Writer Lindy West's frank and funny fight for feminism

Feminist writer Lindy West discusses her sharp new book of personal essays called Shrill: Notes from a Loud Woman.
Lindy West has gone from a shy girl who didn't like attracting attention to an outspoken woman who writes powerful personal essays. (Ben Shannon/CBC)

It's getting harder to shame and shout women down on the internet these days, thanks in part to outspoken thought leaders like Lindy West.

The feminist writer and fat acceptance activist has experienced the worst of internet trolling. One man went as far as making a parody Twitter account of her recently deceased father, claiming West's dad died of shame. 

But awful online experiences have only emboldened the formerly shy writer, who tracks her journey toward sharp social commentary in her new collection of personal essays, Shrill: Notes from a Loud Woman.

Today she joins guest host Rachel Giese to discuss everything from fat shaming, to rape jokes, to confronting those who try to silence her. 

Trolling no longer 'consequence free'

West notes that it often falls on individual women to fend off the strangers belittling, attacking and even threatening them online — but she says the solution will come with a larger societal shift. 

"What we have is not a tech problem, it's a culture problem. What we need is a cure for systemic misogyny and racism," says West, who now focuses on responding in ways that simply make her feel better.  

"My philosophy on trolls has evolved over the years to the point where now I don't ever really engage with them in any kind of substantive way, but I do like to use them as a launching pad for hilarious burns," laughs West. 

"If they set me up with something good, I will tweet a joke at them and then I will block them. It's so satisfying."

Producer's note: Later today, look out for a special highlight of this interview right here on our blog and social media.  We're working on a one-minute video response to those who say comedy is beyond criticism, excerpted from Lindy West's chat with Rachel. 



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