A ranty, funny, dead-serious intersectional feminist blog.

Posts tagged “Facebook

Feminist Killjoy Toolbox

FKTB.pngAs we’re all probably aware by now, the Internet is a jungle of rape culture, blatant misogyny, and the insidious messages of patriarchy. What’s a Feminist Killjoy to do?

Make tools to fight the BS. And use them.

I give you the Make Me a Sammich Feminist Killjoy Toolbox: a living collection of tools created to turn the Internet into a safer, more hospitable, or just more interesting and enlightening environment for Feminist Killjoys everywhere. I’ll start with a few I’ve learned about recently and add to the list as more become available (or I become aware of them). Know of a tool I should list here? Let me know in the comments section.

The Block Bot

The Block Bot is a Twitter-specific tool that auto-blocks people who engage in anti-feminist trolling behavior. It’s customizable, using “nastiness levels” to let you choose how aggressively you want it to protect you from potential trolls.

From the website:

Twitter is polluted by a number of anti-feminist obsessives, who viciously harass those who don’t support their warped views. The Block Bot is a Twitter application to automatically block the nastiest of these people. Once installed, it works in the background, fetching the names of those to be blocked from a central server, and discreetly blocking them.

I dunno about you, but this sounds like a little slice of heaven to me. (A bigger slice would be to also block racist trolls.)

Jailbreak the Patriarchy

Danielle Sucher just released a Chrome extension that genderswaps the web when you view it through the Chrome browser. It excludes Gmail, and you can toggle it off at will. I tried it on this page and here’s what happened:

BeforeAfter.jpg

Hilarious, right? Of course, on most web pages the changes will be slightly subtler. Here’s an example from Jane Austen’s Persuasion: AustenBeforeAfter.png From Danielle Sucher:

This makes reading stuff on the internet a pretty fascinating and eye-opening experience, I must say. What would the world be like if we reversed the way we speak about women and men? Well, now you can find out!

Note: While testing JtP, I learned that it works in WordPress (and other, I assume) editing windows. I narrowly avoided publishing the Masculist Killjoy Toolbox! I’ve alerted Danielle and I’ll let you know if there’s an update.

Predator Alert

Hacktivist maymay wants social networking spaces to be free of sexual violence and safer for those who frequent them. To that end, they and their cohorts are creating Predator Alert Tools for a growing number of websites including OKCupid, Facebook, Lulu, and more.

From maymay:

What would happen if the world’s major Internet companies like Facebook and Google actually took sexual assault and rape seriously? As ever more human interaction changes to be mediated with the Internet, social networking companies have an increasing responsibility to shape their products, and the Internet-connected populace’s “virtual town squares,” in ways that empower us to build the future society we want, such as one free of sexual violence.

The Predator Alert Tool tells you when someone’s behavior sends up a red flag:

tumblr_mur02iCFJf1qzs83po1_500 In addition to alerting you to potential predators on dating sites, the Predator Alert Tool helps to create awareness and stimulate discussion among friends whose friends might be part of the problem:

The “Information linked to your Facebook friends” list displays any statements you can see linked to anyone on your Facebook friend list. If you share some information and link it to one of your own Facebook friends, it will show up here. The list shows the current profile picture of the person to whom the statement was linked, the statement’s short description, and the date the statement was shared with PAT-Facebook. By occasionally logging in to PAT-Facebook to look at this list, read any new statements that appear, and encouraging your friends to talk with you about sexual violence, you can help prevent sexual abuse within your social network.

The PAT User Manual contains lots more info about how this tool works. Check it out.

Armed with these tools, you can customize the Internet in ways that are only now becoming possible and potentially protect yourself from trolls and predators like never before. How do you want to view the Internet today? You’ve got more choices than ever.

What tools are you creating/using to make your Internet a better place? Feminist Killjoys, sound off!


Why #FBrape is Not About Free Speech

Speech is an action.

Speech is an action.

