You all got the memo about #EndFathersDay fiasco, right – the phony “feminist” hashtag, seeded and spread by 4chan trolls, that aroused so much consternation on Twitter the other day, and that took in so many who’re already given to thinking the worst about feminism?
It would be nice if we could just dismiss this whole thing as trolls being trolls – no harm, no foul. But there’s a bit more to it than that.
For one thing, the troll campaign worked. At least on some people: While feminist writers quickly rushed in to point out that the whole thing was an antifeminist hoax, more than a few in the right-wing media were taken in utterly.
On the National Review Online, Molly Wharton warned that “Twitter anti-fatherists” were taking aim at a holiday that they said “glorifies rape, patriarchy, and child abuse.” The Washington Examiner railed against #EndFathersDay as “the latest ridiculous hashtag from the feminist outrage machine.”
On Fox News’ Fox & Friends, antifeminist author and “Princeton Mom” Susan Patton went further:
They’re not just interested in ending Father’s Day, they’re interested in ending men. …That’s really what they want.
A similar warning came from the self-proclaimed leader of the self-proclaimed Men’s Human Rights Movement:
The Daily Caller tried to play it a bit cooler, acknowledging that the phony campaign had started with 4chan but contending that “feminists quickly picked it up and ran with it.”
The evidence? The alarmists cited tweets like this one, from “Phoebe Kwon” a self-proclaimed “Lesbian, Korean American, Feminist” from “San Fransico.” [sic]
Kwon was also responsible for this charmingly subtle Tweet – I’m not sure how the right-wingers missed this one.
Had any of these commentators looked closely at the “outrageous” tweets cited as evidence of this feminist anti-fatherite uprising they might have figured out that something was up: They all seemed to come from a tiny handful of Twitter accounts, most with only a few followers, many of them festooned with elaborate Social Justice Warrioresque self descriptions, like this one, from @CisHate11
Polyamorous Pansexual Otherkin (faerie), Marxist Misandrist. Fucker of the patriarchy. I majored in womyns studies and procrastination
Phoebe Kwon, one of the most-quoted of all the alleged anti-fatherites, not only spelled the name of her alleged home city wrong; as one We Hunted the Mammoth reader pointed out to me, her avatar was actually a stock photo:
And, oh yeah, 4channers – at least those in on the joke – have acknowledged her as one of their own.
As the Daily Dot noted, this was not the first time 4channers had angered the gullible and annoyed real feminists with a fake feminist #hashtag campaign. In January they got some traction with a phony “thinspo” campaign “BikiniBridge,” celebrating what one Tumblr blog called “the graceful space created by a woman’s hip bones suspending bikini bottoms from their abdomens.”
This was followed by the even more ridiculous Operation Freebleeding, which denounced tampons and sanitary pads and all devices used to staunch the flow of menstrual blood as tools of the patriarchy.
So, some trolls trolled some people. Big deal right?
Well, not exactly. Because this isn’t just trolling for the sake of trolling. This is trolling with an agenda.
If you scroll back through “Phoebe Kwon’s” tweets, you’ll see that “her” account originated back in August of 2013, in the midst of a Twitterstorm around the hashtag #SolidarityIsForWhiteWomen. While that hashtag was a real one, started and promoted by feminist/womanist women of color to critique white allies (and “allies”), 4channers jumped into the fray with fake Twitter accounts in an attempt to poison the discussion and further divide feminists along racial lines.
“Kwon” and other faux accounts also jumped into the more recent #YesAllWomen hashtag with deliberately and sometimes ridiculously inflammatory tweets.
The trolls behind these campaigns aren’t just trolls out to create chaos, though they are that. They’re also racist, homophobic, transphobic bigots out to fuck over feminism.
Indeed, a few months ago, a writer for Roosh Valizadeh’s Return of Kings blog who goes only by Douglas reported that he’d gotten a mysterious message from someone called “Bavarian,” who told him that 4chan’s antifeminist campaigns were all part of something called “Operation Lollipop,” a “black propaganda” campaign to fracture feminism. Bavarian wrote:
I was told you are interested in my group’s (Codename: Lollipop) ongoing operation against the PoOs (People of Oppression). My group poses as feminists on twitter. We bait other PoOs into agreeing with us as we subtly move them more and more to the extreme. The purpose is to make moderate feminists turned off with the movement, as well as cause infighting within the group. …
We manly pose as women of color and argue with white feminists. We “check their privilege” to the point that they are fed up. For example, if they say “it’s not our time to talk, white ladies, it’s our time to listen,” we say “the last time white women just listened, George Zimmerman walked free.”
The campaign began during Hugo Schwyzer’s public meltdown, which Bavarian described as filtered through his own racist lens:
This group started when the hashtag #solidarityisforwhitewomen started trending. It referred to an incident where the feminist Hugo Schwartz [sic] had a mental breakdown and revealed on twitter that feminism was a fraud. He further revealed that WoC were incompetent and only got in the way of the movement. Some white women offered him sympathy and told him to get help. The WoC got angry and started the hashtag.
Bavarian pointed him to a page documenting the phony tweets, many of which come from the same accounts that posted the most outrageous #EndFathersDay tweets. (The site he linked to is now down, but this blog, still available through the Wayback Machine, appears to be some sort of mirror.)
Douglas, for his part, was delighted by the deviousness of it all.
I can only imagine the chaos such an operation would wreak upon the feminists. I look forward to seeing how it all works out. Maybe it will cause the level of mistrust to skyrocket to levels that would hinder the feminist machine. Maybe it will give me more things to laugh at on the internet. All I know is this concept is quite dastardly and funny.
It’s all a bit ridiculously cloak and dagger, but I don’t think we can dismiss it as a joke. The people behind it are trolls, sure, but they are also nasty bigots obsessed with fucking up feminism and “progressives” in general. And people still get fooled by these campaigns.
Now that we know what they’re up to, the trolls may find it harder to fool quite so many people in the future. They may keep trying, to lesser and lesser effect. Or they might come up with something a bit more sophisticated. I guess we’ll see.