Mumsnet Logo
My feed

to access all these features

Feminism: chat

Dear Feminists: Be Meaner

260 replies

NonnyMouse1337 · 27/03/2021 11:37

Fantastic article that reflects views I've had for a long time. Always wished women would learn how to be more 'mean' and willing to centre women and women's rights instead of looking out for everyone else. We really won't get far unless this changes. Glad to see someone else articulate this so well.

OP posts:

EmbarrassingAdmissions · 27/03/2021 11:42




Helleofabore · 27/03/2021 11:53

I realized what I was doing to my daughter by teaching her to ‘be kind’ when she was getting bullied by those I was defending with being kind.

Now it is ‘it’s ok to stand up for yourself, just don’t become a bully in return’. It’s ‘you should be kind where kindness is needed, but be firm about your boundaries. You are allowed to have your boundaries respected’.

It’s ‘if you think it is hypocritical, point it out.’ It’s ‘apply critical thinking first and foremost. If someone needs you to believe something that is not true or seems too good to be true, look further. Find out more!’

‘Be kind’ is banished from our place now. Kindness where needed is not though.


Helleofabore · 27/03/2021 11:54

And thanks for the link Nonny. Some good posts there. I shall have a read .


flyingfoxkins · 27/03/2021 11:57

I get this and I am beginning to hate the "be kind" mantra and there seems to be far too much telling women to shut up in case they upset people. But I guess I would replace "be mean" with "be assertive", though no doubt the writer is using "mean" to make a stronger case. So yes, stand up for ourselves and dont spend our lives worrying about what others might think. Be kind to those who deserve your kindness.


Weirdfan · 27/03/2021 11:59

I wonder who the rad fem on Twitter is?


Gerla · 27/03/2021 12:01

Thanks! Interesting article. It is only recently that I have realised how much my mother influenced me to be kind and not stand up for myself. (And I am sure she meant well but...) I don't want to pass that on to my daughter.


EmbarrassingAdmissions · 27/03/2021 12:02

My best guesses would be Twisty ( I Blame the Patriarchy ) or Kate Harding tho' the latter is strong worded rather than mean. There's a good chance I'm wrong.


AlwaysTawnyOwl · 27/03/2021 12:03

I love it. I said 'I don't care what X thinks' on twitter the other day. They were quite discombobulated - what, you mean you DON'T CARE what X says? Nope I don't. It was absolutely liberating.


Weirdfan · 27/03/2021 12:21

Thanks EmbarrassingAdmissions, will go and have a look. Been resisting joining Twitter but think it might be time to bite the bullet, I need ranty rad fem voices in my life more than ever right now. Interesting chat with DD (12) off the back of the article, she's just said she already sees herself as a 'people pleaser' so I have much work to do and need all the help I can get.


MichelleofzeResistance · 27/03/2021 12:21

Wow. That's one I've bookmarked, very well expressed.

People think radical feminists are mean for not being nice all the time. I think that’s remarkably revealing of how women are expected to be the equivalent of a customer service rep to everyone, all the time. “Sorry to hear that sir, how can I make it better for you today?”

So true. And I have that button to be hit. Someone pops in and says but are you excluding/speaking over/alienating BAME women or working class women or this group or that group and it does for a few minutes succeed in making me automatically shift to customer service oh gosh, how can I help you mode. Instead of saying right now, I'm speaking for myself about this. And no, I'm not going to be tipped into examining my customer service quality and thereby successfully have been hushed a bit and made to back off from standing up for women: I'm not going to be quieter and less strong in this. Which is essentially why you're trying to push that button on me.


ChattyLion · 27/03/2021 12:21

I only skimmed it but I like her style.
‘Be Kind’ is insidious. Especially for kids it’s a terrible message for safeguarding. It’s also specifically a burden placed on (natal) womanhood. Just another a sexist expectation there on the list. Shut up Women.

Better to say: Everyone’s important and so are you. Be clear about your boundaries, we all have them and that’s fine. Be yourself. Listen but tell the truth. There’s no right not to be offended. Everyone’s entitled to their own opinions but not to their own facts. Smile Rise Up Women! Smile


ArabellaScott · 27/03/2021 12:33

Thanks, OP.

I think the trouble is we have been pushed so far into doormat territory that we need 'be mean' just to revert to 'normal human boundaries'.

