The Internet Can Be the Best Place to Find Your Tribe.

This article was originally published on The Vocal.

Recently I’ve been thinking about all the female friends I’ve made over the years, particularly the ones I’ve met online, and more specifically through Twitter. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that they’re all feminists. Increasingly, feminist movements begin and prosper online, with hashtags, event invitations and unique perspectives not available through traditional media streams rearing their heads through the white noise of #NotAllMen and cat gifs. As these modes of communication continue to thrive, it only makes sense that feminist connection and friendship do, too.

A few years ago, I attended Clementine Ford’s address at the Queen Victoria Women’s Centre in Melbourne. During question time, a young woman sitting next to me asked, as someone new to feminism and Melbourne, where she could find her tribe IRL. Ford gave a great answer that escapes me two years later, but before I left the event I was sure to pass on both my knowledge and the Facebook and Twitter handles of one of the best feminist meet ups in Melbourne: Cherchez la Femme, a monthly talk show-formatted event hosted by Karen Pickering that has also parlayed itself into a film festival and feminist meet cutes where you can connect with other likeminded people. It has been pivotal in forming my feminist beliefs and integral to making connections within the community.

At last year’s IWD address at the Centre, Cherchez La Femme panellist and keynote speaker Amy Gray reiterated the strength of the relationship between women and the internet:

“Without the internet, I would not be able to know the friends I love so dearly, learn what I have about feminism and politics or get the dream writing job I wanted but couldn’t find a way into the industry. Without the internet, I wouldn’t be here talking with you tonight (you may want to burn down the internet after this speech though)…

“The internet is a place to have so much fun and waste so much time by yourself or with your newest, greatest friends that you’ll forget the damn place was actually created with a military purpose.”

(I wasn’t able to attend this year’s IWD address by Celeste Liddle, but the transcript of her talk, published by New Matilda, has seen Celeste banned from Facebook for the inclusion of an image of topless Indigenous women in ceremonial body paint. Meanwhile, near nude photos of white-identifying—or at least white-passing—Kim Kardashian remain.)

Online (Friend) Dating.

It may be more difficult for older, possibly internet distrustful generations to understand that many millennials not only shop and date online but we also find our tribes there. So when an older colleague asked me how I make new friends, I explained to her that it was mostly electronically, giving her the example of meeting Global Women’s Project manager Carmen Hawker at the book launch for The Misogyny Factor by Anne Summers a few years ago. Carmen was sitting next to me and commented on the book I was reading. Later that I night I saw Anne retweet a photo of herself and none other than Carmen, who I immediately followed and tweeted at. Since then, we’ve bumped into each other at movie screenings and even at Bey Dance!

Similarly, at Roxane Gay’s sold-out talk in Melbourne this time last year, I was sitting next to a woman who was furiously live tweeting the event, almost more than I was. I glanced over at her iPhone screen to see my own handle and moments-ago tweets in her feed and I couldn’t help but exclaim, “Oh, I think you follow me on Twitter!” It turns out she was someone I’d been following for awhile and who I had even encountered at the abovementioned Cherchez La Femme a time or two: Jessamy Gleeson, producer of CLF. She was there with her girl gang, whom she introduced me to and whose tweets add a wealth of feminist insight to my feed.

Feminist meet ups have always been around, advertised by flyers and word of mouth. For some, nothing beats face-to-face interaction and connection and, when we do meet like-minded people at these events, asking for a Twitter handle or blog address instead of a phone number to keep in touch can be less nerve-racking and invasive. At one CLF, I remember attendees wore their Twitter handles on their breast instead of name tags. If worse comes to worse, the unfollow button is close at hand. Increasingly, though, these events are organised and, sometimes, take place solely online. Conversely, they can then be a jumping off point to get together tangibly for coffee or as a group at CLF, SlutWalk or #madfuckingwitches protests.

All the Platforms.

Twitter is by far the social media platform that’s enhanced and complimented my feminism the most but there was a time a few years ago when I wasn’t tweeting. As a new and astoundingly self-assured blogger, I contacted and friended on Facebook fellow writers like there was no tomorrow: Rachel Hills, Sarah Ayoub, Camilla Peffer, the list goes on. I had coffee with Sarah prior to Rachel’s session about her book, The Sex Myth, at the All About Women festival at the Sydney Opera House last weekend, and Camilla is one of the first bloggers I met IRL after connecting with online, who stayed at my house when she moved from Perth to Melbourne and who I often attend CLF monthly events with.

