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Jul 06 2012

Real online bullying

Did somebody say something about bullying?

Helen Lewis did, in a New Statesman blog post about the online harassment of Anita Sarkeesian. She displays a collection of the vicious stuff, much of it visual, so go there to see it.

The most amazing item is an interactive game inviting players to punch Sarkeesian in the face. When they comply, her face is turned to beaten pulp.

Lewis observes:

Sarkeesian is rare in sharing so much of the harassment that she has been subjected to — and it’s a brave choice for her to make. Every time I write about this subject, I get a few emails from women who’ve been through the same thing (and I’m sure there are men, too). They tell me much the same story: this happened to them, but they don’t want to talk publicly about it, because they don’t want to goad the bullies further.

Also (speaking for myself), because it’s not fun to talk about. It’s ugly and squalid and depressing and it puts you right off human beings. It also creeps you out personally if you’re the object of it. It would be nice if people who keep insisting that I’m a Feminazi Femistasi totalitarian member of the Sisterhood of the Oppressed who told big fat lies about getting two weird emails that could have been advice or mockery or threats – it would be nice if those people could keep that in mind. It would be nice if they could spare a few seconds from ranting about the mythical beast called FTBullies to remember that being a target of dribbling misogynist hatred like that creeps you out. (It would even be nice – but this is obviously far too much to expect – if they could spare a few seconds to formulate the thought that adding to an existing flood of dribbling misogynist hatred might be kind of a stupid move.)

If you were Anita Sarkeesian, how would you feel right now? She’s somebody with a big online presence through her website, YouTube channel and social media use. All of that has been targeted by people who – and I can’t say this enough – didn’t like her asking for money to make feminist videos.

I think Sarkeesian has been incredibly courageous in sharing what’s happened to her. Those obscene pictures are intended to shame her, to reduce her to her genitals, and to intimidate her.

And that’s creepy, you see. It’s not creepy because we (we Sisterhood of the Oppressed) love being victims. It’s creepy because it’s creepy. The claim that being creeped out by it is something that feminazis do because it’s so much fun to feel like a victim is incredibly insulting. I fucking hate feeling like a victim. I loathe it. It’s not how I see myself at all.

But it isn’t my fault. It isn’t my doing. Here’s a newsflash: anybody can be turned into a victim. We’re all vulnerable in that way, because we’re not made of steel. In the first world most of us are lucky enough to be able to ignore that fact most of the time – but as a fundamental fact it’s still true. (Consider Chris Clarke, who had his Jeep stolen twice in two weeks; the second time, three days ago, it was totaled.)

It happened to Sarkeesian for no real reason. A lesser version has been happening to Rebecca Watson for no real reason. A much lesser version has been happening to me for no real reason. It can happen to anyone. This is indeed intimidating, as it’s meant to be.

41 comments

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  1. 1
    Precambrian Cat

    Very sad how this #FTBullies bullshit actually trivializes real bullying. Sad to see somebody as Blackford backing this up…

  2. 2
    melody

    I think we need Barbara Ehrenreich to jump in. What is this aversion to victimhood? Sometimes really bad things happen to people, and then we are going to make them feel worse for being a “victim”?

  3. 3
    mcbender

    Sarkeesian deserves more publicity than she’s getting about this, in my opinion. This is such an extreme illustration of what we are up against and how deeply entrenched the problem is that I think it could serve to shock people out of their indifference.

    The reactions she is getting are truly appalling. I cannot understand how on earth someone could make that game and live with himself…

  4. 4
    Bernard Hurley

    I’m sure there’s plenty here which breaks the law – both in the UK and the US.

    That’s something of an understatement.

    But the solution here probably isn’t a legal one: it’s for everyone involved to have some basic human decency. This isn’t just a few rude words, and it isn’t OK.

    The idea that everyone involved will suddenly acquire a modicum of human decency is no more than a pious hope. In the end the solution to bullying is always legal action or the threat of it.

  5. 5
    Ophelia Benson

    Quite. It’s kind of like 1964 Mississippi. Waiting for basic human decency didn’t work out, so people finally had to do more than wait.

