Behind Closed Doors: Radicalised by the Internet

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Since AOW closed for business I think we’ve all been struggling to find our internet tribes. Some of us have quite happily settled into the mummy blogging/insta routine. Some of us have dangerously dallianced with the dark side and it’s oh-so-pretty interiors. And some of us have floundered around not knowing quite where we fit. Apparently being a thirty something woman with no children who had a total bastard of a time trying to move house automatically precludes you from quite a lot so I mainly fitted into the latter category. Sure I read The Pool and Stylist and Standard Issue from time to time, but they weren’t mine, they weren’t home.

Which is how (somewhat ironically given my aforementioned lack of sprog) I ended up on mumsnet. Specifically the FWR bit of the site. I don’t join in much but I read a lot and it’s led me to some sites and some twitterers I’m really pleased to have found. And they have one thing in common – they’re all ‘radical’ feminists.

Now, I’ve always felt I was more attuned to the Greer school of feminism that the Cyrus version, even back in my skinny student days when I was myself happily if self consciously wiggling around in skimpy outfits. I never felt fully comfortable with the liberal/third wave/’any choice is a feminist choice even if you’re stepping on others to haul yourself up’ type of feminism (I like to think of it as ‘cosmo’ feminism – pretending to be empowering whilst still telling you how to look, who to fancy and what position to fuck in whilst making you feel generally a bit inadequate) but I hadn’t really been that aware of the distinctions, drivers and ideologies behind the schools.

So I started reading more critically and viewing the world through a different lens, and, yes, I was radicalised by the internet and am now a loud and proudly gender critical, pro Nordic model second waver. Mostly I think this awakening has been a positive thing for me, but once you swallow the red pill there’s no going back and seeing the world and its structures and hierarchies the way you used to. And a lot of the time it’s hard and bleak and depressing and (when not sobbing uncontrollably and/or wailing how we’re going to be living the real life Handmaid’s tail in a few years) the will to overcome is the only thing that keeps you going.

It’s helped that hubs has been increasingly happy to read up on this too, and now is often the one to point things out to me and lead the outrage. But that doesn’t mean he quite gets why I take it so personally and struggle to cope emotionally as much as I do when footballers get their rape convictions overturned, and supposed human rights organisations side with pimp lobbies, and fucking orange faced, fascist, groping dickwads beat nice, qualified, competent, intelligent women into positions of power (actually he despairs as much as I do at that one). It makes the world a pretty scary, hopeless, lonely place sometimes.

So I’m so happy to have this space back. Somewhere to remind you that people can disagree without one of them being wrong, somewhere where cakes are as important as politics, where silliness is not just permitted but encouraged, and where we support each other through the good and the bad.

NB I’m leaving this anonymous due to not wanting to be doxxed by MRA randomers as is sadly fairly common now when one outs oneself as radfem (and particularly troublesome when you have recurrent stalker issues) but I know you’ll all know who I am.

Categories: Behind Closed Doors, Politics and Feminism
27 interesting thoughts on this

27 Comments

  1. katylkh
    Posted March 10, 2017 at 9:21 am | Permalink

    Hi anon! I just kind of floated after AOW closed and read all the tweets and personal blogs of everyone but I agree it’s not the same as having a real community. I think what I love about us is I read everyone’s retweets and articles and the variety is always astonishing but also genuinely interesting.
    With your stuff (taking a solid guess) I love reading it and normally nod my head along but I’m not sure I’m brave enough to let myself get absorbed by that world. Thanks for opening me up to it though. You’re ace.

  2. Peabody_Bites
    Posted March 10, 2017 at 9:39 am | Permalink

    This is really interesting – one of the things I struggle with is finding “radical” feminism expressed in a way which is not overly academic. I know the third wave doesn’t work for me, but I’m still trying to understand its antecedents. Do you have any recommendations either for blogs / articles / books that you could share?

    • The Postie
      Posted March 10, 2017 at 9:56 am | Permalink

      Hi
      I find Glosswatch and Feminist Current blogs to be fairly accessible. And a lot of the New Statesman content is quite good too.

  3. Posted March 10, 2017 at 10:26 am | Permalink

    I have issues with radfem movement. But I am a different breed of feminist. I have watched you get more radical with some apprehension as I disagree with a lot of things you share now, but I am glad to see you finding a place, even if that is not a place I agree with. I am also glad we still talk and that your radicalisation has not stopped that being possible.

    I think now I am divorced (nearly) and child free I have increasingly little in common with a lot of the people I know from here but I am still grateful for this group x

    • The Postie
      Posted March 10, 2017 at 10:53 am | Permalink

      I fully agree S, it’s clear we are on opposite sides of the fence on some things but I’m really glad that hasn’t meant us cutting each other out, both because I really like you and because I think it’s important not to live in an echo chamber.

