The Failures of Facebook Feminism

February 20, 2015 — 7 Comments
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“Man spreading”

“The women’s movement may have been in hiding through the ‘ladette’ years, but in 2013 it has come back with a vengeance. Introducing the new feminists taking the struggle to the web,” read the Guardian little more than a year ago.

Intersectional, ‘fourth wave’ feminism has indeed been on the rise in viral form. Feminism is louder, more visible and more unchallenged in the mainstream than ever before – so what have they struggled for, and what have they achieved?

The latest (almost) great victory was the apparent crushing of page three. It is typical of the big feminist issues of the decade. There is a hash-tag, a facebook page, a t-shirt to wear (and be photographed in) and a catchy slogan.

Page Three became a flash point in the culture wars, a lone hangover from another era, a remnant of the lecherous 70s. It was met by the very modern culture of hash tag activism – vanities masquerading as philanthropy on the global stage that is the Internet.

Another popular Internet trolling campaign gathering momentum and celebrity endorsement at exactly the same time is Free-The-Nipple. A campaign to end the ‘discriminatory’ banning on female nips on facebook and instagram, because breasts ‘aren’t sex organs.’

For what it’s worth, I don’t believe the pages of our largest selling national paper to be a suitable place to gawk at tits, but neither then, are the world’s largest photo sharing websites, frequented by children.

Such petty, contradictory, self-defeating ends are becoming common. One-week feminism was complaining about people ‘violating’ women by taking pictures of them eating on the Tube for a comedy facebook page, and the next, they were snapping photos of men sitting in certain positions on transport.

The ‘man spreading’ campaign became another big issue. Apparently, making men sit a little more delicately while gaining some extra bum space for sisters on the bus is a valiant feminist battle worth fighting today.

There’s been a dumbing down, hasn’t there? Fourth wave feminists are inspired by Beyoncé and tales from Jezebel.com and Everyday Sexism.com – rather than the writing of Catharine Mackinnon, Germaine Geer or Emily Pankhurst. You need a good victim story and lots of likes, not bravery and a social conscience, to be a good fourth wave feminist.

There’s so much momentum but so little direction. It’s largely true, that last century the right won the economic argument and the left won the social one. Feminism succeeded magnificently, was venerated, hero worship, and now a new generation of girls online want the badge. Feminism is in vogue, but the hordes of new activists are just floundering. They’re hungry for a target and anything they can call a victory.

Like the gay and civil rights movements, and other great societal shifts, female emancipation has been a process, a dialectical action and reaction – great things have been achieved, and there is much to fight for. But posting about the horrors of FGM, forced marriage and ‘honor’ violence just doesn’t garner likes quite like hounding scientists about their t-shirt or how some guys chose to sit.

Feminists must be brave again and pick battles on principles, not for one-upmanship or maximising retweets. Their support is unbridled, but so little of substance is being achieved. Online, and maybe on balance, Feminism is begging to look petty, somewhat intolerant as a movement.

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7 responses to The Failures of Facebook Feminism

  1. 

    We don’t take tips on feminism from people like Germaine Geer because Germaine Geer has a fucked up viewpoint that includes believing that transgender women aren’t ‘real women’ and are a threat to feminism and female spaces in general.

    It’s a shame that your ego is allowing you to utter the phrase ‘Feminists must’ do anything, because frankly your opinion on what feminists should or shouldn’t do couldn’t be more irrelevant.

    • 
      WhoTheHell_Cares February 21, 2015 at 1:04 am

      ” because frankly your opinion on what feminists should or shouldn’t do couldn’t be more irrelevant.”

      I agree, but then, anything feminists say and do is irrelevant, so your point is moot.

    • 

      Well, that’s just insane to suggest that transgender women ARE real women. I mean, it’s a literal, biological fact that transgender women are NOT real women. I appreciate that in their minds they think they are, but real women are born with vaginas and can usually get pregnant. That’s the basic defining characteristic of a woman (just as the basic defining characteristic of a man is being born with a penis and having the ability to make a woman pregnant).

      There must be some basic standards. Otherwise, words would mean nothing.

  2. 

    Sadly I think everyone is getting a little tired of the professional victimhood of modern day feminists. All they appear to do is harp on about how much of a victim they are and how much they hate men and anything remotely connected to maleness.

    Its a little pathetic, when all you see from them is the same tired and debunked arguments being trotted out, that have been invalid for years.

    Its like watching a pigeon who is suffering from brain damage wonder around in circles or a goldfish swimming around a tank and forgetting everything by the time it gets back to its original position.

    At the end of the day feminism needs to fuck off and die somewhere because its achieving nothing and this is repeatedly demonstrated through Facebook , Twitter, Tumblr and a hole host of other sites. Their hateful and vile existence has run its course and now people are actively walking away from the movement. I suggest everyone does.

    • 

      Well said. Polls have consistently shown that less than 20% of the US population identify (a traditionally feminist stronghold) themselves as feminists. In these polls 8% identify themselves as anti-feminist. That just shows you feminism is on the way out. The sooner the better.

  3. 

    Your ignorance and lack of research astonishes me. This whole article is fucking patronising. Discrediting feminism because of Beyonce is misogynistic and you and your shitty little blog post are the reason we need feminism. Sharing ‘Good victim stories’ shows bravery, and I’m pretty sure there are Fourth Wave Feminists who write long, intelligent essays and books, who also have their on place on facebook/twitter/tumblr. Germaine Greer is a transphobe and first wave feminists like Emily Pankhurst were racist and classist, that’s why we have learnt and moved on from their feminism. You’re implying that women shouldn’t voice what has made them feel uncomfortable, and therefore you are a part of the problem.

  4. 

    @Sarah Moore @HG

    Germaine Greer thinks that being a woman isn’t “a feeling” and that just because men decide they feel “girly” (whatever that means) that they should then try to transform themselves into a bizarre parody of a woman, rather like blackface, with high heels, make up and pneumatic breasts.

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