Update: Inspired by the response this post has generated, there is now a Facebook group for feminists who have been Banned by Everyday Feminism.
Anyone who's read my blog knows I'm a feminist. With posts like Guns Don't Kill Women - Male Entitlement Kills Women, For the Love of God, STOP Asking Women if They're Okay, Advantages of Traveling While Female, and The Real Reason Women "Spend So Much Time In The Bathroom", it would be pretty hard to argue that I stand for anything BUT equality and empowerment.
And yet... I've been blocked from commenting on Everyday Feminism's Facebook posts, which they pay good money to promote on my feed.
I was not trying to sell their readers Viagra or Louboutins. I wasn't trying to teach anyone how they can make $1,000 per week working from home! I wasn't being mean or calling anyone names. All I said is that maybe, JUST MAYBE, the reason a doctor didn't diagnose an overweight 19-year-old with lung cancer... was because it's exceedingly rare for teenagers to get lung cancer. And not because he was "medical fat shaming."
My comment (which has now been deleted) included quotations and citations from leading lung doctors and research organizations. It excluded any kind of hurtful or offensive language. But it did include the hashtag, #VictimhoodCulture. Because, to me, that's exactly what this post was about.
A woman with a cancer that was extremely rare for a woman her age, and which doctors know little about (“In the young, symptoms, if there are any, are often ignored or mistaken for something else,” wrote Dr. Geoff Oxnard, a lung cancer specialist at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, in an Atlantic post) was eventually diagnosed with cancer. Treated. And has been cancer-free for three years. Instead of rejoicing, she's playing the victim.
I went to see my PCP in Pittsburgh. She told me I had bronchitis and walking pneumonia.
So far, it sounds quite reasonable.
Over a month later, I was still coughing. At that point, I was told that I had bronchospasms. She gave me Advair and a rescue inhaler.
Still not seeing the fat shaming. If you take five seconds to Google "can losing weight reduce bronchospasms," you'll find thousands upon thousands of websites that say, yes, for sure! Are ShareCare, NormalBreathing, MDLive, the Los Robles Hospital and Medical Center, and LiveStrong all fatphobics, too?
So then, the girl continues going to college, "paying her cough no mind," and occasionally mentioning to doctors that she has a cough. They give her an antibiotic. I'm no expert, but to me, this course of action makes sense.
I mean, should everyone who presents with a cough be given a CT scan for lung cancer? Smoker or nonsmoker? Teen, recent grad or mature adult? If I came in with a bloody nose, should I expect to be tested for ebola?
It sucks that she got cancer. It sucks that she suffered all those years. It sucks that she has medical debt. I'm just having a hard time seeing how "fat shaming" fits into the narrative.
Admittedly (as I wrote in my comment), I could be wrong. There could be a total major problem with "fatphobic" doctors in this country. If that's the case, please, Everyday Feminism -- show me the study! Show me the data! Is there something beyond this one piece of anecdotal evidence that should compel me to accept that this girl was, indeed, fat shamed?
Are my questions offensive? Is my view invalid? Is it really unreasonable for me to ask for data, rather than a single anecdote? Ought my comment to have been deleted -- and my account blocked from making further comments?
I was actually a little surprised, when I first made my comment, that almost every single comment in the thread was something along the lines of, "OMG the same thing happened to me!" and, "You go girl!" But now, it all makes sense. When it comes to Everyday Feminism, you agree... or you get blocked.
I expected more from you, Everyday Feminism. You kind of make me embarrassed to be a feminist. (I swear -- we're not all like that!) You kind of confirmed everything that Coddling of the American Mind piece (I know you're not a university, but still -- you have a responsibility to your readers):
Higher education has taken a further step toward intellectual homogeneity and the creation of an environment in which students rarely encounter diverse viewpoints. And universities will have reinforced the belief that it’s okay to filter out the positive. If students graduate believing that they can learn nothing from people they dislike or from those with whom they disagree, we will have done them a great intellectual disservice.
When the ideas, values, and speech of the other side are seen not just as wrong but as willfully aggressive toward innocent victims, it is hard to imagine the kind of mutual respect, negotiation, and compromise that are needed to make politics a positive-sum game.
But, to be fair, Everyday Feminism isn't the only publication that blocks people who disagree with their agenda.
Nassim Nicholas Taleb, a so-called "scholar" and essayist, has been pushing an anti-GMO agenda. You know -- in spite of having no background whatsoever in genetics. Justin Smith, who is weeks away from completing a Stanford Ph.D. in Genetics, tried to have a conversation with Taleb about GMOs. Because one of Justin's passions is promoting scientific literacy and combating anti-science views. (He even volunteers at theTech Museum of Innovation in San Jose, among other things.)
