Oh the trolls, the trolls, how droll their scolds, though through their spite, I derive insight. Granted, that sucks as poetry or prose, and no, this isn’t really about the Taliban or Ugly Betty, but it is both an apt description of how I’ve decided to make use of the dozens of less than kind missives that have been directed at me in the last few days on Twitter, and those who aimed them at me, all because of the post I wrote about The Exclusionary Arrogance of Western Feminism. I kept a log of my favorites, with the intention being to have a weekly “Troll Tuesday” post that summarizes the best, along with what my riposte to them would have been given more than 144 characters and ample time. But as I re-read through them all, trends began to emerge which were indeed insightful, and which helped better crystallize what it was that so bothered me about this event.
What most quickly became clear is that my trolls fell into three categories: angry feminists, millennial cisgenders and Muslim men. But of these three groups, the only one with a unified message and any conviction were the Muslim men, most of whom wanted me to shut up and sit down, and all of whom agreed that I should not have the right to speak, whether sitting or standing. And good for them, too. Having worked in advertising for most of my career, this is one mantra we often preach – once you decide your mission statement, stay on brand and on message; consistency is key. Given that their particular brand of oppression has been around for centuries, it would be difficult to re-craft a message now, so – meh – why try. When it works, it works.
For their part, the millennial cisgenders were a handbook in poor grammar, airy diatribes, pointless platitudes and whining. I literally could not make head nor tails of most of the tweets from this group, each of them seeming to know the one who came before, their tweet an attempt to one up them with non sequitor babble of monumental vapidity. Things like, “also too as well therefore when we consider the impact of the merry-go-roundification of the total largesse of the progressive doublespeak.” Okay not really; theirs were all less comprehensible. Yet when I genuinely asked them what they were trying to say, they would respond with monosyllabic ad hominem attacks. The worst of the lot – some guy from DC whose Twitter handle is wanggop or some such – replied to my assertion that I had no idea what he was trying to communicate with, “I’m hardly surprised.” Nor am I; I do not speak mealy-mouth millennial.
But the worst, figuratively, were the feminists. Not in the tone of their messages – not by far – but simply in the diffuse nature of the reasoning, purpose and rationale for the march. Several women said they were protesting about climate change, which now apparently would only affect women. Good to know, because I never felt that the threat of ovarian and breast cancer coupled with the high rates of heart disease related fatalities in American women was enough penance for my manifest white privilege-ness. Others said they were concerned about human rights and immigration policies, and specifically the possibility of a registry for Muslims who wish to enter the country. Again, okay, but that also applies to more than just women, unless this is actually a clever method of leaving their oppressors behind and they were campaigning ardently to allow Muslim women to enter, but not men. A greater number, though, were concerned about potential cuts to Planned Parenthood or a reversal of Roe v. Wade, which are the only two issues, aside from pay and benefit inequality, that I see as having any place in a #womensmarch, though I say that only as a mother, daughter and sister and not as an enlightened positronic blossom of leftist love. It is therefore entirely plausible that better understanding of, and an authoritarian view on this is only possible once you reach level seven of that particular initiation rite.
Sarcasm aside, I am not denying anyone’s personal conviction on any of the aforementioned topics; we all see the world through our own scope and resultantly have different priorities. I have three degrees in things related to International Relations and Russian language and politics, so my personal priority is foreign policy and national security, with tax issues ranking thereafter. But what I cannot understand is how any of the issues they quoted – how any substantive topic that women really need to be taken seriously and that does need review or revision – is served by bloviating, self-important celebrities who in no way do or have to practice what they preach, along with a few hundred thousand women wearing knitted vaginas on their heads carrying vulgarity laced signs which represent any myriad of diverse alleged “causes,” ranging from the sublime to the ridiculous. Even when the earliest coverage came on at 7am Saturday, I could not see it as anything other than a bunch of privileged whiners throwing their toys out because their candidate didn’t win. That sense was, unfortunately, only reinforced with the insane tirades of Madonna and Ashley Judd, as well as the less than tolerant statements made by others who dare stand in judgement of those of us who would sooner shave ourselves bald and eat our own hair as be involved in their superficial attempt at being seen as the singular-ist, virtue-holding, upright citizens of mother earth.
However, of the more than 30 tweets I received either challenging my view, telling me to get on the bus or under it or threatening me with physical violation with items which Google could not translate from Pashto, the very first one I received, upon reexamination of them all, set me off the most, despite it being the most seemingly benign. It was from some left luvvie who simply said, “This is critique masquerading as feminism. You should feel bad.” First, if she had done even a drive-by of my Twitter profile, she would have seen that the last two words describing me are “fiercely unapologetic.” I have never felt bad for anything in my life, which by definition possibly makes me a malignant narcissist and therefore not prone to empathy for those who make such unsolicited and baseless declarations. Second, I reserve a very special variety of scorn for anyone who presumes to tell me how I should “feel,” never mind what I should think, do or opine.
So to her, I say this: I make my own money, pay considerable taxes, raised my child alone, put him through some of the best schools in the world, have managed countless teams full of men in my life and am clear and confident in my abilities both to provide for myself and to not need the government’s help for anything related to being a woman. I am likewise open-eyed enough to see the real struggles women face in our world, with a passion for the right to education of girls in Muslim countries where such opportunities are either non-existent or are life-risking pursuits. I am lily white, I am educated and yes – I am privileged. I am privileged because I worked for it and have earned it via the opportunities provided to me as a result of having been born in this nation; not in spite of it. I therefore would have been ashamed to have shown my face at a march that in any way painted me as a victim. And to me, that’s what has become of “feminism” in the West; it has become a proxy for any leftist cause du jour and a steady supplier of manufactured victimism rather than broaching, via organized platforms, any issues that really do affect women in this country who cannot advocate on their own behalf, let alone issues of those in other countries who have no rights at all.
The women who really do need things like equal pay, mandatory maternity leave benefits, a healthcare net for them while pregnant and for their newborns, were not the ones participating in this protest. And I have a creeping sadness that their voices will not be heard because all such messages were drowned out by screaming, emotional celebrities who raged against still imagined policies that may or may not be imposed by a derided administration not yet one day old. No, the ones who need help were at work at one of their three jobs, two of which they work to pay for childcare so they can keep the first one. Or at home, stuck in an abusive relationship with a man who never lets them out of his sight. They could not afford to take time off and could never conceive of paying for travel to a city like DC for a protest, let alone do so during the single most expensive week in that city for four years. They were going about life, struggling to make ends meet, hoping against hope that something good might actually come from the self-congratulatory, vacuous pink pikachu parade which swallowed our headlines and devoured common sense, all in the name of women’s rights, but suspecting it will not, because their cause is not celeb.
End Note: To further undermine the credibility of at least one segment of these women, and to demonstrate the total lack of a pure moral conviction, many of the women who protested Trump’s presidency and all of its perceived damage to women one day also attended celebratory inaugural balls another. http://nypost.com/2017/01/22/hypocritical-marchers-party-at-inaugural-events/