What they don’t get

What it’s like to be Rebecca.

She got a message this morning with a link.

The link was to a pornographic MS Paint drawing someone made of me and posted to a Rule 34 porn site under the username “rand0mathe1st.” The image depicts me bound and gagged, covered in semen, with a dildo up my ass. It reads, “Rebecca Watson is an object.” Here’s a link to a censored but still NSFW version that may be disturbing to you if you don’t get this shit sent to you all the time. It’s interesting to think of how much time and energy that person must spend thinking about me, fantasizing about sex with me, and wondering how much one should charge to rape me.

She thinks a lot about sloths, Rebecca adds, but enough to do that kind of thing? She gives it a shot, but it’s too boring. Go see the cute sloth face though.

Usually the troll messages just go into my trash bin and I get on with my day, but I thought the timing of it was too good to not mention. For a start, it handily supports Dr. Heldman’s lecture about objectification, posted below. But also, it should help make it clearer what women like me, like the other Skepchicks, like Stephanie Zvan, like Greta Christina, like Ophelia Benson, deal with on a daily basis. [Read more…]

The timing of everything was carefully executed

What it’s like to be a woman in The Industry. What industry? It almost doesn’t matter, does it. This one is the tech industry.

This week – someone decided to upload fake porn pictures of me to the internet – when I say fake I don’t mean my head stuck on someone’s body, but lookalikes or in some cases, just blonde girls with blue eyes and terrible taste in underwear. I digress. This is someone with far too much time on their hands and someone with a definite grudge. I’ve taught myself over the years to take the rough with the smooth and develop a thick skin, I’ve been free of online trouble for a while and rightly or wrongly, I was kind of expecting my run of luck to end. To say it caught me off guard, would be a lie, but to see how low someone would stoop, did. [Read more…]

And with one bound she was free

More harassment. More complications. More failure to disclose. More clumsy attempts at setups. More provocation followed by noisy media blitz to express outrage at the response to the provocation.

The A-news people, who do that podcast I was invited to do, posted a podcast on Monday, the day I was invited.

Lee Moore, the guy who invited me, never mentioned the podcast, not when he invited me and not yesterday when I told him about  the tweet from the impersonation account (one of them) and Paden’s blog post. He never said a word about it. He should have, since half of it is about me (and my incomparable awfulness). [Read more…]

Asking for brickbats

Laurie Penny says that internet misogyny should end.

“There’s nothing wrong with [her] a couple of hours of cunt kicking, garrotting and burying in a shallow grave wouldn’t sort out.”

Like many women who have public profiles online, I’m used to messages of this sort – the violent rape and murder fantasies, the threats to my family and personal safety, the graphic emails with my face crudely pasted onto pictures of pornographic models performing sphincter-stretchingly implausible feats of physical endurance.

There’s more attention to the issue (and yes, it’s an issue) now because Mary Beard spoke up about it.

According to its creator, Richard White, a lettings agent from Sidcup who started Don’t Start Me Off! “as a humour site to discuss issues of the day”, the site “is meant to be like a pub where people banter and try to be funny. It is not a hate site.” He went on to claim that “We didn’t allow certain words or people threatening to kill people.” That certainly wasn’t my experience. Clearly, one man’s ‘banter’ can be another woman’s ceaseless, dispiriting catalogue of sadistic fantasies and homophobic abuse. [Read more…]

What we need is a filter

Cath Elliott writes about What it’s like to be a victim of Don’t Start Me Off’s internet hate mob.

Note from Helen Lewis, who republished the post on her New Statesman blog:

Note from Helen: Cath Elliott’s Blog, An Occupational Hazard, was one of the pieces which inspired me to collect together the experiences of female bloggers about online abuse. I thought Cath was incredibly brave to write about the hatred she was subjected to – particularly since it was deliberately as humiliating and obscene as possible.

Funnily enough, her internet tormentors were from a site called Don’t Start Me Off! – which was taken offline last week by its owner after the unwelcome glare of publicity fell on it when Mary Beard spoke out about the thread about her posted there. As Richard White, the site’s owner, is now claiming that he has been badly misrepresented, I thought it was important to hear what it was really like to be harassed by DSMO. Here’s Cath, in a post originally published on her blog yesterday. [Read more…]

He bruised his knuckles when he punched her

It was all Mary Beard’s fault, as it turns out. No really; it was. The guy who ran that website says so. If he doesn’t know, who does?!

The co-owner and moderator of the website that published abusive comments about Mary Beard has accused the Cambridge academic of using the row to deflect from her own comments about immigration on Question Time.

