So yesterday, I appeared (albeit very briefly) on TheStream on Al Jazeera English along with Helen Lewis of the New Statesman, social media researcher Alice Marwick, Skepchick blogger Rebecca Watson, and others. The topic: online misogyny and harassment of women. No sooner had the show ended than I ran across two perfect examples of precisely the sort of misogynistic harassment we’d just been talking about, courtesy of Reddit and Roosh.
First, Reddit. On Monday, Forbes columnist Kashmir Hill – female, beep boop! – wrote a piece mocking the notion (apparently widespread in some circles) that in these hyper-connected days people without Facebook accounts are a bit suspect. But part way along towards making her point she committed the terrible error of making the following not-to-be-taken-literally remark:
We’re “addicted” to our iPhones, and Facebook, and Twitter, and Android, and Pinterest, and iPads, and Word with Friends, and fill-in-the-blank-with-your-digital-dope-of-choice.
Not literally true, or meant to be taken as such, but a fairly commonplace observation.
Yet it managed to enrage one dude in a Reddit discussion of her piece, who offered this response (which I am hoping is also not to be taken literally):
To the writer: I’m not addicted to any of that, you stupid cunt.
Damn, this “article” is so full shit I’m seriously considering becoming a mass murderer.
This being Reddit, his comment got, last I checked, ONE THOUSAND EIGHT HUNDRED AND FIVE upvotes, and 727 downvotes, for a net score of 1071.
Never mind that the Forbes writer put “addiction” in ironic quotes. Never mind that she was suggesting it’s a bad idea to assume that anyone without a Facebook account is a psychopath.
None of that matters, because a dude on Reddit who obviously only skimmed the first paragraph of her piece decided she needed to be taken down a peg.
HOW DARE SHE MENTION PINTEREST I’M NOT ADDICTED TO THAT SHIT I ONLY SPEND MOST OF MY LIFE ON REDDIT POSTING DOZENS OF COMMENTS A DAY.
(Which the guy actually does, by the way.)
I doubt that many of the upvoters really had much of an opinion of the issues at hand; they were, I imagine, just happy for the chance to upvote some dude calling a woman on the internet a cunt.
Meanwhile, over on Blag Hag, skeptic blogger Jen McCreight found herself the target of a fellow we here at Man Boobz have been coming to know quite well: Roosh “When No Means Yes” Valizadeh, the, er, dating guru. McCreight, you see, recently took aim at a post of Roosh’s that argued, with the help of a little homemade chart, that educated women are “boner killers.”
His response to her takedown? A tweet with her picture attached to it and the question “would you date this girl?”
Naturally, that was all it took to unleash a this torrent of tweets from Roosh’s fans:
Other dudes popped into her comments section and offered more detailed assessments of what they saw as her deficiencies in the boner-inducing department. According to a fellow called Karl:
Your overall level of physical attractiveness (negative 10, if your photo is anything to go by) is enough to keep self-respecting, non-totally-desperate men away from you. Misogynistic or not. Your level of education has nothing to do with it.
Happily, McCreight has thick skin, and doesn’t particularly care that men she finds repugnant aren’t interested in dating her. But not everyone does.
As harassment goes, these aren’t even particularly egregious examples. This is just the sort of stuff that happens every single day to women on the internet who have the temerity to say things that some dude, or some dudes, don’t much like.
Ironically, I wrote about the same Roosh post more than a year ago. Yet none of his fans showed up in the comments here to tell me they wouldn’t date me.
Oh, sure, I get lots of shit from the MRAs of the world. Heck, after hearing about my Al Jazeera appearance, our old friend ThePigman had this to say about me on Reddit yesterday:
For the sake of those who will be watching i really hope Dave wears both his paper bag and a girdle.
But the thing is, I’ve written literally 800 posts about misogynist assholes like ThePigman and Roosh, and the worst thing they can think to say about me (aside from pointing out my weight) is that I’m a not a real man – that I’m a “mangina,” a “dickless wonder,” “such a girl,” “Little Ms. David.” (Those last three quotes are from some of the first truly nasty comments I got back on this blog shortly after starting it in 2010. ThePigman, with his talk of girdles, continues on in this fine tradition.)
As the case of Forbes’ Kashmir Hill and her Reddit detractors above makes clear, women can get even more violent responses after writing only a single sentence that somehow, even due to a gross misreading, pisses off some dude on the internet.