This is an opinion piece I submitted to the Seattle Times in response to an ACLU blog post claiming Facebook’s decision to apply their existing standards to gendered hate speech is bad for “free speech” on the Internet. I disagree for a number of reasons, among them the fact that Facebook is not the Internet-at-large (but one community within the larger Internet that doesn’t allow hate speech–there are many that do), and does not traditionally maintain any sort of existing “free speech” standard as the blogger implied (in fact, they already ban a lot of content that violates their stated terms). As I have said before, freedom of speech is not freedom from consequences, and one consequence is counter-speech–and counter-action if the community you’re in believes that your “free speech” is harmful to the group. You’re still free to say what you want, but you might have to take it somewhere else if you get voted off the island. That’s just life.

All that said, I only had 600 words to play with, so I focused on my belief that this speech not only contributes to rape culture (which teaches us that rape is acceptable) but encourages (read: incites) rape and violence against women, and as such is not (or should not be) protected. By anyone. I’m about as far from a lawyer as people come, and I doubt there’s any legal precedent for my position, which is probably why the Times declined to publish (i.e., they did not respond within the requisite time). Nevertheless, I believe this to be true.

Today [5/30/13] Jay Stanley took issue on the ACLU blog with Facebook’s decision to remove content promoting violence against women in response to the #FBrape campaign, citing “free speech” and the need to protect it at all costs. I would like to point out that where the First Amendment of the US Constitution is concerned (which should be the primary concern of the ACLU), speech that incites violence is not protected, and can indeed be grounds for arrest. I believe that the content the #FBrape campaign objected to has the potential to incite violence.

Some of the images in question depicted real women and girls unconscious, tied up, bruised, bloody, and even dead–all presented as humor. They bore captions like, “Next time, don’t get pregnant,” “She didn’t make my sammich fast enough,” and “Tape her and rape her.”

There is a term that describes the toxic culture we live in where rape and violence against women are trivialized and normalized in this and many other ways. That term is “rape culture.” It’s a controversial term to some who believe it implies that all men are potential rapists. It doesn’t, but that’s beside the point, which is that rape culture is bad for everyone. It teaches boys that girls are objects made for sex and that they are entitled to sex. It teaches girls that their bodies are not their own; that their consent doesn’t matter, only that they play defense and remain pure. It praises men who have sex while shaming women as “sluts.” It makes light of prison rape and male victims of sexual assault. And it makes a joke of rape and violence against women.

You know who loves a rape joke? Rapists. Rape jokes, and people laughing at them, tell rapists that rape is acceptable when what they need to hear is “Dude. No.” And there are far too many rapists out there. They don’t wear a sign—they look just like everyone else. And they’re listening.

A 1987 study (The Scope of Rape: Incidence and Prevalence of Sexual Aggression and Victimization in a National Sample of Higher Education Students) found that “The frequency with which men reported having perpetrated each form of sexual aggression ranged from 19% of men who indicated that they had obtained sexual contact through the use of coercion to 1% of men who indicated that they had obtained oral or anal penetration through the use of force.” That means that even if you only count “forcible rape” with oral or anal penetration, approximately one in a hundred men are rapists. This is not an insignificant number. When you include vaginal penetration by force, the numbers must increase considerably. And when you begin adding crimes sometimes referred to as “gray rapes” they skyrocket—if not to one in five, then significantly nonetheless.

According to at least one ACLU website, hate speech is not protected:

But this right doesn’t extend to libel, slander, obscenity, “true threats,” or speech that incites imminent violence or law-breaking.

Obscenity arguments aside, one question is this: How imminent is the threat of violence by a rapist against a woman? It is estimated that three women are raped every hour in the US military. In the general US population an estimated 78 women are forcibly raped ever hour (this number does not include those so-called “gray rapes”). Promoting rape as acceptable, inevitable, and funny not only gives rapists tacit permission to rape, it is responsible for the idea that “all men are rapists.” All men are not rapists, but the ones who are thrive on society’s acceptance of rape.

And the ones who aren’t yet rapists but might be under the right circumstances? They’re listening, too.


