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Malestrom pt 4: Trolling is more than a game

In Airplane, Lloyd Bridges declared in exasperation: “It looks like I picked the wrong week to quit sniffing glue.” A few days ago I returned from a brief family holiday to find the media ablaze with the issue of misogynistic trolling, threats and intimidation, and the first thought that popped into my head was “looks like I picked the wrong week to quit blogging about male anger.”

I’ve spent a couple of days catching up on opinion pieces from all perspectives, ranging from the insightful and profound to the downright dumb, checking whether there could be anything left that has yet to be said. There is. For all the discussion about how we police and moderate abusive messages; for all the potential problems with solutions such as a Report Abuse button; all the debates about freedom of speech versus protection from intimidation and bullying; alleged hypocrisy of those advocating stronger constraints and everything else, there is one question which nobody seems prepared to ask, and it is, I think, the most important of them all. What motivates people – mostly but not entirely men – to attack others online using the most extremely violent, threatening and offensive terms at their disposal?

I’ve often heard it said when discussing the cases of Anita Sarkeesian, Rebecca Watson, Lindy West or the recent clutch of targets that what appears to be misogyny isn’t really misogyny because it is “just trolling.” I don’t buy that. I’ll willingly admit I’ve trolled the internet occasionally. I’ve used  disingenuous arguments to get a rise out of those I think deserve it. I’ve used throwaway nyms to make mischief on occasion. I’ve been bloody rude to people on many occasions, out of anger, frustration or malice. However the thought of sending someone a rape threat, like the thought of sending someone racist or homophobic abuse, makes me feel literally sick in the pit of my stomach. I honestly cannot imagine ever hating anyone enough to do that. I don’t believe for a moment that makes me somehow saintly, I firmly believe that the great majority of internet users feel the same and it is obvious that the proportion of men online who behave like this is very small.

Late last year Anita Sarkeesian gave a TED talk, discussed by Helen Lewis here where she discussed the abuse that she had famously received. She describes the phenomenon, insightfully, as a game. There is a Big Boss enemy (Sarkeesian) who must be defeated, and a supportive team of players who  turn the entire internet into a battlefield. They have home bases where they co-ordinate their attacks, boast of their exploits, and congratulate each other on their hits, gain status or (in gaming terms) experience points for successful attacks. They see themselves not as the villains, but as the heroes.

Over the past week or two we have seen something similar happen with Caroline Criado-Perez, Stella Creasy, Mary Beard and others have been thrust into the role of level bosses. I find it fascinating that the spark which ignited this inferno was so randomly trivial. Criado-Perez was targeted because she’s been involved in a successful campaign to get a woman featured on a banknote. I’ll admit this never struck me as the most pressing social justice campaign on the table at present, but by the same token, nor did it strike me as something that anyone could get especially upset about. But it was enough to rile one or two people sufficiently to begin sending hate messages and rape threats. When Criado-Perez and her supporters refused to accept this in silence, it was as if the broad community of online warrior-gamers pricked up their collective ears and declared “game on.”  The players reached for whatever weapons were available in their arsenal, and for many the heavy duty cannon was the rape allusion or direct threat.

To these people, making a rape threat, a death threat, even a hoax bomb threat is a perfectly legitimate tactic within the game. It is no more real or serious than running over a pedestrian on GTA – just a tactic to get to the end of the level.  However in this case the pedestrian being run over is not treating it as a game, but a very real part of her life.

This, I think, largely explains what we have seen these past couple of weeks, but it is inadequate. Psychologists researching online behaviour have come up with concepts such as deindividuation and self-awareness, which shed light on how the internet can disinhibit aggressive behaviours, but they do not explain why the aggression is there in the first place.

It seems apparent to me that at the heart of this behaviour is at least some element of desire to hurt women. Not physically but emotionally and psychologically, nonetheless inflicting the most discomfort, fear and distress they can. The fact that they so quickly and so commonly resort to sexualised and gendered attacks suggests to me that underneath the game mentality, there is genuine misogyny at play.

A debate has raged prominently over the past week, but it has largely been the wrong debate. The ugly truth is that if we want to end the extremes of hateful behaviour on the internet (by which I don’t mean the day to day ballyhoo, but overtly criminal, threatening and intimidatory behaviour) we will not do it with a report abuse button or a few more moderators on social media sites, or even yet more criminalization of online behaviour, all of which will be easily circumvented by all but the most stupid and immature of trolls. We need to look deeper, into where the misogyny originates, where the aggression originates, where the desire to cause hurt originates, then work to resolve them. That is an overwhelmingly challenging proposition, but the only one which will, ultimately, bring solutions.

Comments

  1. John Austin says

    I am sure you are to an extent right about the “game” personality, with regard to younger internet trolls, but some of these types don’t play computer games so may not have the same psychology.
    You can see it time and again on the Daily Telegraph blogs – a group of angry white men over 60. I think these guys resent women being given a more prominent platform it he media. They find it profoundly unsettling being lectured by “a bunch of girls” young enough to be their grand-daughters, who don’t fancy them, who don’t even notice them. The world has moved on, they have been left behind, with attitudes from the 1950′s. Their bigotry is reserved for virtually anyone different to them – their misogyny quickly segues into equally vile racism if the target is also non-Caucasian. Time alone will be the solution here, I think.
    For others, I think the fringes of the MRA movement harbours quite a few.

  2. redpesto says

    Fogg:

    We need to look deeper, into where the misogyny originates, where the aggression originates, where the desire to cause hurt originates, then work to resolve them.

    A good suggestion, but the phrase ‘too much like hard work’ springs to mind. The recourse to ‘misogyny’ is because a woman’s female identity is the easiest ‘weapon’ for a bully/troll to use – as is someone’s sexual identity (if LGBT) or religion (Jewish, Muslim) or ethnicity or body size/shape, and so on (and it’s noticeable how awareness/debate of these other forms of abuse have been all but drowned out over the past week or so). It’s the low-hanging fruit of the ad hominem tree.

    Meanwhile, the women targeted by abuse just want to stop and/or for the offenders to be punished. Secondly, asking ‘why’ is too close to ‘excusing’ such behaviour in some people’s eyes. Thirdly, some of the explanations may be different and/or more complicated than ‘they hate women.’ Lastly, there’s a strong current of ‘Othering’ the trolls as if they really were ugly creatures who live under bridges and eat goats. In the meantime, it’s much easier to call for ‘magic bullet’ technological solutions such as a ‘Report Abuse’ button…which the trolls will have access to as well, if only to screw things up even more.

  3. Hunt says

    In my opinion much of it has origin in thwarted male libido. Quoting the Doors song “Women seem wicked, when you’re unwanted…” And many of these “strangers” seek refuge in the last place they seem to have a voice, the Internet. Then Rebecca Watson comes along, informing them that even an overture far more subtle and civil than anything they personally could ever hit upon, is uncouth. Unsurprisingly, this is perceived as deeply hurtful, hence the outpouring of hate.

    So what is to be done? I don’t know; there is no easy solution. You are not going to snap your fingers and convince legion of young men, unsuccessful in love, that their fate is in the stars, while George Clooney, double their age, makes love to the next candidate in their list of dream lovers. How do you begin to inform the next generation of men that some men are, and have always been, losers in the Game of Love? And how do you convince them that, finally understanding, they should resign themselves, when that is the most important thing in their lives?

  4. John Austin says

    Having said what I said at comment 1 above, I think there was a just a little bit of “me too” about the reaction to the Twitter abuse. Whilst it’s clear some men ought to be prosecuted for what they have posted, it’s equally clear that some women will do anything to get their names in the newspapers. I wouldn’t normally say Samantha Brick is right about anything, but in this respect she is bang on the money.

  5. karmakin says

    One of the big problems here, and it’s a problem not limited to these issues…you see it in politics all the time…is the notion that we give a pass to truly offensive things as long as they’re presented in “acceptable” language.

    That’s probably why your analogy is off. It’s not a game. It’s a war. It’s a culture war. And for some reason, people thought that at that juncture Criedo-Perez “declared” herself on the field of battle. And then it’s on. The misogyny…to go back to the game analogy…is the glowing spots on an end level boss that show where the weakness is. Where the best place to attack is.

    The problem is the entire notion of the culture war. If you want to stop this, you need to stop the culture wars. And here’s the big problem…when we’re so uber-focused on macro-cultures instead of micro-cultures, that’s an environment that can only result in culture wars. There’s no room for grey area. No room for context. No room for being in the middle. No room for observing a problem but not really being a part of it. It’s reduced to black and white. Us vs. them.

  6. says

    5 comments in, and we already have ‘the women are only complaining because they want attention’ , ‘if women would just put out they wouldn’t get harassed’, ‘but being nice is so hard’, and ‘you shouldn’t say anything bad about the trolls or you’ll hurt their precious feelings’ and ‘but if you’d just look at the context we could have a discussion because both sides are somehow equally bad so the middle is the place to be’.

    5 to bingo. Completely unsurprising.

  7. says

    What motivates people – mostly but not entirely men – to attack others online using the most extremely violent, threatening and offensive terms at their disposal?

    I think a large part of the problem comes from an idea some people have that they can use the Internet — a space less “real” to them than their ordinary meatspace lives — to let out all the deep-seated feelings they’re not allowed to show in meatspace. In their eyes, the Internet is the one place where the rules of ordinary interaction don’t apply, and they can lash out at whoever they want, whenever they want, without the consequences that go with breaking basic rules of conduct in meatspace. Then the feeling of power they get from this becomes a bit addictive, so instead of channeling or sublimating their rage as most of us are conditioned to do, they simply use the Internet as a punching-bag.

    I grew up without the Internet, so I’ve always understood that I could never count on having a “safe” place to vent my more hateful or violent feelings without consequence; so I had to find ways to calm myself, think through my feelings, and find acceptable outlets to channel my feelings. I suspect that a lot of kids who grow up having the Internet as a potential sounding-board for their feelings, end up thinking they can use that sounding-board as a substitute for actually dealing with their personal emotional issues; and thus the rest of us have to deal with all that hatred that our most immature elements don’t want to deal with in a more healthy way. And instead of being encouraged to learn, calm down, and move on, the immature haters are encouraging and amplifying each others’ worst tendencies, and setting their worst behaviors in concrete, thus making further emotional development unlikely, if not impossible. Why do the tedious and frustrating work of growing up when you always have a place to go where you don’t have to?

    Most of the misogyny I’ve seen on the ‘tubes isn’t just hateful and wrong; it’s really blatantly infantile and immature. They repeat the same grudges and peeves over and over, they cling to cherished beliefs long after they’ve been disproven, they have the herd mentality of junior-high-schoolers in a self-reinforcing mob, and their insults and threats sound like the kinds of things I used to say at the age of 8-10 when I was having a temper-tantrum and not getting what I wanted. And the reason I stopped acting that way is that I was never rewarded for it; that wolf in my nature stayed weak because no one fed it. The Internet is a good thing, but it allows too many people to feed the wrong wolves in each other’s natures.

  8. B-Lar says

    Karmakin,

    …when we’re so uber-focused on macro-cultures instead of micro-cultures, that’s an environment that can only result in culture wars

    Could you please elaborate on this? An example of a macro and a micro culture would be helpful for my thinking gland on this matter.

  9. B-Lar says

    I think a large part of the problem comes from an idea some people have that they can use the Internet — a space less “real” to them than their ordinary meatspace lives — to let out all the deep-seated feelings they’re not allowed to show in meatspace. In their eyes, the Internet is the one place where the rules of ordinary interaction don’t apply, and they can lash out at whoever they want, whenever they want, without the consequences that go with breaking basic rules of conduct in meatspace.

    Raging Bee took the words right outta my mouth… with no need for kissing.

  10. leni says

    Hunt:

    In my opinion much of it has origin in thwarted male libido. Quoting the Doors song “Women seem wicked, when you’re unwanted…” And many of these “strangers” seek refuge in the last place they seem to have a voice, the Internet. Then Rebecca Watson comes along, informing them that even an overture far more subtle and civil than anything they personally could ever hit upon, is uncouth. Unsurprisingly, this is perceived as deeply hurtful, hence the outpouring of hate.

    Why does that make them angry though?

    I think the most obvious answer is the entitlement to women that so many men seem to have. I’m not saying this to be mean, but most people date other people who are similar in attractiveness to themselves. I am not ugly, but I won’t be dating a George Clooney anytime soon.

    This does not make me hate George Clooney. This does not make me hate men who are more attractive than I am (or too young for me) and it does not make me resent the entire universe, probably because I never expected it in the first place. I don’t feel like the handsome fellas of the world are cruelly denying me access to their perfect abs or whatever. And I definitely don’t feel compelled to abuse and threaten any man who does something I don’t like because I’ve been rejected a few times.

    Seriously- some of these men- it’s like their brains are incapable of distinguishing reality from porn. And instead of checking their behavior or expectations, they get really fucking angry at reality. And then decide the best way to handle this anger is to lash out at strangers, probably because that’s easier and provides a kind of instant gratification that self-reflection won’t. These men might be hurt and lonely and probably many of them have good reason to be. But they also dismiss and belittle women who are probably closer to them in attractiveness, so perhaps some of those feelings of rejection and loneliness are deserved.

  11. thetalkingstove says

    I don’t think it’s about libido at all. It’s about society. For a long, long time, the cultural message across most of the world has been that men are for doing stuff (except boring things like housework and child raising) and women are for supporting men and being looked at by men.

    If you absorb that message uncritically and then you start seeing women say things like ‘guys, don’t do that’, then you’re going to be angry because these women are violating the social norms which they should be abiding by.

  12. Copyleft says

    So, you’re treating hostility and rudeness online as a problem that requires a solution? AND you’re tacking gender-shaming onto it? Welcome to the wrong side of the debate.

    If you want to address entitlement issues, include women on the hit list. Till then, you’re just spewing the usual misandrist nonsense.

  13. John Austin says

    Withthisinmind:

    “5 comments in, and we already have ‘the women are only complaining because they want attention’ , ‘if women would just put out they wouldn’t get harassed’, ‘but being nice is so hard’, and ‘you shouldn’t say anything bad about the trolls or you’ll hurt their precious feelings’ and ‘but if you’d just look at the context we could have a discussion because both sides are somehow equally bad so the middle is the place to be’.”

    Where has anyone said this? Exaggeration and distortion, much?

  14. thetalkingstove says

    Please Copyleft, explain these entitlement issues which lead women to make bomb and death threats towards men? With examples of the threats?

  15. says

    Copyleft, if you’re not willing to offer anything other than ignorant demands and bogus accusations (since when was it “misandry” to admit that SOME men are being assholes?), then why should we care how you want us to discuss things here?

  16. says

    @13 – You should know, you were one of the guilty parties.

    “some women will do anything to get their names in the newspapers”

    Those are your words, yes? Or are we to believe there are two John Austins in this thread?

    But what the fuck, I’ll play the game –

    ‘the women are only complaining because they want attention’ = Comment 4 “”some women will do anything to get their names in the newspapers””

    ‘if women would just put out they wouldn’t get harassed’ = Comment 3 “In my opinion much of it has origin in thwarted male libido”

    ‘but being nice is so hard’ = Also Comment 3 – “Then Rebecca Watson comes along, informing them that even an overture far more subtle and civil than anything they personally could ever hit upon, is uncouth. Unsurprisingly, this is perceived as deeply hurtful, hence the outpouring of hate.”

    ‘you shouldn’t say anything bad about the trolls or you’ll hurt their precious feelings’ = Comment 2 “Lastly, there’s a strong current of ‘Othering’ the trolls as if they really were ugly creatures who live under bridges”

    and

    ‘but if you’d just look at the context we could have a discussion because both sides are somehow equally bad so the middle is the place to be’. = Comment 5 “There’s no room for grey area. No room for context. No room for being in the middle. No room for observing a problem but not really being a part of it. It’s reduced to black and white. Us vs. them.”

    Now, let’s play the context game. Get your head out of your ass for a minute or two and look at the context of these remarks in the ‘discussion’ we’ve been having since… well, let’s see, women got the vote in 1920, Paul was spewing his shit in the first couple centuries, Jews were taking the virgin women as sex slaves in 2000BC, so I’m going to have to go with ‘since the first humans crawled out of the primordial ooze’.

  17. says

    Whilst it’s clear some men ought to be prosecuted for what they have posted, it’s equally clear that some women will do anything to get their names in the newspapers.

    If you can’t show that “anything” includes spewing endless childish insults and making outrageous rape and other threats, in concerted campaigns that sometimes last YEARS, then your “equivalency” argument is bogus.

  18. John Austin says

    Withinthismind,

    Yes I will admit they are my words and I will stick by them. They do not mean what you said they meant in your original post. You have distorted and exaggerated what i said.

    Some women did jump on the “me too” Twitter bandwagon. Not “all” but I did not say “all”. Some men richly deserve prosecution, for rape and bomb threats, as I said.

    But equally, Caitlin Moran can dish it out on Twitter to people for instance who give her husband bad reviews but seemingly can’t take the same level of abuse she gives to others. Not every woman is a victim, or very “naice”.

  19. Schala says

    In the first 16 comments we’ve had two of the local trolls (Raging and Within), just missing carnation to have a trio.

  20. thetalkingstove says

    In the first 16 comments we’ve had two of the local trolls (Raging and Within), just missing carnation to have a trio.

    Anything to say on the topic, or are you just…trolling for a reaction?

  21. redpesto says

    WithinThjisMind

    ‘you shouldn’t say anything bad about the trolls or you’ll hurt their precious feelings’ = Comment 2 “Lastly, there’s a strong current of ‘Othering’ the trolls as if they really were ugly creatures who live under bridges”

    So there’s no need to know more about who these people are or why they do what they do? Presumably people can just bring whatever assumptions they like to the table and treat them as ‘fact’?

    This article is one of the few I’ve seen so far that has actually tried to look at who such people are and why they troll. It doesn’t come up with any clear answers. Near the conclusion, the author writes:

    Of course, we could simply refuse to understand such behaviour, and even ignore it, but that offers little hope of stemming the tide. Instead, it seems both morally and logically better to face the problem head-on. This could take the form of training and education for those amenable to change, or convictions and prison terms for those who are not.

    But perhaps most usefully, it might start with considering how much trolling is symptomatic of social injustice, economic disadvantage, and political disenfranchisement.

    Reading some of the comments indicates that it was easier to think of them as ‘losers’ ‘fuckwits’ ‘inadequate’ and so on than think through who and why they do what they do, alongside any condemnation.

    The alternative is to simply argue that ‘a troll is a troll because they troll’ and leave it at that, which may not help anyone in the long run – which explains why I also wrote: ‘asking “why” is too close to “excusing” such behaviour in some people’s eyes.’

  22. says

    Thetalkingstove

    Please Copyleft, explain these entitlement issues which lead women to make bomb and death threats towards men? With examples of the threats?

    The UK edition of GQ magazine recently published a series of covers featuring the members of boy band One Direction. Here are some examples of the responses they got from apparently female Twitter users, and yes, they include death threats and bomb threats, as well as threats of sexual violence.

    This isn’t a issue of misogyny, it’s an issue of morons. If there’s a gender component, perhaps it’s to be found in the way the media is selective in its outrage depending on the gender of the abuser and/or the abusee.

  23. Schala says

    ANYONE who’s notoriety goes beyond X and says anything the least bit controversial will have a squad of trolls hurling insults, death and rape threats, regardless of their sex.

    Much easier on the internet than in real life too, given it’s not prosecuted in many places when the threat is anonymous (It would be prosecuted here, if the offender was local and not across the globe).

    Getting threats in real life means you’ve REALLY struck a chord. Just ask Murray Strauss and Erin Pizzey.

    Pizzey has been the subject of death threats and boycotts because of her statement that most domestic violence is reciprocal, and that women are equally as capable of violence as men.

    Look, misandrist death threats.

    And the perps are not necessarily women either. Because hating men is not the sole province of women, just like hating women is not the sole province of men.

    I’m sure you’ll get a ton of women against abortion, who would go up to making credible threats to pro-choice people, without being egged on by a male family member. The same against female prostitution.

  24. John Austin says

    Raging Bee@17

    I said it was “equally clear”, not of “equal criminality”.

    It is equally clear that some people jumped on the bandwagon. The Twitter boycott was a bit silly and even then, some of those who joined the #Twitterboycott then broke it by tweeting they were boycotting Twitter for the day! There was a bit of “look at me, look at meeee” about it all.

  25. Ally Fogg says

    JohnAustin (4)

    I know others have already responded to this, but this really pisses me off.

    First of all, most of the women we are talking about here are all over the media already. Some have their own newspaper columns, Mary Beard has her own TV shows. This makes absolutely no sense.

    Maybe one of them, Criado-Perez, does not fall into this category. However the only reason she started getting the rape threats and the death threats was because she was already all over the papers and TV because of the banknote thing!

    And even if it was. So what? You are effectively arguing that they are responsible for their own abuse. What level of provocation justifies a rape threat or a bomb threat? What mitigation are you offering for those who send them?

  26. piegasm says

    In my opinion much of it has origin in thwarted male libido. Quoting the Doors song “Women seem wicked, when you’re unwanted…” And many of these “strangers” seek refuge in the last place they seem to have a voice, the Internet.

