(is the weapon of cowards)
I’ve seen some bizarre speculations about me online where I can’t answer, so I’d like to say, instead of slandering me, why not just ask me if something you’re read or heard is true?
Lying is one of the most powerful as well as easiest and laziest ways to destroy individual women and Lesbian and Feminist communities and movements.
I’m not talking about well-meaning misunderstandings or misquotings, or even sharing relevant information among us, but instead am talking about deliberate, intentional erasing truth and fact, including erasing our personal and community histories. Some who do this are men masquerading as women and Lesbians. Some are paid agents/trolls. And some are abusive, destructive women who simply enjoy causing pain and harming women and Lesbians for their own power and pleasure.
It’s easy to see how it works online. A rumor is spread in a thread and others join in, adding to what some of us call a “gang pile.” The style is almost always the same, with refusal to talk logically or with respect about the issue. Instead there are nasty digs and innuendos, name-calling, taunting, baiting, and other game-playing. Anyone enjoying inflicting abuse happily joins in, even when they don’t know who the victim is. Anyone who dares object knows they will be the next victim or banned, and likely will be remembered to be targeted in future attacks.
We can recognize some of these people as well-known trolls, while others have their own vendetta from past disagreements with the victim, while others don’t know the victim, but do know that their status in their clique will increase if they join the trashing. Few ask for specifics or details, or suggest talking to the victim to hear her side. That would ruin the fun.
We should never forget to think about motives when we see these disasters online or in person. Some of the worst liars, who have destroyed groups and friendships are actually paid agents.1 Whether they are paid by a government or an MRA (Men’s Rights Activist) group (which includes the trans cult) or a corporation, doesn’t matter as much as the fact that they are not remotely Radical Feminists, feminists, or often even women. Some agents are women, but still do the bidding of their bosses. (There is one woman I am convinced is a paid agent, after watching her techniques over several years.) If this seems ludicrous, you don’t know the history of radical movements, including feminism. Someone does not even have to believe whole-heartedly in the government or organization who is paying them. Often they believe they will get paid well for giving inconsequential information, but everything told is of value to our enemies.
Considering how anyone who is a longtime activist knows agents are a reality, note who starts ridiculing anyone who brings up agents. Actually, always notice who ridicules anything that a Radical Feminist says because ridicule is the main weapon of those who are against feminism.
Besides being as disruptive as possible, pitting women against each other, and taking enormous energy (including by asking for repeated explanations of what was already explained), agents will “fish” – meaning, they will give out commonly known information about a Radical Feminist in a group where someone is being slandered, to lure lesser-known, more useful information. (I’ve seen this happening in a group a friend shared that I was banned from. The group speculated wildly and inaccurately about my life, while the probable agent cleverly asked questions, even though it was clear they had very little original information about me.)
Almost as dangerous as agents are the men posing as women to pit feminists against each other, and then there are the women so devoted to men that they might as well be working for the men in their intent to harm Radical Feminists.
Next are the sado-masochists, narcissists, sociopaths, psychopaths, and/or privileged women who just enjoy making trouble between Lesbians and other women. Some try to collect followers from the mess they caused.
It’s important to not deny the reality of agents, but also to not become afraid of each other or be diverted from focusing on the non-agents who thrive on slander and harming our communities. To make our communities and women safer, we need to learn to quickly recognize them as well as the women who seem well-meaning but who will quickly join in gang piles for the power and acceptance.
Part of the problem is that once a woman identifies as a “radfem” (because I am not a Fem and because I avoid in-group terms, and because of who is using it, that term actually means liberal to right wing to me) or even a Radical Feminist (the clearer term), she tends to be accepted, believed, defended, and supported. We all need to use common sense like we do when women insist men can be Lesbians, and to think through what is happening. If it’s someone we have liked and trusted who is participating in bullying, we should try to reach them. But we also need to be able to recognize the difference between actual bullying and when women are trying to confront and stop a bully because manipulators are good at playing the victim.
It helps to try to figure out what their ultimate goal is. One woman in my Bay Area community who had a history of disrupting and trying to destroy individual women’s reputations, groups, and events, admitted in a book about the history of her old Lesbian community in Chicago that she enjoyed pitting women against each other to see what would happen. So trivial and yet so powerful if the victim just gives up and quits the community or quits trying to organize things that benefit other women. We all lose because of these bullies. (I have never heard of her being held accountable. Few care unless they are the target.)
For those of us who don’t understand enjoying such cruelty, it can be hard to figure out motives. Unfortunately, that means that observers often believe there must be some reason this particular woman is being slandered or attacked. She has to at least be bad/harmful in some way, right? Well, no. It could just be that she is a target simply because she is public in trying to do good with her politics. But that makes her be resented by those who think of her as competition for attention.
