Twitter, Feminists, (M)Anarchists… and the problem of open discussion [updated]

I’ve seen a lot of posts on Twitter in recent months with a very particular view of identity politics, and on who can speak on particular topics, how and to whom. I haven’t felt comfortable with a lot of what I’ve seen—it seems to me narrow and limiting. Still, it’s a complicated topic, with a difficult history, and I think I understand at least some of the impulses that drive that particular take on identity politics.

But understanding the way an issue is discussed in women’s studies seminars is different from understanding how people see the issue more generally. And so when a particular tweet appeared in my feed, I tried to engage with the topic.

I start by saying that raising the issue may be like putting my finger in a light socket. That was a mistake. (A mistake to put it that way; if anything I underestimated what a shock the experience would be.) I should have been less defensive and more tentative. But in fact the person I tweeted to responded openly, and we were having what seemed to me a cordial and—at least for me—interesting and valuable exchange.

Then other people jumped in, and things turned very sour very quickly…
[I’m NewWorldInOurHearts in this discussion]

Queen Mikayla ‏@mikaylaesthetic 2h
Men: you cannot debate feminism with women, we’re fighting for humanity not discussing if we like crunchy or smooth peanut butter more

NewWorldInOurHearts ‏@annares 2h
@mikaylaesthetic@allshiny I’m going to foolishly stick my finger in this socket. So… No woman cld be wrong about feminism, and no man rt?

NewWorldInOurHearts ‏@annares 2h
@mikaylaesthetic@allshiny We could line up scores of instances of well-known women rejecting feminism. Could a man challenge them?

Queen Mikayla ‏@mikaylaesthetic 2h
Not a mans place to debate feminism. He doesnt experience oppression. Period. @annares@allshiny

Queen Mikayla ‏@mikaylaesthetic 2h
Nope, not his place. @annares@allshiny

NewWorldInOurHearts ‏@annares 2h
@mikaylaesthetic@allshiny Is oppression the key factor, or identity? In other words, can you comment on, say, LGBTQ experience if you are >

NewWorldInOurHearts ‏@annares 2h
@mikaylaesthetic@allshiny > not LGBTQ, but are oppressed as woman, say, or PoC? Or do you have to be LGBTQ to speak to those issues?

Queen Mikayla ‏@mikaylaesthetic 2h
@annares@allshiny Well again, I’m not LGBTQ so that’s not for me to determine. Personally in allyship I don’t like to dominate the spaces

Queen Mikayla ‏@mikaylaesthetic 2h
@annares@allshiny of people who suffer where I benefit. I would try to educate other cis/straight people rather than try to police LGBTQ

Queen Mikayla ‏@mikaylaesthetic 2h
@annares@allshiny people.

NewWorldInOurHearts ‏@annares 2h
@mikaylaesthetic@allshiny And if you are “fighting for HUMANITY” [my emphasis] then surely that concerns men as well…

[wish I hadn’t sent that tweet. i think there’s a real point there—among other things, i don’t think seeing feminism as “fighting for humanity” captures things well, though of course there’s a truth to it. but it is way too close to the way women get challenged by anti-feminist men.]

Queen Mikayla ‏@mikaylaesthetic 2h
@annares@allshiny Men arent denied humanity the way women are.

[allshiny] ‏@allshiny 2h
@annares Just going to point out that you replied to a “don’t debate feminism” tweet with a debate about debating… @mikaylaesthetic

NewWorldInOurHearts ‏@annares 2h
@allshiny@mikaylaesthetic Yes, I did. I wanted to understand where you were coming from. I think that’s perfectly reasonable. If there’s >

[allshiny] ‏@allshiny 2h
@annares Demanding feminists give you time and attn for purely academic discussions is exactly what we’re talking about. @mikaylaesthetic

NewWorldInOurHearts ‏@annares 2h
@allshiny Not purely academic at all. It’s a question of [how] people see allies and dialog. Not of interest to you? Fine. @mikaylaesthetic

Evelyn Enduatta ‏@FF_notes 2h
Hey @annares, you’re acting like a demanding dude-bro. I suggest you desist, take a step back and listen/learn. @allshiny@mikaylaesthetic

NewWorldInOurHearts ‏@annares 2h
@FF_notes I’ve learned what I needed to. And I guess I already knew it.| @allshiny@mikaylaesthetic

[the other tweet i wish i hadn’t sent. it just seems… petulant.]