'Be blunt, say what’s on your mind, don’t hesitate, put yourself first. Don’t be afraid of being seen as rude, opinionated, angry, mean. Be honest about your emotions, especially anger. '

  • none of this is 'mean', is it? It's just 'interacting in a healthy manner'.

flyingfoxkins · 27/03/2021 12:47

Better to say: Everyones important and so are you. Be clear about your boundaries. Be Yourself. Listen but tell the truth. Theres no right not to be offended. Everyones entitled to their own opinions but not their own facts.


ArabellaScott · 27/03/2021 12:57

Yeah, that's a great article.

I always found radfems terrifying, and for that reason, didn't investigate, visit the Glasgow Women's Library, never read Dworkin, etc. And thus missed out on a tonne of what may have been incredibly useful ideas, especially to my younger self, who was so confused and spent so much time lost in postmodernist libfemmy flim flam.

(These days, GWL is run by incredibly nice kind and sweet libfems and ... I still don't feel welcome. Hey ho.)


Deliriumoftheendless · 27/03/2021 13:07

I don’t necessarily believe in being kind but I believe in being fair.

Fairness can result in kindness, but kindness isn’t always being fair. I don’t have anything profound to say I just believe in fairness over nice or kind. Even when it means I don’t get what I want.


malloo · 27/03/2021 13:15

Yes, absolutely. I think this is where I'm getting to. It's ok to speak up, to be angry and if people don't like it, and as a result don't like me, then maybe that doesn't matter - gasp! Female socialisation is so ingrained, its hard to challenge but I think we must.


Truthlikeness · 27/03/2021 13:18

This pretty much describes where I've got to in my feminism and life in general. I couldn't give a rats ass about men. They're welcome to fight their own battles; we've got too much work to do over here.

I work with a lot of woman, many of them younger and kinder than me and increasingly I engage them in ways to consider the hidden patriarchy. 'Service human' is an eye-opening concept for women who haven't critically considered it before.


daenerysterfgaryen · 27/03/2021 17:39

hello, i am the person spoken about in the post. i am not gunna post my twitter handle here, bc there are lurking creepers on this site.


daenerysterfgaryen · 27/03/2021 20:13

[quote EmbarrassingAdmissions]My best guesses would be Twisty ( I Blame the Patriarchy ) or Kate Harding tho' the latter is strong worded rather than mean. There's a good chance I'm wrong.[/quote]
you are wrong, it is me.


ForeverFaithless · 27/03/2021 20:15


Beamur · 27/03/2021 20:22

I think I have developed my mean streak over the years!
Delirium completely agree. I've always encouraged my DD to be assertive, have strong boundaries and not people please. She's ace!
The urge to be agreeable and conciliatory is strong though and I do have to check myself quite often to keep 'mean' Wink


Nonmaquillee · 27/03/2021 20:24

Totally brilliant article, thank you for posting it.
I've long hated "be kind".


ArabellaScott · 27/03/2021 21:08


hello, i am the person spoken about in the post. i am not gunna post my twitter handle here, bc there are lurking creepers on this site.

You don't seem that sweary. Smile Would you like a cup of tea?

toomanytrees · 27/03/2021 21:11

Where did "be kind" come from? Using google NGram viewer the usage really escalated in the 1990's. I was a child in the 1950s and don't remember this at all. We (both girls and boys) were taught to be polite and to respect our elders. Being polite is not the same as being kind. Respect could be taken away. I grew up with strong personal boundaries. Re girls vs boys. I think both were taught to be assertive, but it manifested in different ways. Boys more physical, girls more subtle.


ArabellaScott · 27/03/2021 21:16

Being polite is not the same as being kind.

Good point. I think a lot of new age, vaguely spiritual stuff also operates on 'be kind'.

Kindness and compassion is important, and the world could use more of it. Only - probably more the menfolk that need telling, on the whole. When that message is quite literally printed onto the clothes girls are expected to wear, and coupled with all the other uneven messaging they experience about the relative importance, functions and purposes of women's roles, 'be kind' effectively becomes

'collude prettily in your own oppression'

Please create an account

To comment on this thread you need to create a Mumsnet account.

Sign up to continue reading

Mumsnet's better when you're logged in. You can customise your experience and access way more features like messaging, watch and hide threads, voting and much more.

Already signed up?