To my radical feminist sisters

To my radical feminist sisters around the world,

I am writing this open letter to all of you to uplift you and to remind you of your strength. Our strength.

Dale Spender wrote in 1986 that with every wave of feminism, comes a backlash of misogyny. The first wave feminists who were killed, tortured, abused, humiliated, force fed and beaten, changed the world for women, forever. As their power grew, the backlash grew.

As women found each other, loved each other and stood together, men in the patriarchy created disgusting, ugly public caricatures of them as witches, barren, old, haggard and hated. The point of this strategy was two-fold: to break their spirits and to hold them up as an example to the other women – of what would happen to them if they dared to join the suffragettes. Women pushed on. They fought for us. They gained our voting rights and property rights. They did this at huge personal cost, and at the time, they were hated viscerally and openly.

In the second wave of radical feminism in the 1960s onwards, women joined arms once again. The second wavers, many of which are still here with us (love and respect to you all, we owe you incredible amounts), progressed and achieved more than we realise. Our second wave sisters gave us rape support centres, domestic violence refuges, women’s shelters, single sex spaces, equality law, changes in divorce and custody law, feminist consciousness raising, feminist groups and contraception. Women in the second wave threw light on the way women were being discriminated against in every aspect of their personal and public lives. They continued the work of the first wave, by publicly and intelligently criticising and challenging the male establishment. They did this despite constant portrayals as man-hating, controlling, abusive, ugly, childless lesbians.

As you can probably see, there is a pattern forming here.

Our current feminism is not much different. The old stereotypes of us are still raging on from 100 years ago. Men still mock us for being feminists and concerned with women’s rights. The memes look exactly like the old suffragette postcards. Shit has not changed one fuckin bit.

We have again made massive strides, although we are more divided these days. As radical feminists, our purpose is to remain dedicated to the liberation of all women and girls from oppression around the world. This means rejecting white, upper class feminism which confines feminism to big words and protected bookshelves of academics and philosophers. It means debating with and often disagreeing with, liberal feminism. It means calling out misogyny within feminism, and misogyny that parades as feminism. Over time, uneducated onlookers have become annoyed and confused. Women are expected to club together and be homogenous. The fact that our feminism differs so much is the source of much amusement to men who don’t understand a jot of feminism. Of course, women are all so simple, that we must all agree.

This also means that we need to stand our ground as the next wave of misogyny hits us and attempts to push us back. Feminism is taking a real battering at the moment. Women who comply with the abuse and ridicule of feminists are rewarded with temporary protection from misogyny. People who publicly attack women are congratulated and awarded.

With every wave of feminism, there is a wave of woman-hate. We are more powerful than we have ever been, we are more connected than we have ever been, more educated than we have ever been and better resourced than ever.

The backlash and the upsurge of misogyny is heavy because we are making such collective progress. Women have platforms. We are talking about rape, domestic abuse, child sexual exploitation, trafficking, femicide, FGM, harassment, pay gaps, rights, and gender role stereotypes. Society is listening. Society is watching. 

Every time we speak out, write a blog, make a video or sit on a panel, we influence another woman or girl to realise the strength she really has. The power she really has. Don’t ever underestimate the power of your influence as a strong female role model. Whatever position you take up as a radical feminist role model, you will change so many lives.

The misogyny will continue to hit us because we continue to push forward. We have bigger platforms than we have ever had. This means thousands of men have access to us, and can abuse us with ease. It is clear from the violence and abuse we are subjected to online, that the crimes committed against all of us every single day; are being ignored. Many of us are told that the abuse we are subjected to is simply a consequence of being ‘in the public eye’ or ‘having radical feminist views’.

It’s frankly amazing how people have conceptualised radical feminism over the years. We’ve been branded as the crazies. Likened to genocidal dictators, murderers and serial paedophiles. The character assassination continues. We scare them because we stand firm and because we are not ashamed of our commitment to women and girls’ rights.

It paints a bleak picture. Or does it?

Are you not surrounded by radical feminists? Are you not able to read this blog? Are you not able to meet with your sisters online?

Do you see the activism around you? The lobbying and arguing and campaigning and world-changing?

Every woman has the power to make a change, whether that is small or huge. We must continue to talk to girls about radical feminism, and the incredible progress we have made since our first wave sisters stuck their necks out. Don’t allow radical feminism to become a dirty phrase again. Don’t succumb to pressure. 

