"I am the loaded question.....an infidelity to the external world."

Adele Wilde-Blavatsky

Poet, Writer, Activist

The Feminist Wire Controversy

On April 2012, after publishing a few articles and poems on the Feminist website, the editorial board agreed publication of a new article I wrote:  'To be Anti-racist is to be feminist: The Hoodie and the Hijab are not Equals.'' (This article been deleted as has all my previously published work for the Feminist Wire, this is a reproduction on another website).

Two days after posting the article, and an online backlash by some of the Feminist Wire readership, The Feminist Wire Editorial Board, without Adele's consent or prior knowledge, published an official response signed by a group of over 80 "feminist writers, activists and academics” under the title, “What it Means to be an Anti-Racist Feminist in the 21st Century.”  The letter accused me of white privlege and racism, amongst other things.

After posting the group letter, The Feminist Wire threw open its pages to unmoderated comments, and a number were posted, some supportive of the original article, others extremely abusive.  Meredith Tax, who subsequently wrote about the issue in ''Hoodies,  Hijabs, and Excommunication'' , posted her own comments:

“To me, this heavy handed response smacks of a censorship campaign....Clearly this [the group letter] is meant to end the discussion. Why discuss anything with someone who is racism incarnate—as is shown by her ‘questioning of women's choice to wear the niqab.’ Are all women who question this choice racist by definition? What about women in Iran who risk jail for being ‘mal-hijab?’ What about Muslim women in Nigeria who want to wear their traditional head-wraps rather than the burquas being pushed by Saudi-financed mullahs? Do these women have agency? Or do women have agency only when they wear the veil?”

After being informed in a curt, impersonal email that I had been removed from the editorial collective, Tamara Lomax (the TFW editor) sent me an email asking me to 'cease and desist' on commenting on the article or the editorial process that it had gone through before publication. Annoyed by the threat of legal action, I then issued a 'cease and desist' email asking the Editorial Board to moderate and/or remove the abusive comments. In response, on April 19, six days after my original publication, the editors of The Feminist Wire removed the entire controversy from their pages.

Thankfully, several feminists from Pakistan, Algeria, Senegal, Iran and the US, led by Maryam Namazie, picked up on it before it was removed and delivered their own response:

We extend our full solidarity to Adele Wilde-Blavatsky for such a clear and rare analysis from feminists in Europe and North America, in which women's resistance to the Muslim Right -including by resisting all forms of fundamentalist veiling - is made visible and honoured, rather than sacrificed on the altar of anti racism and anti imperialism.

Ophelia Benson, an atheist feminist from the US, also attacked the Feminist Wire response as "dishonest" and "patronising.

The Philosopher's Magazine wrote 'The hijab versus the hoodie – or how to bully dissenters' stating:

''What I want to draw attention to is the way she was treated. Instead of someone writing an article that simply deals with her arguments in a thoughtful manner and on their merits, we see an inflammatory letter produced very quickly and ultimately signed by a very large number of people. This looks more like a lynch mob than someone wanting to engage in reasoned discussion with the original writer. ''

On 1 May 2012, I wrote a public response in The Huffington Post: ''When Anti-Racism Becomes Anti-Woman: The 'Privileging' of Race above Gender''.

Because all these documents have been removed from The Feminist Wire website, the Centre for Secular Space reposted them under News. Go there for fuller documentation.
Recently, a British writer, Jamie Palmer took up these events in an article called 'Racism; Censorship; Disunity: The Hounding of Adele Wilde-Blavatsky'.