NPR Worries Out Loud As Bullying Feminists on Twitter Devolve Into 'Revolution-Eats-Its-Own Irony'

NPR’s afternoon talk show “Tell Me More” spent 17 minutes on Thursday on a cover story in The Nation entitled “Feminism’s Toxic Twitter Wars” by Michelle Goldberg, a contributor to The Daily Beast. They called it "Mean Girls Online."

Host Michel Martin interviewed four feminist radicals about nasty online fighting along racial lines, and even "transphobic " lines. The uber-feminist actress Martha Plimpton (a star on Fox's sitcom "Raising Hope") hilariously came under attack because promoting a pro-abortion event called "A Night of a Thousand Vaginas" was cruel to "trans men" who don't have vaginas:

In a revolution-eats-its-own irony, some online feminists have even deemed the word “vagina” problematic. In January, the actress and activist Martha Plimpton tweeted about a benefit for Texas abortion funds called “A Night of a Thousand Vaginas,” sponsored by A Is For, a reproductive rights organization she’s involved with.

Plimpton was surprised when some offended Internet feminists urged people to stay away, arguing that emphasizing “vaginas” hurts trans men who don’t want their reproductive organs coded as female.

“Given the constant genital policing, you can’t expect trans folks to feel included by an event title focused on a policed, binary genital,” tweeted @DrJaneChi, an abortion and transgender health provider. (She mentioned “internal genitals” as an alternative.)

When Plimpton insisted that she would continue to say “vagina,” her feed filled up with indignation. “So you’re really committed to doubling down on using a term that you’ve been told many times is exclusionary & harmful?” asked one self-described intersectional feminist blogger.

Plimpton takes intersectionality seriously—A Is For is hosting a series of discussions on the subject this year—but she was flummoxed by this purist, arcane form. “I’m not going to stop using the word ‘vagina’ for anybody, whether it’s Glenn Beck or Mike Huckabee or somebody on Twitter who feels it creates a dysphoric response,” she tells me. “I can’t do that and still advocate for reproductive freedom. It’s just not a realistic thing to expect.”

On NPR, Goldberg explained “It was this sort of very rigid and sort of recondite form of political correctness that is very difficult not to step into because I think a lot of people don't know where the rules are. But people automatically assumed, not just that she had defended them, but that she was this terrible transphobe, that she was somebody who could no longer be taken seriously as an ally.”

For lunacy, let’s just conclude with NPR guest Mikki Kendall of “HoodFeminism.com,” who unleashed this opinion:


I think that with Martha Plimpton, when you say that you are speaking for all of these women in reproductive health and reproductive justice, then you need to be aware that it's not just women that get pregnant. You need to be aware that vaginas don't get pregnant. Uteruses can contain a baby, but you don't have to have a vagina in order to be pregnant.

What? But NPR host Michel Martin didn’t think she had to question the science in this assertion. She was pressing in on “Mikki, do you think you’re a bully?”

Every feminist who’s tried to mock the intelligence of Sarah Palin or Michelle Bachmann ought to apologize unless they’re willing to denounce the biology-shredding feminist wackos like Mikki Kendall.

Martin turned around and praised all her guests: “I have to apologize for that because we only have about four minutes left. And this is obviously a rich discussion, and you're all big thinkers. And you've thought a lot about it and stuff.”

Then she wrapped up with a question about the white male power structure, and how feminist bullies are just like them:

There's a feeling that there's some people who either, like, enjoy being very cutting or that they're kind of replicating the same kind of aggressiveness that some people associate with - that a lot of people kind of associate with the Internet world at large.

I mean, I don't want to be, you know, reductionist and say kind of white men, but just for the sake of, you know, being reductionist, you know, the white male power structure, right? I mean, that people will say, look, gee, you're just replicating kind of the white male power structure, which basically puts people down if they don't agree with them and make them feel stupid and, you know, so forth and so forth like that.

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis