The Proportion of Haters Remains the Same

I’ve been following the ongoing discussion of the ways jerks on the internet are especially vile to women. Like Digby had a commenter who once told her that she wrote a lot better before she “came out as a woman.” And I don’t think I’ll ever forget when one of the usual trolls at Post Politics told GoldnI that someone needed to teach her “a lesson.” I’ve been fairly lucky, I think. The problems I’ve had here have been very minor and I don’t really read the comments at Pith, so they could be as nasty as hell and I’d never know.

But one thing I’ve noticed is that all it takes is having a public platform. Period. A woman who write about staying home with her four children can attract assholes who then decide to spend their free time telling her how she’s been brainwashed by her “sky fairy” and how her children should be taken away from her and so on. A single woman with no kids can attract assholes who then decide to spend their free time dogging on her for how she’s unlovable. There literally is no “right” behavior that doesn’t result in assholes.

What’s interesting to me is that we, as women, are raised to be nice, to acquiesce, and to try to put ourselves in the position of the other person, and to assume either the best of that person or that we’ve provoked them somehow, or that they just can’t help it. We have been raised to not be bitches. And yet, not being a “bitch” doesn’t save you from abuse.

What’s more, people who aren’t skivvy assholes enjoy the company of people who are loud and opinionated and who know their own minds and do things they find fulfilling. So, it’s as if we’re being steered away from a really awesome, positive personality trait because it might make us “bitches” in the eyes of people who are always going to find something wrong with us anyway, without regard that it will make our lives more enjoyable to us if we can speak our minds.

But haters are always going to hate, as Kat Williams says, so why worry about whether and how we should acquiesce to them and instead worry about mitigating their damage. That’s why I love Alyssa Rosenberg’s of a “Threat of the Day,” which works especially well because, she’s right, it’s not just that they say it on a site as prominent as Think Progress, but that Google archives it. Pointing out that it’ll be around forever is as excellent a payback as I can think of.

6 thoughts on “The Proportion of Haters Remains the Same

  1. I’ve been super lucky that I’ve had no real threats against me, but I’m small beans as far as bloggers go. I don’t envy the big-name bloggers who seem to get as much hate mail as they do accolades.

  2. 0_o

    I had almost forgotten about that.

    Anyhow, what always freaks me out about these comments is the realization that these trolls would probably seem completely normal in real life. Their online identity is just some weird side of them.

  3. Yeah, I once had a guy say to me, in anger, “You’re just like you are on your blog.” Well, thank fucking god, you know? The people who can behave like they’re once step removed from Ted Bundy in some contexts and then be nice to you in another scare the shit out of me.

  4. One of my dear friends has a blogging-harassment story that would curl your hair, although I won’t retell it here and dig the whole mess up again. It’s a real problem. It escalates into real violence. And it reminds me of the depth of misogyny, how it goes all the way down into the bone like so many other mental poisons, until anything is acceptable so long as your target is right.

    Gives me the g-d creeps.

  5. Okay, in not-as-scary commenting, somebody just called me a “prune” for not appreciating a televised rape joke. I’m sure they meant “prude,” but “prune” has me giggling.

  6. Rachel, a prune? That is awesome.

    Lizbet, Ugh. Yeah. That’s the scary part. You get someone focused on you and the lengths they will and can go to are pretty terrifying.

    But again, I think it’s important to point out–this stuff happens to women just because. Once someone with that level of vitriol decides to focus on you, there’s nothing you can do to make them focus elsewhere.

    I was saying yesterday that, in a way, this reminds me of the whole “cover for date rapists” problem, where good men are taught that most date rape is just a matter of “mistake” or “bitches are crazy” and that any man could get himself into that position. But then, it turns out that date rape is an m.o. That these guys have multiple victims and that they choose those victims for their vulnerability. Most guys aren’t, in fact, ever going to “accidentally” date rape someone because they simply aren’t rapists. And if men could see that John Doe’s actual behavior, repeated over and over, they’d realize that it’s not something they themselves would do without realizing it.

    I think there’s something similar going on here with online harassment, and why it’s so valuable for women to give ongoing examples. Most men don’t know it exists at the level it does or they think that it’s something similar to what other men get or some of them worry that their own behavior might be misconstrued as being like this.

    When you can demonstrate over and over that it’s just this ongoing abuse, provoked by nothing more than you having a public platform, I think that’s really eye opening.

    It’s a fucked up thing society does to men to constantly encourage them to identify with the perpetrators of fucked-up-ness in order to allow the perpetrators cover. But we live in a digital age where it’s really possible to show them clearly what’s going on. That’s a good thing.

    Ugh, this is long. But I also wanted to link to Laurie Penny’s article that gets at a lot of this same stuff.

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