  6. 6
    anthrosciguy

    In the end the solution to bullying is always legal action or the threat of it.

    It can also be general societal disapproval directed toward the bully(ies). This is also true of rape, and in generally rape-free societies (as described by Peggy Sanday). It doesn’t have to be draconian punishment, just the likelihood of punishment and/or general disapproval. As we’ve seen, general disapproval isn’t always forthcoming for bullies (and in many cultures is not always forthcoming for rapists).

  7. 7
    julian

    It happened to Sarkeesian for no real reason.

    And this is something the anti- “internet feminists” refuse to acknowledge. These libel campaigns, these attacks against someone’s character, work and standing, have no provocation. They are motivated almost exclusively by malice and an instinctive disdain for feminist ideals.

    What happened to Sarkeesian is not an isolated incident. It happens all the time across the internet, in newspapers and almost any forum. That certain people dismiss all this as just internet hysteria is why nothing is ever done about.So many weak willed individuals are willing to use every excuse in the book to not address a very real issue.

  8. 8
    bubba707

    But there IS a reason for it. The reason is the cretins doing it are utterly stupid.

  9. 9
    Ophelia Benson

    In the end the solution to bullying is always legal action or the threat of it.

    It can also be general societal disapproval directed toward the bully(ies).

    In other words, shunning. Paula Kirby sees this as Nazi & Stasi & totalitarian. Some shunning of course is mean and in fact bullying, but some shunning is good and necessary. I shun people who call women cunts, period. I don’t consider that bullying, or even related to bullying. I consider it bullying to call women cunts, just as I consider it bullying to call Jews kikes, etc etc etc. Is it bullying to shun bullies? Or is it societal disapproval? Irregular verb, I guess – I socially disapprove, you shun, they bully.

    But really, let’s be serious – the people I shun because they call women cunts (or giggle at others who do, like Miranda) aren’t hurt or humiliated by my shunning. They couldn’t possibly care less in that sense. They don’t care at all; their attempts to comment here are just more bullying.

  10. 10
    GordonWillis

    It happened to Sarkeesian for no real reason. A lesser version has been happening to Rebecca Watson for no real reason. A much lesser version has been happening to me for no real reason. It can happen to anyone. This is indeed intimidating, as it’s meant to be.

    You are absolutely right, Ophelia. If a woman stands up for herself, ten million male creeps and five million female hangers-on and do-gooders and opportunists do everything they can to destroy her. The most depressing thing is that, although this doesn’t start as an organised thing (it’s just individuals taking advantage of the internet to express their self-centred discomfort in a way that they would not do face-to-face), the internet enables these strange people to organise, find soul-mates, and feel “justified” by association. I’m beginning to wonder if it’s not perversely perceived as another kind of entertainment, except that the participants know that the targets are real people. No, this is just selfishness magnified and turned into a free-for-all. And, yes, it’s entertaining, if one is malicious. It is a disaster that the liberating trend of the internet is also favourable to the moral cretins, the sociopaths, and the selfish confused.
    .
    In this light, one has to qualify your phrase “for no real reason”. You are right, in the sense that a “real” reason is a morally and logically justifiable one. But there is a real cause of this behaviour, and it is (I think) the wish to have only what one wants without reference to anyone else. Oneself becomes the standard by which the world is understood, and by which other people are judged. I think that this is essentially the attitude of the criminal, and the behaviour that we see (the “virtual” beating of a woman to a pulp, for example, because she represents opposition to one’s aims) is an expression of the criminal tendency.
    .
    Sorry if this is confused: I’m just thinking it out.

  11. 11
    Arty Morty

    Like the “paradox” of tolerance: for tolerance to thrive, one has to be intolerant towards the intolerant.

    Zinnia Jones pointed out in this delightful video that it’s arguably not really a paradox (as in, the requirement to be intolerant towards intolerant people in order for tolerance to thrive doesn’t really undermine the goal of tolerance in the first place). From the video:

    For instance, a group that’s fighting for their basic equal rights may be told that they’re failing to tolerate people who are against their rights. In most cases, this is just an intentional misrepresentation. It’s a way of making someone appear to be hypocritical by acting as though their endorsement of tolerance for ONE thing must entail endorsement of tolerance for ALL things.

