As Bari Weiss learned when she was vilified for being an inadequately woke woman, there’s a freedom that comes along with no longer having to thread the needle of not being an SJW while expressing one’s belief in equality. You no longer have to equivocate, tummy-rub the fringe nutjobs always at the ready to castigate your heresy. Freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose. Bari Weiss is free, so she can write intelligently.
Women are hypocrites. Women are opportunists. Women are liars.
They are abusers and bullies and manipulators. They are capable of cruelty, callousness and evil.
Just like men.
Just like white men, brown men, black men and orange men. And women. And gender-whatevers. The point of equality isn’t that some identities are more piglike than others, but that we’re, you know, equal. With that comes good and bad, and there’s no amount of rhetorical gymnastics that changes this.
This obvious fact — that women are fully human — bears repeating in light of the stunning news that a figurehead of the #MeToo movement has herself been accused of abuse.
Weiss goes on to discuss the accusations against Asia Argento, and then Avital Ronell, which is less about them than about equality. Her point isn’t whether these are two bad women, but that the efforts to excuse and apologize for women who are dirty reflect the inherent hypocrisy in denying that we’re all human. We are all capable of being smart or stupid, loving or hateful, strong or fragile, right or wrong.
But there’s an industry creating and perpetuating lies to enable people to enjoy the delusion that human nature doesn’t exist. In juxtaposition to Bari Weiss’ remarkably obvious, yet outrageous, assertions, there’s Rachel Cargle at Harpers Bazaar.
As we grappled with the realities of Nia’s death, I began to use Instagram to and flesh out questions like: How many more black women and girls must die before mainstream media considers it a worthy story to cover? How could they possibly take away her white male murderer so gently in handcuffs, while black men are thrown to the ground during traffic stops? Why aren’t the recorded wails of her mother and the tears of her father enough for the whole world to be demanding justice right now? And where are the voices of all my white feminist friends when a black woman had been tragically murdered?
Nia Wilson was a black woman murdered by a white man. She deserves the sympathy we offer to any crime victim, but there’s nothing to suggest this was a murder motivated by racial hatred other than the skin colors of killer and victim. That’s sufficient for some, as opposed to a random crime that happens.
But Cargle’s not focused on Wilson’s killer, but her “white feminists friends” who have failed to make this the center of their feminist world.
Almost immediately, at my request, hundreds of commenters asked the white women who they saw as friends and leaders to use their platform to highlight the tragedy of Nia’s death with the same outrage of their black feminist allies. And many did—both demanding that justice be served while expressing their disbelief that such a story hadn’t gained national attention in the same way that Laci Peterson’s or JonBenét Ramsey’s had. But there were just as many white women—women whose bios claim titles like “social justice warrior” and “intersectional feminist”—that somehow took this call for solidarity as a personal attack.
It’s hard to say why one case goes viral while another fizzles. But when someone latches on to a case that matters to them and have chosen to make it huge in their sphere, they can’t understand why others don’t succumb to their feelings and make it the center of their universe as well. Cargle called out her white feminist friends for their failure to make Nia Wilson’s murder their cause.
The fragility of these women was not a surprise to me. In a crucial moment of showing up for our marginalized community, there was more concern about their feelings and ego as opposed to the fight forward for women as a whole. What could have been a much-needed and integral display of solidarity and true intersectionality quickly became a live play-by-play of the toxicity that white-centered feminism can bring to the table of activism.
Neither the two writings, nor the underlying circumstances, have any direct relationship. Yet they provide a valuable juxtaposition of the freedom to be real and the “toxicity” facing every unduly passionate feminist if they should fail, even for a moment, to adhere to the orthodoxy demanded of them by someone with more intersectional points.
Bari Weiss is a feminist. She believes that women should be equal to men in all respects, and that means the negative ones as well as the positive ones. This isn’t white-feminist toxicity, but reality. Or is it?
It is the type of behavior that rests under the guise of feminism only as long as it is comfortable, only as long it is personally rewarding, only as long as it keeps “on brand.”
To be an acceptable feminist to Cargle, you need to be Cargle’s brand of feminist. To be your brand of feminist is to be “comfortable,” and how dare you be comfortable when you’re not doing what Cargle says you must do?
There is no winning this fight, as there is a rationalization to cover any argument you might proffer as to why your beliefs aren’t as right as hers. Your options are to do as she demands of you or be a toxic feminist, a liar to yourself and traitor to your cause.
Bari Weiss learned this the hard way, that there was no room for discussion with people who wielded their marginalization as a club to beat you into submission and do as they commanded, even if it no longer bore any connection to the reality that we’re all flawed, we’re all human, we’re all equal, for better or worse. It enabled her to be free of the chains of social justice orthodoxy and to instead be the feminist she wants to be. Equal.