Some people like to refer to “misogyny” with those scare quotes; it doesn’t really exist, they imply, and it’s certainly not worth fighting against. Others go so far as to deny sexism against women at all — oh, it’s really the men who are discriminated against. But you don’t hear stories about men being harassed off the internet, as commonly occurs to women. There are people who work really hard at making the internet a hostile place for anyone who supports feminism.
Once a woman is singled out by a men’s rights group such as A Voice for Men, the misogynist Reddit forum The Red Pill or even just a right-wing Twitter account like Twitchy, she is deluged with hatred. The barrage, in addition to scaring its target, serves as a warning to onlookers. Jill Filipovic, a senior political writer covering feminist issues at Cosmopolitan, says she recently tried to persuade a friend to run for office. “There’s several reasons why I wouldn’t want to do it, but one of them is that I follow you on Twitter, and I see what people say to you. I could never deal with that,” the friend told her.
Many people can’t. Last year, abortion rights activist Lauren Rankin pulled back from writing online and, for the most part, from Twitter because the threats and insults were becoming so wearying. She continues to serve on the board of the reproductive rights nonprofit A Is For and faces off against antiabortion protesters as a volunteer clinic escort, but she no longer engages publicly. “I don’t like the idea that it seems like I was scared or intimidated away from the Internet,” she says. “But I think I’ve recentered why I do what I do, in ways that I can maintain my mental sanity. Unfortunately, that really doesn’t involve the Internet as much.”
I get a faint echo of the abuse women do, and I can testify that it’s wearing, draining, and exasperating. There really are people who spend all their time online in campaigns of harassment that target feminists, and especially feminist women, and worse, there are far more enablers who downplay the problem, who typically respond to the most hideous examples of hatred with the denier’s triad: “grow a thicker skin”, “Free Speech!”, and “That guy is mentally ill.”
Those are excuses ignore a major problem festering on the internet. That such an essential part of the modern technical life has become actively inimical to the participation of non-dudebros ought to be a huge issue, a major obstacle to getting diverse representation on an important medium. If nothing else, all of us white dudes ought to be concerned that we aren’t always going to be in charge — the demographic data in America runs very clearly in one direction, and it’s not in our favor — and we ought to be thinking seriously about mechanisms to protect the rights of minorities from suppression on the internet…because face it, boys, one day soon we will be them, and the traditions we build now will affect us in the future.
As if he has to make my case for me, Vox Day has spoken on that article. He thinks it is a good thing to drive women (that is, women who are not compliant and submissive to his will) off the internet, because they are all baby-killing Nazis.
#GamerGate has them on the run. They can’t take the heat. What they call "harassment" and "abuse" is seldom anything more than free speech answering free speech. They have a right to speak their piece, and we have a right to speak right back. We have a right to speak back with all of the contempt, disdain, and loathing that we feel for their insane and societally suicidal ideas.
Open up your hate and let it pour over them. Don’t think for even one nanosecond that they don’t deserve it every bit of the criticism, of the contempt, of the disdainful dismissal that overwhelms them. They are trying to destroy Western civilization. They are trying to destroy marriage and civil society. They are advocates of child murder. They are advocates of a philosophy that makes National Socialism look merciful and Communism practical and Fascism coherent by comparison. Do not hold back. Speak back twice as hard. Speak back until they fall silent.
Women are particularly susceptible to shame. So shame them relentlessly. Shame those who agree with them. Mock their white knights who rush in to save them. Above all, dignify their views and voices with all the respect you would show to a particularly noxious fart in an elevator.
Vox Day is not mentally ill. He’s just a hate-monger with a small following. But don’t think he’s totally irrelevant and marginal, because the one thing the internet has given him power to do is to scream in women’s faces, and to incite more bully-boys to do likewise. That matters. That is a problem. What are we going to do about it?
If you reply with a simplistic “Free Speech!”, I shall point you to Theodore Beale’s own words:
Speak back twice as hard. Speak back until they fall silent. There’s a conundrum for you — that free speech can be used silence other people’s speech. Give a maniac a bullhorn or a mob, and they can trample other people’s rights, and even make life miserable for them. Free speech is not a panacea. Sometimes you have to have ways to tell some people to sit down and shut up and give others a chance to speak, and sometimes you have to recognize that speech can be abused.
The other evasion used to shirk a responsibility to give everyone a fair chance is to throw the problem on to the victim’s shoulders. Toughen up. Grow a pair. We all agree that Theodore Beale is an obnoxious crank, we’re ignoring him, why can’t you? That’s easy to say when you’re not his target, or the target of ten thousand other Beales on the internet. He used a key word: relentless. A few people can be obsessive to the point of danger. No, one person cannot and should not have to bear that burden of focused hatred.
You cannot look at these interactions and be neutral. In one corner, Person A is screaming their contempt, urging one and all to mob Person B and hound them into silence. In the other corner, Person B is trying to write about their own experiences, explain their view of life, and ignore as best they can the lunatic who is calling them fascist Nazi Communists who wants to kill babies and destroy Western Civilization. Yet somehow there will be people who look on that scene and think A has every right to call down hellfire on B, and B is the guilty party who must adapt. They are the ones who shape the nature of the arena we all have to live within.
It is a lawless arena, apparently, where the winner is simply the one who can bellow the loudest. That isn’t a good thing.