, they can be told that they’re wrong or that others disagree with them, without getting pissed off and claiming it’s a mob of bullies. No I’m not talking about anyone I’ve been Twitter friends with (some of my tweeps with disabilities will know who I mean here), but that doesn’t mean that those I have been Twitter friends with have never been guilty of the same thing.
I’m ranting here and I don’t even know what I want to say at this point. It’s shit. It’s really truly crapping that we can’t keep personal attacks (written, verbal, physical) against women out of the feminist movement. It’s the opposite of useful. It’s also shit that people attack whole groups who in no way affect them, such as trans* women, or sex workers, or women with more unusual gender identities and sexual expression. It’s cool if a woman wants to talk about how many people she’s slept with. I’ve slept with 8 as it happens. Four of them were after I was raped and went on a rampage to be in control of my sexuality. I read Erica Jong’s Fear of Flying and off I went. Speaking openly about sex and shagging whoever came my way. I did it because I was in trauma. SO before we judge women who are totally doors open about their sexuality maybe we should consider why first before labelling them as a person on a soapbox trying to be the most original star in the sky (mixed metaphors- roll with it). Not that we should judge even if we know a woman isn’t in trauma, but I hope you can see what I’m getting at. I’m still open about my sexuality. I’ve slept with men and women, and now I can’t sleep with anyone because it hurts. Every time I try my back and my legs go into spasm. Am I also to be judged for being open about this? The reason I am is because I don’t think there is a big enough dialogue about disability and sex. Maybe if I talk about it, and others talk about it, then more will be done to help people with disabilities. That said, even if I wasn’t disabled I would still probably talk about it openly because why the fuck shouldn’t I?! I don’t think everyone should talk about it, there’s a big old free will thing going on there. But maybe it is important women talk about their sexuality- before Kinsey you were immature if you relied on clitoral stimulation to achieve orgasm. A woman who’s had several sexual partners is still going to be treated in a worse manner during a rape trial, and they’re still branded “sluts” etc by society. As long as we still have that dichotomy where men are high fived and women pilloried, then I firmly believe it’s helpful for women to openly talk about sexuality, and it’s totally unfair to accuse them of playing to the man gallery.
Somehow my feminist experience on Twitter has gone from finding my place amongst kindred spirits to feeling like a kid being pulled between their parents. On that note I’m going to shut up and leave you with a quote from James Dean in Rebel Without a Cause, “YOU’RE TEARING ME APART!”