  12. 12
    Ophelia Benson

    Oh, I think it absolutely is a form of entertainment, Gordon. If it weren’t, surely the particular gang we’re (unfortunately) most familiar with around here wouldn’t have kept at it for a year. It’s obvious that they have fun doing it. It’s like a favorite bar with a gang of regulars. Cheers for creeps.

  13. 13
    601

    Although I personally would be ashamed of being shunned by feminists, it is only because I cherish the values of this community.

    I believe we need to mainstream a misogyny-shaming campaign, from educating children to popular culture. Just look at how effective slut-shaming has been for the last few millennia.

    For the outliers, state force will always be required (game theory and such). Unfortunately the anonymity* of the internet has reduced the reputation burden of free speech. But I hope that basic human rights can be achieved without also having a liberty-free police state.

    *yes, I use a nicknumber, but it’s the same number everywhere I comment.

  14. 14
    Simon

    What I also find ironic and unfortunate is that what seems to be the most virulent manifestation of this hatred toward particular individuals is by fellow atheists.

    If someone has seen a religious forum out there that devotes a significant percentage of its posts to discussing FTB or Skepchicks please let me know…

  15. 15
    GordonWillis

    Well, yes, I understand that, Ophelia, but there is malice involved as well. I mean, what does one find amusing? Is it fun which harms no one or is it a wonderful party in which one can act out one’s fantasy of actually destroying another person? I suppose, taking a broad view, that there are all sorts of entertainments, but there are also all sorts of diseases.

  16. 16
    Kausik Datta

    Rebecca once wrote in a Skepchick post:

    …they can continue to call me a c**t. After all, they derive so much joy from it, and to me it only makes things clearer. “C**t” is what misogynists call outspoken women with contrary opinions, in an attempt to silence them… That’s what this is really about: silencing.

    It was true then, as it is today, the motivation of the online bullies, including real FTBullies – ironically, the same ones that are now crying that they are being bullied, simply because saner folks have taken over the Twitter hashtag and having fun with it.

    (I am using the asterisks because the word, as a gendered slur, is distasteful to me.)

  17. 17
    Ophelia Benson

    601 – that’s pretty much what people – like Helen Lewis and Penny Red (and *cough* me) – are trying to do by talking about it: get it out there, mainstream it, draw attention to it.

    Simon, I know. It’s all incredibly personal. Kind of like junior high school.

  18. 18
    Ophelia Benson

    Gordon, no I know. It makes me feel nauseated – that there are people who find that entertaining. Malice for fun, for a whole year.

  19. 19
    davidmc

    How empty must thier lives be?

  20. 20
    Bernard Hurley

    I think many bullies really aren’t aware of the implications of what they are doing. They are probably the most dangerous of all as they act with the air of one who’s behaviour is completely socially acceptable and probably do feel put upon if challenged. This also puts social pressure on people to cooperate with the bully; people being afraid they will look stupid if they do not. However those who do this should realise that there is nothing special about them; they in turn can become the bully’s victim; in fact, in a subtle way, they already are the bully’s victim.

    I once had the unenviable task of defending someone who had been accused of sexual harassment in a disciplinary hearing. What he had done was actually quite indefensible but there is the general principle that someone who has paid his union dues is entitled to representation at such a hearing. Besides this there was the added issue that his employers had been quite happy to employ him for over 20 years in a management position but had suddenly discovered that he was a racist and a misogynist and a bully when they decided they didn’t want to pay him his entitlement under the negotiated early retirement scheme. It turned out that his employers had not only tolerated his behaviour for years but had not even informed him of his duties under their anti-harassment policy. That itself was a breach of the policy. To my mind the people who had connived at allowing this behaviour but had suddenly discovered how bad it was when it was convenient to them were more at fault than he was and I thought that the best course of action was to make them realise that if it came to an industrial tribunal all this would come out.

