Kindness, understanding and compassion make you a feminist

A friend of mine on Twitter posted a quite fun little piece on coming out as a “feminist” – she did not previously self-identify as a feminist but recently she did and now she does. Actually, after an attack on Twitter she may have changed her mind. What I have told her though as that these women who commented on her blog post are not feminists, they are just unpleasantly argumentative. The following is what happened:

I thought the blog post Dear Feminism by @ladycurd summed up what a lot of women thought and it did it in a nice way.

I retweeted that tweet and I said “that about sums it up”.
Another Tweeter, and woman, @MadamJMo also retweeted but she said the following:

Urr. Can anyone bear to discuss this?! *sighs* “@LadyCurd: Dear Feminism,”

Not so nice; it was more of a call to arms to the “sisterhood” against someone this “sister” thought spoke badly about something they believed they represented – these are self-identifying feminists.

A fellow “feminist” @ClareSquiggle took up the call and the following conversation took place:

@MadamJMo @LadyCurd “If you want to call yourself a feminist you are one’…*proceeds to list silly, stereotypical prerequisites?* Please.

prerequisites were tongue in cheek. Was just some personal musings on why I didn’t nec. want to call myself a feminist

@LadyCurd I understood intention but unfortunately it mostly read as daft and misguided to me, rather than thoughtful/ helpful critique.

@ClareSquiggle nice. Isn’t an evidence based essay though, it is some musings from my head. I find such hostility unnecessary.

@LadyCurd …I had assumed that it was a more serious piece and read it so.

@LadyCurd I wasn’t trying to be hostile. I found the piece offensive in parts and was trying to explain why. With mention of transphobia…
…I had assumed that it was a more serious piece and read it so.

>> The comment “daft and misguided” does not seem very nice and “I found the piece offensive” does not lead to an explanation of how or why.

I had a discussion on Twitter with @MadamJMo

@MadamJMo I think it is truthful and sincere and speaks to a lot of people, what do you mean? @LadyCurd is a wonderful writer #hecklesup

@stillawake @ladycurd Not saying she’s a bad writer. Just think that post is insulting to feminists. Tired misconceptions about feminism.

“that post is insulting to feminists”, there was no mention of how apart from the “tired misconceptions”.

@MadamJMo @ladycurd I think they are relevant to a lot of people – esp those who still think of Germaine Greer as a feminist – did you see

@MadamJMo @ladycurd @ayiasophia s link to the conservative post, yesterday? now that was a funny misconception.Btw, I wasn’t insulted.

@stillawake If it ‘speaks to a lot of people’, that sadly reinforces what feminists know about the opposition we face. (Sorry, @ladycurd).

“we face” as if to suggest that @MadamJMo speaks for feminists or more worryingly for “feminism” as a whole.

I do not identify (often) as a feminist – mainly because I think of gender as trivial, my ultimate goal is for gender to be enjoyed, cherished, respected and ultimately to be seen as trivial compared to the individual.

This has not happened yet and for a large percentage of people it means that gender is a cause for their suffering and can affect quality of life and even length of life – violence against women is not a trivial matter and it is a reality.

Women are not a homogeneous group, however, and their issues are not the same across class, nationality, age and educational background. “We”, whoever “we” is, are not all the same.

Instead, I support equality and compassion and peace and justice for all and I wish for an end to suffering for everyone.

There was no compassion and kindness shown to a fellow woman who chose to write about her experience in the case of this Twitter discussion – there was sarcasm and superiority, unpleasantness, hostility, feigned resignation and rudeness.

If we cannot be nice to each other then who is it going to do it for us? I do not consider these women feminists, no matter what they write in their Twitter biographies. They spotted something they did not like and instead of presenting an articulate and compassionate argument, they attacked and made themselves feel superior.

What a wasted opportunity. They are, of course, welcome to respond on how and why they disagreed with the original post but they have to do it with kindness and compassion. I welcome what they have to say and look forward to learning something new.

For an example of how to deal with conflict when trying to change the world, it might be useful to see how organisations like Medialens, who are fighting against the distortions of the mass media, work. They do it with tolerance, generosity and kindness, rather than anger and hatred..

3 responses to “Kindness, understanding and compassion make you a feminist”

  1. […] Dear Feminism1 caused an unexpected bit of controversy.  (See here for info).  I don’t want to hash it up with the people involved  again as well all agreed […]

  2. Oh god, it’s those women who put me off being a feminist for so long!

    Once, *long anecdote about myself* I tried to get a health campaign going with the women’s group at uni. I was just passing along national campaign materials and they objected because it used “femininity” as a euphemism for ladygardens.

    It all ended with them calling me a bitch and me putting the bloody posters up myself at my own expense.

    I am now proud to say I AM A STRIDENT FEMINIST and I am sick of “sisters” going around being buttheads to everyone for not doing it in their stupid rainman way.

  3. Now that is a good story – I think it is so useless when pettiness and anger get in the way of discussion and understanding. If Gandhi can overthrow a whole regime with his civil behaviour then I see no space for this type of hatefulness, especially in a western society where we are actually allowed to speak up and choose how we frame the argument.

    At least they didn’t call it their ‘flower’ >> ladygardens *giggle*.

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