I am a feminist. I believe in equality for women and men and think that women should be able to go about their business how they choose without being bothered or shamed, cut, hit or raped, or snidely bitched about.
I am also extremely fond of Twitter. At such times when I get caught up in a row, or sufficiently pumped up about RTs and chat, I can go on and on to the extent that my mercifully forgiving friends will quietly roll their eyes and wait for it to pass.
What I am rapidly realising is that the two don’t go together. Writing in 140 characters requires you to be pithy, but it also allows you to be brusque, rude and aggressive. I wish I could say that half the tripe I read on Twitter is pithy that hasn’t got its wings yet, but it doesn’t appear to be. I am developing a real dislike for ‘Twitter feminism’.
Whether it’s Helen Lewis taking a break because of absurd over-reaction (again) to a well-balanced blog post, or Vagenda Magazine reacting to the closure of a magazine (staffed primarily by women) in the snidest of ways, there is so much negativity and mean-spiritedness around that I am not surprised when people like Beyoncé or Katy Perry and Carla Bruni won’t label themselves as feminists.
With company like this, why would anyone?
We live in a digital age, but that doesn’t mean we should converse with each other like robots. It’s one thing to disagree with someone who has a platform – but we have blogs now, we can all have platforms to a certain extent – but it’s quite another to speak to them as though they were a cross between Pinochet and a wind-up toy from a Christmas cracker.
I have always considered myself extremely fortunate to have ‘met’ so many interesting and engaging people on Twitter, even if I never actually do so in real life. And even if I don’t see them in the flesh, that doesn’t mean they aren’t real people, with real feelings – and in the case of More! magazine, that they are real people who are probably in the pub now crying over their jobs.
Feminism is not about going “My branch of feminism is more correct than yours.” Full stop. But perhaps where Twitter is concerned, it’s time to take a step back and embrace something a little more gentle and a little less strident. And a little kinder.
Until then, I’m becoming a featherist and looking at pictures of swans and pigeons instead.