Jealousy Is Often the Motive and Projection Is the Weapon
I have seen, over and over again, where someone is stunned by false charges made against her, but when it’s examined, and if you know some of abuser’s past and history, the slanderer sounds like they are talking about themselves. And they might as well be. It’s odd that many of those observing and the liar herself doesn’t seem to even notice, but their technique often is to just keep throwing as much crap as possible, hoping something will stick. For self defense, though, I suggest checking about how much of the accusations, including the more bizarre-sounding ones (like being called “crazy” when that’s never something you’ve been called before) fit the liar’s history instead of yours. And when you explore how jealousy might be the motive, then it can all make sense. Otherwise, it IS enough to drive you crazy.
A friend who moderates an excellent facebook support group for victims of Narcissists was suddenly being targeted by a few members because she refused to allow certain platitudes (such as forgiving the abuser) to be promoted in her group. I’ve been inspired with how safe she makes her group precisely because she refuses to allow known “self-help” gurus and frauds be promoted. When I said how unfairly she was being treated, she gave me this quote by Socrates: “When the debate is lost, slander become the tool of the loser.”
Another friend who has done tremendous work against racism and misogyny for decades and moderates another excellent facebook group was targeted by someone who feigned being African, though the accent flipped depending on who “she” was attacking, showing “she” was a native English speaker. Then my friend discovered that the photos “she” used were fake, including of “her” supposed husband who was a man who’d died years ago. I’m impressed with how much my friend found out, but she still had to deal with the game-playing and insults from the troll for days. It was excruciating to watch, and yet I learned so much in how she let that troll lose all credibility before removing her. If anyone wonders why someone would slander a Radical Feminist who is doing so much good work, well, my guess is either someone very jealous or a paid agent.
Jealousy most often seems to be aimed at less-privileged women because we are considered to not deserve any support for our years of work and because we make a far easier target than the privileged. The bullies usually will try to ally with more privileged feminists and to get status by their association with them. They are more likely to be able to maintain the contact since it’s at a distance, whereas if they get closer to someone, there can be trouble.
If you care about community and justice, do check to see if the motives in gang attacks are obvious, and ask questions. If you are afraid to ask, that tells you that you feel you can’t trust the slanderer. Look to see how much is projection. One of the most effective ways of finding out if someone is abusive, is to say no to them and see the reaction. Saying no could even mean daring to disagree about something minor, but it’s likely to set off a revealing response, such as bizarre insults and accusations that aren’t even relevant to the topic. Narcissists are famous for not tolerating “no.” And saying no can make you a scapegoat for life. Recently I was in an email list were several of us objected to a member writing about throwing rocks at a coyote. The hostile response to us included ranting about PETA, though we never said a word about PETA and don’t support them. Then she did a tirade about how dangerous animals are, although otherwise pretended to love animals. She then wrote privately to me to tell me to leave the group, but told the group I’d told her to leave.
Another time on facebook, someone posted video showing a baby animal slowly drowning in a toilet, while, as she struggled to breathe, people in the thread said how disgusting she was and how they wanted to shoot her. It was shocking, and would not have been acceptable if the baby had been a popular “pet” species, but because her species is considered vermin, the thread wasn’t reported. (Ironically, there is an entire international community who dearly love these little animals and would have done anything to save that baby.) When I objected to the hatred aimed at an innocent dying animal, everyone in the thread turned on me and I was accused of being “politically correct” and “perfect.” No, I just was so horrified that I had to protest against celebrating a little animal suffering and dying, with no attempt to rescue her. It was heart-breaking to see not only her terror and pain, but how she and her species were being reviled by people who think themselves “animal lovers.”
Truth is the enemy of liars, and the last thing liars want is to have to explain what they are doing. Be prepared to be targeted for daring to ask questions. This silencing is almost always done with insults, letting you know you are next on the killing block unless you immediately make a submissive gesture. If you are still able to ask questions or a friend joins you, more of the dynamics become obvious. Notice how much of what is happening involves friendly/cruel joking banter among the slanderers, while those who refuse to play are clearly the outsiders. Notice the lack of any actual information or attempts to get to the truth. The victim is simply “bad” and must be destroyed without formal accusation or trial because they say so, and again, justice would ruin the fun. What is most amazing is when they even list false dates and events that could easily be disproven, yet few have the courage to counter the liars.
One of the most common techniques is when the liar pretends to know their victim well. That makes it very hard for others present in a thread to intervene since it looks like a personal issue. In fact, trivializing political differences as “personal disagreements” is a clever method to convince other women to not get involved and therefore isolate the victim. Always observe closely to find out what is actually going on. Of course any political disagreement will be personal as well, especially if the repercussions from past interactions have caused lasting harm.