Justin -- the kindest, most conflict-averse person I've ever met -- was almost immediately blocked from commenting on Taleb's Facebook page. Despite saying nothing offensive. And despite having expertise in genetics and an education from one of the best research institutions in the world.
It's one thing when some dumb mom reads an article on the internet and thinks she now knows more than a Stanford Ph.D candidate about vaccines. It's quite another when a professor at NYU, who has no background in genetics, promotes an anti-scientific view on GMOs. (Oh, and by the way. Since half the people who "oppose GMOs" don't know what GMO stands for... it's genetically modified organisms. Just sayin'.)
But maybe it's not that surprising... Because apparently Taleb also thinks Neil deGrasse Tyson is a "fraud"
In the video shared that provoked Nassim's derisive comment, Neil deGrasse Tyson supports the safety of GMOs, a view held by the vast majority of scientists, but is quickly labelled a "fraud" for views that don't agree with the page's owner.
Everyday Feminism. Nassim Nicholas Taleb. And people/publications like you. You have a responsibility. I'm all for banning bullies and spammers from commenting on your social media. But it's cowardly to block everyone who disagrees with you because they disagree with you.
Maybe instead of doing that... you should only post articles that you can support with data. Or, at the very least, agree to disagree. Stand up for what you believe in -- and encourage your readers to do the same! Just please, stop fostering narrow-mindedness and victimhood culture.
Want to know more? Check out:
9/15/2015 03:50:38 pm
People like Nassim Taleb and others who try to silence those that disagree with them really upset me. Good discourse that looks at different viewpoints on a topic is very important. I know that is something you learned at Exeter.
9/15/2015 05:49:25 pm
Totally! I wish I had upvote or Like buttons on my blog :)
9/17/2015 12:41:57 am
I'm not chocked at all. I've been combating the coddling of minds for years (yes, I'm Don Quixote against the windmills). I'm not a feminist though but I do have respect enough to listen to different viewpoints and argue with facts and evidence, and sometimes I'm wrong.
9/22/2015 11:54:22 am
It IS scary! And sad. And frustrating to watch. The victimhood thing! Someone I know posted a link to this article on his Facebook page... so this pro-GMO guy came to MY Facebook page (facebook.com/thehappytalent) and started making personal attacks against me. He couldn't tell me why what I wrote in this article was wrong. Just that I "needed to get laid and smoke more pot." When that failed to rattle me, he said, "Go play and enjoy your white privilege."
9/22/2015 02:21:05 pm
Sure, would love to write a guest post on that subject actually. Absolutely, you have my e-mail so just send me one and we can discuss details there I guess.
1/14/2017 03:55:48 pm
I quite agree, this new so-called "feminism" is weakening and undermining young adults by brainwashing them to be victims. I don't know what happened because feminism used to teach women that they aren't aren't weaklings and to stand on their own feet, the new "feminism" is just the opposite.
9/17/2015 06:53:50 am
I could not agree more with this article, thank you!
10/31/2015 09:51:14 am
I just got banned from 'Everyday Feminism' for just trying to point out a Disney character is different from a real world stereotype. (It was about Native American stereotypes - not even feminism)...
11/23/2015 04:13:28 pm
Wow -- I'm saddened, but not surprised. Personally, I would LOVE to hear your opinion about Disney characters and real world stereotypes. If you ever want to guest post, my door is always open :)
11/10/2015 10:26:37 pm
This is really sad! I also identify as a feminist, but find a lot of blogs like everyday feminism and jezebel extremely stupid. I think this is just a manifestation of people having access to social media platforms - which is generally a good thing, but also means that anyone can say anything in the name of [insert global social movement here.]
1/26/2016 04:08:29 pm
I do find it troubling -- for several reasons. First, feminism is first and foremost about empowerment. Telling you how you "should" or "must" feel about an issue is the opposite of that. Second, radical feminists silence moderate feminists (like me). Third, radical feminists often harm the feminist cause by writing ridiculous articles, and forcing everyone to agree with them.
11/19/2015 02:50:16 pm
I was just blocked from Everyday Feminism, too. I questioned their assertion that eating certain foods was cultural appropriation, but instead of debating with me, they blocked me.
11/23/2015 04:15:00 pm
Oooooooooo...mg. I just read that article. It's SO awful! I guess I'm a racist because I like Chinese food. Sorry to hear you were blocked -- but know that I would LOVE to hear your story and opinion. If you ever want to guest post, my door is always open :)
1/26/2016 04:03:23 pm
Also (super belated follow-up) -- inspired by all the comments and messages I've received from this post, I started a Facebook group for feminists who were banned from Everyday Feminism. It's a place to discuss (even when we disagree on!) feminist issues and spread awareness about moderate feminism.
