Well, that was … instructive. The Twitter hashtag extravaganza that is #mencallmethings is still going strong. But I think at this point it’s safe to say that it has basically served it’s purpose: to highlight the obnoxious, obscene, often threatening misogynist shit that women who express their opinions about almost anything on the internet get in their inboxes or in comments online on a regular basis. Women with feminist blogs who actually call out this kind of misogyny get this sort of abuse basically every day.
Sady Doyle of Tiger Beatdown, who started up this hashtag campaign, explained in an eloquent and angry blog post why she did it: to point out how absolutely routine this sort of shit is. When she started her blog, she really hadn’t anticipated the sheer volume of vicious shit she’d get:
I got targeted. With threats, with insults, with smear campaigns, with attempts to threaten my employment or credibility or just general ability to get through the day with a healthy attitude and a minimal amount of insult.
The intent of all this abuse is simple: to intimidate. When someone says to a woman online “I hope you get raped with a chainsaw,” the point is to get her to shut up. The person who posts this sort of violent shit, Doyle notes,
hopes that the next time you sit down to write, you’ll remember that yikesy chainsaw-rape thing and think, “you know? Maybe this isn’t such a great idea. Maybe I don’t need to say this. Maybe I’ll piss someone off, and maybe it will be more than I can handle, and you know, maybe my thoughts on this topic just ARE NOT IMPORTANT ENOUGH for me to risk the headache/fear/irritation/distress/panic attack I know I will get.”
And then, when you say that aloud, they call you a whiny little girl who can’t handle the Internet. Because, of COURSE multiple chainsaw-rape comments aren’t a big deal! They’re just words! Sticks and stones! …
To you, my friends, I say: Fuck that noise. All of this matters. A hostile work environment matters. Being afraid of your own in-box matters. Deleting your blog because that’s the only way for you to have a normal, non-hate-filled life matters. “Accepting” that continual, virulent, hateful misogynist abuse is a pre-condition for being a lady who talks about thing, or for challenging sexism in any way, no matter who you are: That matters. And if you think we’re fragile, well. LET US COUNT THE WAYS we have hacked it, under conditions your pampered manly self just cannot imagine. LET US DEMONSTRATE FOR YOU the shit we wade through, every day, in order to talk about whether or not we liked that one “Community” episode or Lady GaGa album.
Naturally, critics of the whole hashtag campaign have done their best to minimize and dismiss this sort of routine harassment in exactly the ways that Doyle predicted they would.
The charming Ferdinand Bardamu of In Mala Fide responded to #mencallmethings with a bunch of obnoxious comments that conveniently proved basically every point Sady Doyle was trying to make with the hashtag in the first place. He started off with this bit of rapier wit:
He followed this up with a clumsy fat joke:
He continued on in this vein for awhile, so proud of his insightful critiques that he made a blog post about it.
Encouraged by Bardamu’s example, blogger PMAFT (Pro-Male/Anti-Feminist Technology) announced a #MenCallMeThings Trolling Contest. The highlight of his own contributions to this contest:
Over on Reddit’s Men’s Rights subreddit, c0mputar offered slightly more coherent, if equally misguided, response.
The reality is that most of the “misogyny” they face is just criticism to their feminist viewpoints. I see this a lot when I confront feminists arguments, present my arguments, and get called a misogynist, amongst other things characterized by misandry. It happens on both sides …
Really now? Here are some actual examples of comments posted on #mencallmethings (taken from a comment from Shaenon in the discussion here).
here’s some to start: ‘I’ll rape your mum, faggot fuck’ “I’ll come to your house and kill you”
#mencallmethings, impersonate me on FB, & make disgusting sexual comments, post my name & # when I helped organize Slutwalk
cunt, whore, ugly, disgusting, cold, feminazi, shut the fuck up bitch, manipulative, crazy, playing the victim, sociopath
Bitch, whore, being sensitive, little girl, dumb, subject of jokes involving physical and sexual assault.
Any variation on fat and/or ugly at this point just makes me yawn.
I’ve had so many emails and messages telling me I deserve a beating, I don’t even keep track any longer.
“13? Judging by the size of your titties, I’d of thought you were 18.”
(censored version) If you keep talking the way you do, you deserved to get raped.
My #mencallmethings moment – receiving an email consisting of 1600 lines plus of the same insult over and over. My crime? Being fat.
I’ve had so many guys tell me how good I must be in bed because I’m fat and therefor will do anyone
I usually get ‘sweetheart’ just before they dismiss my argument as being ‘stupid’. No counter argument.
Will not repeat the violence that’s been directed at me but this one made me laugh “Blubbering self-important herd animal.”
apparently I’m a lesbian… I was unaware until #mencallmethings.
I’M ON ANTI-DEPRESSANTS AND I CANT EVEN JERK OFF CORRECTLY NOW & ITS BECAUSE OF WOMEN SO FUCK ALL YOU INFERIOR COWS
“You should have your tongue ripped out.”
I get sent one rape threat a month on average.
I was once told “get back in the kitchen you ugly bitch” for posting on a Linux board (can’t remember which one now)
Have you ever wanted someone to tell you that your genetalia should be stapled shut with bugs inside, start a blog
How about being choked to death during a forced blowjob? Start a feminist blog.
Not worth the effort to murder: the most recent example of what I had to delete off the blog when #mencallmethings
C0mputar, in his Reddit post, went on to offer another argument that seems to be a favorite of those trying to trivialize the abuse catalogued by the contributors to #mencallmethings:
In the end, veterans of the internet know there is no protected demographic. Everyone gets shit on, but if you make a point of belonging with a group, you get shit on even more, and more so the smaller you are. You know who gets shit on more than feminists? MRAs.
Really? Some MRA types on Twitter tried to get a rival hashtag going: #womencallmethings. Needless to say, they didn’t have much to work with.
One Man Boobz non-fan — whom I banned for his repeated comments about anal rape — tried to post a sarcastic little comment here last night dismissing #mencallmethings on similar grounds. Here’s a screenshot from my wordpress account, with his identifying data erased:
Let’s just, for contrast, take a look at the previous comment he tried to post here:
Ironically, though I’m pretty thoroughly disliked across the manosphere, I actually get a lot less of this sort of abuse than most reasonably well-known feminist bloggers who happen to be non-dudes. Oh, sure, I get called a “traitor” and a “mangina,” and once in a while someone points out that I’m, you know, fat, but when it comes to the really nasty shit, the abusive commenters and emailers seem to much prefer going after women. This may be because they are misogynistic assholes. That’s just a theory, though.