Sunday, 6 November 2011

My guide to online abuse and the excuses given to pretend it doesn't happen


Trigger warning - because i quote some of the insults I've received.

Ooh i hear you say. A 'jumping on the bandwagon' style post about online misogynistic abuse, the latest thing being talked about on the feminist blogosphere and even in broadsheet left-leaning newspapers!

Well yes, in some ways you would be correct in making this assumption but also this is something i have written about before (here: http://sianandcrookedrib.blogspot.com/2011/03/despair.html here: http://sianandcrookedrib.blogspot.com/2010/08/stop-calling-me-ugly.html and here: http://sianandcrookedrib.blogspot.com/2009/11/sick-of-bloke-osphere.html) and is something many, many feminist bloggers have written about many, many times before. Now that the issue is getting a bit more attention, well, seems time to join that campaign and write about it again. I make this point because I feel like the papers have suddenly 'discovered' it when actually the debate is as old as the blogosphere.

So, here you have it. The Sian and Crooked Rib guide to sexist online abuse, and the excuses that are made to silence it and pretend it doesn't exist.

Part One: Types of sexist online abuse.

1. Mansplaining


Have you ever seen that episode of QI, when Reginald D Hunter tells the story about how he likes to tell white people that he doesn't know what corduroy is,  to see them explain to him painstakingly and carefully what it is? Mansplaining is a bit like that. It's when a man reads something by a woman, often relating to her personal experience of a feminist issue, and carefully explains why they are wrong. Never mind the fact that they might be talking about a personal experience. Never mind the fact that they might be talking about their doctoral thesis. Never mind the fact that they actually do know what they are talking about, or are making sensible suggestions or don't really care whether you think they are right or not. It's that very specific gendered patronizing that aims to silence or undermine a woman's opinion with no real cause, back-up or strong argument.

Mansplaining is not the same as disagreeing with a woman writer. People disagree with each other on the internet and can do so politely, carefully, in an informed way and have a great debate. Mansplaining is different because it involves being patronized and silenced. No-one has a problem with lively online debate (even if sometimes in a perfect world we would all like everyone to agree with us and write comments going 'yeah! great! well said!') - mansplaining is when a woman's opinion or experience is undermined, ignored and said to be 'wrong' because it contradicts the mansplainer's own idea or comfort zone.

As my friend Marina S says, mansplaining is the result of some men being so wedded to the idea that women are stupid, they simply cannot understand a woman being able to form their own opinions without a little help from the guys. See here: http://notazerosumgame.blogspot.com/2011/10/portable-safe-spaces-and-occupying.html

2. U.G.L.Y you ain't got no alibi!


Calling a woman ugly is the misogynist's go-to card when it comes to online abuse. A misogynist thinks calling a woman ugly or fat or old or hairy or hairless-on-their-head is the nadir of insults. I like to imagine them, typing away and puffed up with rage, desperately trying to put their finger on the best ever put down and then going 'hah! i'll tell the bitch she's ugly! that'll shut her up!'.

My absolute all time favourite online insult was on the Evening Post website, when I was quoted criticising Hooters in one of the many 'EP loves Hooters' articles. It went something like this:

'I imagine that you're so fat you could jumpstart a jumbo jet. I imagine you sitting in your house on your own with a shaved head eating lentils out of a bowl.'

(not that it matters, but none of these things are actually accurate although i do quite like lentils)

The reason men who don't like women much think that calling a woman ugly is the perfect insult is because of the cultural value we place on female beauty. We equate being able to conform to the current culturally defined beauty standard as THE measure of success for a woman. So calling a woman ugly is the misogynist's way to call a woman a failure. It is a way to undermine, and to point out that nothing a woman says has any worth because she has failed in the most important aspect of being a woman - being attractive to men.

I mean, I have been quite flippant above but in all seriousness being told you're ugly over and over again does hurt. Because no matter how far our "consciousness is raised" as feminists, we still live in this patriarchal capitalist system and therefore the values of that system are still within us. During the Hooters debacle someone posted a horrible photo of what they imagined I looked like, along with some unfriendly remarks, and I cried. It is why it is even more important that we fight and act against a society that tells us that being beautiful is a woman's ultimate achievement, that we support each other and fight against negative messages about women's bodies, and that we constantly challenge the idea that fat, old, hairy etc. are insults. They're not and they shouldn't be.