References:

http://www.sscnet.ucla.edu/comm/malamuth/pdf/81Jrp15.pdf

http://www.apa.org/divisions/div46/articles/malamuth.pdf

http://www.parentstv.org/PTC/publications/reports/womeninperil/study.pdf

http://www.thenationalcampaign.org/resources/pdf/pubs/ThatsWhatHeSaid.pdf

http://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/SOO.PDF

http://www.soci270.carvajal.ca/documents/KossTheScopeofRape.pdf

http://www.musc.edu/ncvc/resources_prof/rape_in_america.pdf

http://psycnet.apa.org/journals/psp/36/2/156/

http://www.washingtoncitypaper.com/blogs/sexist/2009/11/12/rapists-who-dont-think-theyre-rapists/


Related on Make Me a Sammich:


Respectful discussion is welcome and encouraged. When in doubt, see the Comment Policy.


Five Things I Know After #FBrape

Oui.

Oui.

I’m exceedingly proud to have worked on the #FBrape campaign to end gendered hate speech on Facebook, and of our success in getting the corporate giant to back down. It was an exhausting week, but the rewards were many, and I wouldn’t take it back for anything. Not even to avoid the inevitable trolling that has followed.

Yeah, they did. It’s amazing to me how many people seem to think that rape culture on Facebook is something to be protected and defended by coming to #FBrape and calling campaigners “bitches” and “cunts” and “fascists” and claiming that our victory is some kind of blow to everything thinking people ought to hold dear.

I just can’t even. But as I said, I’m proud, exhausted, and mostly satisfied. We did an important thing, and we’re still doing it.

Here are a few things I took away from the campaign:

  1. We need each other: Women are sick and tired of being in the majority and yet being treated as though our right to safe public spaces don’t matter. We are fighting back. Thousands of us pulled together, and we couldn’t have done it any other way.
  2. We need men: Rape culture will not go away unless men participate in the fight. Many men joined us in the #FBrape campaign, and their voices helped so much to counter those who showed up to ridicule us. I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart, men who campaigned, for being with us during this week of intensive work.
  3. We need our allies to be present during our struggles, not just during our successes: Feminists who couldn’t seem to find time for the campaign while it was happening are jumping on the bandwagon (and the popularity of the hashtag) now that we’ve won. I can’t help but wonder where they were when the hard work was getting done. I hoped for better.*
  4. We’re ending rape culture: Ending rape culture on Facebook is a huge step toward ending it in society as a whole. Facebook is a microcosm of our society. It is a community that has set a standard of behavior for its members, and finally, it has stated for the record that violence against women is strictly counter to that standard. Their response was very corporate, but it was a complete turnaround from their “our system is working” response three days previous. There is work to be done. We have to keep them honest. But this is a WIN and I’m CELEBRATING.
  5. This is not about free speech: Free speech, while important, is only one of our civil rights. Much as your right to own a gun doesn’t preclude my right to not get shot, your right to free speech does not trump my right not to be surrounded by images suggesting that beating, raping, and killing people like me is acceptable, expected, and funny. This is hate speech, it encourages (read: incites) violence against women,  and it cannot be tolerated in civilized society anymore than we allow racists to harass and threaten people of color in public spaces. We don’t. We can’t. My right to exist safely trumps every rape-joker’s right to free speech, and I will fight to ensure that my right—and every other woman’s—is protected.

*This is not directed at anyone who is likely to read this, but at high-profile professional feminists (the most conspicuous of whom was Sheryl Sandberg, of course) who suddenly had articles in major publications after Facebook caved. It just made me a little sad, that’s all.

largemarge.png


Respectful discussion is welcome and encouraged. When in doubt, see the Comment Policy.


#FBrape: We’re Holding Facebook Accountable. Join Us.

wamwedidit

UPDATE: FACEBOOK AGREES TO MAKE CHANGES!

From the official WAM statement:

Last Tuesday, Women, Action & the Media, the Everyday Sexism Project and author/activist Soraya Chemaly launched a campaign to call on Facebook to take concrete, effective action to end gender-based hate speech on its site. Since then, participants sent over 60,000 tweets and 5000 emails, and our coalition has grown to over 100 women’s movement and social justice organizations.

