It is only in the past couple of years I have become aware of this. I thought I was aware of this, but having attended a very white school, in a laughably white city I realised that I wasn't not sympathetic or willing to listen, I just wasn't tuned in. In the last decade my opinions about sex work, porn and trans issues have done a complete 180 and I hope this is because I tuned in. I can see why some feminists who are not white, not cis and/or not middle class are being driven to distraction on Twitter, in a weird oppression Olympics they have to perform for before their personal experience can be acknowledged.
While it's quite possible for both 'sides' (sadly I think we are talking sides now) to miss the point, or be wrong on occasion it seems one side has credibility but uses their platform to explain why they are right and not to be questioned, rather than simply saying there's an aspect they don't and can't understand because they will never live that experience.
feminism does not begin and end with taking cute selfies in an amusing slogan t-shirt
I feel similarly about Jodie Marsh, I feel differently about sex workers, who have different levels of self esteem, safety and opinions about their work and should probably get the last say on any impulse to 'save' them.
I am writing about this because it makes me feel like I don't want to even be feminist any more, I don't know if there is a place in the movement for me. Feminism is more than a witty T-shirt campaign, though in Kira Cochrane's How to Set up a Successful Feminist Campaign Nimko Ali stressed the importance of humour making a campaign more palatable and promotable, you can't pick your cause by how catchy it is. Uh, to clarify I'm not saying anti-FGM is a zhooshy campaign we should not get behind, I'm saying feminism does not begin and end with taking cute selfies in an amusing slogan t-shirt. Or I'd be president by now.
It appears that perhaps a specific feminist How-to is needed for us educated, white, middle class cis women. Step one - Be on your guard, be alert to why a person who ought to be a 'fellow feminist' is angry with your feminism. Step two - listen to those we are allegedly helping. And then stepping aside. No step three, your opinion is probably already out there.
I have helpfully condensed these steps down to the old child road safety slogan so you have something catchy to remember next time you want to disagree via Twitter with someone with a different experience from you: Stop! Look! Listen!