Do not throw women under the bus because it protects you for a little longer. Do not stay silent whilst your sisters around the world are oppressed and murdered. Do not laugh along as men abuse and oppress women, thinking, ‘That will never be me.’

Use your strength. Use your resources. Platform women and girls. Protect them, support them, influence them and inspire them. Be the woman you needed to look up to as a girl.

Radical feminists are hated for two reasons:

  1. We unapologetically centre women and girls in our feminism, and we have no interest in bending to the pressure of patriarchal values or norms
  2. We are women

That’s pretty much it. People will come up with many different bullshit reasons why we are such disgusting women, but every one of them smacks of the same shit thrown at our first wave and second wave sisters. Stop feeding into it. See it for what it is. It’s recycled misogyny from 100 years ago because they can’t think of anything else to say or do to us.

This is about collectively and individually reframing us as the old, haggard, witches, bitches, mad, hysterical, evil, childless lesbians who hate men and want them all to die. They have nothing else left. They personally attack us because they have nothing else.

This is what happens when women attempt to do something for each other – men are so entitled and so accustomed to being centred, that they cannot handle being sidelined for a bit whilst we focus on the oppression of women and girls. See it as nothing more than a tantrum. Whataboutery in all its pathetic beige, beardy, boring, repetitive ‘glory’.

Women can hate us too. I see them. I see them often. The ‘egalitarians’ who hate feminism. The ‘feminists’ who tell us to go kill ourselves, die in a fire or call for our resignations. The women who internalise misogyny, use it against themselves whilst attacking other women for the oppression they are subjected to. The women who rush to the aid of the NAMALT crew. It really is incredulous that those women would use all of the rights, powers, voices and platforms that they have because radical feminists gave it to them over the last 100 years – to bully and abuse radical feminists. Irony doesn’t even touch the sides of that one.

The deeper irony being, that we will all keep fighting for their rights, even if they hate us. Even if those women say they don’t need feminism. Even if they say they hate feminism. Even if they say they don’t want those rights. Even if we disagree with them. We have been protecting women and girls (even the ones we don’t like) for decades.

I know how hard it is right now. I see so many of you struggling, giving up, getting tired and being abused. I see you trying to thicken your skin to face another day talking about the most basic shit, because you know you will have another day of abuse and threats. I see society get more and more misogynistic every day. I watch as some of the world’s biggest abusers and misogynists run our countries, royalty and governments.

My sisters, you are the force that the world needs right now. Every time you take a stand, you do something brilliant. You are a raging fire.

Women’s anger is pathologised because it is so powerful. We do not use our power to commit millions of murders and rapes each year. We do not use our power for worldwide warfare and genocide. We do not use it to dick-measure with our nuclear weapons. We do not use it to exploit developing countries. We use it to change the world. We use it to challenge the system. We use it to support other women. We use it to relentlessly defend our human rights. We use it to write essays and blogs that start debates and conversations. We set up conferences and groups. We create charities and grassroots projects.

We are the powerhouse that the world ignores but always expects us to be there to look after the kids and clean up after the men.

I want to remind you that the shit being thrown at us is disgusting, violent and abusive because it has a purpose: to silence and intimidate the most powerful female voices we have.

What people seem to forget is that within our radical feminism, we are made up of some of the strongest women in the world. We are refugees and asylum seekers, we are single mothers, we are trafficking survivors, we are women fighting cancer, we are women who have been beaten, raped, abused, strangled, tortured, imprisoned and discriminated against. We are ex-sex workers and women who have escaped prostitution. We are lesbians. We are activists, we are lawyers, we are academics, we are police officers, we are social workers, we are politicians, we are writers and performers, we are business owners and consumers. We are politically and economically active. We are voters. We have all lived through shit that people cannot even begin to imagine. We are living, breathing and dying in this feminism.

They cannot extinguish the fire we have set alight. The only reason they seek to weaken us, is because they recognise our power.

Now, you need to recognise your power, too.

Get back up, focus on your feminism and your love of women and girls, and get back to work. There is so much to do. Do not allow the accusations of hatred and abuse blur your vision. We know we don’t hate minority groups. We know we do not engage in transphobia. We know we don’t abuse and hate those who are different to us. We know we do not align with or support right wing, racist, homophobic groups who proclaim to be feminists and radical thinkers. These accusations are set ups. Deliberate conflations to encourage the hatred of feminists.