    I told him to shut up and not say anything and I would do all the talking. Anyway the hearing went well, from his point of view, and I was expecting that he would be formally reprimanded but that the employers would not dodge their responsibilities under the early retirement scheme. The hearing was just coming to an end when he suddenly started yelling some rubbish about “the trouble with women today” and made some disparaging remarks about the female member of the disciplinary panel.

    Of course, after that, there was no hope for him. But he seemed completely unaware of what he had done. I heard later that he was telling his mates in the pub how the union in general and I in particular were completely useless, how I had not defended him properly but wasted time on legal technicalities and how he had not got a chance to say anything until it was too late.

  21. 21
    julian

    How empty must thier lives be?

    Probably not very.

    I imagine internet bullies are similar to meat-space bullies and meat-space bullies live perfectly normal lives for the most part. Significant others, family, jobs, schooling, work… They have complete lives.

  22. 22
    anthrosciguy

    But really, let’s be serious – the people I shun because they call women cunts (or giggle at others who do, like Miranda) aren’t hurt or humiliated by my shunning. They couldn’t possibly care less in that sense. They don’t care at all; their attempts to comment here are just more bullying.

    Absolutely correct, and I may not have made it clear — although I thought “As we’ve seen, general disapproval isn’t always forthcoming for bullies…” was clear — that this is the problem.

    We see this in the way public racism has re-emerged bigtime in the past few years. For a while after the civil rights act in the 60s, it got to where publically racist rants and actions were shamed enough that the people who wanted to do it did it the Lee Atwater way*. But it didn’t get to the point of general enough societal disapproval to keep it from blossoming publically again, which it has in a big way.

    Given the societal makeup we’re talking about, you do need more backup than just relying on societal disapproval for sexism, harassment, gay-bashing etc. However, I do find a ray of sunshine in the outlandishness of the craziness — it’s an indication, I’d say, that they not only have no arguments to back up their actions, but that they know it on some level.

    * Lee Atwater, 1981: “You start out in 1954 by saying, “Nigger, nigger, nigger.” By 1968, you can’t say “nigger” — that hurts you. Backfires. So you say stuff like forced busing, states’ rights and all that stuff. You’re getting so abstract now [that] you’re talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you’re talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is [that] blacks get hurt worse than whites. And subconsciously maybe that is part of it. I’m not saying that. But I’m saying that if it is getting that abstract, and that coded, that we are doing away with the racial problem one way or the other. You follow me — because obviously sitting around saying, “We want to cut this,” is much more abstract than even the busing thing, and a hell of a lot more abstract than “Nigger, nigger.”

  23. 23
    Anne Marie

    There are still people commenting there saying she was “asking for it.” Smh.

    And the depressing and exasperating irony is that the women who defend the bullies/trolls/misogynists don’t recognize that it doesn’t take much of a “mistake” to be turned on. Look at the responses to Rihanna (“She deserved it for running her mouth!”), women with sex tapes (“Kim’s a whore! Ray J? Way to go!”), Lindsay Lohan (“Crackwhore!” “Oh, Charlie Sheen? He’s hilarious! Let’s give him an ad to show off his hot girlfriends!”), et cetera, et cetera.

