The Twitter account @misogyny_online came into being on Friday 26th July 2013. We set it up because it appeared to us that social media provides a very effective platform through which hatred of women can be articulated at very little cost to the misogynist. It also seemed quite clear to them that the adage “don’t feed the trolls” was another way of telling women that they should not complain about or make a fuss about being insulted and abused. That it was something that they should just tolerate as an inevitable consequence of being on line. They were firmly of the opinion that silence is collusion. We use the hashtag #shoutingback to convey this idea.
The basic premise of the campaign is that misogyny is unacceptable whatever its context. As a result, the campaign rejects the idea that any women or group of women bring insults on themselves because of how they behave, or that they deserve the abuse they receive because of their opinions. This is by far the most controversial aspect of its policies. If the reactions to the account are to be believed, many people and many feminists, are quite willing to sanction misogyny if it is directed against someone whose opinions or behaviour they find problematic.
The experience of EOM suggest that when a woman holds an opinion, objectionable or otherwise, critics always prefer to attack the women in question rather than her opinion. These attacks will concentrate on her race and her appearance. Finally, it is clear that attacks on a woman will quickly descend into threats of sexual violence and even death threats. The aim of such attacks is to remind the woman expounding the opinion in question that her worth is irretrievably linked to her appearance; or, that her ability to express an opinion is dictated by male approval. After all, she can always be silenced through the use of violence. It is this understanding which underpins one of the hashtags that EOM frequently uses on Twitter #stillnotshuttingup
For more information see:
Our contribution to the Ending Victimisation and Blame website.
Our contribution to The Intelligent Review
Our participations in the 2013 Women’s Aid Conference (here and here).