Hate and ugly criticism. If we try harder, as a species, we can eventually convey it to everyone thanks to tools like the Internet.
It’s not enough to threaten non-violent or non-hurtful women who campaign for bank-notes depictions; it’s not enough to threaten complete strangers with death, hate, pain for changing stats in imaginary weapons on a video game. Disproportional reactions, anchored by animosity, can target anyone.
For example, how about a woman kidnapped and sexually assaulted for a decade, whose recent discovery was greeted by universal joy. Amanda Berry, Gina Dejesus, and Michelle Knight were kept as rape prisoners for years by an Ohio man.
Mary Elizabeth Williams, from Salon, describes recent events as Berry tries to take active to move on with her life.
Over the weekend, Berry made her first public appearance since her escape this spring. At Cleveland’s annual RoverFest, WMMS radio host Shane “Rover” French told the crowd, “I want you to give this person a bigger round of applause and cheer than me, anyone on the show, any of the acts that are here. I’m going to bring out a family that you probably know.” And then, acknowledging her very recent past, he said, “I told her she had a little bit of time to make up on the partying, and you guys would help her out tonight.” Berry, surrounded by friends and family, came out waving and smiling, and later returned to dance on the stage when rapper Nelly called her back to dedicate a song to her. It was just one day after her accused captor Ariel Castro entered a guilty plea to 900 criminal counts, “including kidnapping, rape and attempted murder,” a plea that will carry a prison sentence of life without parole.
Then “the Internet” found out.
“It’s just odd given the years of abuse she suffered. Normally she would not have that kind of trust or comfort. I’m sorry, but it doesn’t make sense,” wrote one concerned ABC News commenter, while another more bluntly decided, “It seems to me she was enjoying it and is gonna use her ordeal to cash in.” Many were concerned that she appeared with a man who stood behind her and warmly put his arm around her and kissed her neck while she was onstage. Or, as some of the ABC commenters decided, he was a “dirt bag hanging all over her,” who “groped” and “pawed” her. A CBS News commenter more generously decided she looked “pretty hot.” And 645 comments later on NBC, Berry had plenty of well-wishers but also comments about her eyebrow piercing, and how she doesn’t look like “a real victim….lol.” And of course, if you want to plumb the absolute bottom of the barrel, there’s YouTube, where Berry is being accused of “milking everything she’s getting.”
I’m not going to speculate on why people would say such things. It’s pointless. When you use the comment sections as your diary, when the thoughts that pass through the darkest recesses of your mind which you would never utter aloud appear as pixels, it’s quite clear this isn’t about communication. This is about getting your opinion out there; putting thoughts to… something.
Let it be known that something is fishy about this women who suffered more than probably most of us will ever know. She’s just not being “victim-y” enough! She’s not crying all the time, being isolated and afraid of everything! Why is she not acting the way I want her to act! Therefore, she must want something. And all she could want is money.
Forgetting that what she could be wanting is to move on, to feel normal again, to not let the horror continue to imprison her. That would just be ridiculous! She’s obviously a bad person because reasons!
Oh no, anonymous Internet commenters: You’re speculations are top notch, as always! You’re giving us even more reason to fall to our knees, wish for a vengeful god’s existence and Her thorough smiting – because right now, I feel kind of embarassed to be a human person.
Amanda Berry is incredibly brave, worthy of our utmost respect and admiration. Being in the spotlight brings with it the nitpicking, lecherous perspective beloved by rubbish-searching, breast-focused, fat-sifting tabloid media. Almost always. If Amanda Berry, survivor and hero, can be poked and prodded with the stick of dirty suspicion, there’s no hope for anyone.
However, we must never let such a view poke us into silence, submission or fear. They are a minority and we must not forget it – no matter how vile you might feel as a human, as no doubt you did after reading about this.