Why is it that Libertarian “feminism” is only expressed as criticism of any kind of feminist activism? Take Cathy Young, for example–please! Here she instructs us that “letting ideologues dictate the boundaries of acceptable speech on a large area of the Internet is a very bad idea.” OK–that’s an interesting point, right? The problem is that the only “ideologues” in her column are feminists who object to online misogyny. She fails to identify online misogyny as ideological commitment, too.
First, she introduces the problem by using language that implies that it’s not online misogyny that threatens violence against actual women, but online feminism threatens violence against free speech, suggesting a false equivalence between the two points of view:
Feminist activists are on the warpath against Facebook, which, they claim, condones woman-hating even as it censors not only other hate speech but “indecent” images of breastfeeding mothers. When I was asked to discuss this initiative on HuffPost Live WebTV, I wasn’t sure where I stood. The examples collected by the activists—such as a photo of a bloodied woman captioned, “She broke my heart. I broke her nose”—are certainly repellent; the First Amendment is not at stake, since it’s a matter of private citizens using speech to pressure a corporation that already restricts content it deems offensive. Yet a closer look suggests that the real agenda in this campaign is to whip up outrage about our culture’s alleged misogyny and flex muscle that could be used to intimidate and curtail legitimate speech.
Got it? One group of people posts a photo of a bloodied woman with a violent caption, but that’s not the side that’s described as “on the warpath” against women. It’s the side critical of this use of Facebook that is “on the warpath” in their attempt to “whip up outrage” and “flex muscle”–to beat up violent misogynists? Continue Reading »