What makes a feminist in 2020?
We asked feminists all over the world to share their views on what we think are some of the crucial questions that we should be debating right now. The feminist movement is broad, diverse and sometimes divided. Is that a good or a bad thing? Please, share your opinion with us and your fellow feminists.
CAN YOU BE A FEMINIST AND UPHOLD FREEDOM OF SPEECH AT ALL TIMES?
Yes, of course. I don’t see why not?
No – We must be at the forefront of discourse countering the freedom to harass and abuse women and marginalised peoples.
Yes, because it is a right – just like it is your right to disagree or argue with what’s said. Restricting what people can say is not part of feminism.
No, not if ‘freedom of speech’ includes ‘freedom of hate speech’ or bans against no-platforming people. Also, freedom of speech does not include a right to be listened to or given platforms with large audiences.
Feminists should support freedom of speech unless it’s used to be intolerant against someone. As soon as freedom of speech discriminated against someone’s sexual orientation, ethnicity, gender identity it’s a crime.
No, feminism is quite clear that hateful narratives encourage hateful behaviour. To uphold the freedom of all speech is to enable the transmission of all narratives into collective consciousness. Many of those narratives are hurtful towards the feminist cause either because they encourage inactive bystanderism in the face of threats to women/ queer people/ poc, or because they outright encourage violence against/ erasure of these people.
I think the idea of upholding freedom of speech is often misinterpreted. Freedom of speech (or freedom of expression in the UK) means the government cannot tell you what to say. It doesn’t mean you can’t tell someone to put a sock in it. If you advocate that people should be allowed to spout hate-speech then no, you are not a feminist.
Probably, but I personally prefer a model in which hate speech is defined and if not censored, then at least always censured, or responded to.
Illustration by Hannah Wolny