Radical feminism is the liberation of women and girls from the global oppression that is the patriarchy. Gender role stereotypes have oppressed and harmed us for so long. We have been minimised, ignored, gaslit, abused, attacked and silenced for so long. Yet, we are still here running the rape centres, the shelters, the helplines, the support groups, the women’s services, the households, the families, the communities and the female-led companies.

But we will keep going.

Millions of women and girls rely upon the work we do, whether we do it silently, covertly or publicly and loudly.

In sisterhood,

Dr Jessica Taylor

Psychologist

VictimFocus 

Email: Jessica@victimfocus.org.uk

Website: www.victimfocus.org.uk

Tweet: @DrJessTaylor

Fbook: www.facebook.com/JessicaForenPsych

38 thoughts on “To my radical feminist sisters

  1. Great ‘call to arms’ Jessica. Bit of a sweeping statement about white feminism, though. I’m pretty sure coloured feminists knows how to use big words. too.

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      1. Which is just white feminism? I’ve heard a bit of dissing of ‘white feminism’ in recent times, and am puzzled by how white women can be anything but white feminists. I get that it’s more of a disparagement of a system than individuals, but as a white woman I can’t identify as anything but a white woman, but that seems to be not okay. How else do I identify? I’m a bit lost over this – not trying to make you wrong.

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    1. Back in the 60s, the black thinkers of the day saw through left wingers. Malcolm X was one such thinker. The various black communities, have always been used or blamed by political forces. One acts like a friend who exploits you, the other a bully that scapegoats you.
      He already knew the right were not his allies, but was not taken in by the other side, either.

      As part of the left, privileged, middle class white feminists are guilty of the same. Malcolms language may be out of date, but his analysis remains razor edged.

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  2. Thank you for your words.

    I’ve been feeling so defeated lately. Silenced, abused and ignored.

    I won’t be silent, I won’t stop fighting and I’ll never be alone.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thank you so much for this! Been feeling very defeated lately and was desperately in need of a rallying cry. As a proud Radical Feminist I vow that they will not shut us up. I won’t shut up!

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    1. We never thought we could. Men have tried since the dawn of time.😏

      If dunking didn’t work, logical debate certainly won’t.😉

      It’s more for shits and giggles at this point.

