Title : “It’s about misogyny. It’s about intimidation. It’s about silencing.”
Jane Fae writes about the realities of online bullying in the New Statesman.
…there is something disturbingly misogynistic about online bullying. Yes: blokes, male columnists, undoubtedly get it too. But it feels as though there is something far more vicious, gender-related with respect to what women have to endure.Beard makes the point well, in a blog responding to her own online treatment. It is clear that she is no stranger to tired old jokes about her appearance – but even she has been shocked about the response she evoked, describing the level of misogyny as “truly gobsmacking”. The focus of much of the abuse is sexual, sadistic even and, she adds: “it would be quite enough to put many women off appearing in public, contributing to political debate”.In other words, it is silencing, something I get very well from personal experience. I’ve opted out of contributing online for periods ranging from hours to a couple of weeks after being subjected to this sort of online nastiness. Not just me. Many far braver women with serious contributions to make to public discourse on violence and abuse have suffered similar: been silenced simply for having an opinion.
Yeah, the guys get it, too. I thought it was ridiculous before — I had Conservapædia raving about how fat I was, whole blogs dedicated to how stupid I was, and of course, frequent accusations of being gay — but once I got associated with feminism, the hatred reached a whole new level of shrieking. I’ve basically been declared an honorary woman by a whole new category of people, online atheists, who turn out to be worse than creationists, Christians, and Muslims. There are even more rants about my appearance, my ‘irrationality’, my sanity, than ever before.
And the scary thing is that when I compare what I get to what women activists get, I’m getting off easy.
It’s not criticism, either. It’s just raving mad hatred.
Essentially we have two things here:
- Women, as subjects of online abuse, have it worse than everybody else
- "Anti-feminist" haters are worse than religious zealots, are far more vindictive, judgmental, and threatening
A young teenage boy, with poor immigrant parents from Latin America, logs onto Facebook and "likes" something remotely thought to be a girl's sport, e.g. gymnastics, or something a bit passé, like roller skating.
What response can he expect? "Faggot", "Loser", "Fairy"
Then he posts pictures of his Christmas presents on TwitPic. Look what the poor kid is fascinated by!
He excitedly logs on with last year's version of Call of Duty. Now what does he hear? "n00b", "beaner", etc. Perhaps an insult or two how he may still be a virgin.
Maybe what I'm describing here is the online persona of a poor version of Manny.
If PZ and his women friends don't really like this story, they can read a story from Skepchicks - "That's not bullying"
Scene 1: “Hey, you fucking faggot. If I see you in this hallway again, I’m going to take a broomstick from the janitor’s cart and rape your faggot ass with it. You’d like that, wouldn’t you, you stupid fucking faggot!” This was said as I was being shoved up against the wall of lockers, face first, as a crowd of other students gathered around and laughed and cheered. Again.Will seems like a honest guy and this seems like a legit story.
Now, Will's argument was that critics of FreeThoughtBlogs aren't actually victims of bullying. A would-be PZ Myers can weigh if it is worse than Mary Beard being called a bearded lady. When it comes to online bullying one may disagree to a certain extent about what treatment may be worse. Many would opt to having the stereotypically awful grade school experience rather than having their reputations damaged right this moment.
Which is why many don't go online, use their real name, and suggest that the gendered insult they received on Twitter is a more vicious form of harassment or one particular gender leads a more difficult life. Such a statement would be ridiculous.
Back to some focus on online harassment.
Of all the people being called names on the internet right now, who deserves the most empathy?
Some possible choices:
- One Mary Beard, a woman appearing on the BBC many times, seemingly speaking in favor of European immigration to the UK, publicly blamed 9/11 on American foreign policy, admits having "tweeted rudely and inadvertently and late at night". Receives a lot of comments related to her gender and last name.
- One PZ Myers, leader of online poll-bombers, that spends time telling bad jokes, calling his opponents mass murderers and being called fat on Twitter by people he labels "Fuckbrained assholes"
- One Rebecca Watson, a lady that organizes binge drinking fests wants other organizations to follow strict rules after being asked for coffee at 4AM in a hotel elevator. Watson receives gendered insults and returns the bile.
- One Ophelia Benson, known for compulsively daydreaming of the worst case scenario, also happens to be absolutely incapable of graciously accepting an apology.
All the single-word comments they receive serves to buttress their arguments. "Look, I said there was an epidemic of misogyny online and I was called an ugly bitch by user '@tehDude29485'!"
Their vacuous battle is equal parts naïve and douchebag. And they have a long list of white boys to back them up.
Yes indeed, find all the woman haters on Twitter! Maybe afterwards they'll find time to identify all the female fans of Chris Brown or Tiger Woods and publicly shame them as well.
Also on the list of things to-do from this crowd:
- Identify morally appropriate foods
- Outlaw limericks
- Destroy everyone's iPhone
- Re-educate all those "cisgendered" feminists
It's a real tragedy.