Archive for Articles about online misogyny and abuse

Men’s Fragile Egos: Harassing Women Who Dare to Criticise Them

In a number of posts we have had cause to highlight how the fans of a well-known man, or popular (male) internet social media user undertake large-scale harassment campaigns against women who have questioned or criticised their hero. This action is often preceded by one or more pronouncements from the man in question in which he acts out his disapproval of this woman on-line in what looks like a bid to rebuild his fragile ego by seeking the approval of his fanbase. Then in passing, he often also tacitly (or explicitly) encourages his followers to harass the women in question. The aim appears to be to silence the critical voice by inundating her Twitter feed (her email inbox, her blog, the comments on her You Tube Channel and sometimes even her telephone line) with their sycophants’ expressions of ridicule and insults.

In the most extreme cases, such targeting also results in serious off-line harassment -including hoax tip offs to the police so they may storm the target’s home (swatting) and bomb threats to venues where they are speaking- and appears designed to force the woman into hiding. Prominent victims of this kind of harassment are the women targeted by the so called “Gamergate” movement, which derives from the on-line vendetta of one man against his ex girlfriend. Other women, like Jennifer Keller, who case we also have reported on recently, have their businesses targeted and their livelihoods put at risk by harassers who are outraged that she criticised the host of a misogynist You Tube channel.

Kate Smurthwaite, a British comedian, asked a male guest on the BBC Show Question Time, not to call another panelist “darling”. The panelist, a single mother, had been describing her experiences of discrimination.

This reasonable request. It’s hardly an acceptable form of address in a serious political programme. Moreover, it’s patronising and rude. Using this term has a clear sexist overtone in a public context such as this: men often use words like darling, babe, doll etc., commonly used between couples when addressing women they have no social relationship with as a means of demeaning the addressee. The intentional over-familiarity appears to be a manner by which men like to avoid granting women equal status (and more obviously, equal respect) that they would automatically use if they were conversing with another man. Men don’t call other men they are not in a relationship with “darling”, “sweetheart” or “babe” with any regularity, if ever. You will only hear them use (some of) these terms of endearment towards their own (small) male children.

Twitter fans of the male panelist in question –journalist Milo Yiannopoulus (who we have had reason to blog about before)- found Ms. Smurthwaite’s request offensive in the extreme. For the next two days, they -aided and abetted by Mr. Yiannopoulos- bombarded her Twitter feed with objections and criticism of her actions, in the best of cases. And with insults, ridicule, threats and harassment in the worst.

The following is a small selection of the tweets Ms. Smurthwaite received. I have ordered them thematically with the aim of showing how this kind of internet harassment works.

The first batch show how Mr. Yiannopoulos tweets a number of disparaging comments about Ms. Smurthwaite over the course of three days. It contains one of the most regular tactics of the internet harasser: the revision of Ms. Smurthwaite’s social media and internet presence with the objective of finding material with which to attack her. In this case, it is a reference to a show that she had been booked to play at Goldsmith’s.

The gig was not cancelled due to low ticket sales. The number mentioned by this article and by Mr. Yiannopoulus were those sold on-line. As Ms. Smurthwaite’s blog shows, it was cancelled because the organisers were intimidated by protestors who objected to her feminist opinions.

Here is how he replies to Ms. Smurthwaite’s complaint about the abuse she is receiving from what appears to be people who follow him. As can been seen in later shots, these usually include both his (@Nero) and Ms. Smurthwaite’s (@Cruella) Twitter user name in the tweets they make on the subject.

These comments are in reference to the tweet about her cancelled show. Mr. Yiannopoulus could have taken the opportunity to apologise for his statement. Instead, he chooses to repeat it to others and to suggest that Ms. Smurthwaite is the one bending the truth to her own aims.

Next are the tweets from 15-17 March 2015 from people replying to Mr. Yiannopoulos tweets about Ms. Smurthwaite. As you can see, this contains the depressingly reoccurring tropes we have highlighted repeatedly on this blog:

1. Death wishes:

Death

2. Feminists are men dressed up as women:

Ape

3. Feminists are just women in need of a man (to subdue and dominate them via the sexual act).

 

Misogyny 1

 

4. Same as above, with the caveat that the lack of a man is because they are unattractive. Another variation being they are old, bitter about being single and childless (because obviously only women’s worth and happiness only depend on men and children).

Imagen 25

Imagen 20

Insults 5

Noone wants you

5. Claims that the insults are not “sexist” whilst, of course, often employing language that suggests they are (“moaning women” etc.)