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  4. I’m sorry now but ‘feminists’ aren’t responsible for bombing countries’, that’s a bit much now isn’ it? Does the name Hilary Clinton mean anything to you?
    I’m not sure who claims to be ‘rad’ and who just tries to pretend they’re ‘leftwing’, but among gender critical feminists there seems to be a huge majority of Blairite Labour supporting/ #Imwithher types. I don’t think anyone supporting either Blair or Clinton or downplaying the savageness of their imperialism, the devastation they left in their wakes, (Iraq/Libya) or how generally damaging two-faced pinkwashed neoliberalism is, should ever get to shrug off the ‘whitefeminist’ label. Alot of gender-critical ‘rad’ feminists seem to be able to write chapter and verse on where liberal feminism went wrong but seem too utterly obsessed with toilets and pronouns to notice the far far greater damage done to many women’s lives by just plain old neoliberalism and the liberal imperialism of their fave celebs, whose support they so often beg for.
    I think the viciousness of the trans row is fed by unresolved anger at the whole pinkwashing of Hilary and the #Imwithher emotional blackmail. Its also fed by anger at how both homophobia and feminism were weaponised in othering Muslim countries, how they are still used to drum up a thirst for war, or sorry on the ‘leftwing’ side it can’t be thirst of course, its pious performed handwringing at just ‘having’ to be be terribly, regretably violent for the Greater (feminist/LGB) Good, isn’t it? bindel et al play willing NATO/US/Zio stooges, aaall the time. I’m Irish and very grateful that the colour of our skin meant we could progress from the insecure post-colonial phase where nationalism and religion had a less than holy marriage, to a place where we can have the confidence to let compassion and tolerance come forth, throught first and foremost land reform, then creating a bedrock of self sufficiency using protectionism and state owned utilities, then more liberal trade and international support and then joining the EU. A long slow often painful, but ultimately fruitful journey. Bit better than BLiar or Clinton bombing the shit out of you ‘for your good’ eh because afterall we didn’t even have abortion or contraception or a free press huh? So would we even really have minded hte bombs? Yeah, we would thanks.
    Many post colonial societies were denied any such progress in favour of the duplicitous NGOization of their economies and if they dared opt for nationalisation, ooh woe betide them. Instead they got effin Bono or ComicRelief forcing them into gurning photo ops at them them and Clinton and Gates defacto making their national decisions for them.
    You all tend to act a wee bit too innocent and clueless about how feminism has been weaponised this century. And its not just in favour of pimps. More and more people can see the NATO/CIA/MI6 playbook for what it is. Iran is vilified for being misogynist/homphobic (White Wednesdays?). And just by the by completely unrelated we think we’d like to bomb them to bits, sanction their babies to death and scupper their trade, ‘You don’t mind though do you ickle radfems? Cos they make the women were icky veils! So they kinda deserve the cluster bombs now don’t they.
    And if lots of women and girls get cluster bombed to bits? Weeell they’ll be freer in heaven won’t they now.’
    Focusing on trans rights cuts the whole ‘Iran must be bombed (starved?/deprived of medicines?) out of its homophobic Rayjeem’ propaganda, off at the knees, because Iran is actually very pro-trans. Thats not an irrelevant point in a world that has endured the violence and destruction of the ongoing War on Terror.
    I don’t support self-id, males in women’s sports or prisons or any of the gross noncery trying to sneak its way into children’s education, But y’know what else I don’t support? Bombs, war, drones, forcing other cultures and countries to adapt to our norms instead of simply offering refuge to those who would escape, bombing your idea of progress into countries while just, ‘ooh, by the by taking control of their natural resources, nothing to see here’.
    I don’t support any movement that wnats to ignore those vulnerable women, that are hurt by all that, that wants to paper over the corruption oozing out of all these wars and thes warpaths. Blair and Iraq, Clinton and Libya, Syria and the OPCW scandal tahts still simmering away.
    You all seem to support a version of feminism that is very deliberately myopic, (ooh we have to only focus on things that only specifically affect our reproductive systems and 100% female specific threats) and very conveniently blind to how it is used for great evil.
    So sure feminism is about centering women, but as to which women, as to the fact that women kinda need to be alive first, I don’t feel at all sure that the majority of gender critical feminism is either trustworthy or has sufficiently refuted the criticism which get lumped under the catch all of ‘white feminism’. Women are complex. We are part of nations, communities tribes, as well as our sex class. You all still pretty much fail at understanding that as evidenced by how many would still support Clinton, Obama, Blairites.
    The trans row is being used and abused by all sorts I think, and sadly after spending alot of time following it on twitter, leaving for reflection, coming back, I’m not at all sure that the gender critical side is being very cynically used also. Guess I’ll just remain politically homeless for now. But rad-fems need to start being alot clearer about how far their radical view of the world goes. Feminism shouldn’t be about males but it should be about the real lived complexitities of women’s lives and how women will choose to navigate their way through the specific cultural stage their own society may be at. We will always be mothers, sisters, lovers, trying to pretend we’ll never care about the situation facing the men in our lives or our wider communities is just theoretical wank.
    Faced with a choice between a side that lets itself be used to drum up war against countries that are insufficiently woke, that pinkwashes vicious imperialistic personalities like Clinton with shrieking hysterical emotional blackmail, about ti being Her turn, and a side that wants me to pee in a loo next to J Yaniv, sorry now but I’m gonna just Judo-up and take a friend to the loos with me, rather than think I’d let myself be used in the cycnical propaganda of actual human body and society and country and continent shredding bombs.
    Its sad to say but for many, many, many of the more self-righteous Blairites shrieking about all this, it really is, when you pull back and look at it from a wider, less narcissitic angle, just the sweetest karma, after all the stunts they pulled trying to shove Hilary down our throats. I don’t approve or condone whats being done online or in person but the karmic balance of it, the small taste of your own medicine, cannot be denied. They weaponised wokeism to try and shove a warmongering sociopath with the coldest eyes I’ve yet to see on any human into the most powerful, dangerous position on the planet, and now ‘wokeism’ has come curling back to sting them with their own lash. Whats that french saying? Tant pis.
    I’m sad for all the vulnerable people, women and trans being caught up in this shit, but at the end of the day none of htem are being actually dismembered or watching the very fabric of their reality turned into a charnel hosue around them, so perpective, its very important ladies.
    Maybe when Julie ‘White Wednesdays’ Bindel et al suddenly wise up to the fact that the Syrian or Libyan ‘Rebels’ are actually a far, far more chilling thing to be unleashed on this earth than any Iranian Mullah ever born, I might have less cynicism to this particular form of right on ‘rad’ feminism but until then …. nah. They’re getting a tiny, tiny fraction of what they’ve helped put out in the world, whether they helped through wilful ignorance, narcissistic myopia or faux innocence. They can take their karma and suck it up.
    If the choice is joining a side fighting against the evil of neo-liberal imperialism and the vanity and corruption and lies of the stale dried bread NGO and charidee charade or possibly sharing a loo with the odd perv, I’ll cope. Prisons are another story, that shits not ok, ever. but that one fight may very well be better off fought without the baggage of feminsit who are less ‘radical’ and more ‘myopic’. Them and the TRAs accusing each other of narcissism is literally that spiderman meme over and over.

