This is our truth, tell us yours
Long before the internet there were hate speech and conspiracy theories. One of the longest lasting is the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. Produced in pre revolutionary Russia it is a vile cess pit of antisemitism that has been used by bigots from Henry Ford to Hitler as evidence for their hatred of the Jews. Antisemitism has a long, inglorious history, the protocols were written downs though and this always seems to be more powerful. At the other end of the spectrum if Martin Luther has not written down his proclamations it is doubtful they would have sparked a fire that swept through Europe.
The written word has a power, and when people look for a defense of their belief being able to cite texts matters. We have not moved very far from the pre reformation Europe where the Bible had to be untranslated because the words themselves were sacred. The protocols are still out there being passed around internet forums, cited as proof and evidence of a conspiracy that only exists in the minds of those who thrive on hate.
Once people know a text is designed to spread hate, mention of them means you can be dismissed. Use them as the basis for your theories and no discussion is needed, I do not need to consider your view-point or listen to it. You are outside the acceptable parameters of debate, and can be ignored. It isn’t silencing, or censorship, simply and acknowledgement that certain beliefs, certain tracts are unworthy of airtime, need to be smothered from the oxygen of publicity they so desperately crave.
Which brings me to the fights you may have seen on twitter around feminists (or so they claim) who refuse to dismiss terfs. These women troll, harass, insult and dox trans women, but apparently that is just them expressing an opinion. Opinions that encourages hatred and violence, opinions which any moral or ethical person would turn away from with disgust, opinions that should make someone as unacceptable as someone citing the protocols as proof of a jewish conspiracy.
On Tuesday Alison Boydell founder of @misogyny_online will be speaking at a conference on cyber stalking and harassment organised by womans Aid. Despite the fact she happily associates with rampantly transphobic women who have harrassed trans women on twitter over and over again. (They are also massively anti sex work, and influence policy in their day jobs, but that is a topic that I will explore more elsewhere) Her time line is a list of UK transphobes, all of whom I have witnessed attack trans women on twitter. They have also been pretty nasty to me, but I am used to being called a pimp and a man. Is this someone who should be speaking at a conference about abuse on the internet? Or is this not a case for treatment just as we would an anti Semitic conspiracy theorist, ignoring them and denying them publicity?
I have been cyber stalked, it was horrific, I spent days afraid to leave the house, days when I could not stop crying, I was afraid to answer the phone or turn on the computer. I am not a rich white feminist with a media platform though, I got through it with the support of good people who kept me going. and came out the other side stronger, and more determined to fight for those who face the same online.
The conference by Womens Aid is a good, much-needed event. I know, I was that scared, shaking, sobbing woman. However by inviting Alison Boydell and @Misogony _Online they are making clear that only some cyber harassment matters, that only some women’s pain is real, that only some tears are dried by the feminists.
When you write something it stays, it is referred too, it is used as evidence, it adds to a culture, be it one of love or of hate. I ask that Womens Aid reconsider which culture they belong to, one that speaks love to other women, or one that spreads hate? The only way to deal with the hate of the transphobes is to turn our backs on them, as we would on an anti-Semite. On Tuesday they are being given a platform, and that breaks my heart.