Julie Bindel article - is feminism getting toxic?(22 Posts)
Pettiness has poisoned public debate over the last five years or so. It's rare to see someone engage with their opponent's debating points - the most common tactic is to divert and distract, and use jargon like Godwin or whataboutery or deliver an irrelevant treatise on ancient Greek rhetoric.
What Julie Bindel is talking about is simply an extension of that culture. She's right, but it's not really about feminism, it's just the crapness of modern life and the Internet.
I normally really like Julie Bindell but I completely disagree with her on this. To me, a lot of the cases she cites are causes for celebration, that we as women have a voice, can create and sign online petitions and effect change in a way we couldn't before the internet. Maybe it is easier to target individuals rather than structures or institutions but so what? It's getting the message out that these acts are not ok. How the hell do you challenge institutional misogyny anyway? Damned if I know. Her article is like something you'd read in the Daily Mail tbh. What does she want us to do? There's such a tsunami of misogyny at the moment it feels like a war we are having to fight on so many fronts. FGM, honour killings, rape, violent degrading pornography, the economic impact on women of the cuts etc etc. No political parties speaking out on behalf of women, it's not surprising that it's easier to target individuals.
I really don't know what the answer is.
I sense a certain peevishness among traditional media folk about the success of online campaigns and the grassroots voices that can emerge. Most of the things she mentions are really just lots of voices being heard at once. Instead of us all sitting at home shouting at the tv we can sign an online petition or tweet about something. It's hardly detracting energies from other issues but it is an expression of widely held views.
I also think this can be an effective way to attack institutional sexism. The FA, for example, couldn't really give a fuck about institutional sexism. Focussing on particular concerns can be a way to send a message about the broader problem and maybe make people actually listen and change.
This blog (which I happened to read seconds before reading this thread) pretty much sums up my view on the subject. Oh, and that we pretty wimminz is actually capable of caring about and campaigning for/against more than one thing at a time.
Love that blog! Especially this bit...
"So yeah, it’s just a shirt.
And it’s just an ad.
It’s just a saying.
It’s just a TV show.
It’s just the Internet.
Yes, but you almost make as much as a man does.
It’s just a catcall.
It’s a compliment!
It’s just that boys will be boys.
It’s just that she’s a slut.
It’s just that your dress is too short.
It’s just that we want to know what you were wearing at the time, ma’am.
It’s just it’s just it’s just.
It’s just a death by a thousand cuts. No one cut does the deed. In the end, they all do."
I think she's underestimating the effect of what I would call the single example.
For example if you were a smoker who really wanted to give up, which is likely to have the most impact - reading that 110,000 people a year in Britain die from smoking or seeing a cancer patient coughing their lungs up in a hospice bed?
Similarly, seeing the body of a car crash victim who didn't wear a seat belt can be more effective than reading that seat belts have avoided X deaths a year.
Institutions are like big statistics - difficult to identify with. The impact on the individual of performing a misogynist act, whether it's a horrible one carried out by Ched Evans or a thoughtless one such as the scientist's shirt has the power to make people think about the bigger picture.
Feminism needs both - the calling out of individuals and the campaigning against for changes in the law etc. It's building the wall brick by brick. They are not mutuality exclusive.
I think this is true to a large extent - there is more focus on seemingly petty issues. But it isn't all crap. People who wouldn't have sought out different ideas 20 years ago are now being exposed to them through the small campaigns and through imternet activism, and possibly having their horizons broadened. More marginalised groups have more of a voice now too.
Yes, that's true. I wasn't being entirely serious about modern life being rubbish, or at least I didn't mean to suggest that all of it was.
Totally agree. All the small things every day contribute to the big ones. Love the quote from the blog, awholelotta, it says it all.
Just look at the Everyday Sexism website. You could look at one example and say it's an isolated incident. But the cumulative affect of so many stories creates something very powerful and much harder to dismiss.
I do disagree with her. Eg, while on the surface, it's about Ched Evans, it's really not - it's a protest against misogyny in football and against Sheffield United's management.
I do think there's a massive groundswell though - feminism is becoming very powerful.
Personally, I like Julie Bindel as a rule but I think reading the comments under that specific article demonstrate why she's wrong on this one.
I was really surprised by this article.
I really look forward to her articles normally and nod along but I just totally disagree with her in this case. I also think the 'feminism going wrong / feminists turning against each other' is far too common an article at the moment and another way to discredit us.
Eh? Would she rather Ched Evans was allowed back into football, Dapper Laughs got a second season, the rapey pick-up artist's seminars were a well-attended success and Matt Taylor's shirt became a uniform for scientists?
I've been pretty heartened by these stories coming in such a short space of time, and it is good for young girls to see them in the media too. Public opinion turning against public displays of sexism isn't a small win!
I disagree with her entirely. I think she draws a distinction without a difference when it comes to 'big' and 'small' things.
I also think that we have won so many huge institutional battles. Equality in law. And it hasn't yielded substantive equality. That needs to be interrogated, but my instinct is that the battle is won and lost in the culture tbh.
Agree too with pp that I'm sick of feminism self cannibalising so bloody much at the moment. Nobody cares. Just get the fuck on with calling out the endless swirl of misogynistic shite that we live amidst.
Feminism's always been considered toxic. It's hardly had a great image with those who profess not to be feminists.
We shouldn't even worry about that.
These recent cases have been challenging widespread sexist ideas on a mass level.
Her piece is more ammunition for detractors of feminism.
I just skimmed it after getting annoyed in the first paragraph.
My considered response is sod that.
I am totally capable of being upset both about DP leaving his socks in the living room, and the fact that women as a class don't earn as much as men.
Like raising kids, saving money, eating healthily etc. in my experience you need to take care of the little stuff, and the bigger stuff starts to follow on behind.
If you neglect the little stuff then you turn around and discover that whilst you've been diligently putting 10% of your salary into savings each month, you've also been happily spending 25 quid a week on totally unnecessary coffees.
I think there is an increasing recognition that oppression of women stems not just from a lack of appropriate legislature or the presence of inappropriate one, but from the fact that it's totally ingrained in our culture. Sexism is part of how we think, feel and breath. In these circumstances, each and every one of us needs to reflect. Normality needs to be challenged. And this is precisely what is happening.
The flip side, of course, if the increasing discipline and policing, often self-discipline and self-policing. Freedom is never really freedom. If you want to have the freedom not to be fleeced on the financial markets, you have to put up with the slavery of filling out forms to ensure transparency of operations. At least this is how it works in our world today.
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