Ashlyn of Slay The Patriarchy talks social media backlash, injustice, and internet trolls.
With 47.4K followers Slay The Patriarchy has become a voice for the modern day intersectional feminist; making waves, uniting activists, and educating social media, but who is behind this unstoppable force? I had the opportunity to speak with Ashlyn Brierre, an activist from South Carolina and the founder of this community
I met Ashlyn a little under one year ago when we were both part of the pilot Feminist Ambassador program with Feminist Apparel. From the get go it was clear Ashlyn is a fighter who would always speak up for what is right even if that is not popular, Slay The Patriarchy is a perfect example of this. I admire both her and her work immensely and am so excited to have her be the first interviewee for the new Ask An Activist Column.
What was the first ever injustice you noticed? The actual FIRST? I have no clue. I'm sure I've noticed lots of the years that I didn't realize at the time. One that I've noticed recently would have to be when a white man was acting aggressive and yelling at an Islamic family, but the police didn't step in until I involved myself. That's just one that I've witnessed in person that was a fairly obvious injustice.
Who is your activist icon? I really admire Linda Sarsour and Carrie Fisher because they both have had to deal with a lot of adversity in regard to their identities, their politics, in Carrie's case her mental health, and even more. No celebrity death has ever felt as personal as Carrie's, and Linda is just this amazing feminist warrior that I love.
Favorite advocacy jam? Sexual assault prevention is a cause that is near and dear to my heart, so I would have to say Lady Gaga's Till It Happens To You. The first project I ever started was Survivors in Solidarity, which is on pause now just due to the majority of my time going to political advocacy. But, I plan to pick it up again in the near future.
Tell us more about Slay The Patriarchy! It started off just as an outlet for me to share my thoughts and feelings on different topics that I thought were too controversial to share on my personal social media accounts (at the time). I was really surprised to see how much it has grown over the past three, three and a half years. It sort of organically turned into a community for feminists all on its own. I believe that everyone has a responsibility to advocate for others, whether they choose to do that or not. I think we need all the feminists and progressive activists we can get! You can get involved by going to www.slaythepatriarchy.com or by reaching out on instagram @SlayThePatriarchy
What is a misunderstanding about your work (ex. “All feminists are man-haters”) that you’d like to clear up? I have posted quite a few "Men Are Trash" memes, so I think that is something that could be explained better. People seem to immediately take offense to it without doing any research at all. I recommend this article, if that phrase is either new to you, or offends you.
Has being an activist ever caused any struggles with personal relationships? Yes, mainly because there are a few family members who constantly think I'm going to get hurt or attacked at a rally or a protest. They don't understand that it's usually always peaceful and really I could get attacked anywhere!
You've received a fair bit of backlash recently on social media, including Instagram briefly deleting your account, how do you handle that and what is your advice for others dealing with similar things? So according to Instagram they had a bug that caused a lot of accounts to disappear for about a day, which was what happened to me. Technically, they didn't delete it, according to them, but one of my good friends Nainika did have her feminist/activist account taken down just the other day and Instagram won't respond to her to let her know why. If you're concerned about your following I would have another place where people can find you, such as a mailing list, a website, or a Facebook page. As far as the other backlash goes, I just keep reminding myself that the majority of these trolls would never say any of the things they do to my face. Everyone is a lot braver hiding behind a private profile.
What advice do you have for budding activists? Don't be afraid or nervous, just dive right in! Reach out to your favorite seasoned activist or a local activist group for help getting started.