It is better to make a mistake in terms of getting involved in something personal that is public than to not support the woman who is being slandered or bullied. The truth will become obvious soon enough anyway. The real problem in our community is lack of accountability, which inevitably protects the abusers.
The pretense of knowing the victim has been used for many years as a way to stop any observer from questioning or challenging what looks like slander. A woman I have only met through her aggressive insults in support of men posing as women told a troll that she had known me for forty years, implying I’m a long time problem. I don’t remember ever meeting her or even being in contact with her much online, and we don’t live in the same area. When I confronted her about lying about me, she said she’d been aware of my writing for forty years. But that is not what she said or implied. And what on earth did she object to that I wrote about forty years ago? If she said it was my consistent objection to men appropriating women’s and Lesbians’ identity and invading our spaces, that would have cost her some support. Better to leave it up to the imagination, which could be any horrible thing.
The person she was commiserating with was a troll we had removed from one of our Radical Feminist groups after watching them become increasingly suspect. They said they were Asian, living in Asia, but we found out they were in the Midwest. A friend whose family emigrated from Asia said she was very familiar with how Asian women from different countries write, and this person’s broken English (that never improved over years online) was like a parody of a Euro-descent person trying to sound Asian. One of our moderators asked to do a short Skype with the troll since we no longer believed this was even a woman. The person then ranted that “her” brother (never previously mentioned) said the moderator was trying to “sex” them and “she” was blocking her. Of course no blocking of moderators (or members) are allowed in our group. This troll has since continued trying to get back into our group. My contact with them was limited and had previously been friendly, but when they commiserated with the other liar, they said I was “bad person.”
Another recent example was when a woman used a nickname for me (that I never am called) to imply intimacy in front of whoever would see the thread we were in, and then gave a completely made up description of my life, how I live, my resources, etc. as a reason for why I should never have the right to object to classism. No one objected or defended me, but instead did a pile on, though the original issue was again about the trans cult and how I had to be reprimanded for saying that TiFs (“Trans-identified Females”) were betraying us. I can only imagine how this story will change when spread.
Learning from Observing How Other Women Are Slandered
It can be easy to think you are unique in being slandered repeatedly, but it’s fascinating to see how the techniques are often identical when other women are targeted. There is the smug, smirking ridicule calculated to make your possible allies cringe in fear of being next. There are the cruel comparisons with the worst kind of enemy imaginable (Hitler, Trump, etc.), even though you have opposite politics. There are typical name-calling insults that can be interchangeable in any situation.
Some women believe that there is more slander and viciousness among feminists or Lesbians, but it happens in every activist group. More radical groups do sometimes draw narcissists who want to be trendy and think that that is what it means to be radical, but every group can have problems. I’m in a local coalition that is working to try to stop park and government agencies from killing healthy trees in our local parks and continuing massive poisoning of the environment. Those making money off this mess will never answer, discuss, or debate. They just throw insults and slander that are remarkably similar to what trolls aim at Radical Feminists.
Some women have chosen to stop talking about others and sharing information, but that causes another kind of danger, especially in our large international Radical Feminist community. We need to help each other know who is safe and who is not. Part of how we find out who we can trust is from talking about what we know about each other, with as much detail as possible. That helps to avoid blanket paranoia where women start blocking each other out of fear rather than from reason. Better to have agents among us than drive out any sincere women. Having clear safety rules in our RF groups should keep out the worst troublemakers. (Our Radical Feminist Coffee House changed dramatically when we did this.)
If we are careful to not just accept possible lies without specifics, and refuse to target women based on what are classist or racist or Lesbian-hating or ageist or ableist or fat oppressive, etc., innuendos or insults, then we can find a lot out. And for those of us who moderate Radical Feminist groups online where we need to protect the other members and the entire group from agents, trolls, or just cruel bullies, finding out histories of women who ask to join is essential.
After I began to be friends with a Radical Feminist, a trusted friend warned me that she had witnessed her previously allying with someone we know to be a cruel and manipulative bully. I understand falling for that woman’s cons since I also wasted weeks being available for her hours’ long “emergency” phone calls where she asked for support and advice while crying over betrayals and then flipping to subject me to the gruesome and oppressive insults she was getting, in the guise of sharing. (Especially avoid anyone who is any kind of sado-masochist, and beware of anyone who says they used to be but stopped.) When I finally said no, that for my health’s sake, I could not just be available whenever she wanted, but needed to have the talks planned and not last for hours, she was enraged and cut me off, and then began targeting me in groups to slander. (She is not the first one to do this. I’ve learned that sometimes the more you support someone, the more likely you will be their target when they want someone to victimize.)