3. Huh. Women. Hysterical! Emotional!

On International Woman's Day, I wrote an article on Liberal Conspiracy about international violence against women and girls. It was pretty much a list of stats from various sources, including WHO, the UN, the Home Office and British Crime Statistics. I deliberately chose the statistical route so as not to be called emotional. But that didn't stop one of the first commenters deciding to accuse me of writing a 'hysterical rant'. When Sunny, the editor, pulled him up on his use of sexist language, he went on and on and on about how hysterical isn't sexist.

Well, it is.

Hysterical is a word used to silence women. Again, it is a word that undermines a woman's argument. It says don't pay attention to her, she's hysterical, over the top, over emotional. It's historic meaning is sexist and gendered. And frankly, have you ever heard anyone call a man hysterical? No, me neither.

Emotional is the other one. It gets forgotten on the bloke-osphere that the opposite of 'emotional' is not 'rational'. You can write something that is emotional and still be rational, fair, factual and evidenced. But again, saying a woman's writing is emotional is silencing. Oh don't listen to her, she's being all over emotional again, letting her feelings get in the way.

Emotional is seen as something feminine, and in an unequal society, feminine is seen as lesser, as petty, as not important. The fact that there is nothing wrong with being emotional about a subject like violence against women and girls is lost in the effort to shut up and undermine the facts and figures of the issue.

Men are passionate. Women are hysterical. Men are assertive. Women are emotional. Men are rational. Women are letting their feelings get in the way.

These sexist double-standards infiltrate all aspects of life but online they are used to dismiss, undermine and mock a woman writer's argument.

4. Sex


Online misogynists love calling women writing online 'lesbians'. Just like saying we're ugly, they think that calling someone a lesbian is the worst insult of all. Of course, lesbian is not an insult. The only people who think calling someone a lesbian is an insult is the kind of dumb-ass teenage boy minded misogynist who delights in bullying women online. There are a lot of parallels between trying to insult a woman by calling her a lesbian as there are to calling her ugly. The idea that 'lesbian' is an insult is based on the idea that a woman's success in our society is based on her being in a straight relationship.

One of the most upsetting insults I had online was during the Hooters Evening Post nightmare. One man had obviously googled my name, seen the Guardian article where I wrote about growing up in a gay household and proceeded to use this information to abuse me and my family. I am never sure what I found more horrible; the fact that he wrote nasty things about my family, or that he felt the need to google me to discover more info to use against me as childish but hurtful insults.

The other form of abuse that I am categorising under Number 4 is the childish, spiteful and frankly pathetic 'speculation' about the woman writer's sex life. This can be speculating about whether the woman is a lesbian or not, but in my case it has involved taking my anti-porn stance to make suggestions about how they imagine my sex life to be. This is really unpleasant. It's really really fucking rude for a start. And also, it's trying to undermine an argument by making out that you think I must be 'uncool' and 'uptight' and 'prudish' and 'no good in bed' because I think there are perhaps other ways to enjoy myself that don't involve taking part in the commercial sexual exploitation of women and men. I know, I'm the freak here.

This has also taken the form of asking me inappropriate and intimate questions about my sex life, my sexual history and suggesting I try out different things sexually (even though the bully has no knowledge of my sex life). Mocking someone for their perceived (or known) sexuality and sexual preference is again a great way to silence women writers by trying to suggest that they aren't as 'cool' or as 'liberated' as the online bully, whilst again using patriarchal society's measure of success (women being sexually attractive/available to men) to make out that the woman writing is a failure.

5. Violence, rape threats and hate language


Of course, this is the most extreme form of online abuse. It is also the scariest and the one that most succeeds in silencing women, leading as it does and has done to women shutting down their blogs, turning down writing work and worse besides. Although I haven't had this happen to me as badly as some writers (see Cath Elliott's blog here for how extreme this can be: http://toomuchtosayformyself.com/2011/04/20/an-occupational-hazard) when it did happen it made me want to turn off my blog, refuse any more writing offers and hide away, silenced and thoroughly 'shut up'.

