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Notes from a Triggerer: “Brutalizing women for not covering themselves” is a “methodology” that works

Human beings don't actually work like steam whistles
Human beings don’t actually work like steam whistles

My recent posts on #TheTriggering drew more than a few Triggerers to We Hunted the Mammoth, and to the comments here. I let most of the comments the Triggerers posted through moderation, in part just to show how ridiculous they were. But there were some others I didn’t let through, for an assortment of reasons.

But I do think it’s worth talking about some of the horrendous stuff that online abuse campaigns like #TheTriggering stir up.

Here’s one from a rather foul-mouthed fellow; I had to censor it so much that it now reads like an obscene mad-lib.

Howdy all of you fläming [homophobic slur, plural]. Welcome to #TheTriggering. Hope all of you [different homophobic slur, plural] take the [still another homophobic slur] [naughty body part] out of your mouths long enough to gasp in outrage!

Oh, you wish.

There are only two genders! There are no real lesbians!

Wait, what? You mean we paid good money for supposedly genuine lesbians, but were given cheap lesbian knockoffs instead?

Down with gye matriarchy! Equal rights for all means women should have their prison sentences increased 2-4x to equal their crimes out to men!

Well, there is a bit of a sentencing disparity, but men convicted of crimes don’t get sentences that are double (much less four times) those received by women with similar criminal backgrounds convicted of similar crimes.

I’m not even going to ask what “gye matriarchy” is.

But this comment, for all of its nastiness, is nothing compared to the lovely missive I got from someone calling himself Travis, possibly a reference to Taxi Driver’s Travis Bickle, a creepy, violent, and thankfully fictional fellow obsessed with, er, cleansing the world of those he sees as degenerates.

“Travis” begins by reporting that

I’m always getting triggered – not by conventional trolls but by things like attractive girls that get tattoos, the sight of obese people, the homeless, homosexual waiters, public housing projects, pictures of destitute Arab Muslims storming into Europe… I’ve just never thought of it as being ‘triggered’ – I’ve always used the words ‘disgusted’ or ‘enraged’.

Yeah, that’s not what being “triggered” means. What you’re describing is your own bigotry, and your rather creepily possessive attitude towards women’s bodies.

[I]n Iran in the early 1980’s the Revolutionary Guards would brutalize women for not covering themselves. I’m no more for this attitude towards fashion than I am for Hitler’s attitude towards the Jews, but the methodology worked and we should find it inspiring.

What the hell, dude. Really?

However, we have our careers and the law to worry about in a world where our peers have accepted the degenerate liberal zeitgeist that Hoellebecq has so aptly lamented, so attacking the SJWs on the internet anonymously is a great way to blow off steam.

Well, posting ridiculous offensive crap on Twitter is certainly a better alternative than, you know, brutalizing women for what they’re wearing, but that bit about blowing off steam? I don’t buy it.

I used to believe that “blowing off steam” was a real thing. That is, that one could purge oneself of anger and hatred and so forth by letting it out in a “safe” way. Obviously. the idea of “catharsis” is a pretty ancient one. But I’m not sure any more that it’s an actual thing.

And I definitely don’t think it’s a thing when it comes to campaigns of online abuse like #GamerGate or #TheTriggering. Far from purging anger and hatred, it seems to amplify it. Things like #TheTriggering cause participants to wallow in their screwed-up emotions, not to free themselves of them. They end up more angry and hateful, not less.

And despite the claim that these guys are just “trolling,” it seems pretty clear that their anger and hatred are all too real. Do either of the Triggerers I’ve quoted today literally believe every offensive word they wrote? I don’t know, though Travis’ mention of Michel Houellebecq, a reactionary, racist novelist who’s become something of an icon on the so-called alt right, suggests that he’s steeped in this kind of hate.

Even if “blowing off steam” did work as advertised, online abuse — or even the sort of “trolling” that somehow ends up looking and functioning exactly the same as”real” abuse — is hardly a “safe” way to get those bad emotions out, because it is in itself (obviously) a form of abuse. It’s not like punching a punching bag, because in this case the punching bags are real people. Online abuse is intended to hurt people, and it does, even if the abuser claims to be “just trolling.”

#TheTriggering may have been more risible than most of the harassment campaigns we’ve seen of late; it even came with its own trigger warning, in the form of the hashtag itself. But there’s nothing cathartic about it. It’s just a giant exercise in public douchebaggery.

EDITED TO ADD: And here is the relevant Clickhole article, “Huge Relief: This Student Thought He Was Being Bullied For Years But The Other Kid Was Just Joking Around.”

(Clickhole is a spinoff of The Onion, so this is essentially the relevant Onion article.)

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Lea
Lea
6 years ago

“How dare abused people not take my abuse! I like hurting them! Misandry! Cencorship!”

The target these alpha males chose are essentially rape survivors and people standing up with them. That isn’t an accident. There is a reason they want that population silenced.

Lea
Lea
6 years ago

You have to ask, “Why?”
Why is it wounded women insisting on respect they want to lash out at?

They want to trigger ptsd in women especially and also happen to like rape jokes…like alot.