    So, your argument is “thwarted male libido because The Doors”? Brilliant. Riddle me this: why does not being wanted by a woman you’re interested in make that woman seem wicked? Could it be because he feels entitled to her attention because that’s what society teaches him? Maybe? If he didn’t feel a sense of entitlement, he would just chalk it up to the woman in question having every right to not be interested in him however disappointed he was by the fact. Millions of people suffer disappointments on a daily basis over all manner of things and the vast majority of them don’t threaten others with rape and murder over it.

    Then Rebecca Watson comes along, informing them that even an overture far more subtle and civil than anything they personally could ever hit upon, is uncouth. Unsurprisingly, this is perceived as deeply hurtful, hence the outpouring of hate.

    This persistent deliberate failure to understand what happened in that elevator and refusal to see why it was inappropriate is extremely tiresome. A guy asked a total stranger TO HIS HOTEL ROOM at 4am. He behaved exactly as one might expect a rapist to behave in that situation once he’d acquired his target: follow her into a confined space where she can’t get away from him and try to lure her back to some place private where they won’t be disturbed with bonus points for getting her to go with him willingly making it that much easier for him to claim she led him on or some similar bullshit. Had she gone with this guy, and he turned out to be that rapist, the question being asked would be “why would she be stupid enough to go back to that guy’s room with him?!?!” Every single one of the angry men spitting and hissing over “don’t do that” knows this. They know, and you know, that her discomfort with being approached that way is completely reasonable and the outpouring of hate she received is not over the fact that she felt that way but that she had the temerity to say so out loud.

    So what is to be done? I don’t know; there is no easy solution. You are not going to snap your fingers and convince legion of young men, unsuccessful in love, that their fate is in the stars, while George Clooney, double their age, makes love to the next candidate in their list of dream lovers.

    What is to be done? Stop teaching them that they’re entitled to the sexual attentions of any woman they set their eyes on.

    How do you begin to inform the next generation of men that some men are, and have always been, losers in the Game of Love? And how do you convince them that, finally understanding, they should resign themselves, when that is the most important thing in their lives?

    First, love isn’t what these entitled, sexist assholes are after. It’s sex. Secondly, if they weren’t entitled sexist assholes, they’d find a lot more women a lot more willing to be around them.

  27. Schala says

    Note that I do consider Hunt’s post at 3 to be very close to trolling. Few people would even agree it has ANYTHING AT ALL to do with threats to people.

    It could have something to do with writing poetry, listening to sad songs, and focusing on other things in life – but on threats? No dice.

  28. Ally Fogg says

    PatrickBrown

    I think the GQ comparison is interesting.

    First think I’ll say is that when I started this Malestrom series, I was quite clear that I recognise that other forms of anger exist, that people of all types, genders, whatever can behave appallingly, but that I am specifically interested in male anger against feminism and what motivates that.

    We all know that teenage pop fans can be quite terrifying. Slag off One Direction or Justin Bieber on Twitter or in the media and yes, you will get lots of terrifying responses.

    But the difference, to me, is that I understand that kids can get insanely passionate about the pop idols they adore, can be driven to astonishing jealousy or rage at the drop of the hat.

    What I don’t understand is how other people, including plenty of grown adults, can be driven to similar extremes by putting Jane Austen on a ten pound note.

    That’s what I’m interested in exploring and discussing. If you like, we could frame the question like this: what is it about feminism that can drive some men to behave like infuriated One Direction fans?

  29. says

    While women get it worse than others, I think the main root here is general assholery. Jack Thompson got all kinds of death threats for saying shit about video games, too. Just no one cared because he’s such an asshole.

  30. John Austin says

    26 allyFogg

    Where do I say that they deserve rape or bomb threats in my post at 4? I did nothing of the kind.
    I mean that there is a certain element of ex-post facto bandwagon climbing, as in the Twitter boycott.
    Please don’t look for offence where none is intended.

  31. Ally Fogg says

    Schala (24)

    ANYONE who’s notoriety goes beyond X and says anything the least bit controversial will have a squad of trolls hurling insults, death and rape threats, regardless of their sex

    This is not true. You can do a fairly close comparison between Owen Jones and Laurie Penny. I’ve seen both of them discuss this.

    Both are young, high profile, controversial, even notorious journalists. Both have huge legions of haters. Both get plenty of abusive messages. But Owen is the first to agree that what he gets is not remotely of the same scale or nature as that aimed at Laurie. Actual threats of violence and serious intimidation are relatively rare. Laurie wakes up pretty much every morning to yet more rape threats and death threats. It’s something we hacks and pundits often discuss and compare and contrast, and while there are a handful of male writers I know of who are subject to severe and nasty attacks, it is a far lower proportion than of the women.

    At a lower level, I know plenty of feminist bloggers who are lower profile and less controversial than I am in our opinions, but who get much more frequent and more threatening abuse. I have a fairly regular supply of “go fuck yourself with a rusty chainsaw”. an occasional “hope you get cancer” or “hope you fall under a steamroller” or whatever, but nothing like on the same scale or frequency.

  32. Ally Fogg says

    John Austin (31)

    Where do I say that they deserve rape or bomb threats in my post at 4? I did nothing of the kind.
    I mean that there is a certain element of ex-post facto bandwagon climbing, as in the Twitter boycott.
    Please don’t look for offence where none is intended.

    I didn’t say you did. I was asking a rhetorical question to illustrate how absurd it is to suggest that ‘some women will do anything to get their names in the newspapers.’

  33. says

    ANita Sarkeesiaan managed to be two hot-button things at once, a woman (and a feminist besides) who criticized video games. That puts her off the Internet hate charts.

  34. says

    redpesto: I’m all in favor of understanding and trying to educate or reform people — but whether or not we do this, we still have to make judgements of the people we encounter, at least to determine how we respond to them in the short term. And letting people know that they will be judged is in fact, a necessary part of educating them and encouraging them to behave better. Judging and understanding are not mutually exclusive — they go together.

  35. says

    Also, redpesto, don’t you think it’s kind of childish to say we should be “understanding” of people who behave badly, without regard for our own legitimate interests? Shouldn’t you be encouraging the haters to be more understanding and less judgmental?

  36. John Austin says

    AllyF 33

    Caitlin Moran for one. The AIDS tweets, the racism spat about “Girls” and the tweet about violence towards a less than obliging critic, the one about all Catholics being paedophiles, etc. Yet she’s the brave organiser of The Great Twitter Boycott.
    I mean, seriously? Stones and greenhouses come to mind.

  37. says

    We all know that teenage pop fans can be quite terrifying. Slag off One Direction or Justin Bieber on Twitter or in the media and yes, you will get lots of terrifying responses.

    What’s so terrifying about kids acting like kids? It’s not like there’s a pattern of actual violence to make the threats of Bieberites seem credible.

    Rape threats against outspoken women are terrifying because outspoken women (and yes, non-outspoken women) really do get raped. Comparing that to the childish shrieking of Bieber fans is beyond ridiculous.

  38. John Austin says

    It was online bullying by teenagers that drove a 13 yo girl to suicide a few days ago. Not sure if I see the difference between teenagers and adults in this respect.

  39. redpesto says

    RagingBee:

    Also, redpesto, don’t you think it’s kind of childish to say we should be “understanding” of people who behave badly, without regard for our own legitimate interests? Shouldn’t you be encouraging the haters to be more understanding and less judgmental?

    It wouldn’t be ‘childish’ to do both.

  40. says

    Not sure if I see the difference between teenagers and adults in this respect.

    The difference is, the teenagers were only able to bully other teenagers. The adult critics originally mentioned here were never in any danger.

  41. Ally Fogg says

    JohnAustin

    Caitlin Moran for one. The AIDS tweets, the racism spat about “Girls” and the tweet about violence towards a less than obliging critic, the one about all Catholics being paedophiles, etc. Yet she’s the brave organiser of The Great Twitter Boycott.
    I mean, seriously? Stones and greenhouses come to mind.

    But this is a completely different claim you are making! Had you said something like “some of those complaining about this are pretty hypocritical because they have been guilty of some pretty awful abuse themselves in the past” then I would have agreed with you. But that is not what you said. You said that they are doing it “to get themselves in the newspapers.”

    Caitlin Moran has THREE COLUMNS A WEEK ffs. She is a major media star. She can get as many column inches in any newspaper she likes, any time she likes, just by farting if she wants to. Do you really think she would have made her token #twittersilence thing for the publicity? Really? That makes absolutely no sense to me.

  42. Copyleft says

    So, even after evidence of women posting threats is given, the core claim is repeated that online threats are still a “male problem.” This is typical of ideologues, but not of rational people.

  43. Ally Fogg says

    RagingBee

    What’s so terrifying about kids acting like kids? It’s not like there’s a pattern of actual violence to make the threats of Bieberites seem credible.

    Rape threats against outspoken women are terrifying because outspoken women (and yes, non-outspoken women) really do get raped. Comparing that to the childish shrieking of Bieber fans is beyond ridiculous.

    I don’t think it is beyond ridiculous. I think it is different, not least because of the emotional significance of threats of sexualised violence but actually a fair few music journalists have been sent razor blades in the post, had old-school hate mail to their home addresses and been physically assaulted by crazed pop fans over the years.

    I think those GQ posts were slightly different in that they were (as far as we can tell from that) exclusively aimed at the faceless organisation rather than individuals, so it is unlikely that any individual will have felt that personally threatened. So I sort of half agree with you – it is different in some ways – but I wouldn’t be in quite so much of a hurry to minimise the real fear and harassment that can be caused by teenagers.

  44. Ally Fogg says

    Copyleft (43)

    As a general policy request, can I ask you to be clear who it is you are talking to, which post you are referring to, and if it is not too much trouble, blockquote the exact sentences that you are responding to?

    Thanks

  45. Adiabat says

    Ally: “Caitlin Moran has THREE COLUMNS A WEEK ffs. She is a major media star.”

    Lol. The name was vaguely familiar but I had to google her just now. Wikipedia says her columns include one for the “Saturday Magazine” (that piece of junk that falls out of the newspaper that nobody reads), a TV review column, and the satirical Friday column “Celebrity Watch”.

    She’s a nobody. The only thing she seems good at is building up her profile, which kind of backs John up.

    P.S Not that I’m necessarily disagreeing with your criticism of John’s point. I just found it funny you would call her a “major media star”.

  46. Ally Fogg says

    Adiabat

    OK, perhaps “major print media star” would be a better description, but she is.

    Out of interest, I just did a Google news search on her name. Lots of stuff about Twittersilence of course, but just from today:

    Could you be The Citizen’s new columnist?
    This is Gloucestershire-6 Aug 2013
    Fancy yourself as the next Liz Jones or Caitlin Moran? Well drop us a line, we want to hear from you.

    In other words, when a local paper wanted to conjure the name of the most famous newspaper columnists in the country, who did they go for?

  47. Bill Door says

    What’s so terrifying about kids acting like kids? It’s not like there’s a pattern of actual violence to make the threats of Bieberites seem credible.

    Kids acting like kids: Columbine, Sandy Hook, Jonesboro, Kobe, Sasebo,…
    Not sure where this idealized view of children comes from. Certainly not from being around children, who can be just as callous and cruel as any adult. And, on occasion, pretty damned dangerous.

  48. says

    —So there’s no need to know more about who these people are or why they do what they do? Presumably people can just bring whatever assumptions they like to the table and treat them as ‘fact’?—

    We know who they are and why they do what they do.

    They are the KKK.
    They are the Westboro Baptists
    They are the Taliban

    They are completely and utterly pathetic.

  49. carnation says

    @ Ally Fogg

    Schala’s comment (19), no substance, calling three people “trolls”.

    I’m not one to call the authorities, but frankly that’s a bit ridiculous.

    Back to the OP…

    So far, yes, the gamer mentality is familiar to anyone who’s encountered 4 chan et al.

    Personally, I feel that there’s an element of “any attention is good attention” from trolls.

    On a less serious scale, I found the “nice guys of OKCupid” Tumblr to be trolling, basically unacceptable.

  50. says

    —But perhaps most usefully, it might start with considering how much trolling is symptomatic of social injustice, economic disadvantage, and political disenfranchisement.—

    Yes, it is symptomatic of these things.

    The social injustice, economic disadvantage, and political disenfranchisement exercised towards the TARGETS of the trolling.

    Pretending these middle class white males are somehow the victims of the ‘social injustice’ and ‘economic disadvantage’ and ‘political disenfranchisement’ is just willful dishonesty.

  51. redpesto says

    WithinThisMind:

    Pretending these middle class white males are somehow the victims of the ‘social injustice’ and ‘economic disadvantage’ and ‘political disenfranchisement’ is just willful dishonesty.

    Is there evidence that trolls are mainly ‘middle class white males’? From the Guardian article:

    This second group of individuals – young women, and men easily old enough to be fathers and grandfathers – don’t readily fit the classic troll image. Our nice cat-loving neighbour, that funny work colleague, or the nerdy cousin we went to school with could just as easily be trolls too.

    In other words, the more ‘obvious’ trolls might have connections to the KKK, Taliban, EDL or other political/social groups, or they might be ‘middle class white males’ – but they might not, we don’t know for certain (the anonymity of the internet), and not all of them will fit an easy category which can then be dismissed without a second thought. Alternatively, one can assume ‘they’ are all just ‘haters’ and/or ‘privileged’ – in other words, ‘the enemy’ – and leave it at that, because ‘why?’ is too much of a stretch.

  52. Gjenganger says

    @leni 10, piegasm 27
    Sexual frustration is one of several sources of this kind of anger. And you show you misunderstand the situation when you talk about ” I am not ugly, but I won’t be dating a George Clooney anytime soon.”, “why does not being wanted by a woman you’re interested in make that woman seem wicked “, and “Stop teaching them that they’re entitled to the sexual attentions of any woman they set their eyes on.” That is the thinking of somebody who could score lots of people, but who unfortunately finds the available candidates beneath her standards. The thinking of a woman, basically. The frustration comes from feeling that there is not one single female anywhere that would ever give you the time of day – and having years of experience to back that up.

    Feeling that any particular woman ought to jump when you crook your finger is just pathetic. Feeling tht there ought to be at least one person for you somewhere is a little more understandable (even if it does not give you the right to make death threats).

  53. Nick Gotts says

    Here are some examples of the responses they got from apparently female Twitter users – Patrick Brown

    Actually, most of those that could reasonably be construed as threats are associated with masculine or gender-neutral names; and not one is aimed at a specific individual. But when did the MRA crowd ever let mere facts stop them spewing their misogynistic garbage?

  54. Ally Fogg says

    carnation (50)

    I noticed it, gave it some thought, but let it pass on the basis that it was a not-entirely-unreasonable parody of WithinThisMind’s post at [6] so I let it pass.

    But fair report. Keep ‘em coming!

  55. piegasm says

    @Gjenganger 53

    That is the thinking of somebody who could score lots of people, but who unfortunately finds the available candidates beneath her standards. The thinking of a woman, basically.

    Fuck you. You know fuck all about me or my life or how many people I can “score” or whether I want to “score” anyone or how I regard the “available candidates”. I’m the only child of parents so detached that I’ve never really known any emotional attachment to another person other than a handful of people I’ve met online. I spent the first 20-odd years of my life feeling like no human being anywhere ever would give me the time of day. And yet I’ve never threatened anyone with any kind of violence just because they suggested that someone similar to me might have behaved inappropriately. I, apparently unlike you, see people as people and not as conquests or applicants for the job of having sex with me. Seriously. Fuck you. Sideways.

  56. johngreg says

    Ally said (http://freethoughtblogs.com/hetpat/2013/08/07/malestrom-pt-4-trolling-is-more-than-a-game/):

    I’ve often heard it said when discussing the cases of Anita Sarkeesian, Rebecca Watson, Lindy West or the recent clutch of targets that what appears to be misogyny isn’t really misogyny because it is “just trolling.”

    I thought the actual argument was more along the lines of “it isn’t really misogyny because [the perps] will do it to both men and women for reasons that have nothing to do with their gender; it is “just trolling.” And that sex/gender-specific/focussed attacks are used because they are the most effective, not because they are sex/gender-specific. Do you see what I am trying to say, or should I clarify it some more?

    It seems to me that most of the more angry responses to these kinds of “attacks” want the answer/rationale behind them to be some sort of simple one-answer covers all instances. Which is unrealistic and impossible. I think it is far more complex than that. And I think the nature of the target (or perhaps, more accurately, the targets approach: hyperbole; dishonesty; overgeneralizations; combative out of the gate; etc.) may play a significant role — that is not victim blaming; that is trying to winny chaff from grain, a critically important element of this phenomenon that is all too often overlooked. Some targets draw more of some kinds of attacks/attackers.

    There also seems to be a strong tendency to throw all sorts of wholly different attack types and attacker types — different target types; different attack scenarios; different demographics; etc., — into one bag of miscreants. For example, far too often, in some quarters, simple disagreement is thrown into the same bag as blatant and illegal actual threats. Sort of how the infamous Block Bot throws all levels of so-called trolls into the same bag despite the rather specious claims about level separations.

    I am not trying to sweep anything under the carpet here. I am simply trying to point out that if anyone wants to effectively not only determine cause behind these kinds of attacks, but potential ways to curtail them, then we all must really take care to distinguish between legitimate attacks vs. sensationalistic bombast vs. legitimate criticism, vs. whatever other possible delineations there may be.

    It seems apparent to me that at the heart of this behaviour is at least some element of desire to hurt women. Not physically but emotionally and psychologically, nonetheless inflicting the most discomfort, fear and distress they can.

    (My emphasis.)

    Then, why do they do it to men too?

    The fact that they so quickly and so commonly resort to sexualised and gendered attacks suggests to me that underneath the game mentality, there is genuine misogyny at play.

    As I said above, it is my opinion that you sort of have the cart before the horse — an inappropriate metaphor, but I cannot think of the appropriate one — in that sex/gender-specific/focussed attacks are used because they are the most effective, not because they are sex/gender-specific.

  57. FloraPoste says

    “That is the thinking of somebody who could score lots of people”

    And yours is the thinking of somebody who thinks of people as “scores”.

    Seriously. Try seeing women as people much like yourself. It might improve your life in many ways.

  58. Edward Gemmer says

    I dunno – it’s hard to take this stuff seriously because the supposed targets don’t seem to take it very seriously. For example, Greta Christina says that Justin Vacula is a main harasser, yet he doesn’t threaten anyone. Either we are one the same page that threatening anyone is ridiculously wrong and we blast them for it, or we just throw everyone we don’t like in the same pool and shoot whomever surfaces. Not a big fan of the latter approach.

  59. Ally Fogg says

    johngreg

    Then, why do they do it to men too?

    I’m really not sure they do, as easily, as quickly or as often.

    Can you think of an example of a man doing something as innocuous as a campaign to get a person on a banknote who has ended up being subject to suchlike from complete strangers as a result?

  60. johngreg says

    Ally said (http://freethoughtblogs.com/hetpat/2013/08/07/malestrom-pt-4-trolling-is-more-than-a-game/#comment-7719):

    I’m really not sure they do, as easily, as quickly or as often.

    Neither am I, but perhaps, only perhaps, that might be because:

    a. In instances where it occurs for men, those men are less likely, for a range of possible reasons, to go online to post about it, including, maybe, deeming it as part of the highly unpleasant, yet more or less normal mode of operation for the Internet — in a similar way to how Dawkins does not go on about his childhood sexual abuse. That might be an inapplicable analogy; I’m not sure.

    b. Men complaining about this issue might be treated in a similar fashion to how men are often treated when pointing out being abused by women: ridicule.

    c. There, for one reason or other, is no data to refer to.

    d. It doesn’t happen; women are the primary targets.

    As I say, those are only perhapses.

    Can you think of an example of a man doing something as innocuous as a campaign to get a person on a banknote who has ended up being subject to suchlike from complete strangers as a result?

    Not off the top of my head, no. But I do not pay very much attention to this sort thing, and mainly am only aware of it because it comes up here, and at other blogs I visit. Also, see above.

    Part of my argument is that while these attacks appear misogynistic in tone and flavour, I am not wholly convinced that all or even a majority of them are actually based on or resultant of actual misogynistic beliefs, as opposed to just angry, emotionally juvenile or even intellectually stunted idiots choosing the easiest and most effective mode of attack — which need not be misogynistic in source as opposed to just generally wholly anti-social.

  61. Schala says

    ANita Sarkeesiaan managed to be two hot-button things at once, a woman (and a feminist besides) who criticized video games. That puts her off the Internet hate charts.

    Anita is a hot-button because she spouts crap. There is room for criticism of sexism in videogames.

    What she does is that instead of pleading that a non-sexist game would sell as good or better than current sexist games, she pleads to change the current games because they’re morally bad, and who cares about sales.

    If you think there is an untapped female market that would buy non-sexist games, if only they would exist…try to make some, or convince an independent developer or publisher (who doesn’t put movie-sized budgets catering to their KNOWN audience) that it’s the way to go. Don’t try to shame tropes for the sake of shaming tropes. You’re just wasting saliva and alienating the actual existing videogame audience, which does include women a lot.

    And some people will take it badly.

    The same way some took it badly when Murray Strauss and Erin Pizzey tried to go against the dogma of “men evil, women victims of batterers”.

    Trolls ride the “badly” train, just like people who like to turn manifestations into riots do. They’re the trolls of real life.

