My Facebook feed this morning provided a link to a Washington Post opinion piece by Michelle Goldberg that laments the fact that “while digital media has amplified feminist voices, it has also extracted a steep psychic price. Women, urged to tell their stories, are being ferociously punished when they do.”
That punishment, for feminist women writers, regularly includes threats of rape and/or murder. Not surprisingly, much of the criticism they get is for how they look, rather than for their ideas. “Some,” Goldberg notes, “particularly women who have the audacity to criticize sexism in the video-game world — have been driven from their homes or forced to cancel public appearances. Fake ads soliciting rough sex have been placed in their names. And, of course, the Twitter harassment never stops.”
Many people seemingly can’t resist proving the very point they oppose, so about half of the first several Facebook comments simply reinforced — often with sexist, obnoxious language — the idea that many men can’t deal with feminism. (Many of those same guys seem incapable of coherent thoughts, let alone coherent sentences).
I then commented, “And… the comment parade of sexist male idiots has begun. Guys, you’re not helping.” The negative responses to my comment (tempered by many positive comments and more than 120 “likes,” thus far), were as predictable as they were pitiful. I’ve copied and pasted some if them below (as written, to avoid have to use “sic” repeatedly to signify that the error was in the original).
“James, have a vaGUYna much?” [Thanks for the title, Eric, though I’ll twist the meaning a bit below.]
“Who want’s to help anyway? Sexist feminists?”
“Go sit on the toilet when you pee, okay?”
“A tamed white knight appears.”
“I’m for women’s rights I just don’t like women whining about how tough it is. Really?! I thought you could roar? I guess not.”
“Most men do not spend a lot of time worrying about feminism, but when they do they realize that feminist extremists have taken feminism beyond reasonable expectations.”
“feminism makes women look like mentally unstable lesbians and you even have feminist leaders talking about a male holocaust… and these people who talked about the male holocaust teach their literature in gender studies classes…”
“‘Feminism’ is sponsored by the ones oppressing women. Boom” [Whatever the hell that means.]
“Go wear a burka, get a forced marriage and get some real problems.”
“These idiots over here that pass for strong women couldn’t handle a days hardship that most third world women have to face on a daily basis. These feminists first world problems pale in comparison to the real problems of women the world over.” Because apparently death threats aren’t “real problems” for
“Feminist be like ‘I got PTSD from someone disagreeing with me!!'”
“You assume all anti feminists are male. James, YOUR not helping you sexist male idiot.”
“feminist concept of a man helping women achieving social justice = ‘whatever you say is right my feminist goddess. I am ashamed of being a man and display natural manly behaviours. I’ll be your personal dog and attack every primitive barbaric male who dares doing or saying something that bothers your highness, meanwhile losing touch with manly friendships, my masculinity and those women out there who are actually looking for a man, and not a castrated politically brainwashed creature.’ NO THANKS”
“I don’t know anyone who doesn’t support equality, but I do know many people tired of benevolent (what these ‘guys who speak in support of equality’ are) sexism, as well as the malevolent sexism that is waning towards woman and increasing towards men.”
“Male feminists may actually be the worse, because in their benevolent sexism, they start threatening men and women who disagree with the constant demonization of men.”
“how can you say that being sexist makes you an idiot? are you the ideological fountain of the universe you male betrayer” For that one, I responded simply, “I said nothing about causation, Jimmy — simply pointing out what is in this case correlation.”
The comments directed at me, of course, are very mild compared to some of those aimed at women on both the Facebook page and on the article:
“If a threat has no bearing on reality then it doesnt matter what the threat is. Sorry, but you feminists are just so fragile. Words can’t hurt you.”[For the record, that comment did not come from Anthony Elonis.]
“Feminist writers only care about themselves and making money off of womens issues but don’t help women at all! Feminist have done more damage than good! Look at the U.S. military they have allowed sexual assaults to go on for decades and have ignored it!” [And no, I can’t figure out what the last sentence had to do with either the first two sentences in the comment or the article.]
“If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.” [But of course many of these folks think women should stay in the kitchen, except when they’re in the bedroom, shopping for groceries, or cleaning other rooms in the house.]
“They sound like quitters that can’t handle criticism. I have also noticed that a lot of what falls under feminism isn’t really feminism at all, but comes off more as a defensive, man-hating agenda.”
“Well, some feminist deserve it. The elitist ones, but the ones who genuinely want equality, dont deserve it” [Remember, this is about threats of rape and murder.]
“Here i thought the message of feminism was ‘look at how awesome and powerful i am sans men….’ but a few internet comments are giving them emotional distress?? Sounds like gas. Take some Maalox and deal with your actions, sweetheart.”
“….and they have only themselves to blame.” [Again, this is about threats of rape and murder.]
For me, one of the most noteworthy aspects of the attacks is that almost all of them come from men engaging in “mansplaining” — or what might justifiably be termed “VaGUYna monologues.” Speaking of women’s bodies, of course, most of those who make laws regarding abortion also are men.
Naturally some folks pointed out that many women also oppose what they understand to be feminism (and many oppose abortion, as well), while also arguing that men are also threatened. (Hey, I get that.)
But even if the abuse were anywhere close to equal, I fail to see how abuse of one group justifies abuse of another. And as for the argument about how “some women” feel, so what? Just as no feminist I know would argue that every man is evil, none would argue that women can’t also be ignorant. For example, here’s how “Jeanne” responded to my Facebook comment:
“Sad that I stood picket with my Mom at age 11, I am now 58, for equal pay at a factory where she worked. I wouldn’t wipe my butt on so-called feminists of today. Make me sick. Equal rights does not mean more rights. Grow up. Not all men are predators. Funny how loudly many of these women protest, however, I’ll wager most of them have read those abusive books, ’50 Shades of Gray,’ and are now either breathlessly watching the stupid movie or planning a ’50 Shades of Gray,’ party, or planning a ‘Girl’s’ night out to go see the crap. Shut up.”
First, while the abominable 50 Shades of Grey was weirdly popular, I suspect Jeanne would lose her bet about how many feminists chose to read/watch it. Second, there was nothing in the Post article or my comment asking for “more rights” vs. “equal rights.” Third, no one claimed that “all men are predators.” And finally, though “Mom” may have picketed for equal pay almost 50 years ago, she probably didn’t get it — despite the best efforts of feminists whom her daughter now denigrates.