Evelyn Enduatta ‏@FF_notes 2h
@annares Ya-huh. @allshiny@mikaylaesthetic

Evelyn Enduatta ‏@FF_notes 2h
Manarchists … gotta love ’em.

NewWorldInOurHearts ‏@annares 2h
@FF_notes You know what…There’s nothing I can say here that has any value is there? ANYTHING will make me look bad. No way to have convo.

Evelyn Enduatta ‏@FF_notes 2h
@annares You might want to think about why that is. I’d suggest it’s because you dropped in on a convo that wasn’t your place to drop in on.

Evelyn Enduatta ‏@FF_notes 2h
@annares Seriously dude, you dropped in on a convo that began w/ a statement re: men shouldn’t debate feminism/feminist lived exp w/ women.

Evelyn Enduatta ‏@FF_notes 2h
@annares – which is *exactly* what you preceded to do, and then you got all defensive and shitty when your questions weren’t welcome??!

Evelyn Enduatta ‏@FF_notes 2h
@annares Come on.

Evelyn Enduatta ‏@FF_notes 2h
.@annares Firstly, recognise and respect when it’s not your place to talk/comment. Secondly, don’t get defensive+angry when called out.

Evelyn Enduatta ‏@FF_notes 1h
@annares These are the two most basic principles of ‘Being an “ally” 101.’ If you can’t understand and respect them, then you’re no ally.

[previous 3 or 4 tweets were over about a half hour plus, during which I didn’t tweet anything]

NewWorldInOurHearts ‏@annares 1h
@FF_notes I not sure how you expect a conversation to proceed. The starting premise seems to be that I have no position from which to speak.

Evelyn Enduatta ‏@FF_notes 1h
@annares I’m not wasting any more of my time. Go back and read the thread. It’s not my responsibility to educate u on ur ignorance. I’m out.

NewWorldInOurHearts ‏@annares 1h
@FF_notes That was a sucker punch. I walked away. You keep tweeting. When I come back, you say “I’m not eating [sic – wasting] any more of my time.” It’s BS

Evelyn Enduatta ‏@FF_notes 1h
.@annares One more tweet and I’m blocking you dude.

[muted/blocked and walked away. then posted this general yowl of frustration]

NewWorldInOurHearts ‏@annares 1h
I give up. Twitter sucks. Leftist Twitter sucks even more. Impossible to have reasonable discussions.

[to which one of @FF_notes friends, who I don’t follow, replied]

Joe Miles ‏@Filter_Select 1h
@annares You want a discussion about something that’s fundamental and settled. What you need to know will come through reading, not talking.

Joe Miles ‏@Filter_Select 1h
@annares Please, *please* stop. It’s easy – all you need to do is watch and listen. The hard part is recognising ..

Joe Miles ‏@Filter_Select 1h
@annares that some(very nearly all)times it’s not appropriate for us to speak.

Joe Miles ‏@Filter_Select 1h
@annares It sounds like you believe you should be the lead singer, but with this band we really need you to run the gaffer tape.

[meanwhile, over on @FF_notes ]

Evelyn Enduatta ‏@FF_notes 1h
Anarchist men – can you take some responsibility for the manarchists in your midst please? It’s not up to us to educate them re: feminism.

Taylor R. Genovese @trgenovese
@FF_notes So important. It is also eternally tiring and discouraging seeing how much patriarchal sentiment some male anarchists have.

Evelyn Enduatta ‏@FF_notes 1h
@trgenovese Sure is:/

Taylor R. Genovese ‏@trgenovese 1h
@FF_notes It’s so counter-intuitive. The fact that there’s an expectation/assumption that women feminists need to educate furthers the bias.

Evelyn Enduatta
@trgenovese Yup. I think bec they identify as “anarchist” and “anti-hierarchy” they think they’re somehow ‘natural feminists’, or something.