  62. says

    There are plenty of examples of men getting threatened for things they said in the media and talking about it. Te only one I remember getting mocked is Jack Thompson and that’s mainly because he was so hypocritical and interpreted everything as a threat. Granted, men aren’t out there talking about getting rape threats, but rape threats are nowhere near the whole issue.

  63. unnullifier says

    @60. Eward Gemmer:

    I dunno – it’s hard to take this stuff seriously because the supposed targets don’t seem to take it very seriously. For example, Greta Christina says that Justin Vacula is a main harasser, yet he doesn’t threaten anyone. Either we are one the same page that threatening anyone is ridiculously wrong and we blast them for it, or we just throw everyone we don’t like in the same pool and shoot whomever surfaces. Not a big fan of the latter approach.

    Is Greta Christina really a stand-in for all other “supposed” targets? You’re taking the example of one person and using it to dismiss a large group of people. You seem to be making the claim that harassment only consists of threats. That’s really an incredible claim, if that’s what you intended to communicate. Are “threatening anyone is ridiculously wrong” or “we just throw everyone we don’t like in the same pool” really the only two choices? That seems to contain all the nuance of a monochrome photograph of a rainbow.

  64. says

    Evening, Ally

    With any problem, the only question worth a bucket of warm spit is “what can I do about this?”

    And it seems to me pretty obvious that we can all play a role by being studiedly polite with each other on-line so the more egregious threatening behaviour is denied its contextual camouflage among the flaming. If everyone worked hard to cultivate a more respectful web, the haters would have to stick their necks much further above the parapet.

    That, I think, is the big prize to be gained from a gentler web etiquette. It’s not that words like “arsehole” or “fuckwit” are inherently offensive – it’s that such language provides cover for the really nasty stuff.

  65. John Austin says

    I see that Susanne Moore has a CIF article this evening called “10 Rules for Managing Your Penis”. Just saying. I await with bated breath the equivalent. Maybe Ally you should have a go? “What I think women may and may not do with their vaginas”. Yes, CIF will be taking that one up PDQ. Not.
    I have no intention of commenting myself – I will read BTL with considerable pleasure however. Moderation will be undoubtedly heavy, like flies round a jampot…

  66. maudell says

    @johngreg (62)

    Dawkins is a good example. Because he did publish his hate mail online, in written form and most notably on YouTube. He did not get masse accusations that he was playing the victim.

    I think if we are pointing out a specific type of online harassment, it does not mean we must dismiss other kinds. Certain types of harassment and shaming are targeting men. But the topic here is of a specific type of harassment and responses to said harassment that target women as a whole as inferior based on gender. We can chew gum and walk at the same time.

    In my personal experience, when I write under a male nym, I get a lot less bullshit. It is only anecdotal evidence, but it seems to be the experience of a lot of women. For example, if someone disagree with me as a man, I mostly get counter arguments, perhaps with a couple insults. When I write as a woman, I get a lot more strictly sexual banter. I have heard of a couple studies that seem to corroborate my experience. However, as far as I can tell, they were extremely flawed. To the point where I’m not sure it should be called a study, so I’m not sure this is relevant at all. There definitely should be more research done to be able to establish a strong correlation between gender and online harassment. Probably won’t happen.

  67. Paul says

    Ally

    Apologies for being off- topic but i’ve just noticed that Suzanne Moore has an article up on cif entitled ”10 Rules For Managing Your Penis ” which will be open for comments tomorrow.

    As one of the few males writing about gender issues on cif would you consider doing an article in response entitled ”10 Rules For Managing Your Vagina”

    i’ve got a good sense of humour and i know the Moore article is supposed to be tongue in cheek. But there is an issue here-albeit a minor one- of gender equality.

  68. says

    @Schala: Lots of people say ignorant crap. Most don’t get nearly the level of hate that Anita Sarkeesian does. That’s a partial explanation at best.

  69. lelapaletute says

    @Hunt (3):

    You are not going to snap your fingers and convince legion of young men, unsuccessful in love, that their fate is in the stars, while George Clooney, double their age, makes love to the next candidate in their list of dream lovers. How do you begin to inform the next generation of men that some men are, and have always been, losers in the Game of Love? And how do you convince them that, finally understanding, they should resign themselves, when that is the most important thing in their lives?

    I’m sorry, but boo hoo. There are plenty of women likewise sexually thwarted and unlucky in love. They don’t, as a rule, go about verbally abusing and threatening to rape the objects of their lust who reject them. Nor do many men in similar situations who possess a modicum of human decency. A case of blue balls is neither explanation or excuse, and it is a red herring to suggest that this is where we should be looking for the cause of such behaviour.

  70. Ally Fogg says

    @Paul & @JohnAustin

    I’ve been having fun with that Suzanne Moore thing on Twitter. Have already offered my services to Comment is Free for the obligatory Man’s guide to managing your vagina – albeit more in trollolol than in expectation. And I did a version on Twitter that you can hopefully see on the widget to the left if you scroll down this evening.

    To everyone

    After promising to be a bit firmer on off-topic, can I thank everyone for the comments sparked originally by Hunt’s opinion about sexual / relationship frustration. I actually think it is a decent point and probably true to an extent for some… but I just get a hunch that this thread is about to spiral a bit!

    Feel free to keep discussing it, but do please remember to anchor it to the OP somehow.

    Thanks everyone.

    (oh, and hi Lela! That was really not aimed at you. Always a pleasure to see you here ;-)

  71. Gjenganger says

    @piegasm 57; FloraPoste 59
    OK, I will try again: You are focusing on people who get mad because one specific person turns them down. That is completely missing the point. We are not talking about people who have choices but do not like any of them, but about people who see neither choices not chances anywhere. That makes a big difference. And yes, your mistake does suggest you take it for granted that people have choices, sexually. And yes, whatever your personal history that is a much more natural attitude for a woman than a man. (See: the word ‘score’ does not appear.)

    And yet I’ve never threatened anyone with any kind of violence just because they suggested that someone similar to me might have behaved inappropriately.

    Actually, I do not do that either. In fact I do not even start on the ‘fuck you’ just because somebody says something I disagree with.

  72. Schala says

    @Schala: Lots of people say ignorant crap. Most don’t get nearly the level of hate that Anita Sarkeesian does. That’s a partial explanation at best.

    You also need notoriety. I could be spouting crap all I want, but my internet presence as a whole is TINY. I’m a nobody. Even the most controversial opinions wouldn’t attract 4chan’s wrath at me.

  73. lelapaletute says

    No probs Ally, fair dos – see how I didn’t go chasing Gjenanger’s tail like I normally would? Growing as a person :P

    To the matter in hand – I’ve been watching this one blow up over the last couple of weeks with a certain amount of weary cynicism to be honest. It’s all just so predictable and pointless.

    I pretty much believe as follows: the first threats and abusive messages toward Criado-Perez were probably sent by real, hardcore misogynists who were genuinely riled by the success of her banknote campaign, or simply that the success was getting the volume of media time it did – “how dare this bloody woman get another bloody woman on a banknote, and then get mildly famous out of it into the bargain? Burn the witch!”

    However, what followed from Criado-Perez’s perfectly reasonable calling-out of these misogynists was a beautifully inevitable media-orchestrated echo-chamber. Dozens and dozens of articles and comment threads on the rape threats, causing a bunch of tragic no-lives (who form, I believe, a much larger demographic than true misogynists, for good or ill) realised that they could become a participant in ‘the news’ in the easiest and most unaccountable way possible. Hence the gradual widening of the target from the original victim first to those legitimately associated (e.g. Creasy) and then eventually to anyone with a media profile who could even tangentially considered part of the feminist movement (e.g. Beard). The media reports the widening ripples sustained by the fact of the media reporting.

    Rather than this being part of the ongoing daily battle against misogyny being waged online, I see it as being more like the London riots. A core of authentically aggrieved parties cause some minor mayhem; news media spotlights this and generates a tacit environment of expectation. The bored and attention-seeking and easily led fill that environment of expectation with more news. Spiral grows, and fire keeps burning until it peters out by itself or is stamped out. I don’t know what the solution is, but I would tend to agree with other posters that this specific furore is less about misogyny than it would, on the face of it, appear. Although the context of the violent misogyny that pervades the online environment cannot be ignored, this may not be the best example via which to explore the causes of that context.

    I would also like to say, a propos nothing much, that as campaigns for feminism go, this banknote one will NOT be going on my longlist for ‘Notable Achievements of 2013′ (I mean, who gives a crap what’s on the banknotes besides the number? And Jane *Austen*? Sheesh). But then, it’s more than I have achieved this year to advance equality, so I probably ought to zip it. But still.

  74. Schala says

    For example, if someone disagree with me as a man, I mostly get counter arguments, perhaps with a couple insults. When I write as a woman, I get a lot more strictly sexual banter.

    Must be why the #1 insult people go for with people that they PERCEIVE to be MRAs is : You can’t get laid.

    Not sexual at all, no siree.

  75. Jacob Schmidt says

    Maudell

    Because he did publish his hate mail online, in written form and most notably on YouTube. He did not get masse accusations that he was playing the victim.

    I think this is partly because Dawkin’s doesn’t act in a way that suggests he’s a victim. He undoubtedly is, but he laughs is off and mocks his hate mail. I think he might get more derision and accusations of “playing the victim” if he acted like we think a victim would.

  76. Hunt says

    So, your argument is “thwarted male libido because The Doors”? Brilliant. Riddle me this: why does not being wanted by a woman you’re interested in make that woman seem wicked?

    I wasn’t making a normative statement but rather a descriptive one. I don’t have to justify the idea (in fact, I don’t want to) that men who are consistently rejected begin to suppose that women are wicked in order to posit that being the case. Sexual frustration may well be a politically incorrect rationale, but if it happens to be one component to the explanation, it is what it is. I always find this a little confusing. People are offered an explanation for bad behavior that does not cast the perpetrators in a very good light, but for some reason it’s rejected because…what? it can’t be correct. The actual explanation must be reasonable? This is illogical.

  77. Jacob Schmidt says

    I wasn’t making a normative statement but rather a descriptive one.

    Did anyone accuse you of making a prescriptive statement? The piece you quoted sure didn’t.

    People are offered an explanation for bad behavior that does not cast the perpetrators in a very good light, but for some reason it’s rejected because…what?

    Because you have no evidence for it, and it doesn’t really make sense. Many men have been “thwarted”; many men don’t spew rape threats to women they’ve never met for trivial reasons.

  78. Hunt says

    Seriously- some of these men- it’s like their brains are incapable of distinguishing reality from porn. And instead of checking their behavior or expectations, they get really fucking angry at reality. And then decide the best way to handle this anger is to lash out at strangers, probably because that’s easier and provides a kind of instant gratification that self-reflection won’t. These men might be hurt and lonely and probably many of them have good reason to be. But they also dismiss and belittle women who are probably closer to them in attractiveness, so perhaps some of those feelings of rejection and loneliness are deserved.

    There’s probably a lot of truth there. As for solutions, perhaps prescriptive as well as proscriptive? Yes, teach men they are not entitled to sexual favors. Also, teach them how better to obtain them? As I recall, there was a little of this after elevatorgate. I also recall most of it was pretty useless. I don’t think prescribing blow-up dolls, as was Watson’s recommendation, was terribly helpful.

  79. Hunt says

    Because you have no evidence for it, and it doesn’t really make sense. Many men have been “thwarted”; many men don’t spew rape threats to women they’ve never met for trivial reasons.

    But you’re doing the same damn thing I just described. “Many” means that some do. Just what percentage of the Internet have to do it in order for it to become a problem?

  80. says

    Many men have been “thwarted”; many men don’t spew rape threats to women they’ve never met for trivial reasons.

    That is not a valid counterargument. Different personalities will react differently under the same circumstances.

  81. FloraPoste says

    “Must be why the #1 insult people go for with people that they PERCEIVE to be MRAs is : You can’t get laid.”

    “The frustration comes from feeling that there is not one single female anywhere that would ever give you the time of day – and having years of experience to back that up.”

    Interesting juxtaposition of comments.

    Gjenganger:

    “You are focusing on people who get mad because one specific person turns them down.”

    No, I wasn’t actually. I was focusing on you thinking of people as “scores”. And eliminating the word doesn’t eliminate the mindset.

    “And yes, your mistake does suggest you take it for granted that people have choices, sexually. And yes, whatever your personal history that is a much more natural attitude for a woman than a man.”

    And maybe the sense of desparation has something to do with thinking a man isn’t a real man unless he can “score.”

    But whether or not to threaten and harass is a choice everyone can make.

  82. karmakin says

    @B-Lar 8 Sorry about the delay, posted then went off to work, just got home.

    When I talk about Macro-Culture, I’m talking about the discussion that things usually take where we talk about society as being one big whole unit. This is generally the track that things do take when it comes to these sorts of discussions, and I don’t think it’s accurate or helpful. This is as compared to a Micro-Culture, where we might be talking about the culture of an online web forum, a workplace, a city or even a part of a city, and so on.

    The culture of different micro-cultures are often entirely different from one another. As an example, people often have wildly different experiences with street harassment, as it seems to be much more commonplace in some areas than another. Finding out WHY these differences exist may be a big step in fixing them. We can’t see the trees for the forest, to spin a phrase.

    The reason why this is a problem and it escalates the culture wars, is that it’s a form of denying people’s own personal emotions and lived experiences.

  83. leni says

    That is the thinking of somebody who could score lots of people, but who unfortunately finds the available candidates beneath her standards. The thinking of a woman, basically.

    (Emphasis added.)

    And there it is. I mean the bolded part, in case you were wondering.

    While you may not have taken the next step into sexist abuse of strangers (except for this mildly annoying comment, which is sexist although not abusive in this context, in my opinion), you have certainly started down the road.

    When I wrote my post, I was careful to stipulate *some* men. I was also careful to stipulate that many of those men probably have legitimate reasons to feel hurt. Most humans do, probably even George Clooney.

    That doesn’t make abusing or threatening others an acceptable response and you appear to know that, which makes your dig here all the more pointless and maybe a little telling.

    Anyway, given that I know what that hurt feels like, even if I’m just a woman who can presumably “score” whenever she wants (which makes me laugh, but whatever) , it would never occur to me make my pain or fear yours. There is enough suffering in the world already, isn’t there? No, the people who do that are pathological and malicious and apparently too numerous to dismiss as one-offs, even if there is a tiny wounded bird beneath all the rape threats.

    PS I hope, despite the really bad bird analogy, that was on topic enough :) I kinda think it was.

  84. Jacob Schmidt says

    “Many” means that some do.[1] Just what percentage of the Internet have to do it in order for it to become a problem?[2]

    1) No; “many” means that many don’t. The rest is unknown.

    2) In comment 3: “In my opinion much of it has origin in thwarted male libido.

    “It exists” is separate from “it is common.” The latter was your claim; the latter is unsubstantiated. Nice try on moving those goalposts, though.

    Different personalities will react differently under the same circumstances.

    Irrelevent. There’s nothing to suggest that such circumstances are the root cause. That many do not react in such a way is just an aside.

  85. says

    Irrelevent. There’s nothing to suggest that such circumstances are the root cause. That many do not react in such a way is just an aside

    Are you under the impression that I am arguing in favor of the position you are arguing against? Else this response makes not the slightest bit of sense. No I am not arguing in favor of that position.

  86. thascius says

    @69-That article doesn’t seem to be so much gender inequality as men being more likely to dumb things with their genitalia than women are. Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe there are as many women sending unsolicited pictures of their vaginas to strangers as men are sending pictures of their junk (real women-not spam-bots pushing porn sites), maybe there are a lot of women giving cutesy names to their vaginas, maybe women are getting household appliances stuck in their vaginas to such an extent that emergency services feel a need to issue a public service announcement about it. That certainly doesn’t seem to be the case though.

  87. says

    —I noticed it, gave it some thought, but let it pass on the basis that it was a not-entirely-unreasonable parody of WithinThisMind’s post at [6] so I let it pass.—

    Yes yes, its totally reasonable to refer to my calling your dudebros out on their shit as ‘trolling’.

  88. says

    — We are not talking about people who have choices but do not like any of them, but about people who see neither choices not chances anywhere. —

    Because everywhere you look, women with crappy sex lives are threatening to rape men.

  89. says

    —I think this is partly because Dawkin’s doesn’t act in a way that suggests he’s a victim. He undoubtedly is, but he laughs is off and mocks his hate mail. I think he might get more derision and accusations of “playing the victim” if he acted like we think a victim would.—

    So, what you are saying here is – those attention whores had it coming, amirite? If they just behaved in the manner I personally find appropriate, nothing would happen to them, so they obviously are bringing it on themselves.

  90. Schala says

    Yes yes, its totally reasonable to refer to my calling your dudebros out on their shit as ‘trolling’.

    Should I make up a word that’s the female equivalent of dudebros? The harpysisters? Too negative/pejorative?

    Dude is not exactly value neutral either. Dude in my mind conjures images of the intellect of Cletus from the Simpsons (ie prototypical redneck) with the violence and stupidity of the stereotype of frat people, especially the popular “footballer quarterback” teen movies like to worship.

  91. Thil says

    I think an issue with this is the the use of the word “trolling”. it’s really vague and broad but people tend to talk about trolling like 1) it’s a clear concept and 2) all trolling is equal.

    the other day I posted “Michael Cera, Shia LaBeouf or Zac Efron, who would make the best Terry McGinnis?” on the batman section of Reddit because I thought it would be amusing to see all the outraged responses. That was admittedly kind of childish but it wasn’t about a serious subject nor was it a direct threat, it was obviously far less wrong then telling someone they should be raped for being a feminist (or whatever, I don’t respect these people enough to find out what their original grievance was)

    The other issue is the precise definition of the word. depending on who you ask it either means “writing something inflammatory”, “writing something with the intent of upsetting a particular reader, regardless or content or sincerity” or “going out of your way to make sure people who don’t share your opinions hear that and why you disagree with them”. all of those definitions are either not always wrong and/or a subjective standard meaning they’re impossible to fairly get rid off.

    The thing to remember is that this was as bad as it was because it involved rape threats and misogyny, not because this involved trolling.

  92. mildlymagnificent says

    Then Rebecca Watson comes along, informing them that even an overture far more subtle and civil than anything they personally could ever hit upon, is uncouth. Unsurprisingly, this is perceived as deeply hurtful, hence the outpouring of hate.

    “An overture far more subtle and civil” leads to years of death and rape threats? Because some men are hurt! at the implications for themselves?

    I don’t think so. Anyone who was genuinely shy and nervous about approaching someone like this …. could have turned themselves into a minor hero in the eyes of women at meetings everywhere. By the simple expedient of speaking to this woman at 4am in a lift, and inviting her to share breakfast or lunch the following day to follow up on her interesting ideas. Most of us who’ve been in Ms Watson’s shoes would be pleased, maybe even thrilled to bits at such an invitation, because it would be so novel and unusual compared to the usual crass intimations of sexual interest at inappropriate times in inappropriate places.

    The most important thing about all those outpourings of hate were that none of them seemed to derail into side discussions of how this bloke could have handled the matter better. Nor how other blokes could learn from this and approach such circumstances more competently. (Though I can’t claim to have read every word on the subject, I’m fairly sure I would have come across references to more sensible suggestions on the issue.) It all comes back to Ally’s question about why the viciousness, why the rape threats.

    If it were really about a woman being a bit silly about something perfectly reasonable and normal, even trivial, how come it prompts such a powerful and persistent response? I’d think something that was dismissable as just daft would earn a couple of days or weeks of look what she did, hahaha, and it would all be over. The fact that’s it’s still going on is an indication that she wasn’t just daft, and that there’s a good bit more than simple “hurt feelings” driving these people.

    And that’s where we get to Jane Austen. Why would such a trivial matter (in the terms of people who say it doesn’t matter whether there’s a woman on a banknote or not) arouse such a non-trivial response?

  93. Sans sanity says

    Ally, part of the basis for your opinion seems to be that when you (or your male colleagues) write what I’ll call “pro-feminist” pieces you do not get anywhere near the threatening mail that your female colleagues receive; therefore, misogyny. You’re not the first journalist I have heard say this and I have no reason to doubt the accuracy of your perception of the situation.

    The only study I have ever heard of that compared the level of threats/abuse received by journalists however, found gender parity (I have not read it personally as it is in Dutch, so take that for what it’s worth).

    In my experience people who write counter to the position of their self interest get a lot more credit for it (many times I’ve heard female feminist decry that no one sits up and takes notice until a male feminist repeats what they’ve been saying all along, and they’ve attributed it to misogyny. But you can see the same thing for female MRAs, whites saying racism is important, blacks saying it isn’t, homosexuals saying gay marriage is unnecessary etc). So I suspect that you are the wrong man to be looking at for incidences of threatening abuse for daring to speak about gender issues.

    See here the abuse that someone who was perceived as male got for running what was perceived as an anti woman blog: http://movethefuckoversis.tumblr.com/post/51713894713/do-you-think-its-fair-that-mtfob-is-the-target-of

    An excerpt “I have received many threats, insults and considerable hate in just a couple of days. One person offered to slit my wrists, another told me to insert razor blades into my (nonexistent) penis, and yet another threatened to find out who I am and to insert various objects into my anus.

    I’ve even had several people submitting pictures of gay porn with captions that show that they think they’re in some way hurting a heterosexual man.