    In a quick search, I found the found the following “reasons” for hating female celebrities (and it’s not like these insults are reserved for celebrities):
    “Her teeth are really annoying”
    “She is the sleaziest new singer to just prostitute herself for fame. Nothing but a pig!”
    “I’ve seen sexier masses in my toilet.”
    “She is so ugly a Slut and shes way to skinny does she think thats cute because it isnt she looks aneroxic she aint cute an she need to go somewhere”
    “SHE IS A STUPID DIRTY SKANK THAT NEEDS TO GET OFF THE TV BEFORE I GO BLIND”
    “shes fake lesbian stupid silly spoiled freak shes annoying in all ways”
    “Everytime I see her I have this strong urge to punch her. She’s such a prep-chic!”
    “SHE IS A RETARD.. SHE CAN’T SING, ACT OR ANYTHING ELSE BUT BE A SPOILED BITCH…”
    “This ‘woman’ is plague on society. [ . . . ] We have had enough of this frumpy, overbearing eyesore that just won’t go away.”
    “a syphilitic Tasmanian devil on crank”
    “She is simply a raunchy socialite-whore.”
    “Runway models (of all ages) are suppose to be seen not heard.”
    “At this point, there’s really no difference between Lindsay, Paris, and one of those ‘blow up sex dolls.’”
    “Can there be a bigger slut in Hollywood?”
    “Just like her family, she is too stupid to spell her name correctly, and too worthless to contribute to society.”
    “Shes a trashy slut who thinks she all that… I hate her voice.. She sounds like a rat that got ran over… I convinced my brother to stop saying she hot.. Now my brother says ‘She is an ugly woman who just want sex’”
    “I wish i could punch her set her on fire and throw her in my trunk then drive my car off a cliff shes a whore”

  24. 24
    Simon

    One thing to be very careful of however is that there is a small percentage of people who actually do have a mental illness they may or may not be aware of (eg Mabus). Online abuse is sometimes an indicator of this. All the more reason to err on the side of caution whenever possible.

  25. 25
    Bernard Hurley

    Of course some people are mentally ill but that isn’t reason for reticence. If there were not a culture of bullying, we would immediately know who these people were and may even be able to do something to help them. on the other hand the existence of such people is one reason why threats must be taken seriously.

  26. 26
    Ophelia Benson

    anthrosciguy – you were clear! I wasn’t arguing with you there, I was arguing with the background “FTB shunning–>bullying” nonsense.

  27. 27
    anthrosciguy

    I thought maybe I’d underdone the scarcasm-via-understatement in “isn’t always forthcoming”.

  28. 28
    KT

    I definitely think the only thing that will rein in this behavior is punishment/shunning, not by the targets, but by people that bullies see as peers or equals (or even better,whom they look up to). It has worked for me with my family – they mean well, but there is a lot of casual/unconscious racism that is a legacy from previous generations. I started seeing it when I was a teen and was pretty outspoken about it and it changed things a lot to just have the voice of someone they care about disapprove and make them stop and think about it. I even later heard my dad turn around and reprimand one of his buddies for something offensive he said. He didn’t know I was listening and he said “Don’t let KT hear you say that, she will rip you a new one.” Well, it’s a step in the right direction.

    It also was effective sometimes when girls at school would gang up on someone to try to bully them. Of just one person who wasn’t the victim would call them out it could defuse the situation.

    But it takes a shift in society to where people recognize a behavior as wrong than those who accept it or don’t think it’s a big deal or worth condemning. When that happens it will become more trouble than it’s worth for the bullies. Unfortunately, the anonymity and lack of consequence that the Internet provides makes that really hard. It is very difficult to FEEL the disapproval over the internet the way you do in a real life social situation and as long as that’s the case people will probably continue to use it as the outlet for the worst parts of their nature.

  29. 29
    ck

    Ironically, this anti-Sarkeesian crusade probably has contributed more attention and money to the project she wanted to undertake than any advertising she could’ve ever done. I just don’t know if the video she’s making will have any effect.

    I’d be happy if it just encouraged game developers to stop shying away from making woman protagonists, or if we could at least end the use of metal bikini armour. One of the Assassin’s Creed 2 games opened up the possibility that a woman assassin might be introduced in AC3, but it looks like the company ran away from that idea as quickly as possible. It’s a pity, because there is absolutely no way they’re ever going to give Desmond McBland anything resembling a personality at this point.

  30. 30
    avh1

    The funny thing is the FT bloggers and regulars are one of the *least* bullying groups that I’m aware of. This site’s one of the few places on the internet which actually allows commenting and the like which isn’t infested with them. And I’d say that’s because it is clearly disapproved of and will be punished – the environment simply isn’t conducive to bullying.

