jessica valenti

Scroll to Info & Navigation

On feminist anger and solidarity

I’ve been thinking a lot about feminist anger and solidarity - in no small part because of a recent online kerfuffle about shaming formula feeding mothers. I won’t rehash the whole debate here; if you’re interested you can follow the links and look back on my Twitter feed

But something that caught my attention was that several folks, who were upset about the public disagreement, made calls for solidarity and less “angry” writing. I understand the desire for solidarity and pleasantness among feminists, especially on issues that are so personal and fraught. But disagreement - yes, even red hot angry disagreement - is a good thing for feminism. As Melissa McEwan has written, “Progress ain’t fueled by rainbows and gumdrops.”

Naturally, civility is a good thing in critical debate as is staying away from personal attacks. But I actually find the expectation of “niceness” in heated arguments among women pretty sexist. What’s wrong with being angry? What’s wrong with eviscerating someone’s argument? (Especially when you’ve been attacked in a direct, and pretty disgusting, way!)

Solidarity is great. But the assumption of a universal “sisterhood” (something bell hooks and other feminist theorists have written quite a bit about) is seriously flawed. We don’t all experience the world in the same way, or oppression. Calls for solidarity for solidarity’s sake not only ignore that reality but also put pressure on women to quash their justified political anger in the service of an imaginary sisterhood.

I don’t relish fighting with other feminists; quite honestly it tears me up. But there’s a time for kindness and there’s a time for vigorous, heated, angry debate. It doesn’t make any of us assholes (well, unless you’re being an asshole) - it makes us critical thinkers who are passionately committed to our cause. No matter what side you’re on. 


  1. naeku reblogged this from jessicavalenti
  2. contempler reblogged this from jessicavalenti
  3. causticartistry reblogged this from lipsredasroses
  4. sunnsettapplepear reblogged this from lipsredasroses and added:
    Let’s not make this about an amorphous “sisterhood.” Rhetorical civility is simply a matter of recognizing how fellow...
  5. sleepydumpling reblogged this from craftastrophies
  6. nevermindnevermore reblogged this from grassandcitrus
  7. mistakenforaman reblogged this from lipsredasroses
  8. rareandradiantmaiden reblogged this from lipsredasroses
  9. charlottevegan reblogged this from jessicavalenti
  10. thisiswaterrr reblogged this from jessicavalenti and added:
    THANK YOU. In one of my classes we’ll be having a heated debated with multiple opposing sides, and then someone will...
  11. princeigam reblogged this from jessicavalenti
  12. chanukahhottie reblogged this from jessicavalenti
  13. mswyrr reblogged this from lipsredasroses
  14. craftastrophies reblogged this from jessicavalenti
  15. aetheria reblogged this from lipsredasroses
  16. romxjul reblogged this from jessicavalenti
  17. brainvsheart reblogged this from jessicavalenti
  18. drst reblogged this from jessicavalenti and added:
    & in light of the fail from the protester with the racist sign, if the anger is coming from someone who is from a...
  19. smutseat reblogged this from lipsredasroses
  20. amber-dee reblogged this from jessicavalenti