He said that friends and colleagues of Beard, professor of classics at Cambridge University, had been “trolling” his site, Don’t Start Me Off!, which he closed down this week, by bombarding it with Latin poetry. [Read more…]

Women’s hour

Maureen Brian alerted me to Mary Beard’s appearance (there should be a hearing-word version of “appearance” for radio and podcasts – can’t be audience, that’s taken, and I can’t think of what else it could be) on Women’s Hour to talk about verbal abuse online.

She reports that the guys who run the repellent website that zoomed in on her actually took it down. Gee. I wish that happened more often. “Oh – this is vicious and horrible?” Pause for thought. “Why I guess you’re right, it is. That’s the end of that then. Thank you for letting us know.”

She and the presenter Jenni Murray talk about whether misogynist verbal abuse discourages women from speaking up (and writing) in public. “D’you think it does?” “Ooooooooh I don’t know, what d’you think?” “Oooooooh hard to say really.” No that’s not how it went. Mary Beard said of course it does.

A good little girl doesn’t

Laura Bates objects to casual sexism among politicians in the UK.

Murdo Fraser, Member of the Scottish Parliament for Mid-Scotland and Fife, discovered last week that the wife of former Liberal leader Lord Steel had declared herself pro-independence. He tweeted: “Why is Lady Steel (apparently) pro-independence? Is he not master in his own house?” Presumably Fraser was joking, but Twitter users were less than impressed, with one remarking: “That line is like something straight out of the 1950s.”

Fraser’s words closely echo those of Austin Mitchell, Labour MP for Great Grimsby, who a few months ago launched a misogynistic online tirade against former Conservative MP Louise Mensch, tweeting: “Shut up Menschkin. A good wife doesn’t disagree with her master in public and a good little girl doesn’t lie about why she quit politics.” When accused of sexism, the politician acted as if the whole affair were a huge joke, later tweeting: “Has the all clear siren gone? Has the Menschivick bombardment stopped?” [Read more…]

“She whined”

I hope you enjoyed your break from the misogyny wars yesterday – I held off on commenting on the Ms piece in order to make it a real break – because the wars aren’t over yet.

I’m staggered by something I just read by Rod Liddle at the Spectator. I’ve been staggered by things Rod Liddle said before – way back in January 2010, for instance, and reposted here in October 2011.

And here I was fuming (or should I say bitching?) about sexist epithets and men who type thousands of words insisting that ‘stupid bitch’ is not sexist. Kind of puts it all in perspective. Except actually I think it’s (broadly speaking) all part of the same thing. I think both items are part of a broader culture in a lot of places that demeans women in a sexist way. I think the bizarro phenomenon of men who ought to know better verbally spewing on women whenever they feel like it is pretty much by definition part of a broader culture that demeans women in a sexist way. That’s why it shocks me that men give themselves permission to do that – it reveals that contempt for women is commonplace in areas where I would have thought it had gone out of fashion decades ago.

But no – apparently it’s still seen as hip and edgy and funny to treat women like dirt. Apparently sexism is being defined downwards so that it isn’t really sexism unless, I don’t know, it comes with a signed affidavit stating This Is Sexism. Rod Liddle apparently is of that school, unless he really didn’t post this on a Millwall fans’ website:

Stupid bitch. A year eight sociology lecture from someone who knows fck all. You could equally say that we were similar to any group which disliked a certain aspect of society, felt estranged from it but were sure we were right. The logical extension of her argument is that the status quo is always right, which is absurd, because if that were true nothing would change. Someone kick her in the cnt. [Read more…]

Thought for the morning

The Mellow Monkey (whose avatar is a butterfly, surely the sign of an outstanding sort of person) at Pharyngula:

There aren’t that many people who enjoy fighting for social justice. We’d prefer it to just be a given and be able to focus on other stuff, too. Want to know the best way to ensure we all can do that? Shut the assholes up and work towards justice with us. The less time we have to spend arguing about trifling shit and fighting to be recognized as equal and welcome, the more time we have to devote to everything else under the sun.

Some of us don’t have the privilege to just shrug and say we don’t care.

Really. Contrary to the people who like to shout that I’m an attention whore, I don’t want to talk about woman-hating woman-baiting bullshit all the time. I’d much rather talk about other things. But, oddly enough, there’s a little bunch of people who simply will not leave me alone, and will not leave several other women alone either. If people keep thrusting themselves between you and the keyboard (figuratively speaking) then you don’t really have the luxury of ignoring them.