Lesser-known, upcoming platforms like Peach allow you to sequester all your femmo friends in one place without eliciting the ire of #NotAllMen’s everywhere, as well as create a safe space for open discussion. Tumblr has long been a source of alternative content, activism and love-sharing. One recent example: Safe Schools launched a Tumblr where young queer people can share their stories about what the initiative means to them and the people that will most be affected by the program: queer school kids.

A Community of Changemakers.

Though it can be a place of harassment, abuse, doxing and GamerGate, Twitter is also, like Peach and Tumblr, a place where women can agitate and, being a far more popular platform, create large-scale change. For example, survivors of sexual assault by music publicist Heathcliff Berru came together on Twitter to out the abuse in January, while reports are surfacing that Dr. Luke, accused of sexually assaulting Kesha, has been let go by Sony amidst both online and IRL protests to #FreeKesha.

On a smaller scale, Twitter allows those whose voices may be stifled in other areas to simply have a voice. That, in itself, can be a radical act. As editor of online magazine The New Inquiry Ayesha Siddiqi told The Guardian, “New platforms like Twitter are also more accessible to people who have been traditionally marginalised.”

I asked a trans friend I connected with on Twitter and whose intersectional feminist website I now write for, Jetta Rae Robertson, how the app factors into her online life. “A lot of to-do is made about how social media is not a kind place—but the meatspace… is also not a kind place, and after a long day of getting catcalled, followed into the bathroom or having people roll their eyes at me when I correct their pronouns, it’s nice to have a group of friends who will get into therapeutic little fan rants and shitpost exchanges on… feminism. In a lot of ways, Twitter has helped me lower my guard around people who I’d assume aren’t worth the effort.”

To return to Celeste Liddle, her banning from Facebook is illustrative of the white male supremacy governing the site. This is not to say that Twitter and other social networks aren’t ruled similarly, but it’s mighty suspect that an Indigenous woman was restricted from Facebook while corporations such as The Daily Mail and the ABC were able to share articles referencing Celeste’s plight on the platform but remain unbanned. Twitter and her own blog remained the only social media available to Celeste during this time.

The Personal is Technological.

Jazmine Hughes, the editor of New York Times Magazine and formerly of The Hairpin, wrote about finding friendship online, saying that “The Internet is where I’ve found all my friends.”

“It’s easy to dismiss friendships that originate online as superficial,” Hughes continues, “with the broad assertion that no one is their ‘true’ self online, but instead a distilled curation of snapshots, quips and restaurant check-ins, all rolled into one cohesive personal ‘brand.’ But why can’t our social media presences serve as a primer to our real-life selves, a tangible way to say, ‘What you see is what you get?’ There’s a person behind that hashtag.”

For me, too, Twitter is a space where I can be myself, a lot of the time free from expectations and prejudices of family, coworkers and other miscellaneous acquaintances I’m still “friends” with on Facebook in a half-hearted attempt to keep up appearances and in contact should the need arise. It is where I can voice my opinion about controversial topics such as asylum seekers, reproductive rights and professional wrestling without judgement, passive aggressive comments or downright bigoted responses. Whereas Facebook is the fake-smiling family/high school reunion version, Twitter is representative of my true self. I think a lot of my Twitter-cum-real life friends would agree.

Elsewhere: [The Vocal] The Internet Can Be the Best Place to Find Your Tribe.

[Cherchez la Femme] About.

[Girls on Film Festival]

[Pesky Feminist] How the Internet Has Become a Battleground for Women’s Rights.

[New Matilda] Looking Past White Australia & White Feminism.

[New Matilda] Kim Kardashian VS. Aboriginal Culture: Only One of These Images Has Been Banned by Facebook.

[The Daily Dot] What the Debate Over Kim Kardashian’s Race Says About the Changing Face of America.

[Bey Dance]

[SlutWalk Melbourne]

[The Safe Schools Story Project]

[Jezebel] How Women on Twitter Brought Down a Music Publicist Accused of Sexual Assault.

[Daily Life] Kesha & Dr. Luke: Sony “to Cut Producer Loose”.

[The Guardian] Ayesha Siddiqi: “We Need to Stop Waiting for Permission to Write.”

[Harlot] Does the LFL Have a Place in the Women’s Sport Revolution?

[Rantings of an Aboriginal Feminist] Statement Regarding the Facebook Banning.

[The New York Times] The Internet Can Make Real Life Friendships Easier.

On the (Rest of the) Net.

raw6132016_womensegment (1)

I wrote about why World Wrestling Entertainment needs a women’s Money in the Bank match. [SBS Zela]

Who’s afraid of all-woman alliances on reality TV? [The Establishment]

Meghan Trainor’s blaccent and white artists talking black. [MTVNews]

How Keeping Up with the Kardashian’s is falling behind their Snapchats, Instagrams and personal apps. [MTVNews]

Also: On Edith Wharton and Keeping Up with the Kardashians. [Guernica]

On the public nature of black deaths and the need for lynching memorials. [Lenny Letter]

Blackface is the true face of racism in America. [Fusion]

What role did social media play in the murder of Christina Grimmie? [Rolling Stone]

Image via Raw Breakdown Project.