Today, we are pleased to announce that Facebook has responded with a important commitment to refine its approach to hate speech. Facebook has admirably done more than most other companies to address this topic in regards to content policy. In a statement released today, Facebook addressed our concerns and committed to evaluating and updating its policies, guidelines and practices relating to hate speech, improving training for its content moderators and increasing accountability for creators of misogynist content.

Facebook has also invited Women, Action & the Media, The Everyday Sexism Project and members of our coalition to contribute to these efforts and be part of an ongoing conversation. As part of these efforts, we will work closely with Facebook on the issue of how Community Standards around hate speech are evaluated and to ensure best practices represent the interests of our coalition.

For details regarding Facebook’s response, please visit here.

Thank you so much to everyone who helped. Let’s all get involved in this conversation and keep them honest, shall we?

Read the New York Times editorial.


NOTE: Trigger warnings for rape, abuse, racism, and corporate assholery. Also, this post is updated regularly with news, FAQ, and new action items. See large headers throughout the article.

It’s gone on far too long. You know exactly what I’m talking about. Facebook’s wacky double-standard (triple? quadruple?) that says this is not ok:

But then, this happens:

Trigger warning: violence against women.

Trigger warning: violence against women.

The woman behind Rapebook did her best, but eventually had to give up the fight because she’d been targeted with rape and death threats and she has a family to think about.

Now Women, Action, and the Media has teamed up with The Everyday Sexism Project and writer/activist Soraya Chemaly to launch the #FBrape campaign to hold Facebook’s feet to the fire by targeting their advertisers (and in turn, holding their feet to the fire). Make Me a Sammich signed on to the Open Letter to Facebook, and I’ve been tweeting about this all week (along with thousands of others), and some companies have responded. Some have pulled their ads. Others have made excuses.

Today I received a letter from WAM founder and activist dynamo Jaclyn Friedman alerting signatories that today is especially important:

We’re writing because today is a KEY day in our campaign. We can tell you that we’re currently in conversation with Facebook, and they’re considering their response. We also know that several of the companies we’re targeting are in “crisis mode” from all the backlash they’ve received, and are putting enormous pressure on Facebook to end this soon. We believe that if we make today our biggest day yet, we could have a real win on our hands.

Loyal readers and friends, I need you to join me in making today count. Take action on the action page, thank advertisers who opted to do the right thing by women and pressure the ones who did not on the follow-up page. Share this post with your networks. Share my Facebook post. Retweet Jenn Pozner’s tweet.

This is a golden opportunity to make some real, positive change. I’m not going to kid myself that if we lose this battle, we’re all giving up Facebook. That doesn’t work for at least two reasons: 1) We all rely on the communities we have built on Facebook and I, for one, won’t abandon mine; 2) This fight, as Soraya Chemaly pointed out on Twitter recently, is partly about public spaces and the fact that women shouldn’t have to remove themselves from such spaces to feel safe.

But I’m in this to win. I hope you’ll join me.


FAQ

Wait, what? I haven’t seen any of these “rape pages”  and  I don’t believe Facebook would EVER allow the sort of thing you’re describing!

Here are some VERY GRAPHIC examples of the pages and images Facebook has deemed acceptable.

Here is an example of a VERY GRAPHIC page a user reported, and the response they received from Facebook. This is the standard response those of us who report these images receive from Facbook. That’s why we’re making all this noise.

Why are you targeting advertisers? Facebook needs to change. Target them!

This fight has been ongoing for several years, and Facebook claims that they are doing everything they can. And yet, reporting pages depicting violence against women results in this statement again and again:

But advertisers can’t choose which pages their ads appear on, can they?

No, they can’t. So the only way to make Facebook take this seriously is for those companies to take violence against women seriously enough to pull their ads if Facebook won’t fix this.

Read WAM’s FAQ with lots more information.


UPDATE: 3/27: Dear Zappos – You Get an F

Yesterday I sent this tweet to @ZapposStyle [TW]:

Screen shot 2013-05-27 at 7.52.04 AM

Today I got this response:

Screen shot 2013-05-27 at 7.55.47 AM

Screen shot 2013-05-27 at 7.57.43 AM

Seriously, Zappos? That’s still your response after all these days?

