Some Thoughts On #twittersilence
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I recognize the power of silence as a tool of protest; although I suspect that much of its power is based on physical presence or other means of making palpable what’s absent in ways that are difficult to recreate on a platform like Twitter.
I also recognize the stark and critical difference between being silenced and choosing to be silent.
I do not condemn anyone who participates in #twittersilence. I celebrate you for taking action.
I stand in solidarity with #twittersilence.
But I am not going to be part of it.
I don’t want to be silent.
Not in a context defined by peers harassed and threatened and chased away from speaking their truths.
I don’t want to be silent; or, rather, when I am silent, I want my silence to be in juxtaposition to something other than attempts to silence me and people like me.
Not when men accuse a panel of female actresses who spend an hour discussing their experiences and goals of “talking too much.”
Not when threats of violence are considered an acceptable way to express dissent.
Not when calls for civility are met with charges of censorship.
Not when I go to work every day in industries where women are already by and large invisible or made invisible or misgendered or stripped of their credit or assumed to have gotten where they are on the coattails of their male partners.
Not when harassment and outright assault are dismissed with a wink and a slap on the wrist, until victims stop seeing any point to calling out wrongs.
Not when standards are determined by people upon whose lives and experiences they will have no impact.
I’m tired of silence.
I’m choking on silence.
I’m suffocating in a vacuum of voices driven away, exhausted pushing against the hostile tide. Of the women who left. Of the women who took a look around and decided not even to try. Of women who shouted out and grew hoarse yelling from the margins while movements and blocs surged on, oblivious to a multitude of intersections.
I’m tired of speaking up feeling like an obligation, because there are things that otherwise will not be said, or will not be heard. I’m tired of watching every word because we are so few of that every sentence stands for something larger.
I’m tired of a world where the only options are fighting for every foothold and standing still.
There’s an Emma Goldman quote I love deeply, likely the source of the apocryphal line about dancing and revolutions: "I want freedom, the right to self-expression, everybody’s right to beautiful, radiant things."
Silence is the breeding ground of injustice. It prevents us from organizing, from finding solidarity in shared experiences. It keeps us isolated, trapped in miserable orbit of forces larger than we.
I am sick with silence. We are all sick with silence.
I remember watching #1reasonwhy build momentum; months later, I’m still watching its ripples spread. It gave collective voice to decades of frustration and replaced isolation and marginalization with connection and collective action. It was not the positive activism of #1reasonmentors and #1reasontobe—but it laid the foundation from which they were able to rise.
If we want change, we need the power and platform to say that the status quo is wrong.
I stand in solidarity with #twittersilence.
But if you’re looking for me this weekend, you can find me in #twitternoise.
This articulates my thoughts on #twittersilence really well, and why it’s really important that women and other marginalized groups continue to not be silent in the face of people trying to get us to shut up.
Agreed, this is why I will not bloody well be silent. Although I amend some of its sentiment. I can’t, in all honesty, stand in solidarity with everyone involved in #twittersilence. A great many of the women who are doing it because they want to make a statement and draw media attention? Sure. But I saw Caitlin Moran’s tweets when it was first proposed. She didn’t just want to protest harrassment, she wanted all the ‘nice’ people to leave Twitter. She condemned anyone who stayed. She’s also pretty anti-trans and has said some truly shocking things in her time.
I also object to her attempts to claim leadership for modern feminism. She doesn’t stand for me. Her feminism is one that denies me my lack of ‘natural’ femininity. This is not the first time she has advocated protest by passivity. I have heard her argue in interviews that women should ‘leave Have I Got News For You’ to the men, because she finds it too competitive, and therefore thinks it is not naturally suited to women. I‘ve written before on how I think it’s wrong to blame the nature of women as ‘unsuitable’ or ‘uncompetitive’ for gender disparity on panel shows. I don’t blame Caitlin Moran for not wanting to go on a show that makes her uncomfortable. What I object to is her saying that all women are like her and women are inherently unable to deal with that environment. Tell that to the women, like Victoria Coren, who school Ian et al on their sexism and still get invited back.
I do not think that passive protest is inherently bad. What I dislike is Caitlin Moran advocating passive protest as the only appropriate way for women to protest. I also dislike that many of the people who she thinks of as ‘not nice’ are the women who won’t sit down and shut up and passively protest the patriarchy in a ladylike fashion. Women like Stavvers. Whilst I’m quite glad I’ve never been on the other end of Stavvers’s ire, that doesn’t mean her ire is invalid. In fact, I wish I had the mental energy to be as bolshy as she is in the name of her cause. Somehow there seems to have been a generation of women I missed by only about five years that were less ground down by the patriarchy. I used to be angry and vocal like that, but the lack of support from anyone around me eventually drove me into passivity. But women like Stavvers did not. And I think that’s down to the Internet. The Internet being there and waiting for them when they hit teenage years, whereas it was really in its infancy when I hit mine. They hit the Internet and social media and found the support for feminist issues that was lacking for me. They connected with other issues and got angry about them too and built solidarity together. The idea of women withdrawing from social media partially in the name of silencing these women is abhorent to me.
So, if you’re taking part in #twittersilence and you’re not about silencing women or supporting Caitlin Moran, then yeah, I can be in solidaity with you. But I will not be part of a feminist movement that wants to silence these women for not being passive enough. I have already had that kind of energy beaten out of me. I will not be a part of perpetuating the silence.
Reblogging for the additional great commentary on some of the problematic elements behind #twittersilence and people who think ALL women should participate or they are being bad.
(Also, I didn’t know Caitlin Moran was one of the people behind this. Ugh. >_< )