Imagen 8

Awful personality

Fish wifw

General 5

General 6

Victim blaming

When in doubt throw a tantrum

 

6. The celebration of the idea that the woman has been put in her place (violently) by a man:

Brutally gorgeous
Calm down 3

Imagen 23

You got wrecked

Victim blaming

7. She is over-reacting, she needs to get a thicker skin and not be so hysterical:

Calm down

Calm down sugar
Insult 2
Hateful & emotionally unbalanced Grow a thicker skin

Imagen 39

 

Over estimate

 

Minimising

Imagen 33

 

Banter

 

And finally, we have the gloating of tweeters in response to Ms. Smurthwaite’s distress and the call to continue.

Please do note here the reference to other women who have been targeted and the implication that the treatment of Ms. Smurthwaite is not unique.

Ref to other victim

Teach some hmour

Gloating
Thorn in her side



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As ever we extend our solidarity to Ms. Smurthwaite and all those women being harassed and abused on line.

Misogyny and the ‘go die in a fire meme’

This was first published on our blog on February 16, 2014. We republish it here taken from the Internet Archive Way Back Machine.

 

We have been forwarded a number of highly disturbing tweets this week wishing ‘death by fire’ as a means of silencing, threatening and intimidating women with whom they are in disagreement.

We totally condemn this misogynistic behaviour along with all other forms of misogyny and violence against women. We share the thoughts of our sister Louise Pennington who has written about this here.

We offer our solidarity to all women who have been on the receiving end of these vicious attacks as well as to Louise’s sister and family after their traumatic ordeal which they are still going through.

Furthermore, we do not condone deliberate misgendering.  If you have any questions about our policies or ethos, please refer to our mission statement.

#EOM

How Dare You Be Offended! It’s Just a Joke

This post was first published on our blog on February 26, 2014. It has been rescued and republished thanks to the Internet Archive Way Back Machine

I am sure someone who actually knows something about English language culture can tell me who Pérez Hilton is. For now, I am just going to file him under “self-righteous misogynist”.

He made this comment:

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As a “joke”. Because referencing a racist misogynous stereotype is hilarious.

And when people -and by that I mean women of colour- complained, his response was so typically misogynous it could serve as a manual:

1. It was a compliment; how dare you take offence?

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2. I get to decide what’s complementary not you hysterical women:

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3. Don’t like it? Take a mouthful of my “manhood”. That’ll shut you up.

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4. Because pleasing men sexually is the only way women could possibly be powerful. And did I say shut up?

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5. And anyway, my penis is huge.

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6. Repeat the “joke” in order to capitalise on the offence caused and, above all, to make sure everyone knows how unimportant he considers the feelings of the women of colour to be:

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Yes. All hilariously funny gags on misogyny and racism. Perhaps he would be better sticking to making them about his personal situation seeing as his ability to satirise that of others is about zero.

Solidarity with Connie St. Louis

Reactions to Sir Tim Hunt‘s controversial comments about women’s role in science continue to illustrate how misogynists dislike to be held to account for their prejudice.

Hunt said: “Let me tell you about my trouble with girls. You fall in love with them, they fall in love with you, and when you criticise them they cry”. Although he has since declared he was joking, the three people who initially reported on the story after hearing him speak insist that he spoke in earnest.

 

 

Whether Hunt was joking or not is beside the point. As Hilda Bastion has already demonstrated, his remarks are equally offensive when framed as “humour”  .

In a 2004 review of empirical research, Thomas Ford and Mark Ferguson[PDF] point out:

Disparagement humor (e.g., racist or sexist humor) is humor that denigrates, belittles, or maligns an individual or social group…[P]eople have become less willing to allow joke tellers “moral amnesty” for their derision of social out-groups through humor.

Sexist and other discriminatory disparaging humor takes a code for granted: its funniness relies on people recognizing the stereotypes that are the basis for the joke. It asks us to not take discriminatory stereotyping seriously. That’s not going to take the sting out of it.

Ford and Ferguson concluded that jokes don’t create hostility to the outgroup where it doesn’t already exist. But the evidence, they said, showed that joking reinforces existing prejudice. If you joke about women and get away with it, those who are hostile to women will see this as social sanction for their views and behavior. The joke tellers don’t themselves have to be actively misogynist to end up encouraging others to be.