    Unfortunately for them, I’m a heterosexual woman.”

    Abusive, threatening and sexual, eh?

    So, while I accept that you receive fewer threats than your female colleagues for writing the same material, I expect that Paul Elam gets more than Girl Writes What for the same reasons.

  94. Thil says

    77 I suspect Dawkins doesn’t feel like a victim because he assumes the threats are mostly hollow (which they are) and doesn’t respect the people making them enough to actually feel emotionally hurt.

    frankly I think that’s the healthiest reaction to this sort of thing.

  95. Sasori says

    Apologies for the length of this…
    Like a lot of Sarkesian’s observations, I think the ‘game of griefing’ one is poor. (although she is better than Jack Thompson and fared far better than him)
    For me one of the big motivators of this kind of stuff is ingroup/outgroup mob dynamics (common among teens and people in their early 20′s but not uncommon among anyone) where people sit down and discuss somebody/thing they don’t like and multiple similar opinions reinforce certain dynamic. The (kind of tangentially) related internet equivalent is called ‘brigading,’ where somebody writes an article or there is a thread about an provocative subject, it is discussed and there is a general consensus and a compounding effect of similar opinions inflate the importance of what’s being talked about until it seems (in the little bubble of the thread etc) that is the worst thing in the history of the universe and cannot stand. Then some of the more impressionable/involved people will go and voice their opinions, sometimes this is encouraged or organised. It is also motivated by a sense of fun, adventure, righting of wrong and/or common feeling among the brigade-ers. This has different manifestations on different social media sites (e.g. the leader of the brigade is often a prominent person or celebrity). There are also a lot of vulnerable people looking for an identity or sense of belonging, when they do get this from somewhere they can be ferociously loyal and will go what they feel is the ‘extra mile’ for the cause.

    I am not sure that what motivates these people is misogyny, the OP’s reasoning seems to be that if you have no bar on using sexist/violent language to attempt to make a women you don’t like (or are griefing) to feel misery, you are a misogynist; this somehow doesn’t apply to all the men that have been griefed on twitter (or women who have been griefed by girls) with almost exactly the same type of language. In the case of /v/ where the griefers of Sarkesian came from, It can often be a chauvinist place (as in lots of users seem to define themselves somewhat, against stereotypical ‘girl’ culture and often ‘feminists’ ), but I’m not sure they have a problem with ‘women,’ a few of the board’s most loved youtube personalities are women and they don’t seem to have more of a problem with female characters or users to some extent (at least before the Sarkesian episode) than other gaming boards. What is clear is that using super sexist language and violent sexual imagery is not considered beyond the pale when you don’t like somebody. The same is true with racist and able-ist language (there is commonly a somewhat complex relationship with trans women).
    [I must say that Sarkesian encouraging her followers to shame people who don't respond to girl characters on twitter was (obviously not equally but still very) unpleasant, imagine somebody doing that about women who don't like male protagonists in romance fiction]

    “I’ve used disingenuous arguments to get a rise out of those I think deserve it. I’ve used throwaway names to make mischief on occasion.”
    The other week you wrote an article that casually claimed in the title that the baby bloomers were ‘the most criminal generation,’ with the inference that you were glad that they were dying off. It’s only because you chose a socially ‘acceptable’ target of trolling that you weren’t featured on your own website (and as part of the OP article) as a troll. If there was a grey pressure group that had prominent popular members with enough followers (and enough people of the right age who knew how to use it), you’d probably have been griefed on twitter by now ( ̄ー ̄).

    For me, it is telling that the last time /b/ raided various feminist websites with somewhat similar comments and ddos attacks, it was taken as a sort of apolitical attack on a random ‘enemy’ and part of a localised dispute with another forum (and a particular women). Another thing that has been thrown up by this stuff is the difference in the meaning of words between the ‘high culture’ of academics an journalists etc, where everybody is politically correct and people will be shocked if somebody says something offensive; and the kind of 4Chan, Youtube comment, Tumblr etc internet culture, where no subject deemed ‘below the belt,’ violent invective and hyperbole is expected, used liberally and ultimately means much less a lot of the time. I don’t doubt that all the people involved were hurt by what people said about them on twitter etc but most people generally filter what people say through the online disinhibition effect (aka the greater internet f&^kwad theory).
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Online_disinhibition_effect
    What people are feeling is amplified by internet hyperbole so the violent imagery probably relates to IRL mild anger or frustration. I think there was/is also a Streisand effect running in this episode; the more it became a massive summer news story, the more griefers turned up to defy ‘the fusty old people on tv’ and get attention.

    Regularly in gender debates on the internet people will assume with no good reason that phenomena are gendered even when there is evidence that they aren’t. I think Ally Fogg knows this from arguing about domestic violence. I suspect this is another case.
    Just the other day, there was a very good example that this is not a gendered phenomenon. GQ printed a front page with the members of One Direction on it, One direction members began spamming the GQ twitter feed with messages featuring similar empty threats and violent imagery etc. Although it wasn’t exactly the same and a few articles were written, no real fuss was made, certainly nobody was arrested.
    http://www.gq-magazine.co.uk/entertainment/articles/2013-07/30/one-direction-gq-covers-most-terrifying-responses
    This happens a high frequency of times somebody says something that is a perceived slight against a famous popstar etc.
    Last year, ‘Nerdcore’ rapper MC Chris was given mass death threats on twitter and youtube after people found out on reddit that he was sometimes mean to people at concerts, he made a youtube video in which he apologised in tears, this didn’t stop the griefing and it went on for a few days. this is mostly all forgotten now
    Also this is an example of a /pol/ raid on the /r/israel section of reddit. http://i.imgur.com/tnpMXyr.jpg
    Youtube computer game personality PewDiePie’s million’s strong ‘bro army’ of fans have earned themselves a reputation by regularly harassing and griefing other youtube personalities with similar content.
    Other notable examples include the carpet bombing the in-game funeral of a prominent player in (computer game) Planetside by a well known griefer (I included this video because I think it’s a great example of another factor that motivates people who do this, adventure and excitement at transgression and transcendence)
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7x_WLbjNDcg

    People in the social justice community and feminists are not exempt form brigading and griefing people using threats and violent imagery. I remember the man who made the ‘hot girls of occupy wall st’ video a few years ago was griefed mercilessly with death threats etc and somebody actually tried to burn down his house. The other week a prominent youtube computer games personality got death threats for arguing with somebody that mortal combat wasn’t misogynistic. There was lots of brigading and griefing in the Good Men Project vs Feministe debacle that resulted in people leaving messages featuring sexually violent imagery on the blog of the offending (against Feministe) writer.

    The internet can be a wretched hive of scum an villainy, loads of people get griefed on (and off) twitter with death threats and threats of violence and sexual violence for all kinds of reasons, but when it happens to powerful middle class women it becomes a national issue, being framed as something that ‘women have to suffer,’ rather than everybody who has a bunch of people annoyed with them and/or comes to the attention of griefers for whatever reason has to suffer. The most blatant example of hypocrisy I’ve seen through this whole affair has been Laurie Penny going on Channel4 news to talk about all the abuse she has to suffer from griefers, and then a couple of days later encouraging her fans to grief Toby Young, after he appeared on Newsnight and said things she didn’t like.

    Also I must say, I am for free speech, as in up to but not including, telling somebody with a gun to shoot somebody should never be a criminal offence. I think that nobody should go to jail for any of this stuff, horrible as it is.

  96. Sans sanity says

    An additional point:
    God knows the MHRAs had a powerful hate for Hugo Schwyzer, but they weren’t the ones who harrassed him off of the Internet in the end.

  97. Chalice says

    Your analysis of the “game” of trolling is pretty good, Ally, but the primary thing you seem to have missed is that the aim of the game is to get a response.

    As a result, the preferred targets of “game”-playing abusers are those who will provide the reaction the player craves. After all, getting a response is the whole point, and the more heartfelt and enraged the response, the better. So who better than a group of people who openly state that they will publicise and “Shout Back” against online abuse?

    To “game”-playing trolls, Internet feminists are much like Internet Christians – they’re easy marks, since their ideology leads them to believe that they’re being Harassed Because They’re Right. Years of experience have shown them this.

    Anita Sarkeesian understands this well and has used this to her advantage brilliantly – witness her careful control over which videos she permits comments upon, not to mention her actually posting about her videos on famous troll hub 4chan! She showed the trolls the gate and they obediently charged through it, only to be used as fuel for her Kickstarter drive. Even now she moderates her comments, preventing any real criticism from getting through and periodically publicising the dumbasses and the trolls to keep the outrage engine ticking. She’s an absolute expert at troll herding, and they must have figured it out by now, yet her occasional tosses of red-meat-reaction (such as her TED talk) keep the idiots flocking in! I’m actually somewhat in awe. It’s genius.

    Other feminists, though… not so much. Laurie Penny barely bothers, she just uses her abuse log as an occasional fallback if it looks like she’s losing an argument. As for the male victims of occasional trolling, we’ve barely gotten as far as reaction, let alone advanced meta troll management on the Sarkeesian level. We’ve a long way to go to catch up.

  98. Paul Timothy says

    What’s the harm of little blaspheming idi*ts?

    disclose.tv/forum/tam-2013-apostasy-t85249.html

  99. Sasori says

    Apologies for the double post.
    To answer the question, “what is it about feminism that can drive some men to behave like infuriated One Direction fans”
    Well I would say first that a lot of the people doing this are adolescents just like the ‘Directioners’.
    I don’t doubt there is sexism but I can’t say to what extent (I will leave that to other commenters)
    Some random opinions…
    While the fans of one direction respond with violent internet hyperbole to a perceived/real misrepresentation their idols, the men are responding to what they see as a misrepresentation of themselves. Something similar happens when you misrepresent anything (Pokemon, Superman, Glasgow Rangers) especially if you don’t have a prior good relationship with your audience.
    Sarkesian is a good example, there are lots of ‘gender in computer games’ videos on youtube some of them have way more views than her first videos, Sarkesian is the only one who got the volume of hate response she did iirc. I think part of the problem (apart from the /v/ raid) might be that all the others were for an audience of teen boys and so tried to avoid triggering ‘reactance’ or unpleasant reactions in their audience, conceded points, were super nice etc. Sarkesian’s videos (pre kickstarter) were for a sort of Jezebel type feminist audience and so did none of this. When you add brigading/raiding to that, you get internet hate.
    I think that that they look like easy targets for trolls and griefers, feminist writers are often indelicate using ‘snark,’ chastisement, hyperbole, sanctimony etc; this often sits well with the intended audience, but, a problem arises when people who aren’t the intended audience read the copy. I think most people dislike that kind of stuff unless they agree with it. The only examples I can think of, of writers who are given this licence to be indelicate are ‘provocative’ conservative columnists like Jeremy Clarkson, Rod Liddle and Toby Young, I wonder if they get as much hate. If Allly Fogg was to write about women in the way that Suzanne Moore etc writes about men, I think he would have his fill of griefers before you could say Phill Fish.

    On reddit there is a place called /r/theredpill, (it is sort of like some ‘manosphere’ websites) the users and ‘ideology’ of this place make a series of very unpleasant assumptions and baseless generalisations about women. They will also pick the worst interpretation possible of the actions of ‘women’ wherever possible and generally are hyper chauvinists. Women users often react in a viscerally negative manner to members of this place. Something similar is also true of the assumptions of the ‘pick up artist’ community that also gets extremely negative reactions from women. A good example of this is the amount of hyperbole in the campaign to get a ‘pick up artist’ guide removed from Kickstarter. For me this is something similar to the reaction of men to common feminist assumptions.

  100. Schala says

    On reddit there is a place called /r/theredpill, (it is sort of like some ‘manosphere’ websites)

    It is considered an extreme form and undesirable, by most people on /r/mensrights. Like many feminists view radfems, except without the indifference to their misandry (most feminists who object to radfems do so on the basis of their stance on sex work, stay-at-home motherhood, feminity allowances (ie make-up, high heels), transphobia and differences in views over lesbianism or bisexuals…rarely over how they treat men – people on /r/mensrights object to “the red pill” because they’re too hyperbolic, are bad publicity and are unable to carry normal arguments – ie they’re trolls even if their intentions are good).

  101. piegasm says

    @Gjengager

    In fact I do not even start on the ‘fuck you’ just because somebody says something I disagree with.

    You didn’t get a “fuck you” for disagreeing with me, you disingenuous ass. You got a “fuck you” for your assumption that, because you think you know what’s between my legs, you think you also know that I haven’t experienced the kind of frustration and loneliness that you claim is driving these men to inundate women with rape and death threats. Fuck you for assuming I don’t know what it’s like just because I’m a woman (because women can all “score” whenever they want with whomever they want, right? It’s only these poor, misunderstood dudebros who experience any sexual frustration just because they can’t manage to treat women like people instead of walking, talking sex toys) and fuck you for thinking that, if I did (though I do, probably better than most of the malicious, misogynist assholes you’re defending), I would find that behavior reasonable and maybe even engage in it myself. Frustration and loneliness is the story of my entire fucking life but I’ve never felt compelled to cause others pain in order to alleviate my own.

  102. says

    So, what you are saying here is – those attention whores had it coming, amirite? If they just behaved in the manner I personally find appropriate, nothing would happen to them, so they obviously are bringing it on themselves.

    How on earth did you get this reading of 77?

  103. says

    Ally Fogg

    I’ll admit this never struck me as the most pressing social justice campaign on the table at present, but by the same token, nor did it strike me as something that anyone could get especially upset about.

    On the contrary, the fact that the Bank of England was so surprised that its decision was opposed so vehemently is yet another indication of how little the male echelons of the British establishment have learnt in the past 50 years. And proof of this is its rapid decision, as a result of the prostest, to have a second woman on a banknote. (Her Majesty the Queen is on all of them and that might just be a female humming bird on the tenner).

  104. Adiabat says

    Ally (47): It seems to me that she’s someone people involved in the biz know of, but I think we’ll be hard pressed to find a significant number of people outside the print media who’ll know who she is.

    This does support the claim that she does things just to boost her profile outside her niche. I’d almost say that the examples given by John are almost standard fare for someone famous just within a particular field to gain notoriety among the wider public.

    Why did she even get involved in this story? She just sort of “tagged onto” a growing trend, installed herself as a prime participant and become the one everyone is talking about, despite it originally having nothing to do with her.

    The more I think about it the more I swing from your position to John’s.

    Maudell (68): My guess would be that when you write under a male nym any attacks made to you are much less personal and less insulting because you are detaching yourself from your online persona. This may also lead to fewer angry or hurt replies on your part which prevents the argument from escalating.

    As for the OP: Personally I think, after many many years of it, people are just generally tired of stupid ‘feminist campaigns’. They are happy to support the big ones dealing with actual issues that everyone agrees are issues but are just sick of this kind. Austin definitely deserved to be on the £5 note for her achievements, not just because she was a woman. And since a woman on a banknote isn’t exactly a new thing, and it isn’t “breaking the patriarchy” or some such shit, claiming it as a “victory for women” is just tiresome (even a couple of feminists upthread seem to agree that it was a bit stupid as feminist campaigns go). In fact, the whole “victory for women” and “women are oppressed” thing is getting boring. People can see it for the bollocks it is and it doesn’t help when it practically goes unchallenged in most mainstream media. (It’s even worse that we have entire academic subjects dedicated to it that everyone knows are a load of crap).

    The banknote thing was just the latest in the line of such things and I think the previous ones have got many people simmering just under breaking point. So while this and the Sarkeesian thing seem minor, they are just the “straw that broke the camels back” that pushed people over the edge and these particular women (unfairly) end up receiving years of pent up anger.

    P.S As for some of the ‘elevatorgate’ comments. People disagree with you, get over it. Stop attributing malicious motives just because you’ve failed to convince people that your side was right.

  105. Ally Fogg says

    piegasm (104)

    Rein it in please, you’re way over the line.

    Schala

    As per usual policy, I’ll delete 104 if requested.

  106. Ally Fogg says

    Adiabat

    And since a woman on a banknote isn’t exactly a new thing, and it isn’t “breaking the patriarchy” or some such shit, claiming it as a “victory for women” is just tiresome (even a couple of feminists upthread seem to agree that it was a bit stupid as feminist campaigns go). In fact, the whole “victory for women” and “women are oppressed” thing is getting boring. People can see it for the bollocks it is and it doesn’t help when it practically goes unchallenged in most mainstream media

    Lots of things are boring and stupid to me. Indeed every day the media is full of stuff I find boring and stupid. I do not feel compelled to track down people who do things which I find boring and stupid and send them rape threats and death threats.

  107. Adiabat says

    I should add that I’m not interested in debating the “worthiness” of specific campaigns. All that matters for my point is that they are perceived as “stupid”, that there is the perception that the mainstream media doesn’t challenge them, and that the academic subjects are perceived as a load of crap.

    The perception alone is enough to explain the behaviour we’re seeing. Whether the perceptions are accurate or true can wait for another debate.

  108. Adiabat says

    Ally: Man, you’re quick! :)

    Lots of things are boring and stupid to me. Indeed every day the media is full of stuff I find boring and stupid. I do not feel compelled to track down people who do things which I find boring and stupid and send them rape threats and death threats.

    People are different. My reaction to stupid campaigns is to groan, others will lash out. Plus we’re talking about years, if not decades, of these things, each one seemingly more stupid and annoying than the last.

    You tend to agree with feminism, so perhaps you just don’t see how annoying this stuff is to the average non-guardianista.

  109. lelapaletute says

    @111 Adiabat

    But I think the question is, for those whose tendency is to ‘lash out’, why do they reach straight for the rape threats and gendered insults? If the whole of feminist theory – that gender is socially significant and has been used to marginalise and oppress women – is ‘a load of crap’, why do aggressive and abusive anti-feminists express their hatred of its exponents in such strongly gendered terms?

  110. Adiabat says

    A metaphor Ally: When you were a kid, did your brothers or friends ever do that thing where they point their finger a centimeter from your face, but never touch you? Do you remember how annoying it was, how you told yourself you were just going to ignore it and give them the satisfaction, until it got too much and you ended up hitting them?

    And then you’d be the one in trouble for hitting your brother?

  111. lelapaletute says

    @112 – ugh, that’s a horrible oversimplification of ‘all feminist theory’. But I’m at work, and it gets to the point I want to make quickly. Sorry, nuanced argument! *blush*

  112. Adiabat says

    lelapaletute: The first one’s easy, those that lash out want to hurt there targets. As their targets are feminists it makes sense that gendered insults would be doubly hurtful. The very identification as feminist is causing the increased prevalance of gendered insults.

    Of course they are stupid, as feminists then go on to use such insults as examples to support their “theory” and to support the next campaign, creating a vicious cycle where everyone jsut gets more and more worked up.

    If the whole of feminist theory – that gender is socially significant and has been used to marginalise and oppress women – is ‘a load of crap’, why do aggressive and abusive anti-feminists express their hatred of its exponents in such strongly gendered terms?

    I wouldn’t exactly call these people ‘anti-feminists’. They’ll ignore feminists most of the time until some news story comes out about the latest stupid campaign. Then they’ll have their 5 minutes of ranting and forget about feminism again until the next story pushes them over the edge.

    I do think it’s the lack of official challenging from the major media outlets that contributes to it.

  113. Adiabat says

    lela (114):

    ugh, that’s a horrible oversimplification of ‘all feminist theory’. But I’m at work, and it gets to the point I want to make quickly. Sorry, nuanced argument! *blush*

    No worries, I know it is. But like I said it doesn’t actually matter. What matters is the perception of feminist theory. It just so happens that I think the perception in more accurate than not, but even if I didn’t it would, in my opinion, still be the cause of some of the anger aimed at this stuff.

    Even if you think it’s all correct and valid, surely you see that most people do not? That most people think it’s a bit crazy, with it’s “Patriarchy” and “Rape Culture” and so on? Why else would you always be having to ‘explain’ it to people?

  114. Ally Fogg says

    Adiabat

    People are different. My reaction to stupid campaigns is to groan, others will lash out. Plus we’re talking about years, if not decades, of these things, each one seemingly more stupid and annoying than the last.

    You tend to agree with feminism, so perhaps you just don’t see how annoying this stuff is to the average non-guardianista.

    No, I do see how annoying it is to people. I see it in the rape threats, death threats etc etc etc.

    What I’m interested in is why it is so annoying to people.

    The only explanation that really rings true to me is that these guys are annoyed by uppity women who don’t know their place and need to be brought back down a peg or two.

    A metaphor Ally: When you were a kid, did your brothers or friends ever do that thing where they point their finger a centimeter from your face, but never touch you? Do you remember how annoying it was, how you told yourself you were just going to ignore it and give them the satisfaction, until it got too much and you ended up hitting them?

    And then you’d be the one in trouble for hitting your brother?

    Now we’ve gone from:

    ‘They only complain about it it for the attention”
    to
    “They only do it to annoy because they know it teases.”

    Both are forms of victim blaming, can’t you see that? As I’ve said, I’m less than inspired by the issue of women on banknotes, but I don’t doubt for a moment that the motives behind it are sincere. CCP and others genuinely thinks it matters that the symbolism of having women’s achievements recognised alongside men in this way is something worth campaigning about.

    However your implication is that they are only doing it to annoy men for the hell of it. That is grossly unfair.