The rape threats, the threats of physical violence, online stalking - these things have become the reality for women feminist bloggers and women bloggers in general. They're so commonplace as to almost seem normal. But it is not normal and it is not acceptable. No-one should have to feel that fear that we all get as we check the unmoderated comments tab, to breathe that sigh of relief as we avoid the abuse...for now.

These threats are real, they are scary, they leave you shaken and they leave you feeling threatened. They need to stop and the culture that excuses it, brushes it off or reduces it needs to be stopped too. Which leads me to part two...

Part two: Excuses given to brush off sexist online abuse

1. Women! Women are mean too!


Yes, I know! Imagine. Women. Being mean.

I do take big umbrage with feminists being sexist and abusive to one another. We have enough to deal with with anti-feminists treating us like shit without starting on one another. Sisterhood is an important tenet of feminism and although we can and should disagree or challenge one another, lets not do that in abusive and sexist ways. Or, for that matter, in 'one-up woman ship' ways.

And yes, women can be abusive too. To other women and to other men. This isn't right. Sexism, whoever is saying it, needs to stop. In my experience however, and it is important to point this out, I have never been sexually or physically threatened by a woman, or a feminist. Although at least two of the examples I gave in Number 4 were from an anti-feminist woman.

2. If you're on the internet, you need to deal with people disagreeing with you

This one is sexist in itself! As it implies that we women bloggers are delicate flowers who can't cope with people disagreeing with us, or who aren't able to manage the manly nature of debate. This argument is BS. Look at any of my blogposts with more than 5 comments and you'll see people disagreeing with me and arguing with me until the cows have gone home, been milked and fallen asleep. Debate and disagreement will happen and we can deal with that.

The difference is explaining why you disagree with my argument that, for example, I believe we need to end the commercial sexual exploitation of women and men in our society; and physically threatening me in order to show me why I shouldn't even be daring to make the argument in the first place.

If you can't understand that difference, then I will give you another example. There's a difference between disagreeing with my stance on abortion; and calling me a 'fucking baby killer' for making an argument that supports a woman's right to bodily autonomy.

It's fine to disagree (even if I think you are wrong). It isn't fine to use misogynistic abuse to try and make me stop writing.

3. Ungh. You are making out that women are victims! Stop victimising yourself!

Speaking out against violence is not victimising yourself. Breaking the silence around the abuse women regularly receive is not taking a victim stance. It's being honest about a serious issue and trying to challenge why it happens to ensure it doesn't happen any more.

I think that people who try and say that women being honest about their experiences are behaving like victims feel uncomfortable with hearing the reality of misogyny. That's their problem. I don't see myself as a victim. I see myself as trying to write honestly about my experience of sexist online bullying, in order to join in a wider conversation with other women, who together are speaking out against something that is ignored and brushed under the carpet.

Trying to silence us by saying we are behaving like victims is pretty pathetic reaction IMO. It's like a desperate last resort to make out that we're the ones behaving badly.

4. But men get online abuse too!


I'm going to leave it to a male blogger who gets abuse on his blog to explain this one:

'never seen any of my male blogger acquaintances get similar kinds of abuse. Certainly not anything like as frequently.'

Just like street harassment, men get abuse too. But the nature of the abuse and the types of threats and the reasons behind it are different.

5. It's freedom of speech man!

Expecting people to not partake in any of the abuse example mentioned above is not about restricting people's freedom of speech. It is about recognising that no-one should use that right to freedom of speech to harm other people and threaten them with violence.

Using vile misogynistic insults and threatening women to intimidate them in to leaving an online space? Who's denying people freedom of speech in that scenario ey?

But I won't shut up on my blog. I won't have my freedom of speech, my freedom to write and my freedom to express my views taken from me because some people think they have a right to abuse me online. I won't be silenced.

And that, my friends, is the very special Sian and Crooked Rib Guide to Online Abuse and the excuses given to pretend it isn't a problem and doesn't exist!

45 comments:

rscotland said...

I actually deleted my blog because of the absurd amount of (terrifyingly graphic) abuse I received. I just wasn't in a space to deal with it then. Since, I have reposted almost everything I wrote on a separate blog (which I won't link to, for obvious reasons) under a masculine pseudonym. While I am occasionally called 'gay', overall I receive about 10% of the abuse I preciously received.

