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Megan Murphy speaks out in new article

(32 Posts)
kesstrel Wed 13-May-20 09:43:59

A quote from the article:

For a long time, I thought there were two different movements: the third wave — the mainstream faux-feminists who fought not for women, but for the Instagrammable, superficial status quo; and the real, radical, grassroots women’s movement, fighting against actual oppression and violence, fighting for real women’s lives. I still think this is true to a certain extent. The women I know and work with in the real world are doing just that. But I now think there is a third faction: the internet feminists. The ones who profess radical politics, while refusing to go public, who refuse to speak out under their own names and faces, whose feminism only exists on social media, and who guard feminism from outsiders. It is a “feminism” that speaks about women’s lives, but fails to understand women’s lives. It supports diversity in concept, but not in practice. It is puritanical, judgemental, and not only ineffective, but destructive. It offers the illusion of action, minus the action. It tricks the individual into believing she is working at something — that she is part of an (in)group and community that is doing something important. But what is accomplished, most often, is a never ending series of internet wars and drawing of lines: good/bad, right/wrong, black/white. The world is grey. Women are nuanced. We are human. If I cannot be nuanced, honest, and human, I do not want this movement. Does this movement want me? Or does it want an illusion of perfection?

www.feministcurrent.com/2020/05/12/heterodox-women-feminism-needs-independent-thinkers-or-we-lose/

OP’s posts: |
Z0rr0 Wed 13-May-20 14:37:44

Interesting.
I think she is sort of right but also I think in the current climate it can be difficult to speak out under one's own name when people who don't like your opinion have no qualms in alerting your employers to that fact.
Some internet feminists might be doing more outside the online space but not feeling confident to go public on that.
A lot of online feminism can seem judgey and destructive if it only amounts to arguing, but to say that's all they're doing is a bit judgey in itself!

Goosefoot Wed 13-May-20 15:10:16

This is an interesting article and I think it touches on some real insights.

I'm not sure about her connecting what she is talking about so strongly to what she is calling anonymous internet activism. There has been a tendency to this kind of policing within feminism since before there was the internet. Murphy is relatively young and maybe that was before her time?

But I also would not have said there was a particularly strong correlation between these people policing others and having issues with independent thought and the anonymous and people she seems to be thinking of.

Goosefoot Wed 13-May-20 15:12:40

I'd also point out that in many cases people who are anonymous on the internet may well be active in some way in women's rights (or other areas?) in "real life". Typically named internet activists are either more high profile or in the media. Plenty of grassroots activists have no reason to have their name spread all over the world.

Cascade220 Wed 13-May-20 15:28:14

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

ThinEndoftheWedge Wed 13-May-20 18:50:47

"I'd also point out that in many cases people who are anonymous on the internet may well be active in some way in women's rights (or other areas?)."

Agreed - as someone said in another thread- writing the county council/MP - responding to consultations, questioning your school’s policies, making formal complaints about lack of single sex toilet provision, reminding people about biological reality in everyday conversations - it all helps. Foot soldiers are vital.

Public activism is particularly difficult when you work in a regulated industry that should know better - but has drunk the koolaid.

Floisme Wed 13-May-20 19:29:10

The salient point for me was not so much about anonymity but about the 'battle for political purity'

Goosefoot Wed 13-May-20 20:42:32

There seemed to be, maybe, three themes?

Anonymity/authenticity
Political purity
Independent thinking/representation

She related them and I think the latter two in particular are closely related, but I think they could all stand to be teased apart a little bit more than what they were in the article.

quixote9 Wed 13-May-20 23:23:45

I have no end of admiration for Murphy's courage and clarity of vision. She's had lifechanging levels of threat and harassment dumped on her for it.

Maybe this is partly in reaction to that?

Obviously, women for their own mental health have to be anonymous. We don't get one jot of the respect anti-racists do. The anonymity can be essential for personal physical safety, for God's sake. We don't live in a world where women can fight for themselves without risking the loss of their entire normal life. You really can't demand that. You can only volunteer, and major props to Murphy for doing so.

But that anonymity is what the trolls and purity police attacking her hide behind, so I know what she's talking about. I wish she'd made the distinctions clearer.

Gncq Wed 13-May-20 23:44:28

The world is grey. Women are nuanced. We are human. If I cannot be nuanced, honest, and human, I do not want this movement. Does this movement want me? Or does it want an illusion of perfection?

You won't find two feminists in a room of feminists who actually agree what feminism is, in all given contexts.

Women are nuanced, diverse, imperfect, human.
That's exactly why feminism is nuanced, diverse, imperfect and human.