  115. lelapaletute says

    @116 Adiabat

    For one thing, I question your assertion that ‘most people’ think it’s stupid. I think in the circles I tend to move in, the majority of what for the sake of brevity I will call mainstream feminist theory is widely accepted and supported by men and women (and other). In the circles you tend to move in, probably it is the reverse. We both self-select our usual environments to accord with our own ideas, as do most people. It would be a big mistake for both of us to assume that our milieu is the prevailing culture; to ascertain that, we would have to step outside our comfort zones and try however imperfectly to see the whole picture. I will say that, in the UK, as women’s equality has been advancing pretty steadily (as, indeed, has equality in general, except economic equality, which has violently polarised in the last 60 or so years), I may have the right of it in this case; however, the strong minority anti-feminist backlash is growing stronger, so give it a decade or so and it may be your POV whihc is guiding policy.

    As for the rest of your post: the violent dislike people bring to bear to the terminology of gender/feminist studies is remarkable, and I have not seen it against any other discipline. This may be because, as a relatively new discipline, the terminology largely consists of neologisms and convoluted descriptions of what people have grown up to assume is just ‘how things are’ and not in need of analysis, so can perhaps lack the authority of the terminologies of more established disciplines. But really, if a concept has not been articulated before, it can be helpful (even essential) to have a new term for it, or to use an old word in a new way.

    For example, ‘Rape Culture’. This is one that really puts people’s backs up, when all it really is is a heading for a checklist. I consider it a bit like the word ‘Alcoholic’, which is a widely accepted umbrella term for a huge range of behaviours centered on alcohol; one person’s alcoholic is another person’s light tippler, just as one person’s symptom of rape culture is another person’s ‘bit of banter’. Context is all, and accumulation. So like they have those lists ’10 signs you are an alcoholic’, there are signs and symptoms of a rape culture (which doesn’t need much explaining, it’s a culture that is conducive to and accepting of rape) which, by themselves, do not make a rape culture (just as going out and getting blasted every Friday does not by itself make you an alcoholic) but which when accumulated with other symptoms are indicative. Of course, people may dispute that such and such a symptom is indeed indicative of alcoholism/rape culture. But few people argue that we don’t need a word for alcoholism, so why do they dispute the need or validity of the term rape culture? Personally, I would say that a reluctance to accord legitimacy to the term (even as a theoretical descriptor) is in and of itself a symptom of rape culture, but there you are…

    SO far off topic. But hey, being asked to defend the very foundations of feminism on a thread about rape threats will do that…

  116. says

    Ally Fogg (61)

    Can you think of an example of a man doing something as innocuous as a campaign to get a person on a banknote who has ended up being subject to suchlike from complete strangers as a result?

    Here’s Sky news journalist Niall Patterson writing about the abuse he got on Twitter after reporting on Gordon Brown describing a woman who questioned him about immigration as a bigot. He also mentions that the leader of the English Defence League “regularly re-tweets death threats he receives”.

    Anyway. Something I’d like to say. It would foolist to deny the existence of misogynist abuse online. The point I’d like to make is that there is all sorts of abuse online, prompted by all sorts of angers and prejudices. From teenagers upset at the slighting of their favourite singers, to (presumably) Labour supporters upset at unfavourable coverage of their party, to (presumably) lefties upset at the far right, not to mention trans activists upset at Suzanne Moore’s careless language, and Suzanne Moore fans upset at the trans activists. Singling out misogynist abuse as “the” problem on the internet is extremely selective, and playing to the damsel in distress reflex that our society and media thrive on.

    This sort of shit went on long before Twitter existed (I can think of the death threats Erin Pizzey got when she wanted to open up the discussion on domestic violence to violent women and male victims, and I’m sure other examples with spring to other readers’ minds) but Twitter by its nature lends itself readily to anonymous but public ganging-up and witch-hunts, and I would suport the suggested “report abuse” button, so long as all abuse was treated equally, but mainly I’m just very sparing in my use of Twitter, because I don’t think it’s a very good system.

    I would also bring up, as I have done before, Dunbar’s number. The human mind can only comfortably keep track of about 150 people, and subconsciously we think that all the bad things we hear about are happening within an imaginary community of 150 people. If you get abusive messages from, say, 30 people, on some level you’ll think of that as representing a fifth of your notional community and therefore an enormous problem, when in fact it’s a tiny handful of idiots ruining things for the rest of us.

  117. karmakin says

    @Ally 116: A few weeks ago I had a discussion on Reddit with an individual (I believe it was a woman), over the whole Sarkeesian thing (who I think is a sexist who is reinforcing gender roles and stereotypes btw.). But the discussion went to trolling. We actually had a bit of a productive discussion, but long story short, she admitted that she was doing things to maximize the amount of “jimmy rustling” that would be done.

    Unfortunately at the boots on the ground perspective, at least online, there’s a LOT of that sort of trolling that’s coming from various feminist sub-cultures (see Reddit and Tumblr as the two big examples), things being said and done in ways to intentionally maximize the amount of upset it causes in men. It’s a huge amplification of the culture wars. And yes, I think that the MRM movement does that at times as well.

    Of course, I don’t think the whole banknote thing was a troll. It’s a good idea, although I balk at replacing a scientist with a writer. (Sorry. One of my things is that I think that we’re far too traditionalist when it comes to literature) But unfortunately, because the culture wars have been whipped up into such a frenzy (by BOTH sides), it gets lumped in with everything else.

    Re: Elevatorgate. Please get it. The actual controversy isn’t about the actual Elevator incident. It’s about the idea that one woman can speak for all women as a unified class. (Or that one man can speak for all men as a unified class). It’s deeply sexist and that’s why people got upset.

  118. Adiabat says

    Ally (117): Firstly, it’s not only men they annoy; there’s a reason less than 20% of women are willing to identify as feminist.

    And no, I also think they are sincere and aren’t doing it to annoy men. The metaphor was intended to demonstrate that sometimes something minor, if done long enough, can cause behaviour that seems out of proportion. The intent of the brother wasn’t something I considered when suggesting the metaphor. Obviously the metaphor isn’t working.

    Plus I never argued that they only do it for the attention, just that your counter argument that Moran is “so famous she doesn’t need any more attention” is just wrong and so John’s argument is still standing.

    What I’m interested in is why it is so annoying to people.

    The only explanation that really rings true to me is that these guys are annoyed by uppity women who don’t know their place and need to be brought back down a peg or two.

    Now you’re just being silly. It’s got nothing to do with women “knowing their place”. It’s about seeing endless campaigns given publicity in the mass media based on, what seems to them at least, a completely unjustified dogma around some “Patriarchy” which is being tacitly accepted as valid by mainstream media and those in power and so going unchallenged. Usually they’ll be some accompanying statistics which are obviously bullshit to anyone who looks at them. One such campaign you can ignore, same with the first decade or two of such cases, but eventually it’ll reach a point where anyone will get annoyed to the point where they’ll lash out. Right now we’re just seeing those with the weakest willpower lash out, and those old enough that even the strongest willpower can’t stop them.

    In the banknote case, they see more feminists who won’t accept that women are already equal ‘smashing the patriarchy’ by trying to get a woman on a banknote just because she is a woman, despite the fact that not only has it been done before, but campaigning based on gender is, so they’ve been taught, itself sexist. So there’s the additional element of hypocrisy involved. You may disagree with them but that doesn’t matter. All that matters is what they think.

    You’re the one asking for ideas about the cause of these trolls behaviour, yet the only one you seem willing to accept as possible is that they are all raging misogynists who want women back in the kitchen.

  119. says

    Re: Elevatorgate. Please get it. The actual controversy isn’t about the actual Elevator incident. It’s about the idea that one woman can speak for all women as a unified class. (Or that one man can speak for all men as a unified class). It’s deeply sexist and that’s why people got upset.

    Bullshit. RW was not “speak[ing] for all women as a unified class,” she was merely saying — in an informal an totally unofficial speech, mind you — that women tend to find certain behaviors creepy. She was not speaking as a representative of a “unified class,” but she was ATTACKED as such. You’re the one who needs to “get it,” karmakin.

    Also, there’s nothing “sexist” about saying that women might have some interest in common. Just like it’s not “racist” to say that blacks or Hispanics might have some common interest or concern.

  120. Adiabat says

    Lela (118):

    SO far off topic. But hey, being asked to defend the very foundations of feminism on a thread about rape threats will do that…

    I’ve specifically asked you not to defend it several times now. ;)

    I agree that my assertions about ‘most people’s’ opinion of feminism may be wrong. It’s something that will need work on to show to be true. But that’s the nature of submissions when a general call for ideas is made in the OP; I’m not claiming to have all the answers and we’re supposed to discuss it. I’m just glad right now that we’re both managing to keeping it polite (Ally’s strawmanning aside).

    I’ve mentioned upthread just how few women identify with feminism and how when questioned most of them say something along the lines of “I believe in equality, but I’m not a feminist”. This indicates some general reluctance to associate with feminism, which I assume is a result of what they’ve seen being done in the name of feminism. This may include these, what I call, “stupid campaigns” (I’m happy to agree to use a less inflammatory term that we agree on. Any suggestions?). It’s reasonable to assume that men’s aversion to feminism will be even greater.

    If this is true then it supports my claim.

    As for the rest of your post: the violent dislike people bring to bear to the terminology of gender/feminist studies is remarkable, and I have not seen it against any other discipline.

    The social sciences/postmodernist humantities also get a hard time so I don’t consider it remarkable, just at the far end of the spectrum. I consider it to have little academic value as a discipline. I think we’re just going to disagree on this topic so it might be best to just leave it.

    Same with Rape Culture, best leave it for a dedicated thread so we don’t go off topic.

    And like I’ve said: what matters here is what those sending abuse think, not whether it’s valid or not.

  121. Adiabat says

    Thil (123):

    you think this campaign is unimportant yet think is should opposed by the media?

    Personally I think that Jane Austin is the perfect person to go on the £10 note. Not only was she a great writer but her social campaigning should be recognised. If the campaign was just about proposing a good candidate to be considered along with all the rest based on their merits alone I wouldn’t have a problem with it.

    But it instead became this whole “just get a woman on a banknote!” campaign, which I found insulting to Austin tbh, as though what she did wasn’t worthy of arguing on it’s own merits it needed some “girl power!” behind it. Even then I think Austin is the best choice but it soured the campaign for me. I can see why people got annoyed.

    And yes, I would’ve liked like to see more criticism of the grounds the campaign was fought on from the mainstream media.

  122. says

    I dunno – it’s hard to take this stuff seriously because the supposed targets don’t seem to take it very seriously…

    You could have stopped at “I dunno,” Gemmer, because (as usual) you clearly “dunno” what you’re talking about. The “supposed targets” I’ve heard from take all this very seriously indeed. And you’ve been commenting on blog posts like this long enough to know it.

    Also, I don’t remember Greta saying anything like what you allege she said.

  123. says

    But it instead became this whole “just get a woman on a banknote!” campaign, which I found insulting to Austin tbh, as though what she did wasn’t worthy of arguing on it’s own merits it needed some “girl power!” behind it.

    Yet another example of how twisted, tortured and hypocritical MRA “logic” can get. First, how is it “insulting” to Austen to advocate putting her face on a bill? And second, what the fuck are the advocates of such action supposed to do — agree not to mention the fact that Austen is a woman? Agree not to mention that women are underrepresented and maybe this is a problem we could do something to resolve?

    Seriously, what the hell is wrong with saying things like “women are under-represented on banknotes, so why don’t you put Jane Austen on a bill to acknowledge her accomplishments?” Adiabat’s asinine quibbling — over a decision he admits is a good one — sounds like nothing but resentment at hearing about a problem he doesn’t want to think about.

  124. Adiabat says

    Raging Bee (128): It’s insulting because what she did should be enough to get onto a banknote. She doesn’t need some manufactured problem over “representation” tacked onto the campaign. At that point it stops being about respecting Austin and purely about “girl power!”.

    They can mention that she’s a women; that’s fine. Just don’t make it the focus of the entire campaign. Plus, those campaigning should be doing so because they genuinely believe that she’s worthy of being on the banknote, not just because she’s a woman.

  125. says

    Adiabat, what makes you think you can tell other people exactly how they’re “allowed” to advocate for their causes? You explicitly admitted that Jane Austen was a good choice to commemorate on a bill, but you’re still upset because other people didn’t read your mind and say what you wanted them to say, the way you wanted them to say it? Seriously? This is the same dishonest, diversionary rhetoric we hear from libertarians when it comes to racial and other discriminatuion — black people should stand up for themselves as individuals, and should never admit that racism exists or talk about common causes or shared experiences or problems, blah blah blah…it’s nothing but dishonest reactionary tone-trolling.

    And no, the problem of representation is not “manufactured,” it’s real. Your willful ignorance only further disqualifies you from lecturing others on how to talk to each other.

  126. lelapaletute says

    @125 Adiabat

    Don’t think Ally is strawmanning, he’s addressing and interpreting your points. But that’s between you and him! I too am glad we can keep it polite.

    Re the reluctance of women to align themselves with feminism, I think it’s very much a case of “that word, I don’t think it means what you think it means”. Say “I believe in equality, but – ” congratulations, you’re a feminist. You can then get down to the business of arguing what equality means and what is needed to provide it (or, indeed, if it has already come about, overshot, and needs winding back in again). Feminism is, as Ally is much given to noting, a very broad church indeed – from Catherine Hakim to Julie Bindel via Val McDermid, Laurie Penny, Leila Ahmed, Lady Gaga, Germaine Greer, Caitlin Moran*, Angela Merckel, and, yes, probably Jane Austen in some sense. And a host of others besides. Only about two of whom have I ever really agreed with on any given issue, in spite of also considering myself to be a feminist. Essentially, if you believe that men and women are all individual and fully human, and should have the same rights and access to opportunities as one another, you’re in the ball park. Then you play ball.

    Unfortunately, as with other broad-based, plural movements – most religions, political proclivities, and minority rights organisations, you hear an awful lot from particular people – usual the more controversial ends of their respective spectrum – and people get a distorted idea of what the movement ‘stands for’, rather than what those highly publicised individuals ‘stand for’. This is why women are reluctant to don the mantle. When they say “I’m not a feminist, but-” what they mean is they are not the popular caricature of a feminist that the word has become shorthand for. But then, no feminist is; women are frightened of being mistaken for a shadow-monster on the wall.

    Re ‘just going to disagree’, don’t let that put you off! I love a good disagreement, and as long as you can, I can keep it civil. Why do you think gender studies has little academic value as a discipline?

    *who, I’m afraid, really is very famous, and not just in media luvvie circles – her book on feminism, How To Be A Woman (hence her connection to the rape threats issue), was a masive bestseller, and you could stand in Oxford Circus throwing bricks by the half-hour and not hit anyone who’s not heard of her. Again, just because you haven’t, no need to extrapolate this to the world at large.

  127. says

    Unfortunately, as with other broad-based, plural movements – most religions, political proclivities, and minority rights organisations, you hear an awful lot from particular people – usual the more controversial ends of their respective spectrum – and people get a distorted idea of what the movement ‘stands for’…

    Normally that’s not a result of the controversial advocates in a movement — it’s the result of the movement’s OPPONENTS hyping up and exaggerating the movement’s more controversial figures to try to discredit the whole movement. In the case of feminism, idiotic and embarrassing extremists like Katherine MacKinnon are quoted most often by anti-feminists, not by feminists — that is, in fact, how I even heard of MacKinnon in the first place.

  128. redpesto says

    Raging Bee:

    Normally that’s not a result of the controversial advocates in a movement — it’s the result of the movement’s OPPONENTS hyping up and exaggerating the movement’s more controversial figures to try to discredit the whole movement.

    One part of me ‘gets’ this; another part thinks it’s an attempt to deflect the fact that feminists might be just as prone to in-fighting for the overall direction of the movement as other groups are for theirs (as happened at the Barnard conference, for example). Likewise, I’m not sure about the idea that there is a ‘real’ feminism once you get past the ‘caricatures’ that lelapaletute refers to. For the record, I heard about Mackinnon largely via the number of feminists who thought her and Dworkin’s anti-porn campaigns weren’t workable and amounted to ‘censorship in the name of feminism.’ Those arguments don’t become invalid simply because ‘anti-feminists’ cite them.

  129. lelapaletute says

    Exactly- the fact that there IS infighting (and out-fighting!) shows that it is a broad-based, dynamic movement rather than a cult. It’s a sign of health and longevity. What is unfortunate is that it allows opponents (or simply theose with limited information) to imagine that Germaine Greer / Catherine Mackinnon/ Laurie Penny are ‘feminism’ and then rail against it, rather than percieving them as a strand of feminism and arguing with THAT.

  130. Schala says

    to imagine that Germaine Greer / Catherine Mackinnon/ Laurie Penny are ‘feminism’ and then rail against it, rather than percieving them as a strand of feminism and arguing with THAT.

    Politicians who vote VAWA and the likes in don’t care that it’s a “strand of feminism”, they’ll hear the loudest voices that don’t sound too insane and calls themselves feminist.

  131. John Austin says

    Lela 135

    Yes… But then these same women will accuse a man disagreeing with them of misogyny and a woman as being – I don’t know the generic name – the feminist equivalent of an Uncle Tom. So many get wedded to their political positions and can’t distinguish between polite disagreement and hate speech. I’ve seen it on other websites. If a man disagrees even slightly, then he’s a troll. As someone recently said, men seem to need permission and prove their feminist credentials before some feminists will even bother to argue the point. So people think “you’re all the same”.

  132. redpesto says

    Raging Bee:

    Who is trying to “deflect the fact” that there’s infighting in the feminist movement?

    Not so much a ‘who’ as a ‘what’. Your suggestion that the ‘distorted idea of what the movement ‘stands for’ (lelapaletute) is ‘ the result of the movement’s OPPONENTS hyping up and exaggerating the movement’s more controversial figures to try to discredit the whole movement’ is one I have come across before. Whilst true, it’s hard to ‘blame the patriarchal media’ (as it were) for those ideas and the people espousing them in the first place – Mackinnon was influential re. anti-pornography feminist politics, for example, until other feminists challenged her – or use it as an sufficient explanation as to why women (or indeed men) are put off feminism in the first place.

  133. lelapaletute says

    As someone recently said, men seem to need permission and prove their feminist credentials before some feminists will even bother to argue the point. So people think “you’re all the same”.

    Hang on. Some feminists make sweeping generalisations about men in general, so some people then make sweeping generalisations about feminists? Hold the front page – some people not very bright or nuanced in their thinking shocker! I don’t see that there’s much sensible folk can do about this bar remonstrate with the obtuse brigade, whichever direction they’re marching from…

  134. Edward Gemmer says

    Is Greta Christina really a stand-in for all other “supposed” targets?

    No, but she is a good example.

    You seem to be making the claim that harassment only consists of threats. That’s really an incredible claim, if that’s what you intended to communicate. Are “threatening anyone is ridiculously wrong” or “we just throw everyone we don’t like in the same pool” really the only two choices?

    Threatening is not the only form of harassment, but if you lazily label threats, criticism, negative attention, any attention, and anything else you don’t like as harassment, the word really loses all meaning. That’s why a lot of this “harassment” hasn’t gained much traction – a lot of the “harassment” are just people disagreeing with each other and failing to act with any kind of decency and respect to each other. Precision would help a lot. I can get behind trying to end threats and abuse, but I’m not that interested in resolving every petty squabble someone brings on him or herself.

    Basically, the biggest failure by the people wanting to end abuse is that they get lazy and self-centered. You may not like me, or some other random person, but if you lump me as an “abuser” or “harasser” because of that, you are defining abuse as “things you don’t like” instead of based on some more objective criteria. That’s the whole point of objective criteria, and skepticism with it.

  135. John Austin says

    139 Lela
    Not trying to mansplain but to explain how it feels. Hence why so many people think feminists are all shouty and unreasonable.

  136. says

    You may not like me, or some other random person, but if you lump me as an “abuser” or “harasser” because of that, you are defining abuse as “things you don’t like” instead of based on some more objective criteria.

    Please provide examples of someone in our “camp” doing this — as opposed to judging you by your actual words.

  137. says

    Politicians who vote VAWA and the likes in don’t care that it’s a “strand of feminism”, they’ll hear the loudest voices that don’t sound too insane and calls themselves feminist.

    Examples, please? Do you really think a politician would listen only to the craziest voices of a movement, if he wasn’t sure such a position would win him more votes than it loses?

  138. John Austin says

    Raging Bee 143

    What do you mean by “he”?

    We have female politicians in Europe: here in the UK , Labour’s Harriet Harman may be worth your googling.

  139. says

    So you only have ONE example? Sorry, but I’m not impressed. And since that’s such an easy google, as you said, why don’t YOU do the googling and come up with some actual things she’s done, instead of just a name?

  140. says

    No, but she is a good example.

    Your failure to provide any specific quotes or instances means she’s not much of an example at all.

  141. John Austin says

    146 Raging Bee

    HH was the prime mover in getting the Equality Act 2010 passed into law in the UK. It means to me that nobody can discriminate against me on the grounds of my deafness, so good on her.
    OTOH she can come across as patronising, nannying and convinced she is always right about absolutely everything. She tends to cherrypick the feminists she listens to, such as Fawcett and Object.

  142. John Austin says

    148 raging Bee

    I didn’t say what she has done is extremist. But who she chooses to listen to, most certainly. She’s in opposition now so can muck about without responsibility for the outcome.