 

Hunt’s comments initially provoked condemnation of the type above as well as humorous memes from women scientists who poked fun at him using the hashtag #distractinglysexy. It also proved a good opportunity for many to talk about sexism in science.

The discussion turned unpleasant after Hunt resigned from a Honorary Fellowship at University College London. It was then that a narrative suggesting Hunt had been driven from his job by on-line “witch-hunt” from feminists began to form. The narrative has lots of problems, as Emily Hunt has shown. Chief amongst these is the fact that it is simply not true.

Studying the comments under an on-line petition demanding Hunt’s reinstatement, Dr. Dorothy Bishop notes that three misconceptions govern on-line discussion in support of Hunt:

  1. a) They think that Tim Hunt has been sacked from his job
  2. b) They think he is ‘lost to science’
  3. c) They think University College London (UCL) fired him in response to a ‘Twitter mob’.

But as she goes on to say:

None of these things is true. (a) Hunt is a retired scientist who was asked to resign from an honorary position.  That’s shaming and unpleasant, but an order of magnitude different from being sacked and losing your source of income. (b) Hunt continues to have an affiliation to the Crick Institute – a flagship research centre that recently opened in Central London. (c) UCL are explicit that their acceptance of his resignation from an honorary position had nothing to do with the reaction on social media.

Dr. Bishop highlights how this narrative of on-line bullying has been presented to the public via the media: especially, from the BBC. She points to the fact that women and feminism have been the favourite scapegoats for what people believe to be the hounding of Hunt:

there was an awful lot of blaming of women, Twitter and feminism in general, with comments such as “Too much of this feminist ranting going on. Men need to get their spines back and bat it away” and “A respected and competent scientist has been hounded out of his job because of an ignorant baying twitter mob who don’t happen to like his views“. And my favourite: “What he said was a joke. If lesbian feminist women can’t take a joke, then they are the joke.”

In this post, we would like to point out how the Daily Mail is contributing to the propagation of this fictional narrative against women and feminists. In particular we wish to draw attention to its hate campaign against one of the women who initially reported on Tim Hunt’s comments: the academic Connie St. Louis, senior lecturer in Journalism at City University, London.

Last week, the Mail published two articles about Ms. St. Louis:

Connie St Louis who revealed Sir Tim Hunt’s ‘sexist’ comments has no regrets | Daily Mail Online

Sir Tim Hunt investigation reveals flaws about Connie St Louis’ testimony | Daily Mail Online

The first article sought to frame Ms. St. Louis as the reason why Hunt was “fired” from his job. The second was an attempt at discrediting Ms. Louis – “the architect of the witch-hunt” against Hunt- by questioning the veracity of the curriculum vitae available on the City University website. The principal complaint of the Mail journalist, Guy Adams, was that Ms. St. Louis’s CV made references to work done more than ten or twenty years ago as if they were still in progess. He also appears to find it strange that breast cancer and family illnesses might have prevented Ms. St. Louis from concluding a research project.

Neither of these accusations hold much water. As Ms. St. Louis’s statement makes clear that the curriculum available on the City University website is not at all recent. City University itself says it has no doubts to the veracity of her curriculum. Moreover, breast cancer and family illness are both quite adequate explanations for the incompletion of projects.

Of course, the idea that Ms. St. Louis’s CV is somehow suspicious allows the Mail to fan the flames of the misogynists’ conspiracy theories regarding Sir Tim Hunt. It gives weight to the idea that the condemnation of his comments has been orchestrated by humorless feminists who are simply jealous of Hunt’s achievements.

Moreover, articles like those published last week, also mean that the Mail gives host a range of misogynist comments under its texts. The Mail may argue that these views do not reflect its editorial line. However, as can be seen from the following extracts from the comment thread under the second article, it would appear that most of its readers endorse its narrative of a “witch-hunt” of feminists and are in doubt who is the leading “witch”.

As the Mail also was careful to produce a full length photo of Ms. St. Louis, it also invited comment both on her attire and her looks. Much of this commentary is of an explicitly racist nature. The usual content warning apply.



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Finally, it is also of note that many the commentators on this thread heartily endorse and celebrate the continued harassment of Ms. St. Louis. To judge from the comments below, they wish to make sure Ms. St. Louis is kept in her place.

 

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This story also been repeated by the right-wing press: both the Spectator and Breibart News suggest that The Mail’s story is not receiving the attention it deserves.  On both sites, the comment threads contain similar opinions to those expressed on the Mail page. In the case of the latter, the racism and misogyny is as explicit in the text as in the comment section.