And yet people still claim I am 'hysterical' or 'over-emotional' when I tell them I quit my blog because of the unpleasant comments :/

Potato Ricer said...

This is exactly the kind of article that provokes teenage boys (or older) to make the sort of comment that the author seems to misunderstand. Boys (of any age) simply like to provoke women who speak out about feminist issues - either because they think its just plain funny to mock (because the author is taking it all too seriously).. or because they think its a waste of time, and their comment will cause further waste of time. Either way they get some satisfaction from saying something childish that the author will need to reply to in an adult fashion.

Lorna said...

I've been fortunate enough never to have attracted the type of violent comments on my blog that you and other female bloggers describe, but I have had perfect strangers see fit to call me a 'bitch' or worse on twitter.

And, worse than that, I have lost a longstanding friendship over the way they responded to my blogging. Having read your classifications above I now recognise the 'mansplaining' (inferring I knew nothing of the subject I was writing about even though I have a decade of work experience and an MSc in the subject) and then accusing me of spiteful hysteria.

It really is incredible that in the 21st century the mere act of a woman having and making public an opinion can create such outpourings of bile. We have a long way to go.

sian and crooked rib said...

Potato Ricer...

1. it isn't just teenage boys that make these comments

2. A lot of the time, women writing anything on the internet at all (even if it's about cycling) will 'provoke' men to write abusive messages.

3. Saying that articles like this 'provoke' men to behave badly seems a tad on the victim blaming side to me?

Sorry if i have misunderstood...

rscotland and lorna - thank you for sharing your experiences.

daniel_barker said...

Thanks for the considered and insightful piece. As you say, there's been a lot on the subject recently but I still found that a worthwhile read. I hadn't considered the extent to which insults about appearance and sexuality are inevitably gendered.

It's all so dispiriting though. I don't know where you go next in terms of actually counteracting this problem and changing the culture.

Sigh.

sian and crooked rib said...

Thanks Daniel. I think speaking out is a big part of challenging it, sharing our stories, resisting being silenced - I think that is part of removing the power from online bullies.

But changing the culture is a bigger battle that this is just one facet of.

Marina S said...

(TW for some pretty graphic & unladylike language)

"Either way they get some satisfaction from saying something childish that the author will need to reply to in an adult fashion."

1) Being a fucking asshole is not protected by freedom of speech. If you shout "cunt" at me on the street, I will take your photo and post it online. If you shout "cunt" at me on the internet, I will take your IP address and post it online. Nobody deserves my protection from their own meanness and stupidity.

2) You seem to be under the general delusion that this thing started the day Helen Lewis wrote about it in the New Statesman. Women have been facing violent, graphic, sadistic abuse on the internet from day one (1992). Funnily enough, keeping mum about it for twenty years hasn't made it stop, so I'm not exactly sure what you think "provoking" the sort of people who like to tell women that they're going to ass fuck them until their gallbladder bursts is going to make worse at this stage.

Elly said...

'mansplaining is when a woman's opinion or experience is undermined, ignored and said to be 'wrong' because it contradicts the mansplainer's own idea or comfort zone. '

in that case the most frequent and extreme versions of 'mansplaining' I endure are from feminist women.

weird that isn't it?

Elly said...

p.s. when it comes to being 'abused'or commented upon with regards to sex/sexuality you know it was your 'pro-feminist' pal Steven Baxter and his chums who did that to me, and I thought you were laughing about it. And Cath Elliott. You certainly didn't challenge them.

So your points are a little ... partisan in my view.

e.g. what about sex workers? They get insulted by feminists all the time.

Matt Hudson said...

Don't apologise for any perceived bandwagon jumping. More than anything else IMO, this issue requires some critical mass behind it. Please keep kicking the hornet's nest.

sian and crooked rib said...

This post clarifies the incident Elly is talking about in case anyone is interested or doesn't know.

http://sianandcrookedrib.blogspot.com/2011/04/new-statesman-online-row-and-some.html?m=1

Matt, thank you for your comment.

Elly said...