  143. Sasori says

    Today’s everything went as expected news, everybody is capable of using the ‘report abuse’ button just like the spam button on youtube. http://www.dailydot.com/opinion/twitter-trolls-report-abuse-button/
    and http://www.dailydot.com/lifestyle/twitter-report-abuse-transphobia-transphobes-suspended/

    In another attempt to answer the questions, “what is it about feminism that can drive some men to behave like infuriated One Direction fans” and “What I’m interested in is why it is so annoying to people.”

    Why do people get angry on the internet. There is a general sense that I’ve seen, outside a fairly narrow liberal/left culture, that ‘feminists’ want special treatment for women, generally don’t care about men and think they’re the enemy. They are responding to this perceived or real narrative. A lot of men will feel misrepresented and/or be mildly miffed by a lot of feminist assumptions, especially when these are phrased in an indelicate way. IRL I’ve most often seen it as eyerolls, sighs etc. On the internet, people can get together in an echo chamber and this has a compound effect. When you add to that a sense of community, adventure and belonging you get mass death threats etc. In the hyperbolic world of online discourse, these aren’t evidence that people want to kill you mostly, but rather, it is more likely that they view you as an enemy and want you to feel bad. Also a lot of griefers are just griefers and once a target is chosen, are just along for the ride. The ‘Directioners’ are a good example of the norm for online debate among young people today involving those they don’t like.

    I think there might be more of a hair trigger for women with this, but again I’m not sure to what degree.
    Mary Beard is a good example, she went on question time and said some things that, to her, weren’t controversial. She phrased them indelicately and upset people on the other side of the debate. Because these things aren’t considered controversial by one side the indelicate phrasing wasn’t noticed. She was then featured on a right wing blog, brigaded on twitter and generally has became a hate figure for them. Those people don’t tweet offensive things about Anne Widdicombe.

  144. Tamen says

    Anecdotes, anecdotes. Anyone ever wondered how the distribution of threats against say journalists would be if one actually did a study rather than rely on anecdotes? In Sweden they (the Department of Journalism, Media and Communication at the University of Gothenburg) actually did so: http://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&sl=sv&tl=en&u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.jmg.gu.se%2FdigitalAssets%2F1449%2F1449750_j-p-nelens-nyhetsbrev-hot-och-hat-mot-journalister.pdf&sandbox=1

    And yes, they did find that women were more likely to get threats of sexual violence or sexist remarks than men while men were more likely to get threats of physical violence (which was the largest group of threats). More women than men reported being scared by the threats, anxiety or being emotinally hurt by the harassment.

    In Norway the majority of journalists who have been victims of violence were journalists covering crime and photographers.

  145. Sasori says

    /Tamen.
    That is brilliant!
    it’s a bit comforting to see that the internet in Sweden is the same as anywhere else. Even though I feel bad for the journalists who have to put up with all this.
    I think it is the best evidence that this is obviously not something only women have to deal with. But that it is different in character between the sexes and anyone writing about a controversial subject will get hate.

    A higgledy piggeldy summary.

    > Of those who say they have been threatened, 41
    percent to the threat on violence against one’s own person. Next comes the threat of vandalism (19 percent), followed by threats about sexual violence (10 percent).

    >…The male journalists were threatened 35 percent while 32 percent of the women received threats…
    during the last twelve months. 81 percent of men and 74 percent of women were offended at any time by
    derogatory comments. The differences are statistically safe-[skära, I think this means slim] 16 percent of the women who have been threatened state that they received threats of sexual violence against four per cent of the threatened men.

    >The men who get sexual threats indicate that, with one exception, [it] occurs occasionally.
    The group of women who often have sexual intimidation is almost as large as the group men who get sexual threat[s] overall. Men, however, [are] more often than women receiving threats of violence against his own person. Of the threatened men, 53 percent received threats of violence against the 47 percent of women.

    >female journalists often experienc[e] more negative consequences than male journalists. More women than men said they felt fear, anxiety or been wounded. Slightly more women journalists also have some time avoided to monitor a subject people or group because of threats or derogatory comments.

    >Most vulnerable are columnists / columnists where 67 percent of threatened and editorialists where 64 percent have received threats. The safest from hotsynpunkt [menace] is…editors, 17 percent have received threats…. 96 percent of [editorial writers]…have received such [derogatory (abusive?) comments] during the last twelve months

    >Three subject areas are characterized by a high percentage of journalists who suffer slurs:
    sports journalism (90 percent), foreign journalism (92 percent) and leader / comments (96 percent).
    At least at risk are those who work on environmental journalism (44 percent) and family Journalism (40 percent). [Journalists that write about things that are controversial receive more abuse]

    >[the abusive comments are mostly about] the journalistic skills [of the journalist]. Of those who have received slurs indicates 85 percent of these applied their journalistic skills. Almost as common [are] disparaging comments about intelligence / judgement [alternate translation] (77 percent). Followed ideological judgement (e.g. narrow-minded bourgeois, lefty) as 50 percent of the sufferers have received.
    On the lower level are the victims of racism (16 percent) and sexist (18 percent) comments, and
    derogatory comments about the journalist’s appearance (14 percent).

    >Anything can trigger threats and hate. In the survey, those who wanted to describe what they considered to trigger threats or hate. Of these comments shows that Journalists may suffer from intimidation or hatred of virtually any reason.

    [long list of flame-heavy subjects (Apple , Java, climate change, studded tires, hunting, health local politics and business, radio schedule/presenters etc. and broad super flame-worthy subjects. immigration. refugees feminism and/or gender or gender equality, crime, sport, the Sweden democrats, right wing politics and Islam) so basically anything that is controversial and people have strong opinions about]

  146. says

    Ally Fogg

    What motivates people – mostly but not entirely men – to attack others online using the most extremely violent, threatening and offensive terms at their disposal?

    I think where men are concerned there’s a lot to be said for the “sexual frustration” argument but to what extent is it the case that there’s a profound envy of other men who do appear to have successful and satisfactory sex lives. And what better way to upset this sexual / emotional equation than to target a woman in an “if I can’t have you he won’t either”, attack, a sort of secular online honour killing. It feasible that such an attack would so traumatise the victim that it would threaten her own relationship(s)?

  147. Adiabat says

    Raging Bee (130): Since you didn’t respond to what I said and went off on some mental rant instead does this mean that you concede the point that the campaign was an insult to Austin?

    I can understand not responding to something if we were discussing several points at the same time but we were only discussing one subject. Do you have trouble keeping up with conversations? Is it a medical thing or a cognitive problem, or are you just a troll?

    Lelapaletute (131): Does this post mean you concede what we were talking about: that ‘most people’ have a negative view of feminism. You seem to be simultaneously arguing both that I’m wrong to claim that ‘most people’ have a negative view of feminism, and that those 80+% of women only have a negative view of feminism because of a “distorted view of it”. Sorry but you can’t argue both at the same time, holding both those views at the same time would come under ‘cognitive dissonance’.

    Re the reluctance of women to align themselves with feminism, I think it’s very much a case of “that word, I don’t think it means what you think it means”. Say “I believe in equality, but – ” congratulations, you’re a feminist.

    Yeah, and everyone’s born a Muslim as well *eyeroll*. I always find it funny that feminists want to give women choice in everything except the choice to identify with feminists. Do you really have so little faith in your movement that you feel the need to appropriate people who are explicitly disassociating themselves with it?

    Why do you think that feminism should be an exception to how people assess every other voluntary group identity? People judge groups by what they see their members say and do. No-one gives a crap about “different strands of feminism” except feminists. If people are seeing feminists say and do things (such as the aforementioned “stupid campaigns”), and are forming an opinion about feminism which you believe is “distorted” then that’s solely your problem. It’s up to you to keep your house in order and if you can’t do that then all it tells me is that those that present this “distortion” are much more influential and prominent within feminism than your particular “strand”. So why shouldn’t people judge feminism by what they say and do rather than what you say and do?

    Re Caitlan Moran being “famous”: For Ally’s argument to be valid she would need to be famous enough so as to not need to do anything to gain notoriety. Sorry but a feminist book and a weekly Celebrity gossip column just isn’t enough. As for the argument you gave where I can throw a stone in one particular location and hit someone who would’ve heard of her: How about if I do that in a council estate in Rotherham? How about a leafy suburb of Peterborough? The entire city of Manchester? Scotland?

    Re ‘just going to disagree’: I’m finding our current conversation too interesting to go off on such a massive tangent. I also don’t like having several different conversational topics going on at the same time, as everything gets too hard to follow for readers and it becomes too labour intensive for the posters. Right now I can swoop by every now and then and reply within 5-10 minutes, which keeps the conversation flowing. Ask me later when the current topic has died down.

  148. lelapaletute says

    @141 John Austin

    Sorry John, I don’t know what part of my comment your responding to. Who said anything about ‘mansplaining’ – horrible inflammatory term which I didn’t use?

  149. lelapaletute says

    @154 Adiabat

    Does this post mean you concede what we were talking about: that ‘most people’ have a negative view of feminism.

    No, it does not. As I said above, the general trend towards greater equality indicates that most people are in agreement with or acceptance of the idea of gender equality (aka ‘feminism’). However, due to a widespread misunderstanding that feminism is not ‘a belief in gender equality’ but ‘a vast, separatist ideology comitted to comulsory lesbianism’ a lot of people are unwilling to identify as feminists. It’s like people not understanding that you can be anti-prohibition of recreational drugs without being a raging dope fiend. Which leads us to:

    Yeah, and everyone’s born a Muslim as well *eyeroll*. I always find it funny that feminists want to give women choice in everything except the choice to identify with feminists. Do you really have so little faith in your movement that you feel the need to appropriate people who are explicitly disassociating themselves with it?

    *eyeroll*? So much for keeping it civil… still never mind. There is a clear and obvious difference between saying someone can be born into a belief system about which they know nothing at all (obviously a fallacy as you cannot believe in something you don’t even know about), and assessing someone’s statement that they believe in gender equality means they are a feminist, because that’s what feminism actually means. You may find feminsts who say all sorts of contradictory things, but they will all say they believe in gender equality. I would never say a baby was born feminist; but most women (increasingly most people in general) achieve feminism, and no-one, to the best on my knowledge, has feminism thrust upon them!

    It is nothing to do with having ‘faith in the movement’. I just want people to realise that the word ‘feminism’ is far less important than the fundamental ideal it embodies – the belief in gender equality, which is widely shared and practiced in the West.

    Why do you think that feminism should be an exception to how people assess every other voluntary group identity?

    I don’t. If people want to say they’re not feminists when they quite clearly are, they’re welcome to. And if people who are believe black people are fundamentally inferior to white people want to say they’re not racists, then they’re welcome to do that too. They’re just incorrect.

    People judge groups by what they see their members say and do.

    Yes, and in the case of, say, political parties or religious institutions, where there is membership and control from a central authority, this is sensible. I can think less of UKIP because they continue to allow Godfrey Bloom to represent them. I can think less of the Catholic Church because of the child abuse scandal. HOWEVER, when we are talking about self-identifying and broad-based movements, that kind of thinking can be prejudiced and reductive (see the ‘all people identifying as Muslims must be sexists/terrorists because some sexists/terrorists identify as Muslim’ fallacy presently grieving our society).

    No-one gives a crap about “different strands of feminism” except feminists.

    And no-one gives a crap about the environment except environmentalists; doesn’t mean it’s not important.

    If people are seeing feminists say and do things (such as the aforementioned “stupid campaigns”), and are forming an opinion about feminism which you believe is “distorted” then that’s solely your problem. It’s up to you to keep your house in order and if you can’t do that then all it tells me is that those that present this “distortion” are much more influential and prominent within feminism than your particular “strand”. So why shouldn’t people judge feminism by what they say and do rather than what you say and do?

    Up until your last sentence, I quite agree – feminism (like Islam) has an image problem which needs resolving by the moderate voices in each respective movement speaking up. However, this is in both cases in large part due to the media, which forms most people’s opinions, and which (for obvious reasons) prioritise coverage of dramatic, controversial actors in those fields rather than the less headline-grabbing average self-identifying feminist/Muslim.

    Also, it is interesting to observe in this very conversation how rarely the moderate voices are listened to when they do speak up. I’m telling you that I’m a moderate feminist, that there are a lot of people like me in the movement, and that Julie Bindel et al do not speak for me or for feminism as a whole; but you are dismissing me with a ‘why shouldn’t I take her as indicative rather than you?’ because that is what you prefer to believe.

    Finally, the whole POINT I have been making is that feminism, unlike say the Catholic Church, is not a ‘house’ that can be ‘kept in order’. It’s more like the UN – a lot of different countries gathered together under the general belief that world peace would be a good idea (and wildly diverging notions of how this should be achieved); you can’t hold France accountable for what Russia is doing, or imagine that because China has a particular policy Brazil must have it too.

  150. lelapaletute says

    @156 Adiabat

    Can’t be arsed to argue about Caitlin Moran’s relative fame, as it is of course a mattter of perspective. Personally, I disagree with Ally’s idea that because she is famous, she can’t be seeking more notoriety – for some people, there is no such thing as enough attention (not saying that is the case for her in this instance, just that the theory is off). I just get irritated by people doing the equivalent of going ‘Who is this Justin Bieber of which you speak? I’ve never heard of him!” – so often people seem to believe that an ignorance of popular culture makes them seem sophisticated.

  151. redpesto says

    lelapaletute:

    [Feminism is] more like the UN – a lot of different countries gathered together under the general belief that world peace would be a good idea (and wildly diverging notions of how this should be achieved);

    …which of course leads to the problem of which feminists – sorry, countries – get to be members of the Security Council and which feminists – sorry, countries – get to wield real power and influence…

  152. karmakin says

    @lelapaletute 155:While I agree that most people have adopted a support for “Dictionary Feminism”, what I think you’re missing is what that means for the Feminist movement as a whole. One of the results of that support, is that most people are uncomfortable with the notion of identity politics. As Adiabat said as an example, putting Austen on a bank note because she’s a woman and not because she’s a cultural icon and a historical landmark. To most people, that feels like a violation of gender equality and a sort of “fair play”.

    The problem with this, of course is that the Feminist movement exists to do identity politics…thus the conflict. (Note: I’m not entirely opposed to identity politics myself, especially in situations where there’s a clear systematic gender that directly hurts people..for example I support affirmative action and diversity programs for government hiring)

    But when you look at things from this light, the widespread adoption of this very simplistic Dictionary Feminism again, is at the heart of this entire issue. We’re not used to abuse being slung at women like it’s slung at men. So when we see it we have a stronger reaction against it, which results in people talking about the problem of abuse against women….violates that basic sense of gender equality, and the issue gets escalated, again.

    At the end of the day, we’re always going to get a massive conflict between those who believe in equality of outcome and those who believe in equality of opportunity. I don’t think this will ever be resolved.

  153. Sans sanity says

    Lelapaletute said: “someone’s statement that they believe in gender equality means they are a feminist, because that’s what feminism actually means.”

    Hey Ally, turns out all those folks who said you’re really a feminist were right after all! (Except for the parts about your being a lapdog/dupe/quisling, of course ;)

    Lelapaletute, if you want to live life on the edge I suggest you take this argument to the Womanists. Given that they are a group that explicitly “believe in gender equality” yet are avoidly not feminists on account of historic and current racism.

    ‘To be a feminist you must believe in gender equality, therefore everyone who believes in gender equality is a feminist.’ Is pretty much; ‘X are Y, therefore all Y are X’ which is a basic logical fallicy.

    There is so much more to “feminism” than one very common belief. Any basic definition you look up will not support this absolutist view you are putting forwards. On top of that there’s feminist history, philosophy, paradigms. If “feminist” can be reduced to “beleives in equality” then there are an awful awful lot of feminist people who have wasted several forests worth of trees and entire lifetimes examining the question of ‘what is feminism?’. They should have just asked you, eh?

    You may as well call everyone who thinks pooing in their drinking water is a bad idea and environmentalist.

  154. Sans sanity says

    An excellent post from ex/anti-feminist, Furry girl, on “true feminism”
    http://www.feminisnt.com/2013/frequently-addressed-accusation-you-misrepresent-true-feminism-by-focusing-on-the-bad-feminists-theyre-not-real-feminists-anyway/

    Also this, http://www.feminisnt.com/2009/feminism-is-the-shitty-relationship-you-had-in-your-early-20s/
    May help with understanding why ‘You are a feminist you just won’t admit it’ will… grate on some people so much.

  155. says

    Any basic definition you look up will not support this absolutist view you are putting forwards.

    Using google tells me differently. Does not mean that feminism is a monumentally bad label for a movement striving for equality though.

  156. Sans sanity says

    I ge this “The advocacy of women’s rights on the grounds of political, social, and economic equality to men.”

  157. Adiabat says

    Lela (156):

    *eyeroll*? So much for keeping it civil… still never mind.

    I was eyerolling the muslim claim. But I suppose since I’ve equated your attempt to appropriate non-feminists as feminists to their argument it’s a fair reading that I eyerolled your argument as well.

    Yes, and in the case of, say, political parties or religious institutions, where there is membership and control from a central authority, this is sensible… HOWEVER, when we are talking about self-identifying and broad-based movements, that kind of thinking can be prejudiced and reductive.

    People do it with all voluntary identities, central authority or not, and there’s nothing wrong with doing it either; it’s a part of how we interact with society. Fascism had no central authority, yet the definition of fascism changed due to the actions of one rather prominent group of fascists. Yet I doubt we’ll see you arguing that we are being “prejudiced and reductive” when we are horrified at people who identify as a fascist. Like I said you seem to want your group to have a special exemption for this dynamic that applies to every group.

    Definitions change, especially group identity definitions, based on the actions of those who hold those identities. What you say about “the definition of feminism” just isn’t true anymore. You can blame your compatriots whose actions have changed the definition. If people see enough feminists do things that seem to be against equality enough times then you can’t expect the definition not to change.

    No-one can stop you from considering everyone to be feminists, but you’re wrong and don’t be surprised if no-one goes along with it.

    And no-one gives a crap about the environment except environmentalists; doesn’t mean it’s not important.

    No, lots of people care about the environment, a fact which doesn’t make them all environmentalists funnily enough. A proper equivalent to what I said would be “only environmentalists’ care about the different factions within environmentalism”.

    However, this is in both cases in large part due to the media, which forms most people’s opinions, and which (for obvious reasons) prioritise coverage of dramatic, controversial actors in those fields rather than the less headline-grabbing average self-identifying feminist/Muslim.

    So some “strands” are better at mobilizing and getting their campaigns in the press. Again not anyone’s problem but the “moderate feminists”.

    Also, it is interesting to observe in this very conversation how rarely the moderate voices are listened to when they do speak up. I’m telling you that I’m a moderate feminist, that there are a lot of people like me in the movement, and that Julie Bindel et al do not speak for me or for feminism as a whole; but you are dismissing me with a ‘why shouldn’t I take her as indicative rather than you?’ because that is what you prefer to believe.

    I aware some moderate feminists exist, just like there were self-identified fascists that disagreed with what the Nazis did. But you seem to have no influence or prominence within the movement. When we see a “stupid campaign” where are you? Where are the “moderate” feminist groups releasing statements and generally fighting against the campaigns of those giving people a “distorted” view of feminism? Posting rants on the internet is not enough, it’s not enough for me to even consider your ‘branch’ when I formulate my view on feminism.

  158. Sans sanity says

    Then this “the advocacy of women’s rights on the ground of the equality of the sexes.”
    this
    “1.the doctrine advocating social, political, and all other rights of women equal to those of men.
    2.( sometimes initial capital letter ) an organized movement for the attainment of such rights for women. ”

    and this
    “1: the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes
    2: organized activity on behalf of women’s rights and interests ”

    Then I get to Urban dictionary and some sight called “ladies against feminism”, which I doubt will be defining feminism as a belief in equality either ;)

  159. lelapaletute says

    @160, 162 and 163:

    Good old Wikipedia gives me this:

    Feminism is a collection of movements and ideologies aimed at defining, establishing, and defending equal political, economic, and social rights for women.[1][2] This includes seeking to establish equal opportunities for women in education and employment. A feminist advocates or supports the rights and equality of women

    I don’t see how this conflicts with that I say at all.

    @161:

    Thanks for the links, I will read them when not at work!

    @164:

    I was eyerolling the muslim claim. But I suppose since I’ve equated your attempt to appropriate non-feminists as feminists to their argument it’s a fair reading that I eyerolled your argument as well.

    Yes, I think it was a fair reading. Are you going to admit it was an unfair equation?

    Fascism had no central authority, yet the definition of fascism changed due to the actions of one rather prominent group of fascists. Yet I doubt we’ll see you arguing that we are being “prejudiced and reductive” when we are horrified at people who identify as a fascist.

    How did the definition of fascism change following the Nazis?

    Actually, I’d probably ask them what they meant by ‘fascist’. But few people actually claim the identity – it is one which gets applied to them on the basis of their apparent ideology, like racist.

    And the fundamental basis of fascism (the core beliefs, the fascism equivalent of feminism’s ‘people should have equal rights’) is what is horrifying to me (and most people). If it was a core belief of feminism that it was legitimate for stronger nations to subjugate weaker ones, then you could be horrified by claims of being feminist too.