What my dear friend warned me about was that not only did my new friend support this bully in targeting other women, but that she joined with her in going after those women. I asked the new friend about this and she apologized, said she deeply regretted helping the bully, and that she’d learned a lot from the situation, and never wanted to do anything like that again. Even though I was daily supporting her online because of how she was being attacked by the trans cult, within a few weeks, she turned on me. The first time she saw me being bullied in a thread by a friend of hers, she joined in a gang pile, aiming bizarre insults and accusations at me. She seemed to be betraying her own politics as a Radical Feminist by how she was talking to me, but the priority was to help her other friend destroy me. Luckily, I have wonderful wise and supportive Radical Feminist friends who clearly saw what was happening, including the classism involved. In the process of my still trying to work it out, she and her lover blocked me.
But my main concern is for the victims of such bullying and slander who are alone or particularly vulnerable. We have lost too many of our people, Radical Feminists, and especially Radical Lesbian Feminists, to suicide, and way too many are chronically ill or have died from stress-related illnesses.
Because of lies about me online, I’ve been prevented from doing a workshop at a Lesbian gathering. I’ve had to deal with being snubbed, being pointed at, and getting hate looks. Once, after taking two women on a strenuous nature hike for three hours where I could not easily leave, one of them started yelling her head off about something I supposedly had written that was printed in a Lesbian publication, though neither was true. Why not ask me before yelling? It’s very stressful since I never know when something like this will happen, but I will not let these bullies stop me from going into my community or out into the world.
1 Don’t forget about agents when thinking of the worst betrayals. It certainly explains the unexplainable. When I was first in the Lesbian Feminist community, it was understood that there were government agents reporting back about what we were doing. For those who ridicule this idea, you need to learn our history.
After the US government was embarrassed by not knowing about the Symbionese Liberation Army and the Weather Underground, including their Lesbian members, they were not going to let that happen again. If I hadn’t lived in the Bay Area and met Pat Soltysik and Camilla Hall, who joined the SLA and later were burned alive by the LA police, I would have thought that organization was a bizarre joke with their offensive, racist, and even silly “communiques.” Later, a Dyke Separatist friend in Wisconsin was held by the FBI because they thought she was Kathy Soliah from the SLA.
Another friend said her ex-lover, the Lesbian singer/songwriter, Kathy Fire, had been captured and raped by men from the FBI, also in the Midwest. When I saw a documentary about Malcolm X where it was mentioned that most of his bodyguards were in the FBI, I was more surprised by them crying about his assassination than that they were FBI agents. (Agents are not always dedicated patriots to right wing governments. More often they will be people wanting money for reporting what they convince themselves is not likely to be relevant information.)
I knew that the French Secret Service had blown up a Greenpeace ship in Auckland, Aotearoa/New Zealand (killing a photographer) to stop them protesting French nuclear testing in the Pacific, which was increasing the cancer rate. (I remember the slogan, “If it’s so safe, test it in Paris.”) I only recently found out that the agents got credibility in the NZ Leftist community when one of their women posed as a Lesbian, to get into the Lesbian Feminist community.
So why wouldn’t agents be in our online Radical Feminist community? Some of the worst trolls fit all the classic agent behavior, from having multiple aliases, game-playing, lying, trolling, posting opposite politics within a few days, targeting some of our most courageous activists, etc.
As Amoja ThreeRivers has written: Please pay special attention to this –There is ALWAYS infiltration of progressive groups by govt agent provocateurs, whose purpose is to create & facilitate inter-group & intra-group chaos, misinformation, enmity, violence & destruction. Anyone who has lived thru the era of Civil Rights, the Black Panthers, the anti-war groups, the Farmworkers, AIM & Cointelpro, & is NOT paranoid is either woefully uninformed or mentally ill. Anytime people try to organize around the betterment of their communities, there is going to be infiltration. You can count on this. I’m not advocating for mistrust, but for awareness. Some of the politics around trans issues, especially as it relates to feminism might be an example of infiltrator mischief. Pay attention, y’all. I’m Old & I can assure you that the day may be different but the shit is still the same.
Another longtime Lesbian Feminist activist wrote:
…you could almost always be sure of an agent somewhere. The other thing we learned they did, from our close relations with other radical groups, was to try to damage and destroy groups. They did this by infiltrating with one to two members, creating dissent, often one proposing a crazy action and the other opposing it. So groups self-destructed. Never be naive. We are being watched, these days probably on the internet too. It’s also police and even corporations who have agents in radical communities. Several women environmental activists were in relationships with some of these agents, including one woman for six years. First, her boyfriend was working for the English police and then for a private agency, reporting on her and her activist friends. This was taken seriously enough that a police commissioner made a public apology and gave compensation.