Update: our news editor Max Ramsay has penned a response here.
A while ago now, a good friend asked me if I had heard of ‘Cuntry Living’.
“Um, yeah yeah, it’s that twee magazine full of horses and home decorations you usually find next to a year-old Tatler at the dentist.”
“No, Jen. CUNT-try Living. You should join them on Facebook…”
So I did. I naively joined this Facebook group – “an Oxford-based feminist zine”, with little idea of its content or agenda. Whilst the sentiment is great, the reality was a continuous flood of angry voices posting on my newsfeed about matters that were sometimes so obscurely related to feminism, I found myself getting angry.
We’ve all been there
I am not someone who shies away from the label feminist. I still have friends who cannot quite grasp that feminism is not some fascist dictate rallying for a perverted man-hating and man-absent ‘utopia’. Whilst I do not generally care about labels – humans are not entities to be glibly categorized for their race or sex or creed – I feel ‘feminism’ is still justified. When people have been marginalized or oppressed for a shared trait, a label is temporarily helpful. It is helpful in the recognition of the history of that oppression and in creating a platform where change can be effectively administered.
I do not think that ‘Cuntry Living’ is one of those platforms. I honestly think that the title ‘Cuntry Rants’ might be more appropriate. This is not to say that all the posts on this group are irrelevant. They are not. But the dichotomy of very serious posts about individuals harmed in the attempt to defend themselves or others against misogynistic behaviour to discussions about the not-so-subtle gender archetypes of ‘Frozen’, are bewildering. Both discussions have their merit. But does the presentation of these topics in such close proximity not diminish the weight of those issues where real human lives have been paid?
I am thankful that we live in a country where our press is not completely chained to one political agenda or ideology. A free press is something that should not be taken for granted and it is vital within the university community. But the free-wheeling nature of this page often leads to a case of ‘I am female and I am angry about something and I will post about it’, regardless of whether this post might be useful to another person. It is an expression of anger rather than a search for resolutions.
A “safe space”? Taylor isn’t sure.
Like Max, I think people ‘losing their shit’ sometimes is very worthwhile. I regularly lose my shit over being looked at like a piece of meat on the Tube and getting told not to worry about my job prospects, I can always marry someone rich. (Yes, really). But anger has to be propelled in the right way. It should not be expressed in a way that alienates others and it certainly should not be expressed with alienating and nonsensical intellectual jargon: “The post-structuralist intersection of feminism and race aggrandized in the neo-Marxist discussion…” Etc.
I am not disputing the right of pages like ‘Cuntry Living’ to exist. To some extent they are a useful proponent of free speech. But I do not find the majority of posts useful, and the frequent expressions of directionless anger are more disheartening than helpful or thought-provoking.
Tags: cuntry living — feminism — Oxford