Here's my response to Helen's NS article, and it includes my account of the 'bullying' from Baxter and other NS journalists and friends.

http://quietgirlriot.wordpress.com/2011/11/03/the-female-of-the-species/

I agree that online abuse occurs but it can occur in unexpected places.

PhiloKGB said...

Your spot-on comments about the sexist usage of the label "hysterical" do not just recognize arbitrary patterns. In fact, the word derives directly from the Greek for "of the womb" (no doubt you're familiar with "hysterectomy"). It was once suggested that women who suffered from seemingly uncontrollable emotional outbursts had some unspecified disorder of the uterus. Google is predictably silent about the purported causes of hysteria in men of the time, however.

Elly said...

again,I have been called 'hysterical' by a feminist woman.

This post is not describing men's behaviour towards women solely.

sian and crooked rib said...

Philosopher kgb - exactly, I think hysteria was the belief that women's wombs became 'unstuck' and drifted round the body causing mood swings!

PhiloKGB said...

Ely, this post describes a particular set of phenomena. It doesn't damage the author's point that the trend seen predominantly in the MRA crowd is occasionally seen in others.

I might also note that your anecdote does not preclude the possibility that the alleged feminist woman uses "hysterical" also to describe men. That would indicate etymological ignorance, perhaps, but not some inscrutable auto-sexist tendency.

Paco said...

I don't know that this can be solved, but I hope it can for all our sakes. It's not just the importance of free speech for women, not letting your voices be silenced, but because of what you're saying, that it can make a difference.

So, with some awareness that I'm doing a guy thing in proposing technical solutions, I also empathize. Being treated hatefully throws me for a loop as well, even though it almost never happens. I'm highly impressed by anyone who goes on in the face of that, despite it's being despicable unreasonable abuse that nobody should face.

First, we need abusive comment filters, along the lines of those for spam. How hard can it be to red-flag comments mentioning rape threats, insults, and other abuse? Why hasn't anyone done this before? Can actual spam-filter developers chime in? (I'm sure the women of the web can provide rich training set for Bayesian analysis.)

(Some sophistication would be needed in handling, e.g. for comment threads on discussion of rape or harassment. Though challenging, that might be handled in an adaptive, thread-by-thread way, based on the original posted text and followups by whitelisted commenters.)

Second, while most of the abuse spam should be simply discarded, not dignified with a response, the worst of it, the actual threats of violence (flagged by another level of filtering) should be directed to law enforcement. These guys are repeat offenders, having an impact greater than their numbers (as is the case with rapists and abusers in general). As the "David Mabus" case shows, commenting leaves trails and a concerted effort can bring these warped individuals to the law-enforcement and medical attention they need, for everyone's sake.

What I sincerely hope for, with such technical solutions, is that (1) the abuse gets filtered without draining much time or souls of decent human beings and (2) the violence gets hammered on in the real world. Because that's the way it should be.

We need to start a "Safe Speech Campaign", directed at the major blogging hosts and e-mail providers to begin with, for such filtering to be made available.

Paco said...

P.S. Filtered abuse will also provide a specific reference point on, for example, the amount and seriousness of abuse experienced by different bloggers. Anybody whining that they get abuse, too, can be sent a dump of the textual excrement. Perhaps including coupon for a free bottle of eyewash.

sian and crooked rib said...

Paco

I agree, more could be done using the spam filter. I don't even know what my spam filter does to detect spam, as perfectly fine comments end up in there and other sweary ones (like Marina's!) land in the non-spam folder. I also think it should be easier to block persistent abusers without having to go round the houses to block IP addresses etc which I don't know how to do...

sian and crooked rib said...

Elly - it's funny you mention the New Statesman April row as it was one of the examples i was thinking of when i wrote this:

'Mocking someone for their perceived (or known) sexuality and sexual preference is again a great way to silence women writers'

I would like to point out though that I think your representation of my involvement on this thread isn't very inaccurate. You made a comment on Steve's piece and he wrote a sweary tweet calling you 'dozy' etc. I laughed at the tweet which was immature and unfair of me, and I publicly apologised for that. I had no knowledge of the tweets being written by other people that used the row to have a go at your sexuality until I saw them a few days later on your blog. When I saw them I wrote my blog post condemning the behaviour.