What is it they stand to lose by those survivors having a voice?

Lea
Lea
6 years ago

I bet 1 in 10 men like rape jokes and hate trigger warnings for the same reason 1 in 4 women, at least, are triggered.

AJ from GA
AJ from GA
6 years ago

I know this isn’t adding much to the discussion, but just as an anecdote, blowing off steam works pretty well for me. I just do it in ways that don’t affect other people (or any other living thing).

I do things like play high-intensity video games, going for a difficult session of sprints or working out, listening to intense music in my home, etc. It’s the huge buildup followed by relaxation that does it for me. I don’t know. Everyone’s different.

DepressedCNS
DepressedCNS
6 years ago

How you lean to blow of steam is important. It’s a habit you have to develop. If you learn to relax by inflicting pain on others (which apparently can work), inflicting pain on others will have the reward of relaxing you, making you more likely to inflict pain on others to relax. Taking care to blow off steam in a healthy way like exercise is completely different.

That’s why researchers say catharsis is unhealthy; you explode in anger and then feel better, thus making you more likely to explode in anger in the future when you feel upset, for the purpose of feeling better. It’s not that it doesn’t work it’s that it can be an unhealthy habit to get in to.

AJ from GA
AJ from GA
6 years ago

That’s a great point. And the methods I use aren’t really about exploding in anger at all, just high-intensity. Getting “pumped up” as it were. (I guess that’s “turnt” today? I don’t know. I’m old.)

Palmedfire
Palmedfire
6 years ago

@AJ from GA

See, to me that sounds more like distraction than really blowing off steam. You actively engage in something to take your mind off of what pissed you off. That’s far more constructive.

I’m one of those people who can really dwell on something that upsets me, and sometimes I do need to talk it out, usually with my wife, but that’s mostly to just make sure that my thoughts about whatever it is makes sense, and sometimes to get a little validation that I am right to be upset. But if I really want to get over being angry or upset or whatever, I know I have to force myself to get involved in something else that will catch my attention.

Dr. NicolaLuna
Dr. NicolaLuna
6 years ago

On another note, John Boyega just got even better at annoying anti feminists.

http://m.mic.com/articles/137433/star-wars-actor-john-boyega-shut-down-online-sexists-who-wanted-a-day-for-men#.K8cA5JWCB

No doubt the word “cuck” is being used somewhere about this article.

AJ from GA
AJ from GA
6 years ago

@Palmedfire True. I was possibly using the phrase incorrectly. Thanks for your post!

Kat
Kat
6 years ago

@abars01

You know, on one hand, I am terrified that Trump will win. On the other hand, I am equally terrified as to how these people are going to react if a woman or a Jewish socialist wins.

I feel the same way.

They’re abusers. And they like keeping others down. We’re all supposed to go along to get along. Which kinda, sorta keeps the peace (but not really, because they’ll still go off on you).

But when someone really pushes the issue–in this case, why shouldn’t a woman or a Jewish person or a socialist or some combination thereof be president?–the you-know-what really could hit the fan.

On the other hand, if a significant percentage of the US populace says, No, you can’t get away with that, most of these abusers will back down. But it does take political will.

Paradoxical Intention - Resident Cheeseburger Slut

Gods and Goddesses bless John Boyega. He’s not the hero we deserve, but the hero we need.

@AJ from GA: I try to distract myself from my rage as well by playing video games. Viscera Cleanup Detail is oddly relaxing, and a round of Left 4 Dead single player can really help as well.

Of course, I also want to try to take up needle-felting as an “anti-rage” activity. Because there’s something soothing about stabbing felt with barbed needles for hours on end and ending up with something adorable to show for it.

Social Justice Atheist
Social Justice Atheist
6 years ago

Yep, I find it very helpful to do things I enjoy like playing video games, drawing, or even just going for a walk/run when I’m stressed or very angry. It helps me to process my feelings instead of exploding in rage. But that’s when I am angry about something trivial. If I am angry at another person, (for a good reason, such as they did something that hurt me or someone I care about) I will usually try and talk it out. It feels much better to work things out with the person I’m angry at, if there is one, than continue to let those feelings stew.

It’s perfectly okay to be angry if it is justified, and expressing it in a non-violent way is healthy. Even venting can be okay sometimes, as long as you are not actually being a dick to people. Justified AKA if someone actually did something to you or something actually happened to you or someone close to you was wronged or there was yet another shooting/tragedy/act of violence in the news. Or if Donald Trump gets elected president, that would be a damn good reason to be angry IMO. But just getting angry over random people for simply existing and trying to blow off steam by yelling on the internet at no particular person will do no good for anyone. Not even the troll, in the long run. The rage will just build and build until they possibly commit acts of violence in meatspace, because trolling on the internet is no longer enough to contain the built-up rage. That’s scary.

msexceptiontotherule
msexceptiontotherule
6 years ago

I am hurting in places I didn’t even know was possible right now, my knuckles are cut up, bloody and so are random other cuts – when did my furniture get so sharp?! And my computer apparently bites when the cords/cables/connectors are detangled for reinsertion. Gah!!