  31. 31
    karmakin

    @ckitching: Unfortunately it’s not looking good on that front. This is on a horrible site but the article (and the comments, for the most part) are pretty even-handed.

    http://www.destructoid.com/a-response-to-some-arguments-in-anita-sarkeesian-s-interview-230570.phtml

    This is one of those cases where I have warning bells flashing in my ears going “DANGER” “DANGER” as we see someone who is looking potentially like she might confirm a lot of negative (and mostly untrue) stereotypes about feminists and feminism.

    It’s not that there’s not a very real problem here. But I worry that some of the examples are going to be…bad. The example you gave, I think was a somewhat good one, from what I remember. And there are definitely problematic games and examples of over-sexualization without context and where it doesn’t belong (Context is ALWAYS important IMO). (The Dead or Alive series comes to mind as a major problem) But when the context for even a non-sexualized character is being missed entirely…that’s quite problematic.

  32. 32
    AJ Milne

    …Also (speaking for myself), because it’s not fun to talk about. It’s ugly and squalid and depressing and it puts you right off human beings.

    That.

    This level of this thing, it’s just… nasty. Even having to read it is a task considerably less appealing even than, say, cleaning the cat’s litter box, or unblocking a toilet. Against honest mammalian lower intestinal secretions and reeking feline ammonia, contemplating the kinda vile viciousness pouring out of that game, especially, well, damn, I expect we’re probably best off burning the mop used.

    (/That said, y’know: chores to be done, apparently.)

  33. 33
    anthrosciguy

    The funny thing is the FT bloggers and regulars are one of the *least* bullying groups that I’m aware of.

    One thing to keep in mind is that the accusers we’re talking about here use the same method of wrongly defining bullying as we see in USA rightwing groups and pseudoscience pushers (I’ve found these folks all use many of the same tactics and this is one). That is that not agreeing with them is bullying. It is interfering with their right to be believed and have whatever they say accepted as truth.

  34. 34
    left0ver1under

    Anita Sarkeesian must have a thicker skin than I have. If that much abuse were directed at me, I might have lashed out by now. That’s what the clowns and cowards want, after all – a reaction.

    I like her videos because she is inciteful and they’re eye openers. She doesn’t “make up problems” that aren’t there, and she points out problems that *do* exist, but viewers might have never seen or noticed before.

    I don’t know if the encouragement in comments from people like me helps her or not (on her site and on youtube), but it’s better than doing nothing. Maybe each positive comment cancels out one negative comment, then civilized people can collectively beat down the trolls with numbers.

  35. 35
    Robert

    I cannot imagine how damaged someone would have to be to create those images. It’s not like slapping some paint on a sign and standing on a freeway overpass; those took SOME work, and at no point did the thought ‘wait, what am I doing? This is insane.’ cross any of their minds.

    Yes, they need to be pointed at and pointed out. I don’t know what to call it – nut-shaming? We’ve gotten to the point where using terms like kike and nigger automatically brand you as a brute or a fool, when just fifty or sixty years ago it was almost normal.

    And finally, big praise to Ms Sarkeesian. It takes courage to do what she’s doing.

  36. 36
    Lizzy

    Digusting.

    The ultimate irony is that most of the people behind this probably spend the rest of their time complaining about how video game enthusiasts have such a rotten reputation.

  37. 37
    avh1

    @33
    I wouldn’t disagree with you which just leaves me wondering how the hell they function in their day-to-day lives. I mean I know there are people who disagree with me and it doesn’t provoke this level of seething rage and hatred, even when I have to deal with them individually. But they seem to regard it as, as you say, a horrific infringement of their rights. I think I’ve heard some commenters here use the phrase ‘oppressed by reality’ before (in a different context) and that would pretty much seem to fit.

    @35
    I’d agree with you about the worry that someone actually took some time and effort to come up with this ‘game’. It’s one (reprehensible) thing to leave a comment on the internet when it’s quick, easy and almost consequence free but this as you say took some work.

