When I woke up this morning, I noticed that several friends had shared a Mother Jones article on street harassment. I pulled it up and noticed that it was several compelling graphics on the prevalence of street harassment along with a link to and brief description of the report the numbers came from. So I went and took a look at the report (pdf).
Generally happy with the report, and happy to have graphics that could carry its messages further, I went back and tweeted the Mother Jones article. I took their name off the tweet, as I often do when I want people to think more about the content than the source of an article. Then I forgot about it for the moment, until I received a Facebook comment on my tweet that said, “Not All Pigs Are Men! (Did I get that right?)“
I had no idea what he was talking about until I looked at the tweet in place on Facebook.
That’s also the titled that showed up when friends shared the post directly to Facebook. Mother Jones set up their Twitter button to tweet a sensationalized, click-bait title in the place of the title they used for their own site. The URL for the piece is even more innocuous.
I promptly deleted the tweet. Then I yelled at Mother Jones for a few tweets on Twitter. Why? Two reasons.
The first is that calling people who harass others, much less only the men who street harass, “pigs” is incredibly unhelpful for those of us who are actually working to decrease harassment. Harassers aren’t pigs like rapists aren’t monsters. “Pigs” and “monsters” denote creatures incapable of change, unable to be held fully morally accountable for what they do and without the resources to make other choices.
They’re not. They harass because they’re told they can. They’re raised to think it’s part of their rights. They watch other people harass and be excused. They see people who are harassed complain and be made to shut up. They’re taught to harass. Calling them, “pigs”, suggests the fault is in their genes, not in our society. We know better than that.
The other reason I yelled at Mother Jones, and the reason I tweeted at them, is that tweeting “Men are pigs” is going to get me harassed. More.
I’m a feminist who made a successful push for anti-harassment policies at conferences and who continues to push for good implementation of those policies. I already get plenty of harassment. I already get people trying to discredit me on the basis that I’m prejudiced against men. That makes me a prime candidate for effectively and happily sharing Mother Jones‘ post. It also makes me someone who will turn into an instant target for a tweet like that.
So I’m done with tweeting Mother Jones while this goes on. I’m not willing to be harassed to help their hit count. I’m not willing to put up more hurdles to fighting harassment in order to tweet about it. I’m done with any other publication that pulls this nonsense too, as this sort of thing opens their writers to abuse as well. A sample:
evidence I appreciate but the tweet is bullshit. I understand men need to respect woman. OMG
And no I won’t let this one go
retraction for all the non pigs
Mother jones thinks all men are pigs!!!
think about that tweet ladies
Those are only about half the tweets in his (I assume from his #NotAllMen-style indignation) rant. The rest were less coherent. He never did say what he intends to do instead of letting it go.
That guy’s an atheist, by the way. That puts him in roughly the same online circle as the people who’ve harassed me. He’s a bit of an amateur too.
So knock this shit off, Mother Jones. It’s abusive to your writers. It’s abusive to your readers. Find headlines you’re willing to stand behind and stick with those. No more putting cheap marketing ploys in other people’s voices.