In-Fighting is counter productive, you get feminists accusing other feminists of being "white feminists" all the time like it's a terrible thing.
You get feminists accusing feminists of being anti-sex work like it's terrible thing, anti-this that and the other, but basically, without all these differences you wouldn't get any discussion at all.

Internet debates are polarised by default, they inevitably end in a long thread of slurs insults and defense between anons.

If it's too hard dealing with online "feminism" just step back.

Meghan Murphy has suffered a horrific amount of abuse, and it does hurt more when it's coming from other feminists, or self declared feminists, but at the end of the day it's a hard life.

TehBewilderness Thu 14-May-20 02:52:48

I have no patience for professional feminists shaming women for not using our legal name on the internet. Murphy isn't the first professional feminist to do this.
I use my legal name on twitter and other sites because I have nothing to lose. My friend who operates a women's shelter would be risking everything if she used her legal name in internet discussions of violence against women.
Given the amount of harassment Murphy has experienced I am appalled that she has no respect for the women doing their Feminist work on the streets and not in the ether.

Floisme Thu 14-May-20 08:02:41

There seemed to be, maybe, three themes?
Anonymity/authenticity
Political purity
Independent thinking/representation

I'd agree with that. But the fact that we're speculating over what or whom she's talking about suggests to me that she's missed the mark.
Some of what she wrote really struck a chord with me but, if she was hoping to bang some heads together, then she needed to be more direct.

LumpySpacedPrincess Thu 14-May-20 12:15:42

She is entitled to her opinion but I'm disappointed by it.

Sick of women being criticised for being anonymous on social media.

Some of us have abusive exes, some of us are going through this with our sons and daughters and openly criticising trans issues would drive a further wedge into tattered relationships.

Most of us are active in real life. We support with time, effort and money.

I still admire her and never expect feminism to be full of women I agree with. At least when we disagree we can discuss, robustly, but without blocking and ignoring.

Prawnofthepatriarchy Thu 14-May-20 12:39:39

Given the amount of harassment Murphy has experienced I am appalled that she has no respect for the women doing their Feminist work on the streets and not in the ether.

^^ This. I am part of a feminist group which meets once a month and WhatsApps all the time. Several of our members could face real world consequences if their names were made public.

I'm on Twitter using the same name as I do here. I've thought of creating another account under my real name precisely because no one can damage my career or expose me to friends/family. I'm disabled - will never work again - and my friends/family all know and support my views.

But I've shared a lot of personal stuff here. I wouldn't want to link Prawn to my real name. It would rip away the privacy of the family members I've talked about here over many years.

LouHotel Thu 14-May-20 12:50:00

I think its misjudged to essentially put internet feminist in a third column as how I read it is we're not real feminist when actually I've begun to shed my 'radical' feminism anonymity slowly in real life.

I now have conversations in my social bubbles that i know i will be questioned but not shouted down, I've had conversations with women ive worked with and questioned HR on certain procedures but slowly slowly, however Its taken over a year for me to be comfortable in my understanding to do this.

Goosefoot Thu 14-May-20 14:44:29

*I'd agree with that. But the fact that we're speculating over what or whom she's talking about suggests to me that she's missed the mark.
Some of what she wrote really struck a chord with me but, if she was hoping to bang some heads together, then she needed to be more direct.*

I can understand that she might have wanted to talk about principles rather than call out individuals. In fact I think the latter is not helpful in the vast majority of cases.

I would say that I am unsure a little about what she is getting at, though. The part about allowing for different ideas and discussion, avoiding the repetition of words or phrases like a dogma, and also that all women are invited as part of the discussion, resonated with me. It's always botherd me that certain groups, like conservative women, are completely ignored or even reviled, at the same time as feminists claim to speak on behalf of women.

But I don't know that I see that as connected to anonymity, or quite how she sees that it is. I don't see big-name feminists as more accepting or more willing to engage than anyone else.

Floisme Fri 15-May-20 08:25:12

Yeah you're right about not calling out individuals, but she's also vague about behaviour. Her writing is normally so clear but this is full of sound bites: women are human, politics are for people, it's time to be honest. (I may be paraphrasing as I've not copied n' pasted but it's not far off.) At one point she even says, 'this may sound vague.' Well yes Meghan, it does.

I don't see the connection to anonymity either.

Imnobody4 Fri 15-May-20 10:47:40

To be clear, I support those doing anonymous work. We do not all need to be on a soapbox. What I do not support is those who remain anonymous — who limit their “feminism” to private Facebook groups or anonymous Twitter accounts, and have the gall to attack and police other women in this movement — to engage in mob-style take downs and bullying. You can contribute or you can sit down.