  4. Rachel JHD
    Posted March 10, 2017 at 11:06 am | Permalink

    AOW has come back with wonderful brilliance. Thank you for the two posts this week. It feels like we’ve all developed our thoughts & voices even more in this time apart.
    Ps What are MRA and FWA ?

    • The Postie
      Posted March 10, 2017 at 11:10 am | Permalink

      Male Rights Activists (always make me think of the Male Men from Parks and Rec and Leslie Knope’s response – YouTube it if you haven’t seen it!) and Feminism/Women’s Rights.

  5. Linsey
    Posted March 10, 2017 at 12:11 pm | Permalink

    I have to admit I am not up on the different branches of feminism and do worry that it can lead to divisions between people who are fundamentally on the same side. But I 100% agree that AOW is an amazing place to express these opinions and have these debates while still remaining friends and being civil, which is not really what happens on Twitter.
    And I also fully admit that having a baby and being at work and moving house makes me feel like I haven’t got the time/energy left to engage with much else by the end of the day. But that sounds lame and I want to do better for my daughter for her to grow in a more equal world so I should really stop burying my head in the sand and pretending the world is not so grim. I feel like what I can do is encourage kindness and acceptance in her and in others, which I hope is something that people in many different groups can see as a valuable quality that helps the world become a little bit of a nicer place.

  6. Katielase
    Posted March 10, 2017 at 1:19 pm | Permalink

    It is great to have this space, somewhere we can have differences of opinions and discussions openly and reasonably, without defensive anger and immediate drawing of battle lines.

    Like Siobhan I disagree with many elements of the radfem movement, but I wouldn’t necessarily identify as a third-waver either. I would identify as an intersectional feminist, if that’s even a thing. I do find the various branches of feminism frustrating, because to me they are isolating and intimidating. I agree with elements of what a lot of different people say, but not necessarily with everything they say, and because I find the attitude on the internet and particularly twitter is very much that you should pick a camp and then you have to identify and agree with everything that that camp stands for, I then feel isolated from all camps. It can be a very black and white world, Twitter, and unfortunately that doesn’t suit my feminism, or my way of thinking in general, and as a result I often find it easier not to engage online, but to take my activism and put it into external things. That is why AOW is such a wonderful space, it’s so nice to be somewhere I feel I can have a voice without fear of being shouted down for not thinking the ‘right’ way or not doing my feminism or my activism well enough. I’m so glad it’s back, and that everyone is coming back to it.

    I do feel it is sad that people feel they don’t have much in common with people who have become parents. Although I have children, I still have all the interests I had previously, they don’t get switched off when you have a baby! I admittedly do find it harder to find time to engage in them and I am trying to make more of an effort to do this, but I would hope I still have in common with people the same variety of interesting things I had before. There are loads of Mums I have nothing in common with, and I have a lot of friends with no kids (I still have more friends without kids than with them) who I have huge amounts in common with, so I’m really sad if not having kids, or having kids, feels like a barrier to anyone. I hope the re-awakening of AOW also re-awakens us all to the things we all still have in common, whether we’ve had babies or not.

    KL x

  7. Caro
    Posted March 10, 2017 at 1:23 pm | Permalink

    I may have missed the point but I hate that anyone feels like they have to “find their place” or for that matter labels anyone else.
    I am a mother yes, but I am not a mummy blogger, I use IG yes but purely to put up pictures I like or that make me happy. Granted these are mainly of my child but still… I believe myself to be a feminist but not actively, not radically, I just want what is best for my gender. I also don’t want aow to be a group or a gang. I would hate for someone not to comment or join in because they believe this space to be a clique or a gang.
    I would love this to be a space where all are welcome. And whilst I get that you feel the same Poster I think that you have clearly been sub consciously labelling others maybe? And as you have now clearly labelled yourself it’s sort of a contradictory post. Everyone is obviously entitled to their own views, lives, opinions and beliefs but why the labels?

    • Katielase
      Posted March 11, 2017 at 12:09 pm | Permalink

      Just needed to say how much I agree with this…

      ” I also don’t want aow to be a group or a gang. I would hate for someone not to comment or join in because they believe this space to be a clique or a gang. I would love this to be a space where all are welcome.”

      I think one of the best things about AOW was always how welcoming it’s been, it would be a real shame for that to ever change

      KL x

  8. Steff
    Posted March 10, 2017 at 1:45 pm | Permalink

    I love that AOW is back. And back with gusto too. It’s a space that we all cherished and one I think we’ve all badly missed. So, yay!

    I have to admit I’m a bit of a shit feminist. I had no idea there were different branches. Let alone their names! I am now enlightened. And a little intimidated.

    While I strive for equality and unity I tend to go about it in a don’t make a big issue and it won’t be a big issue kind of way. Not to downplay the cause at all, I’ll stand up if there’s something wrong but I often feel that issues are made where there are none really. Oh I don’t even know if I’m making sense. Maybe I’m just not as engaged in it all therefore not really in a place to comment.