    I’d disagree with you however for the need for ‘nut-shaming’. It’s impossible to say when you aren’t an expert in psychiatry and aren’t actually examining these people in person, but I don’t think you could say conclusively that the people coming up with this stuff are mentally ill. A neurotypical person is quite capable of doing, believing and saying some horrific stuff without having a sniff of mental illness. The other problem is that there is already plenty of ‘nut-shaming’ – mental illness is a massive stigma, even in cases where it has no noticeable effect on people’s ability to, say, do a job.

  38. 38
    vjack

    Thanks for sharing that article. As upsetting as those images were (especially the game), this sort of thing should help to raise awareness. Like you said, it absolutely does make me feel depressed about humanity. The images of that game are going to stick in my head for awhile, and I feel nauseated just thinking about someone making such a game.

    Honestly though, I don’t think the FTBullies meme is really about the threats you’ve received or even misogyny in general. It is more about the decision to expel Thunderfoot and Greg Laden. It is more about the perception (accurate or not) that a group of bloggers championing freethought seems to have some expectations about acceptable conduct that may not be transparent to everyone involved. To a lesser degree, it may also be about the hypocrisy some have pointed out (e.g., PZ is highly skilled at delivering blistering criticism of others and not especially open to receiving it).

  39. 39
    Simon

    Honestly though, I don’t think the FTBullies meme is really about the threats you’ve received or even misogyny in general. It is more about the decision to expel Thunderfoot and Greg Laden

    I doubt it. Stangroom was using the #bullies hashtag long before Thunderfoot and Laden were expelled. In fact I believe -and correct me if I’m wrong- the hashtag was in use before Thunderfoot even joined FTB.

  40. 40
    Jeremy Shaffer

    Of course many of the critical commenters on the article make one of the most pathetic arguments of trying to paint Lewis as a hypocrite because she wrote an article about the harassment Sarkeesian has received but not about any that people like Sarah Palin or Ann Coulter has. To me that is like saying that someone must be fine with muggings because they wrote an article highlighting a recent rise in auto thefts. While some nasty and sexist incidents have been done to people such as Palin and her ilk, often by people that should know better, many of the people on the side of feminism have spoken out against that just as much as any other incidents. This is even the case when the current victims have in the past either opposed their current defenders or stood in silent approval of their harassment. A recent example is Sandra Fluke expressing disapproval of Hustler Magazine publishing a doctored photo of S.E. Cupp with a penis in her mouth. I may be wrong but I don’t recall Cupp saying much when Rush Limbaugh called Fluke a “slut” and “prositute” on air and was suggesting that she make porn videos for him and his buddies.

    Beyond that, it’s sometimes hard to work up a defense when this happens to someone that actively works towards maintaining an environment where harassment and unequal treatment of women is not just the norm, but is encouraged and codified into law. That is what people like Palin, Coulter, Cupp, Gretchen Carlson, Michele Bachmann or Michelle Malkin, to name a few, are ultimately doing. They may not realize it, or if they do they may believe that they will be the exception, but that is what they work towards. Despite that, feminists somehow manage to do just that. If it seems that it isn’t as quick or enthusiastic a defense that is given for others, consider that they might be a little handicapped by having to hold their noses in these cases.

  41. 41
    Bruce Gorton

    I am of the opinion that what we term ‘justice’ is about minimising effects we find to be undesireable.

    Thus we do not have prisons in order to punish criminals, but to stop people comitting crimes.

    Therefore the mental health of someone perpetuating an effect I find to be undesireable – such as online harrassment, bullying and censorship (which is what all of this amounts to) is basically irrelevant.

    I do not care that the person calling for X to be beaten up, raped or murdered is genuinely mentally ill, I want them to stop making it so that people don’t dare speak out because look at what happened to X person.

    It should be needless to say, cyberbullies is hostile to free speech, that cyber-bullying is hostile to free speech and yet the main defence of cyber-bullying is inevitably “free speech.”

    Bullshit, it is defending free speech to fight cyber-bullying.

    And in real terms, it is not simply that the person in question is trying to silence someone else, it is the number of likes that person’s comment gets.

    While the mental instability of one person can be sort-of considered a defence, the ‘likes’ can’t all have that defence.

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