Speaking of BuzzFeed…you may have noticed that last week, editor-in-chief Ben Smith caused a stir when he declared that the website’s official position was that “there are not two sides” to certain issues, including “civil rights, women’s rights, anti-racism, and LGBT equality.”
Many found it troubling that a major website would demonize reasonable disagreement on a contemporary social issue like marriage by lumping it in with bigotry and sexism, but JK Trotter at Gawker had a different reaction: until they declare pro-lifers out of bounds too, BuzzFeed isn’t intolerant enough.
You see, the problem is that BuzzFeed considers itself “unequivocally feminist,” but declined to commit to the proposition that there’s only one respectable viewpoint on abortion. Executive editor Shani Hilton would say only, “I can’t speak for the company, but in editorial we have not taken a stance on the right to obtain an abortion.”
While it’s “obviously possible to identify yourself as ‘unequivocally’ feminist even while equivocating on abortion access,” Trotter claims “most feminists” wouldn’t concur. Why, he asks, “is the company so reluctant to include abortion rights in its expansive definition of ‘women’s rights’?”
Well, one simple answer is that they realize the generation from which their target audience is derived is far more circumspect toward abortion than they are toward LGBT issues, and it’s generally unwise to tell wide segments of your readership “we don’t want you here.”
No matter how much the Gawker crowd might want to dumb down the issue for the ravenous hordes their sister site Jezebel gins up, the world beyond their keyboards understands there’s nothing feminist about an act of violence against a helpless child which devastates the women it supposedly helps.
The pettiness of Trotter’s complaint becomes even more apparent when you consider that in his own post, he cites numerous pieces demonstrating that “on the whole, BuzzFeed content takes a clear stance on abortion: It should be legal.” Trotter even concedes that they only “occasionally” publish pro-life material. But because they have yet to explicitly deem us woman-hating social pariahs who should not even be conversed with, they’re somehow letting feminism down.
The dictionary meaning of “liberal” denotes someone who is “not opposed to new ideas” even if “not…widely accepted,” who is “open-minded.” A liberal in the classical sense of the term does not fear differing beliefs; in fact, he welcomes them, confident that whoever’s logic is superior will survive any open and direct competition. Yet given that silencing pro-lifers is such a recurring impulse for them, abortion advocates should do a little soul-searching about what they really stand for… and really fear.