What Karen Pickering said, a while back.
The good news is it actually doesn’t matter what armchair commentators say about your feminism. It’s up to you to learn, listen, say sorry when you get it wrong, and grow into your values. You don’t have to engage when a critic’s signature strategy is abuse. It’s thinly veiled insecurity that drives this tactic. You don’t owe anyone an explanation for your deepest held beliefs and how you live them, unless you want to offer it.
Your feminism needn’t be immune to new ideas that will challenge and strengthen it. But crucially, it’s yours. It’s yours to work on and work through and it takes energy and thought every day. It may thrive if you harness your energies alongside other likeminded people and organise collectively, but it will still be valuable if you perform it by having mind-changing conversations at your kitchen table, back fence, church or union meeting.
The critical mass of feminist thinking is built day by day, conversation by conversation, and this is what will eventually transform gender roles. The hard work of feminism is being done by ordinary people who are changing the minds of their family members, students or colleagues with reasoned explanations, sincere engagement and respect.
Genuine and lasting social change doesn’t happen because elitist commentators get their jollies over who can craft the cleverest insult. All social movements rely on everyone involved making the contribution that they can, whether it’s marching, teaching, drafting legislation, letting off steam on Twitter, or chaining yourself to a fence. Because in my experience, you’re damned if you do and you’re damned if you don’t, so you may as well trust yourself and keep going. Or as Ru Paul says: “Folks gon’ talk sh*t about U anyway, so U might as well just do your own thang.”