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  5. Who do you think has had the most dramatic fall in living standards, freedom, safety, security, hope:
    Women in Ireland living under the new GID legislation or Libyan women (women all over the horn of Africa) after the Gaddafi was murdered. or Syrian women after being ‘liberated’ from their own government into the loving hands of those cutesy crucifying sex slave having Freedom Fighters. Imagine a radical feminism that was as interested in sleuthing away to find out exactly who had funded and unleashed the scariest thing by far to happen to womenkind anywhere in the last 50 years – ISIS, as much as they cared about following the money behind so called tranasctivism. You can’t can you? All you can think up are excuses. Because deep down in your bones you all deserve the white feminist label. You gaze transfixed at fears of what might happen to YOU, or those that look exactly like YOU, and the only time you even pretend to care about othered lives is when NATO blows one of its dog whistles. It doesn’t matter how much you squee for Obama, how many Beyonce concerts you go to or how many Stormzy songs you know the words to, deep down in your bones you’re mostly a bunch of racist imperialists and everything about how you view the world, what sends you running round with your hair on fire, what you just shrug or handwring at and what you ignore altogether, spells that out time and again.
    Never kid yourselves that you have no hand in the wars of these times. You are one of the drums they play and you have offered yourself up most willingly every time.

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  6. Jessica, I don’t think you are a bad person, just wrong. I’m not some MRA(they are full of shit, at times), but there are other sides to this argument, and as long as feminists are bad actors in this, I will have to counter you, as I do with MRAs.

    Feminism is going even more wrong now than before. There is hate in your ideology, and it has to be addressed.

    Third Waves this, 2nd waves that, yeah, yeah.
    “Oh this isn’t that kind of fascism, we’re a kinder sort of fascism” sounds ridiculous, eh? Yeesss💃

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    1. What is it about the liberation of all women and girls from oppression and the achievement of global equality of the sexes that you don’t agree with?

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I cried a little bit reading this. I am part of the women’s liberation movement in Australia. We are mobilising and organising and networking, and gaining strength. However, I was feeling quite demoralised today at yet another glossy, lengthy pro-gender ideology report from one of our state governments, knowing that if one of our group doesn’t respond then probably no one will, our little group of volunteers of women (and men) from all walks of life are the bulwark against this terrible ideology and contemporary attack on females.

    In addition to fighting this fight, most of us are mothers, students, lovers, wives, workers, professionals – a great many other demands are made on our time. We are up against an army of well-connected and well-resourced, wealthy and powerful men and their handmaids, salaried individuals and government funded organisations and public institutions. It seems insurmountable, but reading “calls to arms” such as this, gives me hope that we will prevail, that the truth will out, that women will be finally recognised as full human beings in society. It helps me to pick up my pen again, write another letter, finish another paper as one step closer to finishing my law degree.

    Thank you for sharing your strength and your power with your pen, please know that your words have an impact, please know this helped me keep fighting the good fight for another day.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Yes, feminists, tell this young woman she is not allowed to think differently to you, and must obey your narrative. That reminds me of something, rhymes with “hatriarchy”.

    🤨

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