There still seems to be an irresistible urge, for a certain swathe of the online male population, to interrupt and derail any feminist discussion they see. Even if they don’t fully disagree with what’s being said, these men simply cannot fathom that this is one conversation to which their voice is not an essential addition. While it may be a welcome addition, when tempered with moderation and manners, it’s not vital.
In a patriarchal society that has historically and systematically silenced women – and still attempts to do so by, among other methods, trolling and derailing – women’s voices have been drowned out. Women are still brought up to be polite and avoid confrontation, often to their own detriment. Feminist discussions run off course again and again as women are forced to turn their attentions to the uninvited male participants and how the discussion makes them feel. This has been my experience on Twitter.
And so I say this:
I refuse to be derailed by Twitter trolls and WATMers. I refuse to treat half-formed opinions as sacred fact when the male commenter has paid no attention to the conversation before his arrival and seems concerned only with presenting his male experience rather than engaging with, and understanding, points already made.
I refuse to insert unnecessary caveats into my writing as a comfort blanket to those men who seem unable to accept that this is a serious and ongoing problem and insist on my acknowledging that “It’s not all men.”
I refuse to justify myself when I am approached by male commenters whose online activity consists primarily of tweeting women to argue with them.
I refuse to be drawn into semantic discussions when I choose not to engage with someone, or to block them, because they are derailing me and making me uncomfortable in my own virtual space, particularly if that person has a history of anti-feminist trolling.
In short, I refuse to give over feminist discussion to men’s experiences.