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If an essay written by a young feminist scholar in support of trans rights is violent and harmful, then haven’t we leveled all violence such that everything has become swept up by it, and the very notion of violence has lost its meaning?Certainly, at the very least, we need to distinguish between levels of violence.The viciousness of the attacks was fueled by the mob mentality of Facebook.Dissenters, even those who just wanted a civil discussion of the issue, were shut down immediately or afraid to voice their opinions in public.I then asked critics to respond with philosophical arguments rather than lobbing insults, which was met with claims that I was doing “violence” to marginalized scholars.The most vocal figures on social media claimed they were harmed, even traumatized, by Tuvel’s article, and by my defense of its right to exist.I have to admit, I didn’t want to enter the Facebook shit-storm and face the wrath of the “mean girls” either.

Just this morning, I received a text from someone I respect, lamenting the cruelty on social media, but telling me she was sure she would disagree with the article and find it offensive, even though she hadn’t yet read it., has given a new meaning to the public/private split central to the history of feminism.For decades, feminists have argued the personal is political, and explored the politics of our private lives.Some who joined in the protests later admitted in private that they hadn’t even read the article.

And at least one person who signed a petition demanding that retract the text in question, later, when the media tides were turning, wanted to remove her signature from the damning letter.

The split between what people wrote to both Rebecca Tuvel and to me in private, and what they felt compelled to say in public is one indication that the explosion of personal insults and vicious attacks on social media is symptomatic of something much bigger than the actual issues discussed in Tuvel’s article.

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29 Comments

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  2. eric   •  

    If you find someone to talk to that seems interesting, just stop pressing the "next" button and you will be able to talk with that person until one of you presses the “next” button to exit the conversation.

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