Ok, just for starters? If we weren’t at the start of this campaign (which most of us were), we’re all very well aware now of how Facebook ads work because companies like yours keep using the Facebook ad system as an excuse for the fact that you are sponsoring rape and abuse pages. Secondly, if it wasn’t clear from the previous sentence: you ARE sponsoring hate and abuse pages by continuing to give Facebook your ad dollars. It’s just not that complicated.

Look, before this campaign started, I was a customer and a fan. I bought my last pair of shoes from a Facebook ad for Zappos. But you are seriously blowing my entire image of you right now (with apologies to John Bender, but I know he’d understand). You are pouring so much money into Facebook that I can’t I refresh one of these rape pages twice without seeing at least one–sometimes two–your ads. You ARE sponsoring rape and abuse pages. You just are.

“We recommend clicking X to delete the ad.”

I dont even know where to start. How about here:

The sentence in bold type above assumes that I’m hanging out on these pages for fun, and the offensive thing is that HOLY SHIT, THERE’S A ZAPPPOS AD! QUICK, HIT THE LITTLE EX AND MAKE IT GO AWAY!!!!

Zappos, this response is so full of fail, I’m surprised you fit it into two tweets.

Love,

Rosie

PS: Readers, here’s a sample tweet you can copy and send to Zappos to let them know what you think of this response:

Hey @ZapposStyle: You ARE sponsoring rape and abuse pages by pouring ad $$$ into FB. When will you step up and help end #FBrape?

UPDATE: 3/36

Ok, Facebook is fighting back. Today they pulled advertising from pages like [TRIGGER WARNING] this one and this one and this one, so now advertisers don’t have to worry that their ads might appear next to rapey images. Will advertisers be happy? Certainly. Am I? Not even a little bit. This move is a direct attack on our ability to pressure Facebook via its advertisers–it appears to me to be a statement from Facebook that they’ve heard our cries, but have no intention of changing their internal policies.

Earlier in this post I said I would not abandon my community on Facebook. But their reaction to this so far makes it impossible for me to promise to stand by that. Interestingly, I received a request to fill out a Facebook survey today. Here’s what I told them in the comments section at the end:

Screen shot 2013-05-26 at 1.08.45 PM

Of course, “minorities” is probably the wrong word these days, but I think they’ll get my drift.

UPDATE 3/25:

Today I receive this tweet from a new account claiming to be an official Facebook policy Twitter.

Screen shot 2013-05-25 at 2.50.40 PM

Naturally, I was skeptical, both about the authenticity of the account and about the statement they linked me to:

Screen shot 2013-05-25 at 2.53.53 PM

FYI: Here’s a note I received from Trista Hendren, creator of Rapebook:

“I have been talking to FB for over 6 months – directly.  I have all the emails.  They are very much aware of what is on their site.”

Having just received private message to my Facebook page containing a link from a reader to a nasty-ass rape page I could see with my very own eyes, I responded:

Screen shot 2013-05-25 at 2.56.09 PM

Nothing. I took a screenshot of one of the images on that page and tweeted it as further evidence. Then I refreshed and the page was gone. And so was “Offensive Humor at its Best,” one of the pages many (but not nearly all) examples have come from. (The @FacebookUO account tweeted that statement exactly six times, then went silent. I’m assuming it was created as some kind of damage control attempt, and that they abandoned it when they realized their statement was a major fail. Then again, maybe someone created an account to defend FB–but that seems less likely. I’m going with Occam on this one.)

Is this victory? I’m sorry, but I don’t think so. Not yet. I mean, the way that page disappeared without a word impressed me at first, but it ultimately felt more like they were trying to support their statement that this problem doesn’t really exist rather than actually doing something to solve the very real problem we’re fighting. And just reread that statement. Here, let me interpret it for you:

“We took care of this a long time ago using our existing system that works very well, but some malcontents on Twitter have been resharing the images as though they’re still online. No fair!”

