Monday, 9 July 2012

I hope some C*** rapes you. Online harassment strikes again.

My Fathers 4 Justice post got picked up on Lib Con last week. The comments were the usual fare, some agreeing, some disagreeing, some informed, some less so (yes, you can get a print ad out in less than nine days. I’ve done it in four days, I know). Then, on Saturday, I read the following:

‘You are a complete fucking fascist idiot and I hope some cunt rapes you. Fucking thick bitch’. 

I’m not telling you this to make you feel sorry or bad for me, or to paint myself as a ‘victim’ of online abuse. In fact, when I saw it I laughed out loud, read it out to my friends and rolled my eyes. 

No, the reason I’m telling you this because the more we speak out and name what happens to women online, the more we can do to expose it, and tackle it. 

The day before the comment appeared, Helen Lewis, who has done amazing work in keeping the issue of online abuse on the public consciousness, published a piece regarding the frightening levels of hate directed at women gamer, Anita Sarkeesian. Sarkeesian had put a call out for voluntary donations to fund research into ‘tropes vs women in videogames’. The response she got included men putting together pictures of her being raped by Mario. Her address and contact details were published on the Internet, along with exhortations to use this information to commit violent crime against her. Perhaps most shockingly of all, guys created a game which involved the player beating up her face. 

I felt sick seeing this.

You would hope that most people would feel sick when presented with such a blatant example of gender-based hate. And yet, so many of the comments under Helen’s piece persisted with the idea that this was just banter, this was just a joke, a game. It wasn’t threatening. It wasn’t horrible. And anyway, what about freedom of speech? After all, if women can’t cope with a little name calling, if women need to be protected from bad language, then clearly women aren’t tough enough to be on the Internet anyway. If you can’t take the heat, get back in the fucking kitchen. 

I’m pretty sure that none of the men that left those comments have ever woken up on the weekend to read that someone hopes they get raped. I’m pretty sure that none of those commenters have had to go to the police after someone threatens to post their contact details all over the Internet whilst encouraging other men to find them and ‘make them pay’ (which is what happened to me). 

If you think a game where you beat up a real, live, named woman is funny, if you think that game is ‘banter’, then you need to take a long hard look at yourselves. This is hate language. Pure and simple, this is about (some) men hating women for speaking out, for having a voice.  It’s about trying to silence us. 

When I tell people that I’ve been threatened with rape, again, on a blog post, those who don’t blog ask why it doesn’t make me quit. And my answer is always the same. If I stopped writing as a result of these threats, then they have won.

Now, the level of threats I get is pretty minor compared to a lot of women I know. And some women have been forced to stop writing because the threats they received were too awful, were too dangerous. It is a disgrace that some men have forced women to give up their voices, their spaces, due to the violent hate directed against them. 

I believe that when someone responds to something I’ve written with threats (or, more commonly with ‘you’re ugly anyway and I wouldn’t have sexytimes with you’), then it means they’re frightened. They’re frightened that their patriarchal power is being threatened. Our feminist voices are powerful, increasingly powerful, and they can’t cope with it. Threats of violence are the Internet coward’s last hurrah. Feminism is scary. The idea that we need to liberate women and men from patriarchal capitalism is scary. It means some people will have to give up power. And it terrifies them. So they respond violently. They hit out, cry out and attempt to use violence to stop us talking. 

But it isn’t going to work.

One final thing. Hate language is not the same as freedom of speech. If a woman writes something, and a man tells her that he hopes some cunt rapes her in order to frighten her into silence, it isn’t his freedom of speech that is being threatened. It’s hers.

This post is quite garbled and doesn’t have much of a thread. But I just wanted to speak out against this episode of online harassment. By talking about what happens to us, by exposing it, refusing to be silenced by it, we will continue to have a voice. And we will win. 


AllyFogg said...

Well said Sian - not garbled in the slightest!

so many of the comments under Helen’s piece persisted with the idea that this was just banter, this was just a joke, a game. It wasn’t threatening. It wasn’t horrible. And anyway, what about freedom of speech?

I've written about this in a couple of places as well, and the responses I found most disturbing weren't the ones claiming it is banter or a joke or a game. It was the ones that attempted to justify it it by saying Sarkeesian was anti-free speech because she was attempting to silence the free expression of gamers, or because she's deleted critical comments from her videos in the past. Then often adding this insane conspiracy theory that she had cooked up the whole controversy and manufactured the outrage in order to make more money.

It was a perfect textbook example of victim-blaming in action:

"I don't agree with what happened to her but...

A/ "She deserved it"
B/ "She brought it on herself"
C/ "She probably invented the whole thing anyway."

[please tick box]

sian and crooked rib said...

thanks Ally. Yes, the 'you bring it on yourself' is something i had directed at me after the 'hooters debacle'. Having an opinion, having a voice - apparently this justifies any shit that anyone wants to throw at you.

hope all is well!

Brutha Voodoo said...

Well done for speaking out, and refusing to be silenced or intimidated by the kind of men that make me ashamed to be a penis-owner

Charlotte. said...

I saw an article about what happened to Anita, the game that was made is horrific! I actually gasped when I saw it.

Well done for speaking out against this!

Eve said...

I still cannot believe the level of violent language used on the internet, but reading this post made me feel both scared and angry. It is unacceptable that people feel it is okay to a) wish such an awful act upon you and b) not just unacceptable but appalling that anyone would encourage others to *actually* hurt you. I hope that it simply bravado caused by being behind a screen, but that doesn't make it any more okay.

I think your post was absolutely brilliant; strong, justifiably angry, and not garbled at all, as AllyFogg said.

I don't wish to make light of such a serious issue, but Isabel Fay has produced a satirical music video about haters and online abusers such as these:

It may at least make you smile, as well as see a very public declaration of how such intimidation is not only unacceptable and disgusting, it's also very, very sad.

Eve said...

Ooh! Language is NSFW on that music video. Just in case!

sian and crooked rib said...

thank you eve. yes, i love that video! it's so funny. xx

Simon said...

For those women that have been forced off the internet isn't it possible we could provide a space where their voice could be heard, perhaps anonymously - because as you point out when women stop posting then it's a victory for these bastards, and something's better than nothing!


'I hope some c.... rapes you.' Demonstrates not only male hatred for women but also this women-hater is advocating that a female rape another female! That misogynistic sexual insult c....t was created by men in order to humiliate women by referring to women via one particular part of their bodily anatomy. Men have created innumerable degrading sexualised insults in order to subject us women to a barage of women-hating and this particular sexualised insult is common. Men even call other men c....ts because for a man to be referred to as a woman is the worst insult men can hurl at another male. Woman-hater should have written 'I hope some prick rapes you' but he hates women so much he is incapable of constructing correct English.

As always it is not 'people' who are determined to silence women's voices - it is men and we have to state sex of those women-hating individuals because if we use generic terms then we are colluding with the males who are so terrified women will take away a tiny part of men's pseudo male power, that these men constantly engage in male war on women. But bad news boys is that we radical feminists are not going away soon - rather our numbers are increasing and men's hatred proves what we Feminists have always said and that is men do hate women and yes there is a male war on women.