    I tell my girls every day that they can be anything they want to be and I will fight tooth and nail for that. Heather currently wants to be a farmer and a daddy and god forbid anyone tell her otherwise. That’s my kind of feminism.

    • Raluca
      Posted March 10, 2017 at 2:47 pm | Permalink

      Oh my, yes, I felt like such a bad feminist when I first read this, as I had no clue there were branches and types and everything. I have a ton of reading up to do. Glad I’m not alone.

      • The Postie
        Posted March 10, 2017 at 6:45 pm | Permalink

        Don’t feel like that! The post was super personal, it’s not something I used to know as much about but that’s getting more important to me all the time. I don’t expect others to feel the same way. Other people feel the same way abound otehr things. It would be boring if we were all the same.

  9. Fran
    Posted March 10, 2017 at 2:35 pm | Permalink

    I’m also really glad that this space is open again. Although certain aspects of this made me feel uncomfortable, it’s taken me a while to step back and bring my thoughts together on this. It made me stop and think – and I’ve really missed that.

    I do feel that a heavy focus on branches, models and waves detracts from the main issue in hand when it comes to feminism. Those who need to hear and understand feminism are unlikely to be enticed by such an array of types, acronyms and abbreviations. I’m a feminist and I find it intimidating.

  10. Laura
    Posted March 10, 2017 at 5:35 pm | Permalink

    Hello! Oh, it’s good to be back. You’re really spoiling us with two posts this week (Monsieur).

    So….here’s an idiot question. What IS radical feminism? And is it different from garden variety feminism? Can it be summed up in a few lines, Postie – like, what’s your feminism elevator pitch, if such a thing can be put into words? I’d like to comment further but I think I need to know specifically what your feminism means to you, if that makes sense.

    Thank you for the education, as always, AOW.

    • The Postie
      Posted March 10, 2017 at 6:33 pm | Permalink

      I would describe it as being about fighting for big, structural changes to eradicate the patriarchy and make society better for women as a whole rather than focusing on the individual. An example being the fight over page 3 – page 3 was presented as ‘empowering’ by some people and the fight to remove it, and therefore remove the choice to model was touted as antifeminist by some. Whereas the other side of the argument would be that page 3 contributed to a porn culture society in which girls and women are othered, judged solely on appearance, and seen as lesser. So that group would argue that posing for page 3 is antifeminist.

      Ultimately I guess it’s an issue that no one actually ever agreed in definitions. It therefore causes both infighting and confusion, making it harder for all of us who identify as feminists of any type to organise against the patriarchy.

      And I guess that’s something I should have considered before labelling myself also.
      Ultimately everyone has things they agree on and things they don’t.

      I guess I don’t have an easy definition myself. Personally my biggest motivator is preventing male violence against women and girls. I believe that a lot of societal factors contribute to this, including porn culture. I would like to see misogyny classified as a hate crime, in line with other protected characteristics. I’m scared that Brexit and Trump and various other things are going to make the world a worse and less safe place for women. I can’t belive Russia has decriminalised domestic violence and the rest of the world had turned a blind eye.I think that legislation should be altered to prevent victims of rape and abuse having to face their abusers in court, and I don’t believe the burden of guilt should lie on the accuser to prove. I think we need better sex and relationship education and to explicitly teach consent and how to spot the signs of emotional abuse. I am pro Nordic Model, which means that women cannot be prosecuted for selling sex but men can be prosecuted for buying it, and I suport this because the countries which have adopted it have proven to make things safer for those women. I can see why some people support full legalisation and some of the arguments for this but I believe that this reinforces a culture in which women are seen as for sale, and many countries which have legalised have seen a rise in trafficking. I don’t believe in pink/blue brains and think gender stereotypes are harmful to basically everyone. I think we should all move away from seeing ANY clothes, hairstyles, make up, interests, hobbies and jobs as just for girls or just for boys and that noone should be bullied or attacked or persecuted in any way for not conforming to the ‘rules’ we’ve decided go alongside eg who wears dresses. But I do think that some things, such as healthcare, some sports, and crime statistics should be segregated by biological sex. I think there needs to be much better investment in women’s health, which is dramatically underfunded in research terms compared to mens, and that drugs and dosages need to be tested on women as well as men. I think we need better contraceptive options, and that the burden shouldn’t fall on women. I think we should have better systems to enable women to get ahead, such as flexible working, quotas and a society that expects dads to take paternity leave and don’t refer to dads as ‘babysitting’ their own children. I think all women should have safe and easy access to abortion. I think people who get shitty at women breastfeeding in public are beyond idiotic. I think a universal basic income would be a great move.

      Basically I think lots of things. Some of them probably contradict each other. Some of them you’ll agree with and some of them you won’t. Some of then I have always believed, others I havent.