12/6/2015 08:49:55 pm
I have to agree with you on the ridiculousness of the everyday feminism website- but I do have a slight problem with your argument about this specific article. Sure, she shouldn't have been tested right away- it seems reasonable to me that a doctor would just think it was brronchitis- at first. But her cough lasted for years- it shouldn't have gotten that far. A case of years-long bronchitis is a pretty big red flag, and she should have been taken more seriously by her doctors. However, I can't comment on whether it was about her weight. I've had a lot of encounters with doctors that have not taken me seriously as I was trying to describe my symptoms to them, and refuse to entertain the idea that they might be oversimplifying the issue. I had a neurologist try to take me off of an antidepressant that took me years to find- because that in combination with a DIFFERENT pill caused me to have a seizure. I'd been taking the antidepressant for two years, and had only been taking the other pill for a week before the seizure.I tried to tell him that, but when he quickly googled the interaction of those two drugs on his iPhone, he didn't find the connection and immediately dismissed me. Thankfully, my psychiatrist is more open to listening and knows why I'm afraid to try different meds (I can't take SSRI's- they make me suicidal). I understand her frustration at the medical system and how it doesn't take patients seriously- and she should have gotten much better care. And it's not that much of a stretch to say they may have had a bias due to her weight. Sure, young women with lung cancer are rare, but it's the doctor's job to recognize that statistics are irrelevant to the individual- anyone could be that one person with the rare disease, and the doctor is supposed to be able to pick that out.
1/26/2016 04:00:11 pm
I agree that doctors, in general, definitely should receive more/better bedside manner training. It's well-documented that the way you talk to your patients has a huge impact on the effectiveness of the treatment you give them, and there are far too many asshole (or simply over-scheduled) doctors out there. There's a reason I stand in front of the door, physically blocking the exit, until I have had all of my questions answered. There's a reason I picked my insurance plan around the doctors I knew I wanted. I'm really sorry to hear you've had such bad experiences with your doctors, and am glad to hear you've found at least one good one.
3/30/2016 04:53:38 pm
Ok can I speak a little in defence of my categorythough? (I'm a doctor, though not in America, so I won't get into the doctor/patient relationship cause I don't know the training there but here in Italy we're trained in that too. Also universal healthcare yay)
12/10/2015 04:57:19 am
Interesting article. I'm quite struck by two things:
1/28/2016 10:12:53 pm
Amen! Very articulate commentary. Keep it up! They have new absurdities coming out every week and need to be called out!
2/20/2016 03:18:38 pm
Seriously -- at first, I found it amusing, but I'm starting to actually WORRY about it. I just read an article about how people use social justice language to manipulate and abuse their partners -- and they don't even consider it abusive, because they are "more oppressed" than their partner. So much craziness... when will it end?
2/18/2016 02:46:53 pm
I just got banned for saying it was frustrating when under articles on race issues, very often the first comments were from white allies saying "here come the white tears" or similar. And that I thought posting two word "white tears" comments before anything else was posted made it harder to.have meaningful discussions about a very important issue. I clarified that I hated the "white tears" phenomenon and that I was specifically saying I was frustrated by people typing brief comments not in response just saying some variation of "here come the white tears". Numerous people across raceand gender agreed. It was a Facebook discussion issue. Someone suddenly said I was tone policing. Next thing I'm banned. It had actually all been quite civil. But I'm in the UK so it might have kicked off while I was at work and asleep but I truly don't see that I said anything that was either racist or tone policing.
2/20/2016 03:21:00 pm
I just learned about the "white tears" thing.. and I couldn't agree with your assessment more. The number one rule of communication, dispute resolution and mediation is to validate the other side's feelings. This is a case when there isn't even another side -- it's your own allies! -- and you're automatically dismissing all their feelings in a racially charged way.
12/13/2016 10:02:07 am
And herein lies the issue with the prevailing intersectional/SJW attitude: statistics make "shut up and sit down cisshet whiteboy scum" completely incompatible with accomplishing anything worthwhile. What percentage of the population is [insert minority demographic of choice]? What percentage of the population actively supports doing the right thing for [insert minority demographic of choice]? Now subtract the overlap. And you're not left with a statistically significant voting block.
2/20/2016 11:51:33 pm
The fact I was specifically saying it was white allies doing this seemed to be lost...
