Feminism And Bullying (from The Feminist's Perspective)I was inspired by earlier discussions to write a story about how we, as feminists, act as ambassadors for the movement and how we attempt to educate others about feminism. Forgive me if part of this post is cobbled together from comments I posted on other threads in another group. Believe me, I have spent a lot of time thinking and writing about this issue because it is something I am very passionate about. I am passionate about feminism, but I am not always happy with how it is portrayed - by anti-feminists and even by some feminists, too.
But what I want to talk about right now is how feminism is can be portrayed negatively by some feminists. LET ME BE ABSOLUTELY CLEAR: NOT ALL FEMINISTS ENGAGE IN THIS KIND OF BEHAVIOUR. MOST DO NOT. But the ones who do speak loudly on our behalf. It is important to speak out against it in order to revive the perception of feminism's true spirit (being freedom, inclusivity and equality). We are the progressive ones and we can only be responsible for ourselves.
If it is our goal to change minds and broaden the understanding of feminism, then we, as feminists, need to look at our approach. It's so unbelievably easy to get angry at anti-feminism because so much of it is straight up bigotry and ignorance. But everything sits on a spectrum, and each person's views and experiences are unique enough that there is definitely room for a moderate and reasonable person to take issue with feminism as they have perceived it.
We can't forget that both sides are part of a dialogue and that both sides are capable of making mistakes and of being hostile, and this hostility only serves to polarize each other. I have seen so much of this hostility on both sides here on EP, and it makes me very upset in particular to see it coming from feminists. Sometimes I even see it coming from myself. I've seen discussions started by people on our side with the aim of picking a fight, and I've seen bullying occur in the subsequent threads. Bullying is not okay - it compromises our movement and serves to validate some of the opinions of those who are against us. We need to stand up against bullying and call it out for what it is. And it happens a lot here on EP. Again, both sides of the debate. Multiple users.
I think that the only way to change minds is for BOTH sides to return to rationality, truth and open-mindedness, though I unfortunately believe that most people aren't capable of this when discussing such an emotionally-charged issue. We need to recommit to the truth, even if it means admitting some of our shortcomings (because we ALL have them). We need to bring people together and have rational discussions that are designed to build an understanding and empathy between both sides of the debate and hopefully educate others on how important feminism has been in our history, and how important it still is today. We need to have discussions about personal responsibility. But as long as we use feminism as a means of alienating others, as long as we leave the inclusivity issues plaguing some branches of feminism unacknowledged, the more ideologically and dogmatically driven we appear and the less likely it is that we will accomplish our goals of broadening the understanding of true feminism to those who are pitted against it in ignorance.
In short, discussions designed for people to react angrily off of each other are counter-productive and polarizing. Bullying people is not productive and it reflects poorly upon our cause. As feminists, we are better than this. Instead of widening the gap, we need to narrow it. I believe the only way to do this is through level-headed discussions where we can build trust and empathy across the divide. And that starts with level-headed discussions amongst ourselves about what we can do to better achieve this goal.