Monday, November 14, 2011

#MenCallMeThings

courtesy of stevegarfield
Anything exciting happen last week?

Oh yeah, feminist blogger Sady Doyle started a revolution... on Twitter.
#MenCallMeThings brings the worst of internet sexism into the open where it belongs. Finally, the words haunting women bloggers' and columnists' and all varieties of outspoken ladies' subconscious have gone public. At last, those privileged enough to cast judgement on the "shrews" and "harpies" of the web can be judged themselves.

Doyle writes for Tiger Beatdown, In These Times, and Rookie. But most importantly, she is a feminist attracting a lot of positive attention for all the negative attention she's received in the past.

"Prematurely haggish. You're an ugly fucking cunt. Bitch glasses. That smirk is why God invented anal sex," are the initial insults Doyle offered to get the hashtag "Men Call Me Things" rolling. And for the past week, fellow tweeters have come through with their own heinous contributions.

While some were told they "weren't worth the effort of murdering," others were labeled "unrapeable"-- but left with the implication their critics would follow through anyway.
Immediately trending, the topic resonated with many women whose presence is predominantly felt on the internet.

Said Megan Gibson of TIME, "I write chiefly about pop culture and the Internet, but I’ve still been called a 'bitch' and a 'hoe.' And though I’ve been spared sexually explicit insults, one particularly irate commenter told me he hoped I would be run over by a truck. It seems no one’s immune."

Even I received this well-meaning word-vomit in Slutty Feminist's comment section:
Hey lady, why are you so angry? The world has moved on from the war of the sexes. Ironic how a search for Chris Brown led me to you. Btw, it ain't cool to call yourself a feminist slut. It would be like me calling myself a man-whore. I love women in general. I have 3 of them in my family. These women also love and respect men in general. We have great, loving, and respectful parents. So they are good role models for us siblings to gauge what a good man and woman should be like. If your parents are loving and respectful, I don't see why you would disenfranchise them by setting up an embarrassing blog like this one. It doesn't serve any purpose other than justifying your ideals which may or may not be valid. However, this blog is still embarrassing to say the least. It really doesn't highlight any of your positives, and I am sure you've got plenty of them. Just leave all the anger behind and stop carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders. Be the happy lady that you want to be, because there is no man in this day and age who will get in your way in achieving just that. I am sure you can't deny this. Hey...live and let live and be happy. Peace.
Um, what? I don't know that those are linear thoughts, Akinyemi. But thanks for your two cents.

Anyway.

Besides being reduced to caricatures of "angry feminists," women are targeted in even more predictable ways. Suzanne Moore of The Guardian, often a target of sexist criticism herself, made this very important observation-- "Arguments are not refuted; instead, a woman is judged on her attractiveness."

Yes, rather than prepare an well-researched counter-point, it's much easier to attack a woman's physical appearance. That'll shut her up.

Online commenters are ruthless. Just look at YouTube. In fact, internet trolling has seemingly become part-time work for some. But the comments circulating #MenCallMeThings aren't just mean-- they're misogynist.

Sexist cyber-bullying utilizes violent, hateful, gendered insults intending to hit women where it hurts most; their second-class citizenship. This frightening speech reminds women they are defined first and foremost by their sexuality. And nothing else they say or do will ever matter.

For instance, according to these men, women bold enough to occupy intellectual online space are in desperate need of a dick in their mouth or... elsewhere.

But womaness is a double-edged sword. While one commenter may focus on her enticing lady bits, another may describe how she has failed to arouse him. Either way, these women deserve to be raped. Or killed. Or both.

Meanwhile, whatever she said has long been forgotten.

Moore believes the answer lies within the tweets, as well as real life discussions about the way we talk to one another:
I am afraid misogyny is not confined to one place or one sex and I am happy to name it and shame it. It cannot be banned or magicked away in the online world any more than it can in the real world. As difficult as it is, I want discussion opened up not shut up. This is a conversation we needed to have a long time ago.
The internet is no longer a separate entity. It is as much a part of our lives as the air we breathe. We would be lost without it, yet when it becomes polluted, it can kill us.

Perhaps the internet is the final frontier for feminism. As women fight to occupy cyberspace and the resistance is documented for all to see, the pursuit of gender equality is undeniably relevant. The battle is new, but also strangely familiar.

"When we all speak up, it doesn't sound like self-pity any more, and it's not hurt fee-fees. It's structural oppression," tweeted Doyle.

This virtual consciousness-raising has revealed yet another shared experience amongst women. It's not just you. It's not just me. It's all of us-- so pay attention.
  
After witnessing the overwhelming participation in #MenCallMeThings, Doyle confirmed "none of us are really alone" and "the insults are about what we are, not who we are."

Indeed. No truer statement has ever been tweeted.

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