When The Times published my article last month on how feminism’s silence over the past decade has ushered in a grim, sexualised culture, I was astonished by the response. Hundreds of women — and some men — commented on the website, many more e-mailed me directly. The message overwhelmingly was: thank God, someone is saying this — I thought I was alone.
Get that? Don’t Blame the Patriarchy; it’s feminism’s silence which is responsible for the grim, sexualised culture. Leave the patriarchy out of it; what did feminism expect, going out dressed like that? It didn’t scream or try to run away!
It’s just that I’ve had it up to here with the “feminists have been silent about…” trope that springs up everywhere in the media both on line and off.
As far as daily life goes, in her anecdote about the newspaper editor, she illustrates beautifully the “not ruining the entire afternoon” and “not wanting to be the strident joy-killer” pressures that weigh on women and girls who are already conditioned to be nice and nonconfrontational. As well as the forces of “get over it” and “sense of humour” and “overreacting”, there’s the Concern Troll which sometimes appears when we do bring the topic of everyday sexism: Why are you blogging/writing talking about this trivia which is only the concern of rich, western white women? Why are you Silent about [insert preferred topic here]. As many of us don’t want to be entitled whingers, that shuts us up, too. It would be nice if Turner could have paid some attention to the pressures that silence us.
Turning to the writing thing, for one, most of us – unlike Turner – don’t have a platform in the mainstream media. Indeed, you don’t go out and force yourself into the mainstream media as an opinion writer; you get invited in, so how she could judge us as silent or not in the days before blogging is a mystery. It’s also a mystery why she should blame feminist “silence” instead of the much more likely assumption that the mainstream doesn’t like us and that a male dominated media company and editorial staff are likely to reflect that dislike. Most importantly, she demonstrates a lack of knowledge or disregard of just what has been going on in the online world for the last decade.
Turner could educate herself a little as to just how silent feminists have been by going through the archives at Feministe, Shakesville and its predecessor Shakespeare’s Sister, Pandagon, Feministing, The F word, I Blame the Patriarchy, Hoyden about Town and of course I could go on (and on and on), but you get the idea.
I notice that Turner herself is silent about the fact that (1) the editors have relegated her article about a gender issue to the Life and Style section, again, and (2) her job of convincing any sceptical reader is massively reduced by having pictures like the one above on advertising links in the sidebar. (Power dressing? You have to be joking. Isn’t it hard enough for women to be taken seriously in positions of power without dressing up in ridiculous space outfits with little black bunny ears? Fuck off.)
But fear not, because, having discovered sexism in late 2009, she will now Save Feminism:
Feminism — or whatever you want to call it — is back, and we’re not going to take it any more.
Corr! Powerful stuff, Janice. Thing is, it hadn’t gone away. She just wasn’t paying attention. And that’s not a crime, but it makes her look silly when she plays the “Silence of the Feminists” card.