4/4/2016 03:44:27 pm
I just recently (a year and a half ago perhaps) stubbled unto the everyday feminism website and I'll admit that it was to me a very real catalyst to my discovery that I am a feminist at heart. Other than giving a name to the values and feelings I've always had reading the articles from everyday feminism is also giving me a vocabulary and arguments to voice and express what I've always felt deep down about situations of inequality or injustice. It's also allowed me to learn about situations/issues I had no clue even existed. It not only informs me of the ways in which I'm a part of the problem it gives me pointers on how I could be part of the solution.
4/4/2016 07:08:41 pm
The truth is, I do see the value in many of EF's articles. They have definitely opened my eyes to perspectives and experiences I would never have encountered, otherwise.
4/8/2016 11:33:23 pm
I'm a huge everyday feminism fan- I constantly reference the site for tips on healthy and non abusive relationships. But reading this article of course I agree with it. Opposing viewpoints are important and helpful to growth. That's shitty that your comment was deleted and even more so that you were blocked, and yeah I'm questioning EFs integrity. I still think they have valuable tools for feminist living, no?
2/26/2017 01:29:35 pm
They have some good information and articles, but a lot of really awful ones as well.
6/12/2016 07:49:24 am
This might sound hyperbolic and I apologize if the comment is too long but please hear me out. "Everyday Feminism" is a dangerous website. Why? I say this because I believe that EF falls into the same category as anti-vaxxer websites, fat positivity websites and the like. Essentially, It serves as a platform for opinions that are objectively false and is made much worse by its attempts to "look academic." EF intentionally looks like an on-line academic journal (otherwise it wouldn't). It's simple but "polished looking" and it's structured in a similar way to a journal but it's not peer reviewed. Whats more damning is that I don't think that the team or writers behind EF even care about truth. They seem more concerned with "empowering" people by indulging a sense of self importance. A good example of this is a comic I found recently.
1/14/2017 04:52:57 pm
There are a few worrying things they do, silencing any kind of dissent or opinion they don't agree with, deleting comments so that their members aren't exposed to different opinions, using lots of buzzwords to make any reasonable discussion difficult, which is a bit cult-like in my opinion. I don't like that members are sometimes told they don't have the right to comment or else their views are worthless because they are "too privileged", it is a site I tend to avoid.
9/23/2016 09:53:40 pm
Everyday feminism is insane. All one needs to do is read their articles and actually use their brain cells to determine such.
9/26/2016 02:00:11 pm
Funny you should mention Taleb in this. There are a lot like him on twitter in the anti-GMO crowd. He even has a little team of intellectual attack dogs ready to tell you that your PhD in molecular genetics is a fraud on the day you defend (only time I blocked someone on twitter). I think this tendency to disregard dissenting viewpoints regardless of all the evidence in the world is kind of a symptom of the medium (aka social media). There are a lot of echo chambers. Challenging your own views is hard work.
10/7/2016 10:15:26 am
I am so relieved I'm not the only one. I get a newsletter from Everyday Feminism and I'm actually shocked at the Victim Culture it seems to promote. Every article is a claim to victimhood of sort or another. Last month there was an article written by a woman arguing her claim of the term ' Rape Victim' as opposed to 'Rape Survivor', because the term 'Survivor' is potentially judgemental to women who don't feel like 'Survivors'. What the what??? Vomit.,
11/22/2016 08:12:05 pm
I sometimes check out the articles just to see how ridiculous they are.
11/23/2016 03:21:13 pm
Might be the worst article ever written
2/26/2017 12:54:48 pm
More reason to avoid EF's kind of identity politics, attaching labels to people is not a good thing. https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/happiness-in-world/200912/the-true-cause-cruelty
3/25/2017 02:48:03 am
I totally agree with you. Some of the stuff they have on Everyday Feminism makes me ashamed to be associated with them. You're pretty correct in what you say about the medical stuff. If everyone who has a cough was sent for a CT cancer rates would probably go up since CT is xrays which are ionising radiation and exposure to this leads to mutations which can cause cancer. As someone who is way on the other end of the body shape spectrum to this woman, I am often told that my medical problems are a result of me being underweight (which I have been all my life and my mother is too). But no, Everyday Feminism would never mention something like my experience because according to them, I have 'thin privilege'. Yep, someone whose medical conditions are dismissed has 'thin privilege'. That site makes me want to vomit. Thanks for your article.
5/2/2017 12:08:35 pm
We'd never have won the Vote if women's activists of the last century had behaved like Everyday Feminism.
6/7/2017 06:35:31 am
" When it comes to Everyday Feminism, you agree... or you get blocked. "
2/23/2019 04:30:55 am
Good evening Eva.
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