    What you say about “the definition of feminism” just isn’t true anymore

    See my definition from Wikipedia above and explain how it doesn’t support what I say about the definition of feminism. What you mean is, what I say conflicts with YOUR definition of feminism.

    No, lots of people care about the environment, a fact which doesn’t make them all environmentalists funnily enough.

    What, in your view, does someone need besides a concern for the environment to make them an environmentalist? Fair point about the dodgy equivalence though.

    So some “strands” are better at mobilizing and getting their campaigns in the press. Again not anyone’s problem but the “moderate feminists”.

    Noooo, the popular press is more interested in some campaigns than others because they are extreme. I’d hardly say Julie Burchill is ‘better at mobilising’ her transphobic agenda; it’s just contentious enough that she is guaranteed column inches. It’s hard to be an extreme enough moderate that it catches the attention of the media. What you are saying is, moderates need to become immoderate if they want to be noticed. Which kind of defeats the purpose.

    Where are the “moderate” feminist groups releasing statements and generally fighting against the campaigns of those giving people a “distorted” view of feminism?

    Everywhere, being ignored by the media (see above). Mostly, we are individuals working at grassroots level, changing hearts and minds within our small sphere of influence.

    Posting rants on the internet is not enough, it’s not enough for me to even consider your ‘branch’ when I formulate my view on feminism.

    I know we agreed to be civil, but I am actually pretty offended by this. Where on this thread have I posted anything which could be construed as a ‘rant’? There’s no need to talk down to me to make your point.

  160. Sans sanity says

    “I don’t see how this conflicts with that I say at all.”
    I am genuinally perplexed by this. Our thought processes are just two ships passing in the night I think.

    There is just… scads of sublty in that definition not present in “believes in equality.” Chief among them being the gynocentrism of the Wiki definition (not that I mind feminism being gynocentric mind you, but that’s just one reson why I can’t consider it no more than the “belief in equality”.

    “Thanks for the links, I will read them when not at work!”
    That would be… wise. The author is a (now mostly former for whatever it matters) sex worker and directly links to her pornographic sites from those webpages (though there are no nudey bits on the pages themselves ;) ). I probably should have included a NSFW waring. My apologies.

  161. says

    Raging Bee (130): Since you didn’t respond to what I said…

    Adiabat, you’re a damn liar, and a coward to boot. I did respond to what you said, as anyone looking back at the comment you cited can see.

    As Adiabat said as an example, putting Austen on a bank note because she’s a woman and not because she’s a cultural icon and a historical landmark.

    If she wasn’t a “cultural icon and a historical landmark,” then no one would have thought to put her on a banknote. So yes, she was indeed put on the bank note because she’s a “cultural icon and a historical landmark,” not just because she’s a woman. So take your phony either-or argument and shove it back where it came from.

  162. Ally Fogg says

    Tamen (151)

    Anecdotes, anecdotes. Anyone ever wondered how the distribution of threats against say journalists would be if one actually did a study rather than rely on anecdotes? In Sweden they (the Department of Journalism, Media and Communication at the University of Gothenburg) actually did so: http://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&sl=sv&tl=en&u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.jmg.gu.se%2FdigitalAssets%2F1449%2F1449750_j-p-nelens-nyhetsbrev-hot-och-hat-mot-journalister.pdf&sandbox=1

    And yes, they did find that women were more likely to get threats of sexual violence or sexist remarks than men while men were more likely to get threats of physical violence (which was the largest group of threats). More women than men reported being scared by the threats, anxiety or being emotinally hurt by the harassment.

    In Norway the majority of journalists who have been victims of violence were journalists covering crime and photographers.

    Yes, I’ve seen that before, but it is important to note it was surveying all journalists, working on local papers iirc. Most journalists (whether male or female) are not involved in covering hot topic issues of gender politics, and that is, quite specifically, where the biggest problem lies.

  163. says

    So when we see it we have a stronger reaction against it, which results in people talking about the problem of abuse against women….violates that basic sense of gender equality…

    How does talking about unequal treatment violate any “basic sense” of equality? This is yet another example of the relentless, deliberate distortion of logic and reality we’ve come to expect from anti-feminist trolls. They’re operating from a looking-glass world where talking about inequality is unequal, people who want to fight racism are the real racists, advocating equal treatment is advocating “special treatment” (shades of that old “special rights” argument against gay-rights advocates), and commemorating a woman for her accomplishments is an insult to said woman if it’s admitted that she’s a woman. These talking-points aren’t actual arguments, they’re nothing but manipulation, misdirection, and obfuscation. There’s no point in trying to reason with people who are determined to prevent reason — the sooner we kick such lying propagandist tools to the curb, the sooner we’ll be able to actually get anything done.

  164. Schala says

    and assessing someone’s statement that they believe in gender equality means they are a feminist, because that’s what feminism actually means. You may find feminsts who say all sorts of contradictory things, but they will all say they believe in gender equality.

    They will all say that, but they start from a position which says men are at 100%, women are at lower than 100%, helping ONLY women will bring equality by bringing women to 100% too. You know the problem with that? All measures of equality do not favor men only. Almost all measures of quality of life favor women. Do those not count in equality? How is not focusing on them AT ALL going to bring equality?

    It’s like leaving men at 80%, women bringing them to 100%, and calling it done, because you don’t think men’s issues are about equality. It might be nice to not have cognitive dissonance between “equality” and “helping one side directly only hoping to get equality, because our theory says reality is that way”, but it’s definitely not critical thinking.

    I don’t. If people want to say they’re not feminists when they quite clearly are, they’re welcome to. And if people who are believe black people are fundamentally inferior to white people want to say they’re not racists, then they’re welcome to do that too. They’re just incorrect.

    I believe in gender equality. I believe feminism doesn’t stand for gender equality. Those are not opposed like racism not identifying as racists. It’s more like sexism (against men, sometimes against women) being tolerated, and sometimes encouraged within feminism – something that is NOT equality.

    Finally, the whole POINT I have been making is that feminism, unlike say the Catholic Church, is not a ‘house’ that can be ‘kept in order’. It’s more like the UN

    You mean, an organization that is supposed to prevent countries invading other countries, but that is powerless to prevent the US from doing it because of corruption and power imbalance within the organization itself?

    Feminism is a collection of movements and ideologies aimed at defining, establishing, and defending equal political, economic, and social rights for women.[1][2] This includes seeking to establish equal opportunities for women in education and employment. A feminist advocates or supports the rights and equality of women

    I don’t see how this conflicts with that I say at all.

    See above – helping ONLY women will NOT bring equality. Equality means freeing EVERYONE from gender roles. And to do this, things oppressing men need to be directly removed. You cannot hope that fighting some formless patriarchy by doing…nothing at all except fighting for women, will free men. The theory is flawed at the core.

  165. says

    Ally

    Yes, I’ve seen that before, but it is important to note it was surveying all journalists, working on local papers iirc. Most journalists (whether male or female) are not involved in covering hot topic issues of gender politics, and that is, quite specifically, where the biggest problem lies.

    Nevertheless this seems to rebut the common claim that women are prevented to a disproportionate amount compared to men by the use of threats.

    It would be interesting to see if the guys at MRA outlets get a similar amount of hatred to feminists. I would not be all to surprised tbh.

  166. says

    Almost all measures of quality of life favor women.

    We’re gonna need a LOT of specific examples if we’re to take that assertion seriously. This is one of the most wildly exaggerated instances of the common notion that “the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence” that I’ve ever encountered. It’s almost up there with the landowner pretending to envy his migrant labor force for the ease and simplicity of their lives (no, I’m not making that one up).

    And the fact that MRAs like Schala keep on repeating the same tired nonsensical PRATTs over and over, no matter how many times the rest of us try to reason with them, only shows how deeply, pathologically childlike their whole mindset is. It’s like having to listen to a child incessantly crying “Everyone else has it better than me, no one else is suffering as much as me, IT’S NOT FAAAAIIIIRR!!”

    You want to be respected as a “men’s movement?” Act like men. It’s that simple.

  167. peterooke says

    These trolls disgust me and they should be castrated!

    Freedom of speech does not equal the right to abuse ladies.

    End of.

  168. peterooke says

    @Raging Bee – ‘You want to be respected as a “men’s movement?” Act like men. It’s that simple.’

    You do realise that it is not just men who are unhappy with the changes in society. Before PZ decided that I wasn’t welcome I made this pt on a number of diff occasions. Many women **do not** want to wear the pants in their relationship (or trousers if one is in the UK…).

  169. says

    You want to be respected as a “men’s movement?” Act like men. It’s that simple.

    The guys complaining about their gender roles get “act like men” from you? Is this some kind of joke I am not getting?

  170. peterooke says

    And Ally – why don’t you come down off the fence and tell us what you must really know to be true? Take a stand.

  171. peterooke says

    @Sheaf – otherwise known as ‘growing some balls’ (a vulgar expression I know). Although I tend to agree that men must be men – Raging Bee likely misspoke. I know from reading her arguments over many years that she is diametrically opposed to the kind of views I hold to be true.

  172. says

    Petrerook,

    Although I tend to agree that men must be men.

    I disagree strongly that anyone has to conform to your notions of what it means to be a men. People should do what they want as long as they do not hurt anyone else.

  173. peterooke says

    @sheaf – It’s not about forcing anyone – it’s about doing what comes naturally. Our intrinsic nature speaks for itself no mat what post-modern perversions a small minority of people may choose to indulge.

  174. Ally Fogg says

    peterooke

    And Ally – why don’t you come down off the fence and tell us what you must really know to be true? Take a stand.

    There is very little I know to be true. Cogito ergo sum and all that.

    If you want nice simple binary analyses of rights and wrongs, good guys and bad guys, I’d recommend Mail Online.

  175. peterooke says

    @Ally – if traditional gender roles are 1) what people are most comfortable with 2) beneficial to the well-being of children 3) supported in every society around the world throughout history (and by scripture) – and I take these points to be given although I am open to research to the contrary – then why do you persist in this fiction that these roles are somehow intrinsically oppressive. Housewives make choices too. As do breadwinners.

  176. says

    …then why do you persist in this fiction that these roles are somehow intrinsically oppressive[?]

    A hierarchy or set of roles can be both beneficial to some and oppressive to others. Life isn’t as simple, binary, or black-and-white as you seem to think it is.

  177. Ally Fogg says

    peterooke [182]

    if traditional gender roles are

    1) what people are most comfortable with

    Obviously they are not. They have changed massively over the past 100 years, changed massively over the past 30 years, and continue to change slowly, gradually in all sorts of different ways. Obviously some people have more traditional leanings than others, and some have deviated more radically from traditional norms than others, but across the board, if people were happy with gender roles why are so many fathers fighting to be active carers for their children? Why do so many women care about career and educational success?

    2) beneficial to the well-being of children

    They are not beneficial to the well-being of children. Of course that depends upon your definitions of well-being and beneficial, but if you believe that individual liberty and freedom of choice is in conflict with social constriction of behaviour and attitudes (as I do) then it is very easy to see how they are harmful. If you believe in people finding personal fulfillment according to their personal qualities and interests rather than proscription, then it is very easy to see how they are harmful.

    3) supported in every society around the world throughout history

    Every society around the world has been in constant flux and change. Slavery was considered a natural inevitability in most societies for many centuries. Most societies persecuted their heretics for centuries or millennia. And again, those traditional gender roles have already changed beyond recognition over the past century, so why shouldn’t they change further? Your predecessors would have been making the same argument about letting women own property, work as doctors or vote.

    (and by scripture)

    – and I take these points to be given

    Oh. I see. Think you might have happened upon the wrong blog, to be honest.

  178. says

    carnation: Well, Humpty was male, but society feminized him as an egg, and when he fell, all the king’s men (and their horses) just demanded that he put himself together by his own bootstraps, so he had to, um, I dunno, rob a bank, betray his best friend Puss in Boots, and become part of the disproportionately male prison population?

  179. says

    peterooke: if you know ANYTHING AT ALL from “reading her arguments over many years,” it’s that I’m not female. Oh, and FWIW, I don’t remember seeing your ‘nym before today.

  180. says

    @ peterooke: I’ll concentrate on point 3. While every society has had gender roles so far as I know, they are frequently massively different. The obvious conclusion is that they are arbitrary. Are you saying it’s important to have some sort of gender roles or that it’s important to have a specific set of gender roles? Your earlier statements sounded like the latter, but nothing you cited, even if it were cited, would support that over the former.

  181. Ally Fogg says

    Ace of Sevens 188

    Are you saying it’s important to have some sort of gender roles or that it’s important to have a specific set of gender roles? Your earlier statements sounded like the latter, but nothing you cited, even if it were cited, would support that over the former.

    pardon me butting in, but just wanted to say I make that distinction a lot and it is a really important one. Memo to self to write something on that sometime soon!

  182. Jacob Schmidt says

    Sheaf

    Are you under the impression that I am arguing in favor of the position you are arguing against?

    No.

    Else this response makes not the slightest bit of sense.

    This is what we call a false premise.

    peterooke

    if traditional gender roles are 1) what people are most comfortable with 2) beneficial to the well-being of children 3) supported in every society around the world throughout history (and by scripture) – and I take these points to be given although I am open to research to the contrary – then why do you persist in this fiction that these roles are somehow intrinsically oppressive.

    Your question makes little sense, given that your 3 premises are false (aside: a reference to scripture will get you nowhere around here).

    Ally barely scratched the surface when he wrote that gender roles have changed. They can vary massively from culture to culture, including cultures where women are in control and where trans gender people are wholly accepted within the culture. They are by no means static.

  183. Schala says

    @173

    I will not support the double standard that says racism against black is oppressive and sexism against men is male privilege.

    Racism leads to:
    -Increased poverty of black people.
    -Increased arrests of black people.
    -Longer sentences for the same crimes. Even more so if its a crime against a white person.
    -Being considered more sexual (including violently sexual) and less chaste.
    -Being considered more masculine, more virile (including black women, who lose some female privilege over it). Which means perceived as needing less help, since masculine is often equated with independent.
    -Being suspected of violence and crimes in general a lot more than others (especially black men), all things being equal.
    -Many factors conspire to reduce life expectancy for black people.

    Male privilege leads to:
    1-Increased arrests of men.
    2-Longer sentences for the same crimes. Even more so if its a crime against a woman.
    3-Being considered more sexual (including violently sexual) and less chaste.
    4-Being considered more masculine, more virile. Which means perceived as needing less help, since masculine is often equated with independent.
    5-Being suspected of violence and crimes in general a lot more than others, all things being equal (pedophilia hysteria anyone?)
    6-Many factors conspire to reduce life expectancy for black people.
    7-A disproportionate portion of homeless people.
    8-A disproportionate portion of death on the job.
    9-A disproportionate portion of those killed in total.
    10-A disproportionate portion of those successful suicides.

    Here is a legend to understand it:

    1 is a sign of oppression when it happens to gay people, to people of color, to trans people, to disabled people and to virtually any minority. But when it happens to men, it’s the male privilege of having your violence and/or actions being taken seriously by law officers and judges (because women are considered generally harmless in comparison).

    2 is a sign of oppression when it happens to people of color, and probably other minorities (no data for those). But when it happens to men, see 1 – sign we take them more seriously. So it’s apparently not harmful because it comes from a “positive view” of men as “able to do things”.

    3 is a sign of oppression when it happens to people of color, to gay people (including lesbians), to bisexual people, to trans people (especially trans women) and anyone who doesn’t neatly fit the gender binary visually. But when it happens to men, it’s the male privilege of not being considered a holder of virtue who must preserve himself.

    4 is a sign of oppression when it happens to people of color, to bisexual people, to trans people (mainly trans women). But when it happens to men, it’s the male privilege of being considered “legitimately male”. This is the one closest to being true. The problem is being masculine and virile means no one gives a shit about helping you, tough luck.

    5 is a sign of oppression when it happens to people of color, to gay people (including lesbians), to trans people, to disabled people and people with mental illnesses. But when it happens to men, it’s the male privilege of being considered “above such things” as doing caring jobs and working with children.

    6 is a sign of oppression when it happens to people of color, to gay people (including lesbians), to trans people, to disabled people, and people with mental illnesses. But when it happens to men, it’s the male privilege of being considered “biologically wired that way”. Some would go further and say it’s the privilege of having to save less money for retirement…because you die before women.

    7 is a sign of oppression when it happens to people of color, to gay people (including lesbians), to trans people, to disabled people, and people with mental illnesses. But when it happens to men, it’s not oppression at all. Most will counter with “more women are poor”, as a reason to say fuck you to homeless men.

    8 is pretty exclusive to men as far as I know, at least in the west. People generally ignore it period, unless they work for ALL workers rights (ie unions).

    9 is a sign of oppression when it happens to people of color, to gay people (including lesbians), to trans people, to disabled people, and people with mental illnesses. But when it happens to men, it’s the male privilege of not having as much violence done against you…somehow (when they’re the #1 victim).

    10 is a sign of oppression when it happens to people of color, to gay people (including lesbians), to trans people, to disabled people, and people with mental illnesses. But when it happens to men, it’s the male privilege of not attempting suicide as much, with likely-to-fail methods (note that even in countries with hard restrictions on firearms, men use more lethal means there too – so it’s not because of guns) as a cry for help (because men KNOW crying for help will result in ZERO sympathy from most).

  184. Tamen says

    Ally @169:

    Yes, I’ve seen that before, but it is important to note it was surveying all journalists, working on local papers iirc. Most journalists (whether male or female) are not involved in covering hot topic issues of gender politics, and that is, quite specifically, where the biggest problem lies.

    It appears you recall wrong – the respondents were not exclusively working on local papers. The respondents comprised of a quite large sample (52% of respondents were from the daily press, 23% from Radio/Television, 11% freelancers, 14% Other (trade press, popular press etc.). See http://translate.google.no/translate?sl=sv&tl=en&js=n&prev=_t&hl=no&ie=UTF-8&u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.jmg.gu.se%2FdigitalAssets%2F1449%2F1449751_j-panel-metod.pdf

    There are further breakdown of the numbers in these tables here: http://translate.google.no/translate?sl=sv&tl=en&js=n&prev=_t&hl=no&ie=UTF-8&u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.jmg.gu.se%2FdigitalAssets%2F1449%2F1449746_tabellbilaga-hot-och-hat.pdf

    One can see in table 6 that the type of workplace with the highest rate of threats were tabloids with 71% of journalists reporting this in the last 12 months.

    Table 8 reveals that the subject area which recevied the highest rate of threats were crime/law with 72% of respondents reporting receving threats in the last 12 months. The next one is Editorial/Comments which comes a close second with 68% then there is a gap down to Sports with 41%.

    The subject matter for the in table 8 aren’t further broken down in any tables, but your statement that hot topic issues of gender politics, [and that] is, quite specifically, where the biggest problem lies. is not supported by the report itself which does state (my translation):

    The definitely most common cause of threats and hatred are texts or elements that are in any way related to immigration or refugees in the broadest sense. Next comes anything that can be linked to feminist, gender or gender equality. Closely following that are texts and elements about crime, sports and Sverigedemokraterna

    Sverigedemokraterna is a right-wing populist political party having 20 seats in the Swedish Parliament: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sverigedemokraterna

  185. Lucy says

    I’s not all anger and hatred, alot of it is aggression. Testosterone.

    Boys are the ones who set fire to ants, pull the legs off spiders, put insects in the microwave, torture birds, shoot rabbits, bully girls, and smaller boys, terrorise old people, and the lonely, and disabled, have fights, run gangs, shoot and stab each other, carry out spree shootings, grow up into competitive sportsmen who have to win at any cost, football hooligans, pimps and pornographers, fight incessant wars, join armies, weaponise countries, invent dogmatic religions and political systems, invent and impose draconian and murderous punishments, run organised crime syndicates, become dictators, massacre millions, ethnically cleanse.

    Yeah it could be socialisation and nurture, yes it’s not all of them, might not even be most of them, yes girls do some of this too, but maybe it’s in the nature of a certain strata of males (a kind of warrior class) to be aggressive and violent and destructive, and so long as they have no outlet for it, they will make their own. Maybe the attempts to civilise society and criminalise and sideline all male aggression means it emerges in more mutated and anti-social ways.

  186. Dani Wells says

    Thread seems to be derailing into gender and how those feminists are such easy targets because, well because of, ready? wait for it….Patriarchy and Rape Culture!! OH NOES!!!

    This isn’t a topic about gender theory or the discourse of feminism so I won’t address it but I find it interesting that threads about male misogyny usually deviate into this sort of conversation.

    There is no reason whatsoever to issue rape/death threats to women online. There have been some really good points made about how people think about the online space, as in people think it’s somehow disconnected from reality as a medium. I think that’s a very important key here as far as the internets ability to connect people instantly.. and disconnect them.

    I’ve been on Youtube reading comments, mostly by men, in a very shrill tone, that Twitter should not have a button next to the tweet so you can report it. While they passionately say they completely abhor the threats, they also think that the woman should call the police IF it’s serious. We all know the problem with that scenario. Then they say it’s censorship and that feminists are just going to use it because teh menz have superior logic and their arguments will be flagged down. Again, death/rape threats are not arguments. Then they say that EVERYONE is going to use it for nefarious purposes and the internetz will just FAIL.

