By NPR Staff
Twitter isn’t always the best place for big, thorny philosophical conversations. But it’s a great forum for catharsis and taking the temperature of a popular sentiment. Sometimes, rarely, it’s actually both.
If you were on Twitter last week, you may have seen a lot of rallying around the satirical but serious hashtag # (which itself spawned another trending hashtag ). It was an unlikely trending topic, but it served as a high-profile digital example of one of feminism’s most enduring internecine tensions — how or whether to make space in the world of feminism for people who aren’t white (or upper middle class or straight or able-bodied).
The hashtag was started by the blogger Mikki Kendall, but the proximate cause of the hullabaloo was the digital self-immolation of Hugo Schwyzer, a self-identified “male feminist” and one of the most polarizing figures in the feminist blogosphere.1 (BuzzFeed has a rundown of Schwyzer’s Twitter meltdown .) Several women of color have long complained that Schwyzer publicly went after them for criticizing him and his writing — — and yet despite this, he had long remained a contributor in good standing at influential feminist-inclined sites like . (Notably, most of those sites being criticized for publishing Schwyzer are run and largely frequented by white women.) A lot of people tweeting #solidarityisforwhitewomen felt that those sites and their proprietors had granted Schwyzer the platform to snipe at and undermine women of color while bestowing upon him undeserved feminist street cred. And now that Schwyzer was basically admitting that all of those complaints about him were true, they wondered why those same digital feminists who’d helped Schwyzer’s ascendancy weren’t denouncing him or locking arms with feminists of color. In their eyes, it was emblematic of the same myopic application of feminism.