Posie Parker said...

I whole hearted agree with this article and found the 'beauty/ugly' abuse most insightful.

Feminists, as far as I'm aware, are not abusive to sex workers, moreso the sex industry and perhaps vocal about the happy hooker peddlers.

Elly said...

@sianushka - that's your version of events I have a different one but I don't want to argue.

What I would like you to do is to take a long hard look at who it is who has been doing 'abuse' online and then go back to your original post. Because things are a lot more complex than you have made out.

sian and crooked rib said...

I think we all can benefit from looking at our own actions, assessing and re-assessing them and seeing how our behaviour and comments impact on others. All the time.

Matt Thrower said...

I have no issue at all with this issue becoming an ongoing "bandwagon". I'm a man who blogs about a variety of entirely non-political, non-serious issues and until recently I had absolutely no idea - none - that this problem existed. It's an important issue and entirely worth bandwagoning, not only because a lot of people are probably unaware of it, but because it's such an unanswerable example of mysogeny in action, preserved in black and white for everyone to see. It's one thing for an apologist to try and brush of a wolf-whistle as harmless and well-meaning and pretend the problem doesn't exist - quite another to try and pretend that that level of clearly sexualised abuse directed exclusively at women is somehow harmless.

So, great article, but I have a bit of a problem with your definition of "mansplaining" as sexist. It sounds to me like an attitude men frequently adopt to people whose point of view they view as being stupid or ill-informed, and certainly not exclusively to women. So while, of course, there's a long and ignoble history of men dismissing women's ideas through patronizing them, it's a jump to assume that a patronizing attitude is automatically reflective of sexism. Unlike all the other examples you've given, which are clearly sexual or gender-oriented, men spend quite a lot of debating time patronising other men too.

billynojob said...

Well, I can certainly corroborate the general point that male bloggers do not by and large get flamed in this way - at all, really, but most certainly not in the violent sexualised way that women writers seem consistently exposed to. Of course, in my case that might be just because hardly anyone reads my stuff anyway...

I'm probably going to sound really twee, but I simply can't understand why so many people seem unable to distinguish between argument and gratuitous insult. Call me old-fashioned, but it makes me sick to the pit of my stomach.

sian and crooked rib said...

thank you both for your comments. No, i don't believe it is old fashioned to not like insults! i hope not anyway. And i think as more people are writing about this issue, the obvious, stated and unignorable misogyny will be highlighted and become harder to ignore.

Elly said...

@Matt - yes and as I said women (including and even especially) feminist women engage in plenty of patronising behaviour themselves.

'Mansplaining' is disingenuous as a concept and hides the fact women also can be very patronising/dismissive.

In fact, the internet phrase used by feminists 'whatabouttehmenz' is used to dismiss men's concerns in a patronising manner.

sian and crooked rib said...

What about the men is generally a come-back when male commenters are trying to silence or dismiss conerns around women's rights, vawg etc.

As this blogpost says though:

'Part two: Excuses given to brush off sexist online abuse

1. Women! Women are mean too!'

Elly said...

yes you've got an answer for everything haven't you? How convenient. I know what 'whatabouttehmenz' is I have written about it, as have others.

I disagree with your interpretation. And I think your feminism is misandrist.

sian and crooked rib said...

Elly, wasn't to imply you didn't know what what about the menz is (although we can both disagree with one another's interpretation of it) it was for readers who might not be familiar with the term or might be interested in a different interpretation from yours.

Potato Ricer said...

just to clarify.
1) I said "teenage boys (and older)"

2) 'Men' write abusive messages about anything - knowing a few men I would say it is not gender specific - it is more specific to whoever they can get a reaction from. Sometimes the 'abuse' part is what satisfies - but either way the target doesn't matter (on the internet anyway). Go on youtube choose any video.. look at the comments. Maybe Ive just been looking at videos posted by girls?

3) not blaming the victim (do you feel you are a victim? :) )But if you put yourself out there, ..you're out there. Feedback will come, and you will find guys who make comments just to rub you up, and the whole thing is self perpetuating. Stand on a soapbox and you will get more hecklers.