    It seems to me that these guys really DON’T think it’s a problem and it’s also quite apparent to me that they want to reserve some place to spew their misogyny. I mean, come on, saying that these threats are disagreements is a piss poor argument. I say, if these guys don’t know what constitutes a death/rape threat or other language around that, then they are purposely mixing the two in order to keep the status quo.

    I see some folks are trying to blame radical feminists (I am one btw) and trying to dissect feminist discourse on here as if the kind of feminist you are determines what kind of target you are. I’ve seen so many different kinds of feminists get heaps of abuse and misogyny. I will say though that the more outspoken and confident the feminist, the more misogyny she’ll likely get. I think also that men are just using feminism as a way to excuse what they’re doing. Most of these guys are getting offended at concepts they don’t even understand. They just see it as belittling to men and then want to lash out at women. Make no mistake: this isn’t limited to feminists; it’s WOMEN.

    I take all rape/death threats as misogyny. I don’t think there’s ANY way to break it down into ‘well the trolls are doing it’ and other diversionary arguments. No. It’s flat out misogyny.

    What should be done?

    Well private internet services need to have policies in place so women can report this and have it reviewed and the culprit either account banned or ip banned. No more fiddling around trying to guess why men are doing this or whether it’s misogyny or not. It is. I mean, what are we saying when we start excusing this behaviour as just simple trolling and trying to take the women-hatred out of the equation?

    We’re saying we don’t really want to call the elephant in the room, THE elephant in the room.

    I think the block list is a great first start. I think it’s presence alone is going to help. Social exclusion is a very powerful thing, especially when it’s public for all to see.

    So in addition to the ability to report, block and terminate a user, a block list of people should be kept and made public. Different domains are going to form different lists but those guys that want ACCESS will find it’s getting tougher and tougher to access parts of the internet and that social exclusion will definitely hurt.

    I could write more but this is enough for now.

  187. karmakin says

    @Dani: It’s largely a matter of trust.

    First of all, talking about how only women require that protection undermines that trust. The problem is threats against people. Not just women. The framing of the issue triggers that “unfair” trigger that I mentioned above, and that’s one of the reasons why people are uncomfortable with the idea. Speaking in good faith, you lose absolutely nothing making it about protecting people and not just about protecting women. (Or feminists, to be more specific). You lose nothing. Why not do it?

    The second is how it’ll be enforced. What’s the level that will trigger a “justified” abuse notification. Obviously, threats are bad. Insults? Slurs? Do those cross the line? What about someone saying that they think that you’re wrong? Some people think that’s harassment. Where does the line get drawn? Again, it’s a matter of trust, and that on these issues we see the line get pulled down again and again tends to make people really worried about this. Will someone get their account banned for talking about equal parental rights, or male circumcision? Considering that people ban people from blogs for these reasons, it’s not as far-fetched as it seems.

    That’s the objection. So if you don’t want to be dealing with strawmen, there you go.

    For what it’s worth, I support a report abuse button under two scenarios.

    First: It’s monitored actively by Twitter with a team to look over abuse reports and act on them. They act ONLY on threats to people’s body, property, and living. (I.E. threatening to go to one’s boss over something to get them fired). They ban (IP bans are horribly ineffective, unfortunately for technical reasons) offenders, AS WELL as people who repeatedly send in clear false abuse reports.

    Second: It’s an automated system. Ban anybody who gets X abuse reports in an amount of time. Best case scenario, some angry people might use the abuse button instead of sending nasty stuff. Worse case scenario…Nuclear War…well on Twitter at least. Bans flying around left right and center. Pushes off all discussion of controversial topics. Well..pretty much everything. Not much was lost, as you can’t really say anything worthwhile about anything worthwhile in 140 characters anyway.

  188. Lucy says

    “Why not do it?”

    Because many men, including prominent ones such as Rod Liddle pride themselves on not caring about the abuse thy receive. They regard it as a sign of having a thick enough skin to earn a platform. They scorn the imen who can’t take it and suggest if they can’t take the heat they should stay out of the kitchen. They see themselves as defenders of free speech. Generally this is because the abuse of white men isn’t as bad as that of women. There are limited ways you can abuse a prominent white man,the vocabulary doesn’t exist for one, the motivation is often missing, the threat less imminent.

    So if women wait around for men to get on board with anti-sexist-hate-speech legislation, they’ll be waiting a very long time.

  189. says

    Lucy,

    Generally this is because the abuse of white men isn’t as bad as that of women.

    Contradicted by what Tamen posted. If you have information you are not sharing, please post it.

    There are limited ways you can abuse a prominent white man,the vocabulary doesn’t exist for one, the motivation is often missing, the threat less imminent.

    Men are actually more likely to be victims of violence. So if anything, threats to them are more imminent, not less. And for ways to abuse men, yes there are many many ways to do that- just ask any mae victim of bullying.

  190. Ally Fogg says

    Tamen

    >It appears you recall wrong – the respondents were not exclusively working on local papers. The respondents comprised of a quite large sample (52% of respondents were from the daily press, 23% from Radio/Television, 11% freelancers, 14% Other (trade press, popular press etc.)

    Fair enough, but it is still the broad range of media journalists. It also says, as expected

    Most vulnerable are columnists / columnists where 67 percent of threatened and editorialists where 64 percent have received threats.

    As for this

    The definitely most common cause of threats and hatred are texts or elements that are in any way related to immigration or refugees in the broadest sense. Next comes anything that can be linked to feminist, gender or gender equality. Closely following that are texts and elements about crime, sports and Sverigedemokraterna

    So gender and feminism comes second to race issues. I don’t find that particularly surprising or reassuring!

    Some other details you omitted:

    “However, you can point to the differences between male and female journalists in how they are threatened and violated. More women than men suffer from the threat of sexual violence. 16 percent of the women who have been threatened state that they received threats of sexual violence against four per cent of the threatened men. The frequency of the threat of sexual violence also distinguishes between men and women. The men who get sexual threats indicate that, with one exception, occurs occasionally. The group of women who often have sexual intimidation is almost as large as the group men who get sexual threat unremarkable. Men, however, may more often than women receiving threats of violence against his own person. Of the threatened men, 53 percent received threats of violence against the 47 percent of women. “

    [note on translation, "The men who get sexual threats indicate that, with one exception, occurs occasionally. The group of women who often have sexual intimidation is almost as large as the group men who get sexual threat unremarkable" doesn't make any sense to me. Any ideas?]

    Anyway, I agree it is an interesting study, I would like to read a reliable translation, but I think you would need to re-analyse the stats to pick out ‘female columnists/ editorialists writing about gender / feminism” as a specific group and see how they compare to all the other combinations to really answer the questions we are asking, and unless I missed it, I don’t think it is reported that way. I’d also like to see something similar repeated in UK / US as I could easily believe there are significant differences between Swedish and Anglo-US cultures when it comes to attitudes towards feminism..

  191. Edward Gemmer says

    as opposed to judging you by your actual word

    That’s probably the main problem rife in the skeptical community – everyone seems to want to “judge” everybody else. By what standards is usually unclear. Further, this judgment is itself almost always ignorant and silly, because it is based on a few words or comments on the internet – no one could possibly judge another human being fairly based on such ridiculously scant evidence. Regardless, it happens quite a bit. The proudly ignorant, I guess.

  192. SteveF says

    [note on translation, "The men who get sexual threats indicate that, with one exception, occurs occasionally. The group of women who often have sexual intimidation is almost as large as the group men who get sexual threat unremarkable" doesn't make any sense to me. Any ideas?]

    I read that as indicating that the group of women who get frequent threats of sexual violence is as large as the group of men who get only occasional threats of sexual violence.

    In other words, while a similar percentage of men/women have received threats of sexual violence, the women who receive them tend to receive them with greater frequency than the men who receive them.

  193. Tamen says

    Ally @199:

    So gender and feminism comes second to race issues. I don’t find that particularly surprising or reassuring!

    Neither did I. I, however, didn’t claim that it was specifically where the biggest problem lies. You did and I tried to point out that that statement cannot be supproted by that study.

    Some other details you omitted:

    It appears you already have forgotten my comment at 151 where I wrote:

    And yes, they did find that women were more likely to get threats of sexual violence or sexist remarks than men while men were more likely to get threats of physical violence (which was the largest group of threats). More women than men reported being scared by the threats, anxiety or being emotinally hurt by the harassment.

    Google mangled the translation of this paragraph breddy badly

    The men who get sexual threats indicate that, with one exception, occurs occasionally. The group of women who often have sexual intimidation is almost as large as the group men who get sexual threat unremarkable

    Let me attempt a quick translation which hopefully is a bit more clear:

    All but one of the the men who get sexual threats indicate that they receive such threats occasionally (as in not regularly). The number of women who often get sexual threats are almost as large as the total number of men who have reveived sexual threats however frequent or infrequent.

    You wrote:

    Anyway, I agree it is an interesting study, I would like to read a reliable translation, but I think you would need to re-analyse the stats to pick out ‘female columnists/ editorialists writing about gender / feminism” as a specific group and see how they compare to all the other combinations to really answer the questions we are asking, and unless I missed it, I don’t think it is reported that way.

    Yes, Google translate does leave something to be desired.

    And, no, it’s not reported that way. But it does certainly indicate that threats and hate are not almost exclusively directed at female journalists as some of the discussion here have alluded to by for instance minimizing or painting it as an exception rather than a rule. It also indicate that feminism is not the subject with the biggest problem in regard of threats and hate, but that it is one of several subject with big problems regarding threats and hateful statements.

    Narrowing the matter of threats of violence and sexual threats to male vs female columnists/editorialist writing about genders appears to me to be like wearing blinders. It also kind of remind me off the exclusion of male children and inmates in point seven about how men are relatively safe from rape in this “male privilege checklist” and it also reminds me of the DV shelter director on that Women’s Hour show who wanted to narrow DV to be mainly about the subset of DV which she believe contains the most female victims and the most male perpetrators.

    If the discussion is how one can address the all too common threats and sexual threats directed and journalists, bloggers, twitters etc. then I think it’s a mistake to just look at a subset of victims and perpetrators to find effective counter-measures against this behaviour.

  194. Tamen says

    Google mangled the translation of this paragraph breddy badly

    How embarrassing. No prize for guessing the correct word though.

  195. Dani Wells says

    @karmakin

    @Dani: It’s largely a matter of trust.

    “First of all, talking about how only women require that protection undermines that trust. The problem is threats against people. Not just women. The framing of the issue triggers that “unfair” trigger that I mentioned above, and that’s one of the reasons why people are uncomfortable with the idea. Speaking in good faith, you lose absolutely nothing making it about protecting people and not just about protecting women. (Or feminists, to be more specific). You lose nothing. Why not do it?”

    This piece was entirely about women so I stayed on topic. I don’t understand how trust is part of this. There is no unfairness at all by discussing this problem in terms of well, the problem of women getting enormous amounts of this abuse online. Rape is a specific threat targeted at women because women fear it. This is why I’m talking about women. If you take it personally, well, I’m not responsible for that. It would be like talking about African slavery and having to mention ‘ALL slavery’ in order to be what? Trusted?

    “The second is how it’ll be enforced. What’s the level that will trigger a “justified” abuse notification. Obviously, threats are bad. Insults? Slurs? Do those cross the line? What about someone saying that they think that you’re wrong? Some people think that’s harassment. Where does the line get drawn? Again, it’s a matter of trust, and that on these issues we see the line get pulled down again and again tends to make people really worried about this. Will someone get their account banned for talking about equal parental rights, or male circumcision? Considering that people ban people from blogs for these reasons, it’s not as far-fetched as it seems.”

    I don’t think people will get flagged for debate or subject matter. A threat of harm is pretty easy to recognize. I was just on a comment section about Men’s Rights and made a very respectful comment. I got a comment back that HAD to be moderated because the commenter made reference to my person and not the argument. I think Twitter has to do a good job of this and that will probably take some time but at least for now, death and rape threats will not be allowed. How is the line getting pulled down regarding these issues? Facebook? Well they take out content that is equally sexist.

    “That’s the objection. So if you don’t want to be dealing with strawmen, there you go.For what it’s worth, I support a report abuse button under two scenarios. First: It’s monitored actively by Twitter with a team to look over abuse reports and act on them. They act ONLY on threats to people’s body, property, and living. (I.E. threatening to go to one’s boss over something to get them fired). They ban (IP bans are horribly ineffective, unfortunately for technical reasons) offenders, AS WELL as people who repeatedly send in clear false abuse reports.”

    There was nothing I said that was a strawman. Nothing. I agree with Twitter moderation.

    Second: It’s an automated system. Ban anybody who gets X abuse reports in an amount of time. Best case scenario, some angry people might use the abuse button instead of sending nasty stuff. Worse case scenario…Nuclear War…well on Twitter at least. Bans flying around left right and center. Pushes off all discussion of controversial topics. Well..pretty much everything. Not much was lost, as you can’t really say anything worthwhile about anything worthwhile in 140 characters anyway.”

    Yep some people will abuse it. That’s why Twitter needs mods.

  196. Old At Heart says

    @Ally’s original post, waaay back at the start:

    You are a miserable sub-human whose life is worth slightly less than the plastic we could melt you down into. You’re probably a rapist, and you’re a violent psychopath.

    What? Wait! Wait! I’m using the GENERAL “you” here, I’m not talking about you, “you”, but “many men”.

    Now where was I? Oh right. You are a monster and deserve to be burnt at the stake and crushed under the weight of a hundred stone phalluses that you worship, you raping dog.

    Hey! Seriously! Chill! Using the GENERAL “you” still. Yeah, “some really bad men” is WAAAAY too long to type compare to “you”, so… You can go die in a hole. General “you” again there. Not you Ally. You’re cool. Just the general you, you misogynist white het-cis scum.

    …And that, ladies and gentlemen, is I think where more than half of the distaste and hate comes from. I probably will get a rise from Ally, at least at the first little paragraph, but I think he will agree that in a large number of cases, people attribute assaults on the general that includes themselves in a subset as assaults on themselves. That’s part of the reason why the hetpat directive was made. A lot of people seeing constant “You are the problem, die cis scum, probably a rapist like most men” type words will attribute them to themselves, and so will react poorly.

    Also, Ally, in more direct you, you, you were moving the goalposts. Don’t do that, eh? It started at “Why do trolls troll with serious stuff?”, and included Sarkeesian, the misleading but very profitable troll-herder who collects death threats. She is an ideal “Reverse Troll”, as an aside. Now it is “Why do trolls troll sexually” when the violence part (your trifecta at the start was “rape, bomb, and death threats”) fell through and was proven to be more or less Equality (three cheers for equality in death threats? Woo? It’s something?).

    They troll with sexual threats the same as with violence: Trolling means to get a response. Sexual statements get a response from women more readily than men. I’ve been told “I’m going to fuck you with a rake, and not the friendly end either.”, but despite the rape stats (1 in 6 for men if you’re using the same statistical methodology as the 1 in 4 for women) I don’t fear it… Because I’ve been told not to fear all my life. Many women are told TO fear all their life (source: That 1 in 4 stat). I’ve also gotten bomb threats. Those concerned me a bit more, since I HAVE been told to fear terrorists most of my life. Trolls throw their feces at walls and see what sticks. And then they evolve, as all things do, to know what is most effective. For men, it is indirect threats, often: Threats to their work, their reputation, their family, especially their kids (check the “RealID” Blizzard/Activision fiasco for that fun one) things that they are taught to fear for. For women, it is their body, their autonomy, their rights, (and still their reputation) things THEY have been taught to fear for. If a woman in authority puts forward a trollable opinion, they get “Hope she gets raped”. If a man does, he gets “His kids go to this school, here’s a picture of them” (Again, the “RealID” case there had a really well documented case since multiple genders were involved in the fiasco.).

    Of course, if you want to go the “men are depraved monsters” route, you could go with a repression/power play and say for that 10% absolute increase in the study that men are sexual tyrannosaurus rexes that just can’t keep sexuality out of their lives due to their massive penises and so they instinctively reply sexually to anyone or anything that may be a valid biological mating partner for them. (Or for a less facetious angle, that men inherently think in a more sexual manner when dealing with biologically potential sexual partners, and that bleeds into their threats, insults, and derogatory remarks, as sex is “on the mind” while they compose their vitriol, while sex is far from the mind when most heterosexual men think of, say, Prof. Myers or Old Man Dawkins.)

    …Also! “If you believe in equality then you are a Feminist because Feminism wants equality so if you do then so there” is equivalent to “If you believe in peace, then you are a Muslim, because Islam wants peace, I mean, it’s the religion of peace, it’s right in the title! Dictionary definition memberships only, please.”.

  197. says

    That’s probably the main problem rife in the skeptical community – everyone seems to want to “judge” everybody else.

    Well, yeah, when people are saying things about important issues, we kinda have to make some sort of judgement about their credibility and character. What are skeptics supposed to do, take everything we hear at face value?

    By what standards is usually unclear.

    Speak for yourself — the standards are pretty clear to me.

    Further, this judgment is itself almost always ignorant and silly, because it is based on a few words or comments on the internet…

    It’s all we have — and in your case, Gemmer, it a lot more than just a few words. And if you don’t like the judgements we make, then you should choose your words more carefully.

  198. says

    Sheaf: My answer to Schala is that his comment is repetitive, barely coherent, and does not provide nearly enough examples to support his assertion that “Almost all measures of quality of life favor women.” He doesn’t even come close. And even where he’s right, his “women have it so much better” attitude is not at all helpful in solving any of those problems, and wipes out any possibility of forming a policy coalition with women to solve the problem. Women (to take just one example) aren’t any happier about male incarceration than men are, but you won’t get any support from them on that issue if you keep on whining about how women all have it easy and don’e care about men blahdefuckingblah…

  199. says

    Raging Bee,

    My answer to Schala is that his comment is repetitive, barely coherent, and does not provide nearly enough examples to support his assertion that “Almost all measures of quality of life favor women.”

    The post is slightly repetitive, but it is coherent. There is not much one can even debate and disagree on this.

    Ad it provides tons of examples for exactly this propostion – with explanations for why these are examples.

    In any case, Schala is female.

    And even where he’s right, his “women have it so much better” attitude is not at all helpful in solving any of those problems, and wipes out any possibility of forming a policy coalition with women to solve the problem. Women (to take just one example) aren’t any happier about male incarceration than men are, but you won’t get any support from them on that issue if you keep on whining about how women all have it easy and don’e care about men blahdefuckingblah…

    You challenged her for these examples. She provided. And then you go off on a tangent that it does not matter any way?

    If Schala is correct and there are severe injustices, raising awareness and talking abut this fact is not contraproductive but seems like the first step.

  200. says

    Ad it provides tons of examples for exactly this propostion.

    Not enough to cover “Almost all measures of quality of life.”

    If Schala is correct and there are severe injustices, raising awareness and talking abut this fact is not contraproductive but seems like the first step.

    Talking about it as ignorantly and childishly as Shala and others do IS counterproductive. As is making it a “men-vs-women” issue when women could easily be (and have been) potential allies instead of enemies.

  201. says

    Raging Bee,

    Not enough to cover “Almost all measures of quality of life.”

    But presumably ‘many and important measures of quality of life’.

  202. says

    Where “many” = 10 or less. Which is a helluva step down from “almost all.” If goalpost-moving was an Olympic sport, you’d be close to winning gold. Or at least unobtanium. Those guys in Scotland who throw utility-poles about would be impressed.

  203. says

    Where “many” = 10 or less. Which is a helluva step down from “almost all.” If goalpost-moving was an Olympic sport, you’d be close to winning gold. Or at least unobtanium. Those guys in Scotland who throw utility-poles about would be impressed

    First for many: The application of the word many is strongly dependent on context. A million soldiers qualify as many soldiers, a million grains of sand are not that many. There are of course more measures of quality of life. And in several major ones men will be disadvantaged as well.

    As for goalposts: What did you expect Schala to write? A grand treatise of a billion examples? She chose several major ones and this is still not a complete list. Her initial statement about “almost all” is hard to prove (or refute) in absence of a comprehensive list of measures, but even if it was an overstatement she provided substantial evidence in this direction. Which you dismissed without addressing it apparently.

  204. Schala says

    Where “many” = 10 or less. Which is a helluva step down from “almost all.”

    Bet your own measures of quality of life are something like:

    -Chance of being a CEO.
    -Chance of being a professional sportsperson.
    -Chance of being valued more for working longer hours and earning more.
    -Chance of being socially invisible unless extremely rare (ie a celebrity).
    -Chance of being considered intimidating to some.
    -Chance of being valued for what you do, and your intelligence, in as much as it helps you “do”.
    -Chance of being a high-level politician.
    -Chance of your issues being considered as “already addressed” because men are “the default”, when nobody gives a shit about men-specific stuff, most men included.
    -Chance of being considered an oppressor/bully/evil. (after all, most women don’t have the shadow of a chance of a sizeable portion of the population assuming they’re evil inherently)

    Or you have NO counter to my 10.

  205. says

    So now — after going from “almost all” to “many” — you’re down to hairsplitting and quibbling over the definition of “many?” That’s just fucking hilarious.

  206. Gjenganger says

    @Ally Fogg 108
    Plese let post 104 remain as it is – it makes me look good by comparison :-).

    When you write controversial opinions to this kind of blog, it is only to be expected that some people will find you objectionable. But it would have been a much more fun debate if someone had latched on to the points I was making, instead of just slagging me off.

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