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).

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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.

Think Internet Harassment Doesn’t Affect Women’s Real Lives? Think Again: It Can Bankrupt Her.

It is common to hear people dismiss internet bullying and harassment as “not real”. Often well meaning commenters on our blog will advise the women featured just to turn off the computer and walk away. What these people don’t always appreciate is that the line between “real”-life and on-line life is not at all clear cut: in fact, in many cases on-line life forms an important part of real-life.

Until last month, Jennifer Keller had an active on-line presence: she hosted a popular You Tube channel, “The Laughing Witch”; and along with her husband, Paul Burns, she used the internet to advertise their small business “Porcelain Tub Restoration”. Now, as a result of a sustained campaign of on-line harassment and intimidation she has been forced to close her channel and her business is facing ruin.

The author of this campaign against Ms. Keller is one Dr. Phil Mason aka Thunderf00t, whose videos on his personal You Tube Channel are famous for their misogyny and anti-Muslim rhetoric.

In February this year, Ms. Keller wrote to Dr. Mason’s employers to inform them of their employee’s internet activities. She also made statements to this effect on her channel. This action infuriated Dr. Mason to such an extent that he decided to mount a campaign against Ms. Keller’s business. In a series of You Tube videos he publicized her name and the details of her business and incited his audience to leave negative reviews on its diverse internet media platforms, such as Yelp, Twitter and Google, as well as on his own webpage. Since Dr. Mason’s channel has more than 436, 500 followers, this sparked a deluge of fake negative reviews like the ones below.

 

Thunderbolt 1 Thunderbolt2

 

 

TB 1

 

TB2

 

 

 

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In an interview with local news, Ms. Keller’s husband, Paul Burns, said the effect of these reviews has been catastrophic. WUS*9 reported:

Burns said negative Yelp and Google reviews decimated his company’s standing online. Calls and emails from would-be customers have dried up. The couple is now raising money online to support their workers should they go under, Burns says.

“We were on the ropes, and we were looking to see blue sky finally. Things were picking up then this came down, the hammer came down,” Burns said. “You have no recourse as a business owner. They just, they take these reviews at face value. Its economic cyber terrorism.”

Both Mr. Burns and Ms. Keller complained to Twitter, Google and Yelp about this matter. Twitter and Yelp have done nothing thus far, Google provided assistance once US congresswoman Katherine Clerk introduced them to a management executive.

Ms. Keller has had to shut her You Tube channel as a result of the offensive comments posted below it. She has also apologised to Dr. Mason for sending the original letter. As she stated to the WUS*9 reporter:

So basically, I’ve been shut up and shut down. And so have most of the feminists on the YouTube community.

Advertisers pay millions of dollars to these companies to appear along side You Tube videos and Yelp searches, and in promoted tweets on Twitter. We really have to ask whether these companies really want their brands associated with opinions like those of misogynist and islamophobe Dr. Mason? Or with his attempts to harass and bankrupt Ms. Keller?

Perhaps we ought to ask them directly?

Some Big You Tube Advertisers :

  • Adidas
  • Nissan
  • FIAT (Blue Pill)
  • Android
  • NFL – Superbowl
  • Jeep Renegade
  • Budweiser
  • Microsoft GoPro

Some BigTwitter Advertisers:

  • Staples
  • Verizon
  • Pizza Hut
  • PHILADELPHIA
  • Pepsi
  • Disney
  • NFL
  • Marvel, DC

 

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With thanks to Jasper Knightstone (@camethedawnxp) for his help with the writing of this article.

(Sources:

Misogyny Round Up Week Ending 24 February 2014

This post was published on our blog on February 24, 2014 . We republish it here via the Internet Archive Way Back Machine.

 

This is a selection of the stuff we have had cause to retweet this week.

First, see this week’s post about the awful @ NonBlackGirls

Then we have the following unpleasant examples:

Plus the inevitable rape and death threats:

We send our #solidarity to all receiving this kind of abuse and violence via social media.

Wishing Death on a Blogger’s Child

This was first published on our blog on February 10, 2014. We republish it here from the Internet Archive Way Back Machine.

 

Despicable misognyists send death threats to women whose opinions offend them. Even more despicable misogynists threaten to kill that woman’s children. There are no words that adequately describe the dispicableness of a racist who would opine that a whole group of boys should be killed on the base of their race.

 

 

 

We offer our #solidarity to @Karnythia

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

Racism and Misogyny: Such a Predictable Combination

This was first published on on our blog on February 23, 2014 . It has been reposted here via the Internet Archive Way Back Machine.

No contest for today’s award of misogynist of the day:

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This appears to be an account set up with the aim of insulting and trolling. We have reported it for spam and hope you do the same.

Everybody Knows Women are For Sale and Other Choice Phrases

First published on our blog: September 22, 2013 rescued thanks to the Internet Archive Way Back Machine.

 

Without question @ BettorOffSingle is our offender of the day.

 

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.

Soldiarity with @CoralieAlison

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.