On the (Rest of the) Net.

eva marie art

I wrote in defence of Eva Marie.

From Sir Mix-A-Lot to Taylor Swift to LEMONADE: on the origin of Becky. [Fusion]

bell hooks’ criticisms of LEMONADE and black femininity. [bell hooks institute]

Janet Mock responded smartly. [Facebook]

Feministing hosts a roundtable on the topic. 

And with LEMONADE, Beyonce says “boy, bye” to black respectability. [Fusion]

Women-only train carriages: creating a safe space for women or not doing enough to curb the predatory behaviour of men? [Sheilas]

How Jane the Virgin deals with money. [Think Progress]

George Michael’s “black” musical history. [Slate]

How social media can increase organ donations. [NYTimes]

Why do women love Chris Evans so much? [Buzzfeed]

Ronan Farrow on why the media needs to hold Woody Allen accountable to allegations of child sex abuse against his daughter and Farrow’s sister. [THR]

Chelsea Handler writes in defence of being single. [Motto]

Justin Bieber and the surveillance of celebrities. [MTV]

On the (Rest of the) Net.

When-She-Just-Lying-Naked-Smoking-Trunk-Full-Money

“To be Rihanna… To be a black woman and genius, is to be perpetually owed.” [Pitchfork]

Why we find the sexualised violence of #BBHMM so disturbing. [HuffPo Women]

The Supreme Court of the United States’ landmark decision to legalise marriage equality nation wide is great, but the freedom to marry should also mean the freedom not to marry. [The Cut]

The Kim Kardashian sex tape flag at Kanye West’s Glastonbury set shows women’s sexualities aren’t their own. [The Guardian]

Has Kim changed… or just the way we think about her? [Daily Life]

Orange is the New Black and a defence of rape scenes:

“My hope is that going forward we can have a Pennsatucky Test for rape scenes much like the Bechdel Test. Is the victim’s point-of-view shown? Does the scene have a purpose for existing for character, rather than plot, advancement? Is the emotional aftermath explored? As long as sexual assault continues to be a scourge of our society, TV shows ought to mine the subject; it’s important we keep the conversation going. Just take care of your characters. Don’t rape ’em and leave ’em. They deserve to have their trauma acknowledged. They deserve to have their stories told.” [Vulture]

“The Personal Politics of Public Bathrooms.” [The Cut]

Grief in the time of social media. [Kill Your Darlings]

Why does TV suck at understanding the internet? [Junkee]

To celebrate U.S. series UnREAL‘s renewal and debut on Australian screens on Stan, read about how the show flips the reality TV script and how it’s pushing the boundaries of female masturbation. [Vulture, TV Tonight, The New Yorker, HuffPo Women]

Mums with guns. [Jezebel]

Magic Mike XXL was released this week and I wrote about the original here. [TheVine]

The latest Down Under Feminists Carnival has much more Aussie and Kiwi feminist goodness to keep you satisfied. [A Bee of a Certain Age]

Image via Pop Sugar.

On the (Rest of the) Net.

 

rihanna-pour-it-up

What do strippers think of Rihanna’s “Pour It Up”? [Daily Life]

I wrote about Gossip Girl and inadequacy. [Birdee Mag]

Unpacking the dual feminism and misogyny of American Horror Story: Coven. [LA Review of Books]

Authenticity and performance on social media. [Jezebel]

I’ve had it up to here with Mia Freedman. And that’s not something I write lightly, as I consider her my idol and I even named my dog after her. But she’s written some doozies this week. First she slut-shamed Kim Kardashian for Instagramming a post-baby body pic and how that impacted her suitability as a mother, and now she’s making sure she warns her daughter that when she is of drinking age, she’d better watch out not to get raped whilst intoxicated. Never mind – god forbid – if her daughter is sexually assaulted prior to this or whilst sober, which is just as likely. Oh, don’t worry, Mia also makes sure to write that she will warn her sons about drunk driving and “having sex” whilst inebriated; notice the absence of “not raping” in this sentence. Because we all know boys hear enough of this and women and girls are the ones who need to modify their behaviour lest they be accused of “asking for it”. [MamaMia]

Maryville rape victim Daisy Coleman writes about her attack. [xoJane]

ICYMI: Misogyny in Stephen King’s Under the Dome.

Image via Billboard.