Sorry, Facebook, but no. You don’t get to claim that your system works. And you don’t get to claim that you’ve made some sort of instaprestochange and this is all fixed. Know why? Because right before this all happened I reported this image:

kkkcrow

…and got this in response:

Screen shot 2013-05-25 at 3.03.14 PM

When your moderators don’t recognize a KKK robe as a hate symbol, your system is broken. When your moderators don’t recognize jokes about beating and raping and killing women as hate speech, your system is broken. Facebook: YOUR SYSTEM IS BROKEN.

This isn’t over. I’ve asked @FacebookUO if they’ll clarify the policy changes, and I’ve forwarded this image to them. I’m also looking forward to hearing from the leaders of this campaign regarding what official word they might have received. I’ll let you know as soon as I know anything.

Oh, also? These still exist (trigger warnings) [UPDATE: A number of these have been removed. I’m weeding them out and adding new ones as I find them.]:

https://www.facebook.com/HiILoveYouBai/posts/394629313979499

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Hope-you-have-pet-insurance-because-Im-about-to-destroy-your-pussy/123711017730757?fref=ts

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=504713129581784&set=pb.501606319892465.-2207520000.1369534067

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=465266280216071&set=pb.445527162189983.-2207520000.1369534470.&type=3&theater

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=504609859592111&set=a.501611093225321.1073741828.501606319892465

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=503859486333815&set=pb.501606319892465.-2207520000.1369535804

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=505165316203232&set=pb.501606319892465.-2207520000.1369611867

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=395212607254503&set=pb.345984872177277.-2207520000.1369612147

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=503977086322055&set=pb.501606319892465.-2207520000.1369612258

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=394485250660572&set=pb.345984872177277.-2207520000.1369612681

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=389219381187159&set=pb.345984872177277.-2207520000.1369617016

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=388819697893794&set=pb.345984872177277.-2207520000.1369617097

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=387767251332372&set=pb.345984872177277.-2207520000.1369617189

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=386221908153573&set=pb.345984872177277.-2207520000.1369617260

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=383685095073921&set=pb.345984872177277.-2207520000.1369619675

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=364462360329528&set=pb.345984872177277.-2207520000.1369620377

https://www.facebook.com/Raith420

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=187393818082239&set=pb.166047116883576.-2207520000.1369621156

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=463227490430518&set=pb.410653822354552.-2207520000.1369620804

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=465131776906756&set=pb.410653822354552.-2207520000.1369620634

 

TAKE ACTION!

Tweet the Media:

Please contact media folks and ask them to get up to speed on the campaign and cover us on this week:

Media Matters for America

Rachel Maddow (MSNBC)

Melissa Harris-Perry (MSNBC)

Ann Curry (MSNBC)

Tamron Hall (MSNBC)

Nicholas Kristof (NYT)

Martha Raddatz (ABC)

Whoopi Goldberg (The View)

Joy Behar (Say Anything)

Sara Gilbert (The Talk on CBS)

Julie Chen (The Talk)

Sharon Osbourne (The Talk)

Aisha Tyler (The Talk)

Sheryl Underwood (The Talk)

The Talk on CBS

Melissa Block (All Things Considered on NPR)

Audie Cornish (All Things Considered)

Fresh Air (NPR)

Xeni Jardin (BoingBoing)

Stephanie Miller (Stephanie Miller Show)

Pressure Advertisers:

Here are some tweets for companies not yet on the action list at WAM. You can copy (more impact coming from individuals) or retweet these to help put pressure on these companies to respond to the campaign:

https://twitter.com/MMASammich/status/338683808159264768

https://twitter.com/MMASammich/status/338444238196981760

https://twitter.com/MMASammich/status/338441099007893505

https://twitter.com/MMASammich/status/338438666923950081

https://twitter.com/MMASammich/status/338438078513434624

https://twitter.com/MMASammich/status/338493663673995265

https://twitter.com/MMASammich/status/338491900107558914

https://twitter.com/MMASammich/status/338482637909934080

https://twitter.com/MMASammich/status/338480248578523137



Respectful discussion is welcome and encouraged. When in doubt, see the Comment Policy.


