The New Feminism: Death By 1,000 Online Cuts


Jack Kilbride is a man. And he expressed an opinion about women. And therefore he must be humiliated. Tanya Levin most certainly does not agree.

It didn’t matter what Jack Kilbride had written yesterday. It didn’t matter that he supported feminism, or was inspired by Emma Watson, or wanted to see misogynists brought to justice.

In the end, those decent offerings were merely evidence against him, a male, daring to speak about gender issues in the current climate. He could only be the enemy.

According to the lynch mob that came for him yesterday, Kilbride, and yes they mocked his unfeminist name, had committed sins that are unforgivable. He mansplained; he told women how to feminist; he critiqued a major leader in the movement; he was putting another brick in the wall of the patriarchy.

Except that he wasn’t. The outrage had me confused so I re-read. Kilbride suggested that naming and shaming men who write abusive posts on social media could prove isolating for men, who often do not have the language tools or understanding that others do.

But there is no room for a man at the feminist table anymore, unless they nod and smile and swear a lot in agreement. The crowd were coming for him and it was piled on thick.

Yet, when I commented on the New Matilda website that the nasty vicious response doesn’t help for debate, I was told that there were no death threats. No there weren’t. But there was sustained aggression, vitriol and violence. Physical violence? Not that I saw, but enough derision, cruelty and degradation against someone’s opinion to drive free speech and debate way underground.

If the crowd had their way, Kilbride would be hanging and a cross burned on his front lawn. Because, as his chromosomes would prove, he IS the patriarchy. Only not the raping killing kind. The kind who as was written this morning as “nice white boys who do arts degrees at Melbourne Uni – who are both men and feminists! – demean you simply by not texting after they sleep with you (even though you paid for the cab), or by not asking you what you’re working on even though they know you’re an artist and you listen to them crap on about their work all the time”.

It’s perfectly acceptable now to ridicule Kilbride’s name, his age, his race, his class and his chosen career, because now it’s demeaning to sleep with men who don’t text you. If a male had written a similar piece about someone who happened to be female, the torches would be ablaze.

But anything goes now with victim feminism. The only acceptable Women are perpetually victimised even if they pay for the cab fare. Even if they slept with someone of their own free will and went home, the patriarchy, invisible as it is, punishes them by having men not text them, or ask them the right questions at the right time about their art.

So while deriding the idea of speaking coherently to each other as ‘respectability politics’, anything short of bringing these princesses breakfast in bed, only with permission of course, is a micro aggression aligned with assault. Bitch, please.

There is no winning now in the gender war because the movement is based on victimhood. No gains are ever enough. And no input from the perceived oppressor is anything but a declaration of war and further evidence of being wronged.

It’s tired, it’s dreary and it will not lead to any liberation or peace. Above all, it’s easy to raise up a crowd of followers on the basis of emotion and misinformation and get heaps of likes on facebook.

It’s much, much harder to try to address the nuances of an issue and make it accessible to humans that are different from each other and that don’t all have the same needs and perceptions.

If a man says anything it’s called reinforcing the patriarchy. Despite the entire cause of feminism being about NOT discriminating against people due to their biology, it’s fine now to do that to men.

But as I discovered last week, women are not allowed to disagree with this either. I suppose asking writers to refrain from informing us that they’re ‘on the rag’ is respectability politics. That would show my ‘internalised misogyny’ that was pointed out to me by a male feminist, when I vehemently denied that I am a victim since birth due to my sex.

I’m not a victim of much. I’m a white, Jewish, Western, university educated woman in good health who lives in Australia, a paradise that is comparable to none. I am one of the most privileged people on the face of the earth. That patriarchy’s got nothing on me. And there’s not a mean tweet that can take that away.

Tanya Levin is a social worker and prominent Australian writer whose 2007 book People in Glass Houses: An Insider's Story of a Life in and out of Hillsong, an exposé of the Hillsong Church, was short-listed for the 2007 Walkley Non-fiction Book Award. Levin is a former Hillsong Church member and describes herself as a feminist and an atheist.