Taylor R. Genovese ‏@trgenovese 1h
@FF_notes Definitely. It’s a huge problem for the entire left-spectrum. A mistaken sense of being an advocate but possessing no knowledge.

Evelyn Enduatta ‏@FF_notes 1h
@trgenovese Gah. So true!

Evelyn Enduatta @FF_notes
HAHAHAHA! The little manarchist dude-bro has blocked me!!! LOLOLOL!

Evelyn Enduatta @FF_notes
There is officially no hope for men who identify as anarchists. Seriously. LOL. GET YOUR SHIT TOGETHER BOYS. FFS.
[…]

Dr. Rock Hibernia ‏@Hippopeteamus 27m
@FF_notes@adambrereton They’re sooooo patronising.

Evelyn Enduatta ‏@FF_notes 27m
@Hippopeteamus@adambrereton YOUUUUUSEEEE
[…]

Zoé S. ‏@ztsamudzi 26m
@FF_notes Manarchists temporarily de-radicalized me. Imagine being that insufferable lmao
[…]

Evelyn Enduatta ‏@FF_notes 23m
@ztsamudzi Shhhheeeeesh they are so tiresome and demoralising!
[…]

anna kissed ‏@akpoetess 8m
@FF_notes I’m still yet to find an anarcha-feminist who likes to work with male anarchists. #manarchists

NewWorldInOurHearts @annares26m
@FF_notes I unblocked you. Feel free…

Evelyn Enduatta ‏@FF_notes 1h
Anarchist men – can you take some responsibility for the manarchists in your midst please? It’s not up to us to educate them re: feminism.

Joe Miles ‏@Filter_Select 1h
@FF_notes Jeepers. It’s like whak-a-mole😦

Evelyn Enduatta @FF_notes
@Filter_Select IKR:/ Took time to try and explain inapprop behaviour to one tweep this morn and hit a manarchist brick wall. Sick of it.

Joe Miles ‏@Filter_Select 56m
@FF_notes eew. Should I just make a storify you can just link to in future?

Joe Miles ‏@Filter_Select 56m
@FF_notes Actually, that’s not a silly idea..

Evelyn Enduatta ‏@FF_notes 53m
@Filter_Select was seriously thinking about storifying it. If you’ve got the time that’d be awesome. Will do it 2night otherwise.

[update: they posted something to Storify, and reacted to my posting here]

 · 1h
You’ve been quoted in my “Manarchist” Both the title and the term Dudebro c/o 😀

 59m
oh is this storified…?? I’d wanna catch up on the convo with the manarchist xx
 1h
It’s beautiful in the most painful of ways!
 1h
– it then entered a whole new chapter when I bothered trying to explain why his behaviour was not ok
 1h
  oh is this storified…?? I’d wanna catch up on the convo with the manarchist xx
 1h1 hour ago
holy shit. “Y U NO WIMENZ PROPER?!”
 1h1 hour ago
I’m very baby’d for the next few hours (had to rush the end of that one) – I think we should do that one tonight!
 1h1 hour ago
I think my next longer job is getting stuck in to the bros. If I ran “Joanne” with a fem photo I’m sure they’ll show themselves.
 58m58 minutes ago
I wrote it like I was talking to reformable bros, but the stupid should still make your eyes fall out
 56m56 minutes ago
What have I got to learn from a man who thinks he has nothing to learn?
 34m
PLS do. They are a plague and it’s almost always anarcha-fems that end up having to deal w them.
hate-reading is still reading, right?
I read this. Pro tip for the dude: someone is saying their opinion on the Internet isn’t an invitation to a debate

[MRA: Men’s Rights Activist – really unpleasant anti-feminist grouping]

All in all, not my finest hour. Didn’t really get to have the discussion I was hoping to have and alienated a few people—or at least, one person and her friends. And said a few things which, upon reflection, I regret.

I wish I could say I was shocked by the snarky, smug vitriol and the distortions, but… I’ve seen so much of it on the internet. Just never directed at me from people who in other contexts I would have seen as allies, comrades, possibly even friends.

In any case, there it is.

One response to “Twitter, Feminists, (M)Anarchists… and the problem of open discussion [updated]

  1. Pingback: Revenge of the Manarchist | the bad days will end

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