4). Guys are Guys.. the internet is anonymous (almost) - what to do?

Elly said...

For the benefit of the readers, here's my take on 'whatabouttehmenz' in a bit more detail:

http://goodmenproject.com/gender-sexuality/no-seriously-what-about-the-men/

sian and crooked rib said...

Potato ricer

But there is a difference between feedback and rape threats. Between rape threats and people speculating about your sex life, or your physical appearance. As I made very clear in the post, feedback and debate isn't the issue. And I also made clear that speaking out does not make me a victim.

And guys will be guys? No way. Contrary to what elly says, I dont hold misandrist views and that is a misandrist view. Male online abuse against women is not an inevitable thing, it is not guys being guys. Otherwise all men would do it! I happen to have a higher opinion of men than that. Some men choose to abuse women online, just as some men choose to abuse women offline. It can be stopped though, by holding the men who do it to account and speaking out about it. Which more and more is what we are doing.

Elly said...

just to clarify 'guys will be guys' is not my view. I don't even think men are any more abusive online than women. That's my view!

The misandry is in feminists suggesting men are particularly abusive to women due to misogyny.

BookElf said...

As opposed to some men being abusive to some women because they are not very nice people?

Ob1Kn00b said...

Have you considered the idea that they are simply maladaptive sexual advances? I don't think that we're a particularly well socialised generation.

Personally, I blame the bomb. The political ramifications (complete, almost unwavering compliance to established powers) pushing the requirements for masculinity way off the charts on the swinging dingus axis.

Think Dr Strangelove imagining repopulating the earth.

'How do I prove I do not need that which would give my life most meaning?'

'Do you find my lack of need for your affection alluring?' - found in various alpha male texts.

This analysis, of course, without the least pretence of objectivity.

Elly said...

I wish that was what feminists were saying Bookelf but they are calling men 'misogynists'.

sian and crooked rib said...

No. not really.

Elly said...

Of course they are!

here's my latest on this issue
http://quietgirlriot.wordpress.com/2011/11/08/hypocrite-women/

sian and crooked rib said...

elly, i wasn't responding to your comment but the one above.

but just to respond to your's now - misogyny means hatred of women. So therefore i believe it is correct to sayy that men using hate language towards women is an example of misogyny.

Elly said...

what about when women use hateful words against each other? what's that called? because I get a lot of that.

sian and crooked rib said...

Well, i guess it depends on whether the hate is being directed at the woman because she is a woman (which is the kind of online abuse that we've been talking about). In which case it would be misogyny too - hatred of women.

This online abuse is hate that is directed at women as women, and that is why a lot of male bloggers say they don't experience the same kinds of abuse or the same level of abuse. A lot of the online abuse being described by women appears to be motivated with a real anger/hatred at women speaking (not what they are speaking about) and therefore can be seen as motivated by trying to shut women up.

Patriarchy innit?!

Elly said...

I don't believe patriarchy exists. sorry! so your whole argument is lost on me because it is based on the assumption we live in a 'patriarchy'. I have studied the subject for years and come to the conclusion we don't.

I will leave it there. Thanks for discussing civilly with me.

Ob1Kn00b said...

@sian and crooked rib. Fair enough, but I think by the time someone is ranting and raving in the manner described, you can't really describe the target of that rant as 'woman' or *anything*, because the emotional state is a mick mash of internally generated and remembered stuff, which may or may not have the label 'woman' attached for the purposes of venting.

jessicafmbateman said...

Great post Sian, excellent explanations of the mentality behind all these different types of abuse.

I've blogged about the harassment I received when volunteering for an all-female environmental compaigning group. It's really worrying how women involved in politics/ activism (particularly left-leaning politics/activism) are singled out for abuse and hatred. I don't think it's a coincidence that the female bloggers doing the whole 'hey, I've never received a rape threat, therefore it doesn't happen!' type posts tend to be more right wing in their writing and politics.

I don't think censoring is necessarily the answer as it often just adds fuel to these people's fire, but I think talking about it and discussing it is essential so that both extablished and newbie female bloggers/activists don't feel so frightened or alone when they experience abuse, understand the motivations behind it and, most importantly, don't let it put them off writing and campaigning!