Like Me!

Yes, it’s true: I am in seek of external validation. I need you to like me! So I went and got a Facebook page, and now you can with very little effort on your part. You’ll find the Facebook-likey-widget-thing just to the right, there. If you’re on Facebook, I’d be ever so grateful if you’d click the button–when you do, I get a little pellet of ego-boo! (Seriously, it pops right out of a little hatch in my monitor. It’s delicious and it makes me happy. You want me to be happy, don’t you? DON’T YOU??) Also, we’ll be together on Facebook where All The Things happen! (Things happen on the Twitter, too, and I will make a Twitter account very soon.)

What are you waiting for? Come on, click the button. You know you want to…

Love,

Rosie


How to Catch a Misogynist

Earlier this week the amazing Erin Kissane published “How to Kill a Troll,” an insightful essay that proposes a multi-pronged approach to dealing with Internet trolls. Her final and perhaps most important point is that love, or the “willingness to be human, vulnerable, and rational,” might be the only thing that can truly get through to people set on anonymously bullying and harassing others (particularly women). The article, and the subsequent discussion, is a tremendous resource for anyone seeking to understand trolls and misogyny on the Internet.

As I point out in the comments there, the problem with many hardcore trolls is that the whole thing is a game to them. They’re not out to change hearts and minds. They’re in it for the lulz and they really don’t care what buttons they have to press to get them. Are they misogynists? Many are. Many are stupid kids who don’t give a shit. If they weren’t online, they’d be out burning ants with a magnifying glass. But they’re learning from the big trolls that it’s fun to pick on women because we make a lot of noise which equals maximum entertainment. And it’s so easy! Your material’s already been written for you by all the misogynist trolls who came before. You can tell her to make you a sandwich, pick apart her appearance, accuse her of being a prude, a whore, or OMG A LESBIAN. If you’re hardcore, you can threaten to rape her, or wish cancer on her nether regions. You can describe all the ways you’d like to hurt her with foreign objects. Trolls–the worst of them–do all these things and more.

But to be a genuine troll requires anonymity. That means people who engage in some of these behaviors in public, with their name attached, and no expectation of privacy, cannot be rightly called trolls. But I’m going to go ahead and call them misogynists. And they’re so easy to catch. All you have to do is place the bait like The Huffington Post did today:

Huffington Post Facebook Status

Is this troll-bait?

The comments are a mix of “Yes, it’s sexist! Duh!” and “Who the hell cares?” sprinkled with stuff like this (Note: All of these comments are public on Facebook and viewable by anyone who has “liked” the Huffington Post–the fact that they are public is the point):

Always fun when the ladies join in!

And stupid shit like this:

Haha.

And the winning entry before I got sick of reading:

We have a winner!

From the guy who thought this contributed to the conversation:

The mayor of the town, much like these two commenters, doesn’t get what all the fuss is about. He thinks people are just “humorless.”

What do I think? I’m glad you asked. Yeah, it sounds sexist to me. But I’m not nearly as interested in those two parking spaces as I am in how many people are willing to flaunt their misogyny in public. Are they brave? If we compare them to the elusive-yet-ubiquitous troll, perhaps. Or maybe our friend the troll is just smarter than his counterparts showing their asses in public with their names attached. But I’ll tell you one thing: some of these people scare me way more than any socially impotent Smeagol hiding in his lair beneath mommy’s sewing room tapping out hate and rape threats (and believe me, they scare me enough that I keep this blog anonymous). Why? Because they seem to believe their misogynistic horseshit at a level so deep that they’re not even ashamed. To some of these folks, putting down women is socially acceptable and hilarious. And to others, it’s just not worth getting your panties in a twist over.

These attitudes serve to (further) normalize misogyny, and they help create this environment we have where if a woman speaks out and says “I don’t think this is right,” she can expect to be a) bullied and/or b) told she’s overreacting. And that’s at the very least. I think we can do better.

Let’s talk about how. Maybe love is the answer, but I don’t know what that looks like in action. I’m open to suggestions.