      And I dont think anyone should feel they have to read more unless they want to.

      • Laura
        Posted March 10, 2017 at 8:24 pm | Permalink

        Wow, thanks. V insightful. local radio is my guilty pleasure and it was on Minster FM the other day that North Yorkshire police HAS just included misogyny as a hate crime – I was like, ‘it wasn’t?!’ I also think the consent issue is massive, and education is crucial – BUT as a (mature) uni student I think it IS getting better. Again, Northern bias, but at York during freshers’ week there was a LOT on social media about consent which I really applaud. I don’t even remember it being mentioned first time around and I know a couple of girls who ended up in awful situations after having a lot to drink, not knowing what had happened to them and very much feeling that it was their ‘fault’. No no noooo. Women’s health – yassssssss – and children’s health, too, given that women are still the main caregivers for children under one. I remember Luke having colic and thinking, ‘if men did more childcare we’d have found a better treatment for this.’ And re: childbirth – again, based on personal experience, but if men had to do it I’m sure the process and options would be very, very different.

        That said, though, I’m not convinced on quotas, I don’t think flexible working is always (or even often) the answer (unfortunately)depending on the job – but more incentives for men to take paternity leave would be a great start. However, if I had to go back to work a couple of months after having my babies, even if their dad then became the main caregiver? Man, I would struggle. I couldn’t breastfeed for long either time with my boys, sadly, but even with the general AFTERMATH and the RECOVERY and the HORMONES and the OUT OF CONTROL BODY (apologies to any pregnant ladies out there) I’d find it really tough. My career has taken a bit of a hit but I honestly can’t see another way, even if the system was different – my body/mind simply wouldn’t allow it, I don’t think. I find that ‘limitation’ (not quite the right word but as close as I can get right now) frustrating at times, but it’s (for me, at least) an impossible necessity of having children and, hopefully, a temporary hiatus from the world of work. I often find myself stressed out by the situation I’m in – I’d describe it as a bit of an identity crisis with a soupçon of paranoia about what other people think of me as one-time go-getter thrown in – but I think to have ran straight back to work would have been more than stressful; it would have been completely unrealistic.

        Is that a pink/blue brain thing? I don’t know if Adam would struggle in the same way – I suspect not.

        • The Postie
          Posted March 10, 2017 at 9:04 pm | Permalink

          Now ovbvioisly having not had a child I can’t understand the hormonal thing so this is fascinating. Really interesting to think about that. Ultimately we are the only ones that can produce life which is both a power and a limitation I suppose – it’s society’s interpretation of that that’s the issue I think. This has really got me thinking. And that news about North Yorkshire has MADE MY DAY.

  11. Laura
    Posted March 10, 2017 at 5:55 pm | Permalink

    Also, has anyone been watching the OJ Simpson documentary? I’m OBSESSED. But relevant in that the OJ’s celebrity status and sporting reputation meant that what was a clearcut domestic violence case which ultimately ended in murder was actually treated as something very different. And the race dimension/context is so, so interesting. And, race aside, it reminded me of that awful Stanford swimmer case – oh, so you’re good at sport? Let’s overlook your hideous acts! The letter from his victim was the most affecting thing I’ve read in the last year.

    • The Postie
      Posted March 10, 2017 at 6:35 pm | Permalink

      No but I watched the dramatisation and cried the biggest, ugliest tears at the end even though I already knew what it was. I agree the swimmer case is te same, and any number of footballers!

  12. Laura
    Posted March 10, 2017 at 6:01 pm | Permalink

    Or read that Jess Phillips book?

    • The Postie
      Posted March 10, 2017 at 6:42 pm | Permalink

      Not yet but it’s on the list.

  13. Penny
    Posted March 10, 2017 at 8:36 pm | Permalink

    Toot toot hooray for challenging and fascinating chat in the comments in AOW again! I hold my hands up and say that feminism is not something I really identified with until fairly recently. I clearly still have a lot to learn.

    This post has made me wonder what tribe I’ve been dallying with… mummy bloggers make me vom and I deleted Twitter to avoid peripheral work crap while I was on mat leave, so opted out of a lot of political chat and cat memes. If there’s a “loitering on FB selling groups and hammering the shit out of papal” tribe I suspect that’s mine. Am quite looking forward to a bit of brain stretching with AOW!

    Px

  14. Raluca
    Posted March 11, 2017 at 11:04 am | Permalink

    I just need to comment again. Thank you for the explanations and food for thought, it’s a lot to think about.
    And may I just say, I have no idea who the postie is, but there are two things she’s said that I love to bits. First of all, the “not living in an echo chamber” idea, then “It would be boring if we were all the same”. Those are two extremely important things, especially with all the politics debates and “sides” and everything. It’s so important to have tolerance and accept debate and opinions that are different than our own.

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