When Lindy West kicked off 2017 by announcing that she was quitting Twitter, I can’t say I was shocked. The internet can be scary AF when you’re a fat feminist writer (I know, because I’m one too) and Lindy, a Seattle-based author and journalist, constantly faced threats of rape and violence from MRAs and other such trolls for years. Even during a banner 2016 with the success of her memoir Shrill: Notes from a Loud Woman, the online abuse was heinous—some threats so detailed, they’d made you ill. “Seeing Lindy West makes my penis hide itself inside my ribcage” is just one example of the shit she dealt with on the daily.
In an op-ed for The Guardian shortly after she left Twitter, West clarified that it wasn’t the trolls themselves who drove her to give up the platform she was hugely popular on; it was Twitter’s lack of responsibility for those trolls. Nearly 12 months later, she’s managed to stay off—now, when you click the Twitter symbol on her website, it takes you to a Tumblr page titled “WHY FAT LADY SO MEAN TO BABY-MEN.”
While 20-something me started reading Lindy back when she was writing hilarious pieces about candy-corn-flavoured Oreos on Jezebel, 30-something me continues to read her today for her provoking social commentary in the New York Times (she became a regular columnist earlier this year). West’s rise from seasonal cookie critiques to op-eds on the alt-right is incredibly well-earned.
And despite her departure from Twitter, she’s continued to eloquently own her haters. After Buzzfeed published an article that exposed an email written to Milo Yiannopoulos (a former editor at conservative news website Breitbart, who seems to have an army of trolls ready to defend his every word) about West (“Please mock this fat feminist,” it read), she used her platform at the Times to point out that “the abuse [feminist writers] endure daily on social media isn’t just a byproduct of the internet but a politically-motivated silencing campaign.”
Another op-ed she penned this year, entitled “Yes, This Is a Witch Hunt. I’m a Witch and I’m Hunting You,” is an electrifying proclamation. As I read her commentary on sexual abuse in Hollywood and the #MeToo movement, I couldn’t help but mouth the words, f-ck yes. Lending her voice to a chorus of fed-up women, Lindy didn’t hold back: “The witches are coming, but not for your life,” she wrote. “We’re coming for your legacy.” In an interview about the piece, she followed up by saying what probably every single woman in the world thinks at least once a day: “It’s not like feminists want all men to be fired. We want you to change your behaviour.”
Whether she’s denouncing Trump’s backwards politics or flat-out refusing to continue answering questions about her body (something I can totally relate to), Lindy is a force to be reckoned with. And she refuses to let her spirit be killed by all the bullshit that’s constantly being slung at her.
Whether she returns to Twitter or not, Lindy will always find a way to use her voice. And as a fellow loud-ass fat feminist, I hope she never stops.
More from FLARE’s ‘12 Days of Feminists’ series:
Day 1: Anne T. Donahue on Fierce Truth-Teller Scaachi Koul
Day 2: Sadiya Ansari on Fearless Supernova Jane Fonda
Day 3: Janaya Khan on Mary Hooks Bringing Black Moms Home
Day 4: Meghan Collie on “Unf-ckwithable Voice of Reason” Lauren Duca
Day 5: Nakita Valerio on Effervescent Community Leader Nasra Adem
Day 6: Anne Thériault on Tanya Tagaq Singing Truth to Power
Day 7: Laura Hensley on Unapologetic Activist and Entrepreneur Jen Agg
Day 8: Jenn Berry on Exuberant Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante