A man stands in his bedroom posing in front of a mirror. In his left hand he holds a machete, he takes a photo. Satisfied with his snap he lifts the weapon in both hands poised to strike, his face contorts into one of malignant rage, he takes another photo.
Is this the latest ISIS recruit? A school shooter’s manifesto? A bad taste art project? No, this is ‘POV ur a TERF in my mentions’ the latest trend in trans activism
This Twitter trend sees people (largely male) post pictures of themselves wielding weapons and sex toys accompanied by the phrase ‘POV ur a TERF in my mentions’.
POV stands for ‘Point Of View’ a first person camera angle, which can be currently found in assorted popular media from gamer videos to porn, its popularity lies in its ability to show the ‘pov’ of any given persona. This trend seeks to target ‘TERFs’. The ‘pov’ shows what a ‘TERF’ sees before and during an imagined attack from these ‘brave’ trans activists. It is a photographic representation of “What I’d like to do to you.”.
TERF stands for ‘Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminist’ a slur that; if you are a woman you can find yourself called for the simple act of stating biological fact such as ‘humans cannot change sex’, ‘a woman is an adult human female’ or ‘women do not have penises’, you see the term ‘TERF’ is just one of many ways that some trans activists choose to utilise language for their own socio-political gain. Say “this is what I want to do to a TERF” and only the people who understand ‘TERF’ understand your intent. Say “this is what I want to do to women who do not share the same opinions as me” and people (hopefully) start to ask questions.
The emphasis in TERF often falls on the ‘Trans Exclusionary’ (*see end of article) side, it is often used by trans activists when they insult a view that does not support their own narrow interpretation of biology and trans activism. In reality it is the “Radical Feminist” side that is increasingly the focus of any criticism and abuse.
The “In my mentions” part of the slogan galvanises the idea that ‘TERFS’ are the challenging, dissenting voices in the gender debate. ‘Mentions’ are the feed of an individual on social media, the messages displayed relevant to your own messages and interactions. If a feminist is “in your mentions” she is commenting on your views, your messages, she is offering her view, her opinions, she may very well disagree with you. In the eyes of the abusive male holding the weapon the ‘TERF’ is the aggressor, “POV ur a TERF in my mentions’ is social media misogynist’s “look what you made me do to you!”.
To be a feminist one must be female, feminism is after all for the liberation of women and girls from patriarchal oppression and all males benefit from patriarchy. To be active on Twitter one should be an adult, make no mistake the slur TERF is aimed at women, radical women, radical feminists; the type of women that refuse to centre men in their lives and will not lie to appease the whims of men.
You would be forgiven for thinking at this point that this whole hyperbolic ‘POV ur a TERF in my mentions’ trend is “just a big joke”, this excuse was certainly given when these people were challenged about the intent of their images, and certainly some of these images border on the perversely comical.
If you agree with their stance I say to you to at least acknowledge that violence against women and girls is a very real threat in every single society; according to the Office of National Statistics 227 women and girls were killed between March 2017 to March 2018 147 of which were killed by a male family member or lover. What may be deemed “just a laugh” to you is in fact helping to normalise the view that women that have different views to your own, those pesky feminists ‘in your mentions’ can and should be beaten, strangled, stabbed into conformity. When you laugh you add confidence to the originator of the joke, your laughter adds strength to their cause, you agree with them.
Do you really agree with them? More intriguingly would you feel the same if this violent imagery was aimed at any other oppressed demographic? Would you feel that images of men or women wielding weaponry was harmless hyperbole if the accompanying slogan was “POV ur a transwoman in my mentions”?
The activists that post these pretend to be strong and I often see cries of the now ubiquitous “stunning and brave” towards the trans community, but I see nothing stunning, brave or strong about these images. The people posting these images are cowards; doomed to hide forever behind masks, pseudonyms, and linguistic obfuscation. We see you and we will not forget your actions.
I have documented all “POV ur a TERF in my mentions” that I can find here.
*PLEASE NOTE: By its definition Radical Feminism is not ‘trans exclusionary’. Feminism is for ALL women, the ones we find easy to agree with, the ones that do not agree with us, and the ones that, for whatever reason reject the reality of their female bodies. All women can benefit from feminism.
UPDATE 9/10/2019: Thank you for the overwhelmingly positive response that I’ve received for this post.
Sadly the ‘Pov Ur a TERF in my Mentions’ trend doesn’t seem to be slowing down, I add new photos every day to the ‘Thread of Shame’ and also receive more cries of ‘but it’s just a joke!’, or “it’s a meme” (a visual internet-only joke).
I’d like to emphasise to anyone tempted to subscribe to this needlessly apologetic attitude; these people have taken great effort to select a weapon, pose with their chosen weapons, select the perfect angle for the shot, to set timers on cameras, reshoot to get the right mix of menace and light on their cheekbones, then to post to social media knowing that their intended target will see it.
This isn’t a case of ‘retweeting’ a rebellious or bad taste joke, this isn’t an insult or quip fired off in the heat of argument; as with all misogyny aimed from the trans community this has taken a calculated effort to execute.
I suggest that we all refuse to fall victim to the ‘just a joke’ rhetoric. This is a pure example of gaslighting. The abuser forever telling us ‘its not what you think it is’ , ‘stop overreacting’, asking; ‘can’t you take a joke?’.
I refuse to be manipulated into denying the truth that is so very visible to anyone willing only to look. As Maya Angelou said: “When people show you who they are, believe them the first time.” These activists have gone to great effort to show us who they are, we now need to accept what we are seeing. They may hide behind social-media-esotericism but they are merely the modern ‘instagram-ready’ faces of an age-old problem; violent misogyny.