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As ever, we send our solidarity to Ms. St. Louis and all women beng targeted by misogyny and racism.

Facebook Silences Women Who Protest About Online Abuse But Protects Those Who Abuse

It’s All a Conspiracy. Aaronovitch on Criticism of His Work

Circulating Videos of Rape Can Only Retraumatise the Survivor and Make You Complicit in that Trauma

http://endonlinemisogyny.tumblr.com/post/116730347694/the-reports-about-a-videoed-gangrape-on-a-beach-in

Feminazi: The Power and Problem of a Word

The word “Nazi” derives from the German term Nationalsozialist. The party was formed in response to communist uprising within the country following World War One. Their roots were is nationalism, racism, populism and paramilitary culture. They were responsible for the Holocaust (the roots of this word is from the Greek for “whole” and “burnt”). Six million Jewish people were slaughtered. That’s two thirds of the Jewish population of Europe at the time. One million of these were children. But the Nazi Party did not just target Jews. Anyone who did not fit with their idea of perfection would do. It is estimated that the Nazi’s were responsibly for intentionally murdering over ten million civilians and prisoners of war.

I’m sorry if I’m telling you things you already know. It is one of the most horrific episodes of recent history and something we should all know about. It is something everyone should remember and fight hard to ensure it never happens again. It should never be denied, diminished or joked about. The murder of millions should never be undermined.

And yet, I feel I need to write about it; that it is indeed, being diminished and undermined.
I present to you the hilarious insult of “feminazi”. Femin

There are many feminists and misogynists on social media. Disgustingly, this phrase has been used by both parties. Maybe less surprising, are the misogynists who use this “insult” to a feminist seeking equality, in the belief that they must wish to eliminate or remove the rights of men. Hang on a minute, surely the use of that word would mean they wish to starve and murder all men?

Pfft. Anyone with an ounce of common sense will recognise the utter nonsense in this. Add another ounce of it and you will begin to feel the outrage at the utter contemptuous use of the word “nazi” in this context. Women arguing with men, whether hating men or not, does NOT equate to a racist, paramilitary, nationalist wanting to murder millions in cold blood. Are we recognising how ludicrous and offensive this term is, and I mean, offensive to those who were the victims of the Nazi regime?

Who would think equality could be so controversial, eh? Continually, we are faced with comments such as “Feminists are just man haters, out to destroy us, blah, blah, blah” simply for daring to think we deserve fair treatment. Shockingly, there are quite a few feminists living happily with men and successfully raising boys, in fact, astoundingly, feminists are from a wide variety of backgrounds. Yes, really. They are not all the white, middle class, feminists that they are accused of being. These accusations only deny their life experiences and situations.
Let’s take a look at the other group. Feminists themselves. One feminist doesn’t agree with another or perhaps does not recognise the issues another is raising, for example a feminist who believes their work is done and women have equality; women today should be grateful with how things are etc. Or maybe, a feminist has been insulted and they respond passionately, standing up for themselves. Suddenly, they’re labelled a “feminazi”. femin2

I cannot contain my anger.
Someone has a different view to you? Horror, they’ve used a swear word? They haven’t followed your “well meaning” advice as to how they should handle a situation that is their experience? Even if all of those were put together, how could it even begin to compare to the systematic, horrific and diabolical murder of millions?
HOW DARE YOU. HOW VERY DARE YOU.

The Nazi Party raped and murdered. Repeatedly. Over and over again. Day after day. Month after month. Year after year.

How dare you diminish the experiences of those families? How dare you compare their suffering to an outspoken woman on social media? How dare you use a word with such horrific connotations without the slightest consideration?
For those that have failed to research the etymology of the word, it may interest you to discover that the word was first used publically by Rush Limbaugh, an American radio talk show host. The word has strong connections with the pro-life movement. He used the term to describe women who marched for the rights of women to choose what happens with their bodies. Hitler too, removed choices for women and decided they belonged at home making and raising children. As far as I am concerned, the word should be entirely banned. It’s horrific. However, it seems that those who coined the term have more in common with the philosophy of the Nazi Party than a woman speaking up passionately about being a human being too.

Words are powerful. Words deserve respect. Think wisely on how you use them.

[This post was written for EOM by the lovely @booksanddance
We want to thank her for her allowing us to publish it]

Femicide, Misogyny and Elliot Rodger

This blog post appeared on the site A Room of Our Own. It was written by @UniteForHumanity

Femicide, Misogyny and Elliot Rodger