AsAboveSoBelow
AsAboveSoBelow
6 years ago

There are no real lesbians!

Have they secretly been replaced with Folgers crystals? (Yeah, I’m old).

Bryce
Bryce
6 years ago

The kind of sentiment Trump is whipping up is disturbing, but I can’t imagine Hillary or Sanders being any more rage inducing as a far as neo-fascists are concerned than an African-American “radical Muslim socialist”.

Saphira
Saphira
6 years ago

In the past trolling used to be a lot more innocent.

I think because “troll” seems to have such a wide definition that some kinds of trolling can be seen as merely annoying and somewhat innocent compared to the misogynists, racists, homophobes, and islamophobes out there.

For example, I used to own guinea pigs and participate on a guinea pig forum. Occasionally some fifteen-year-old idiot would decide to amuse himself (they were invariably male and under eighteen) by running in, posting “I hate guinea pigs!” then watching the responses flood in.

Annoying? Yes. Harmful to the world at large? Not really, unless over the years that childish idiot graduated from posting mildly annoying stuff on a pet forum to spewing discriminatory garbage on some we’re-better-than-you-type website. But those bringers of small annoyances were still referred to as trolls.

Maybe “troll” should be reserved for those who choose to cause big problems instead?

m_wa
m_wa
6 years ago

“equivocate” :: ww

Grey
6 years ago

I’ll have to hunt around for the studies again, but I read relatively recently that letting off steam, or venting, or whatever slang suits you doesn’t actually work. Especially in cases of, say, taking it out on a punching bag – you essentially form an association between extremes of emotion and violence, which means your immediate response or primary means of expressing those emotions is, surprise surprise, violence. Or being a bellend on the internet, as the case may be.

Or at least, immediate venting has that effect. I was lead to understand that allowing the emotion to pass and engaging in physical exercise as a purgative once your mind is clear is actually reasonably healthy.

msexceptiontotherule
msexceptiontotherule
6 years ago

I’m feeling guilty of being a not-so-nice daughter because my dad is super allergic to guinea pigs and for some reason that made me desperately want to have a guinea pig as a pet, but settled for playing with the guinea pigs of others and brought home their fur on my clothes which of course led to my dad’s allergy being triggered. 😛

But trolls assume a different tactic/form according to where they’re trolling; on a gossip blog they talk politics – the more obnoxious the better in their mind though I’ve heard of a couple very dedicated-in-a-twisted-way-types who endlessly create new ‘personas’ but ultimately reveal themselves as the same one from before and have an obsession with trying to find a way to upset other blog readers using info they collect from things a person says/mentions about their focus-du-jour(s) life and have been doing this nonsense for *years* without a payoff of upsetting the current target(s); here they try to do the gotchas, never heed the comments policy and get mad when they’re called on it, and generally try to get others to do the work/provide info/google shit for them but still argue when information and arguments have been supplied because they don’t like whatever it is, since it’s usually the complete antithesis of what they have convinced themselves is the truth. On MSM sites they decide whether it’s liberal or conservative and whichever one it is deemed they argue from the opposite position. Maybe the common thread is that all trolls have far too much time on their hands? 😛

Kat
Kat
6 years ago

@msexceptiontotherule

Maybe the common thread is that all trolls have far too much time on their hands?

For sure.

Another common thread: they’re mean jerks.

msexceptiontotherule
msexceptiontotherule
6 years ago

@Kat

And dissatisfied with their life thus they go around being mean jerks because they want *everyone* to be just as miserable.

ianh
ianh
6 years ago

“There are no real lesbians!”

I know although “lesbians” lacks the actual details involved so i prefer the more accurate description of “WOMEN WHO HAVE NOT MET ME YET”

😀

Binjabreel
6 years ago

I don’t think “trolling used to be less bad”, but I do think that once upon a time trolling was like the Guinea pig example- people online, talking about (oh, say) Kirk vs Picard, and the point of the troll was to try and get the people engaged in this meaningless debate to get angry enough to realize “ah, shit, I’m feeling blood-vomiting rage over a television show, what’s wrong with me?”

Now that people actually talk about important shit on the Internet, it’s morphed into this disgusting “hah! You actually care about a thing!” bullshit.

It was still hateful, sure, but at least it was hateful with a sort of weird Zen-ness behind it. Now it’s just more bullshit propping up the status quo.

sparkalipoo
sparkalipoo
6 years ago

@Ashara Payne

I have HUGE problems with our looks obsessed culture (and how some social media seems to amplify that) but I don’t get getting mad a specific people, such as Kim Kardashian, because I feel like there’s kind of a collective responsibility for people like that, like if we lived in a less image obsessed capitalistic society either someone like Kim Kardashian wouldn’t exist or wouldn’t be able to gain the fame and wealth that Kim Kardashian has and I feel like if the only thing different about our world was that the Kardashian family didn’t exist, there would be someone else doing the same thing for the same reason

also, the Kardashians are way less annoying then the people who click on articles about the Kardashians on Buzzfeed to complain about how Buzzfeed writes articles about Buzzfeed (and people who don’t get that Buzzfeed is not a serious news source)

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