Sometimes, it's just a cigar

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Real work

Every few months toxic online feminists attack someone for not doing enough in the “real world” to help women. It is of course a false binary, yes another one, patriarchy really loves the binary. The idea of the real world and the online world being separate entities is completely false. There is a lovely post here by a nurse with mental health issues which smashes that idea apart.

However what prompted me to write was the whole heap of privileges inherent in demanding that people not only can be active in meat space, but are able to divulge what they do. Some problems with this are;

  • It excludes people with disabilities who may not be able to attend meetings, go on marches, knock on doors or do any of the other features of traditional campaigning. It is especially galling to see feminists privilege patriarchal models of campaigning, ones which have always excluded women and led to male voices being promoted over womens.
  • It excludes people who have to remain anonymous for reasons of safety and security. Trans people, domestic violence survivors, sex workers, anyone who cannot disclose what they may do away from twitter.
  • An important subsection of that, migrants, who from fear of arrest need to be anonymous.
  • Or people who are not out to friends, family and employers.
  • It excludes those who are bound by confidentiality. Now this is a huge issue, because almost daily swerfs break confidentiality yet no one ever brings them up on it. To use a recent example, Kate Smurthwaite told me her friend was a former sex worker who was “gang raped nightly”. Now most swerf “friends” are imaginary, it makes up for the fact they are wholly dislikable. However if this friend does exist how the motherloveing fuck is it OK to disclose about her experiences to millions of people on twitter? Even worse Smurthwaite works with an org who help survivors of rape! Disclosing other peoples trauma to win twitter brownie points may be standard toxic feminist practice, but it breaks every standard of confidentiality there is.
  • It carries exceptionally racist overtones when a white person tells a person of colour that online work, i.e work with the mind. is not real work. to suggest that a person of colour is only working when that work involves physical labour is just Mistress Epps feminism in the raw. 

This is just a brief, top of my head list of reasons we must not talk about real work v online when it comes to activism. I am sure you can think of more. So next time you see someone demand an activist present their credentials remember all of the people that attitude excludes.

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One comment on “Real work

  1. ValeryNorth
    February 16, 2015

    A few years back, I knew someone online who was a civil servant working on women’s rights legislation and practice in her country’s government. She was bound by confidentiality clauses (as in, would lose her job if she talked about her work). And online feminists would criticise her for not doing anything, because she couldn’t tell anyone what she was doing for feminism (and yes, hers was trans-inclusive, sexworker-inclusive feminism) behind the scenes: actually shaping the govt’s responses to feminist issues, and doing her best to make it good!

    So, yeah. Lots of reasons why what you see might not be the whole story, how real life activism doesn’t have to be visible, and how online/work-of-the-mind activism has real-world impact.

    Like

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This entry was posted on February 16, 2015 by in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , .

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