What I am seeing in internet feminism is the opposite: silencing, a deep hatred of independent thinkers, and the discouraging of critical thought. I see demands that women take up mantras, jargon, and positions they do not support, lest they be ousted. I see women who try to organize and take action shot down and attacked, because they have failed at perfection, as defined by someone else. I see public women being bullied and torn to shreds by anonymous accounts, and from within online groups. I see malicious gossip and witch hunts. I see women demanding purity under threat of ostracization. I see phonies, who virtue signal and tut tut, while declining to put themselves out there to be subjected to the same scrutiny the very women they scrutinize and trash are.

I think what she's talking about is the vicious bullying of some feminists on line. Kathleen Stock has been a victim so has Posie Parker. There have been traces of it on here but nothing like as bad as on line.
Anonymity in this case is just cowardice. Don't think she's having a go at all anons just those who attack others.

insideandout3 Fri 15-May-20 17:45:43

"But the fact that we're speculating over what or whom she's talking about suggests to me that she's missed the mark."

It's the same fallout avoidance by way of anonymity she's complaining about reversed in her favor, not a noble refusal to name names as it's being spun.

Functionally, she's hiding behind the anonymous names of the feminists she's criticizing because the consequences of being direct will be negative and stressful to deal with.

Floisme Fri 15-May-20 17:59:43

Yes that's a good point. It seems unlike her though to be so indirect.

Coyoacan Fri 15-May-20 19:30:15

I think what she's talking about is the vicious bullying of some feminists on line. Kathleen Stock has been a victim so has Posie Parker

It sounds like it, except that in Posie Parker's case, it was named feminists who stuck the knife in.

I'm anonymous because I've always been anonymous online and really if I were to use my real name nobody would be any the wiser. At the same time, I am not a purist and generally have no interest in attacking other feminists.

A lot of the women who use their real names on twitter, including Meghan Murphy, are journalists who promote their writing through social media. That doesn't make it bad just not necessarily as brave as some would have us believe.

TehBewilderness Sat 16-May-20 01:12:36

Murphy lost some cash supporters when she went on a similar rant about women not using their legal name on Spinster. Doubling down seems a fools gambit.

quixote9 Sat 16-May-20 10:06:37

This: "Don't think she's having a go at all anons just those who attack others."

Nothing wrong with anonymity when it helps the weak against the strong, whatever the power imbalance might be in a specific case. But there's plenty wrong with it when it's even a very minor cousin to a KKK hood.

besomandbletherskite Sat 16-May-20 16:01:58

I was trying to make sense of the article under discussion for some time. It was vague, garbled and repetitive and not up to her usual standard, and I couldn't quite believe she was STILL going on and on and on about anonymity. But if this is the case then FFS I wish she would just give it up. She repeatedly attacked women who must stay anonymous last year, used Magdalen Bern's death as an excuse to do so, quoting her as though that sealed the deal. Murphy went on at great length on Twitter (one of her back up accounts), Spinster and Facebook trying to defend an absolutely indefensible stance and was pulled apart repeatedly. She became irate, even childish in her behaviour. I recall she gave one Twitter account a hard time for liking a tweet that annoyed her, and at one point she stomped off of Spinster. Not sure if she ever returned.

Murphy took to acting surprised when women whom she had attacked unexpectedly and for absolutely no reason defended themselves. I think she is not used to such robust disapproval and can't cope with the idea that in this instance she is completely and utterly wrong, so she's still trying to find some way to justify the harm she did. She's done a huge amount for feminism, no doubt about that, and has behaved bravely many times over. But regardless of what she feels she should do, she absolutely must not and cannot tell women who must remain anonymous to give that up on her say so.

Is she going to be responsible for someone if they are killed or hurt because they followed her ill advised demands? Or if they lose their job? A woman with no children and a job which relies on and thrives on publicity hasn't the first idea what other women must do to stay safe, keep their families safe and keep their jobs. And she has absolutely zero idea what anonymous online women do in their real lives anyway. If this is still her stance she is being incredibly disrespectful, privileged (yes I am tired of that word but it is indeed clueless privilege she is displaying) and utterly illogical.

Doubling down on haranguing and abusing women who must stay anonymous to live safely is frankly bizarre. Her argument seems to be that if she chooses to put herself in harm's way everyone else must do the same because she says so. Additionally she is dismissing all women telling her they simply cannot do this as liars. After having this stance firmly decimated last year, she is showing a startling lack of insight and understanding. It is not logical to call women cowards (and yes she did say that last year) for protecting themselves, particularly when you haven't the faintest idea what they do in real life. If this is still her stance it indicates a truly immature inability to apply logic to the issue and accept reality. Everyone gets it wrong from time to time. She has it badly wrong this time. It's time she just let it go.

Eloi2020 Sat 16-May-20 16:47:27

Not used to such robust disapproval from women/feminists, should have read.

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