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"While we still live in a sexist society, any woman who sticks her head above the parapet will encounter misogynistic abuse."
November 4, 2011 9:25 AM   Subscribe

"You should have your tongue ripped out." Female bloggers speak out about misogynist comments, rape threats and death threats.

Also: A woman's opinion is the mini-skirt of the internet: "For criticising neo-liberal economic policymaking, it was suggested I should be made to fellate a row of bankers."
posted by zarq (102 comments total) 52 users marked this as a favorite

 
I have been reading this Crooked Timber thread on the same issue. I was struck by this comment from a female blogger:
In a couple dozen cases where e.g. the email account was the person’s name @ whatever.com, or where Facebook-type information was readily available via google search of phrases used in the letter, or a name and return address were written on the envelope in careful legible all-capitals print, it was inevitably a male with some position of authority or clout.
We perhaps assume that the typical misogynist commenter is a - for want of a better word - a 'loser'. But I think that is too hard on lonely and unsuccessful guys, who are often perfectly sensible and constructive in their behaviour to others, while not hard enough on your type of workroom bully who is actually quite dangerous because he has some power to exercise his misogyny apart from his Internet antics.
posted by communicator at 9:38 AM on November 4, 2011 [65 favorites]


I have definitely encountered this behavior on message boards, back before 'social media'. Tiresome. Very. Tiresome. Indeed.
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 9:38 AM on November 4, 2011


@ communicator, very observant!
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 9:39 AM on November 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


Digby mentioned this article as well, and she had an interesting perspective because for years she was anonymous and most people assumed she was male.
When people thought I was a male, the insults had a very different tone. They were always on the intellectual/political playing field, tough and challenging but never personal.Now, when things heat up, crude and nasty misogyny appears, the most common being that I'm a bitter old spinster who needs to get laid --- which would come as something of a surprise to my husband. But in normal times I mostly have to put up with being condescendingly lectured about what a silly old bubblehead I am for ....fill in the blank. (My favorite all time comment has to be the fellow who complained, "You wrote a lot better before you came out as a woman.")
posted by delmoi at 9:41 AM on November 4, 2011 [29 favorites]


I think that much of the misogyny in spittle-flecked rage filled comments, posts, or emails represents an inability to articulate, or even entertain, rational criticism. The misogyny is simply an ends to a means. This doesn't in any way justify or rationalize hate filled diatribes, but I think there is some "confirmation bias" that may help to ameliorate the sting caused by inappropriate vitriol. In other words, misogyny will always be aimed at women rather than at men. Misogynists are frequently simply misanthropes who seize on an angle of attack, and seek the most offensive way of expressing themselves (though I think self expression is not really at play, it's rather just plain cruelty).

That being said, there is indeed a great deal of misogyny and bigotry out there. Some of the comments quoted reveal much about the way the commentors frame issues, and they clearly fail to realize how they betray their biases.

TLDR; assholes will be assholes.
posted by Xoebe at 9:43 AM on November 4, 2011 [4 favorites]


Are there any quasi-outsourced moderation plugins for various blog engines? You would flag potentially offensive comments using Bayesian filtering, after which the blog entry gets automatically posted into some message board inhabited by people who care about the given type of abuse. In these secondary boards, established users can vote to suppress the abusive comment or not, but the blog owner can always override them. A second layer of Bayesian filtering determines how much the blog owners trust the votes by these established users. In this way, abusive comments might actually elevate a blog entry's readership, and gets preserved on the internet, while actually being deleted from it's original discussion.
posted by jeffburdges at 9:45 AM on November 4, 2011 [3 favorites]


Why is it that young females with three names and large hairdos are always haters of large, successful, popular producers, and always buy into every anti-capitalist myth produced by the government subsidized educational establishments? Are they (three-named females with large hair) really the most naive among us, or the most envious of success?

Oh, fuck me. Are these misogynistic Randians?
posted by Sticherbeast at 9:47 AM on November 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


err.. gets preserve on the internet in a forum discussing abusive comments
posted by jeffburdges at 9:47 AM on November 4, 2011


It's particularly telling that the first quoted comment refers to women as 'females'. 99% of the time I've found it's a wonderfully useful alarm to indicate the speaker is only worthy of contempt, marginalisation and sarcastic pity. Nice of them to make it so clear.

It's also notable how much fear (of change, of dissenting opinions, of a world that doesn't work the way they were taught) just drips from many of these comments.
posted by emmtee at 9:49 AM on November 4, 2011 [29 favorites]


I personally find it more often than not, that if someone hates you, they'll hate you. No matter what they want to attack you with -- whether intellectually or with misogynistic comments. Like what Xoebe described, a means to an end. So I usually take it that a person just isn't creative enough to articulate how they want to attack you. So a gender insult is usually the easiest route to take.

Of course this doesn't mean there aren't jerks that solely attack you because you are a woman. But I'm kind of betting these same people are judgmental enough to attack guys just because they aren't into the same computers or sports team they follow either.
posted by xtine at 9:49 AM on November 4, 2011


Xoebe, that's true of pretty much any type of abuse, they're saying nasty things about gender cause they want to criticize someone with that gender (rather than just because of the gender.) The fact that the insult is gendered per se is still the problem. I think nouns like "misogynist", "racist" kinda obscure the point cause the idea is not to pick a person out and say YOU ARE EVIL but that the construct they're believing or engaging or expressing is predicated on bias. I think the defensiveness (and the nature of the call-outs that cause defensiveness) just obscure progress on these issues sometimes.
posted by the mad poster! at 9:51 AM on November 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I was reading that Crooked Timber thread, too. And also following some of the truly awful responses Laurie Penny's been retweeting since a New Statesman piece on Remembrance Day she wrote went viral on the far right blogosphere last week. All I can say is: ugh.
posted by Sonny Jim at 9:51 AM on November 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


Drat. Didn't see the more inside. Sorry, zarq!
posted by Sonny Jim at 9:52 AM on November 4, 2011


I doubt they send emails to guys who support a different team saying they want to rape them, or ... oh heck, I want to extend this comment but I just can't bring myself to type the nasty things that get said. It's not only quantitatively more extreme, but the quality of comment is different too.
posted by communicator at 9:52 AM on November 4, 2011 [16 favorites]


Way back in my more actively activist days, before there was blogging, the hate mail I got was always quite gendered and quite different from the stuff my male comrades got. They got called Communists; the most gendered hate that got flung at them was being called faggot or pussy.

I got told things like "Go back to Africa fucking dyke cunt" (very puzzling, as I'm not black), and that I just needed a good raping; the, uh, best one was when I got a condom smeared with something (smelled like mayonnaise) in an envelope, with a greasy piece of paper that said something about how a close encounter with cock would surely cure what was wrong with me.

Fun times.
posted by rtha at 9:52 AM on November 4, 2011


Like what Xoebe described, a means to an end.

I don't think so. Articles dealing with feminism tend to be the ones that get the most sustained and vitriolic abuse, suggesting that commenters do indeed have a problem with either women in general or women who want to protect their own interests.
posted by Summer at 9:52 AM on November 4, 2011 [8 favorites]


I think that much of the misogyny in spittle-flecked rage filled comments, posts, or emails represents an inability to articulate, or even entertain, rational criticism. The misogyny is simply an ends to a means.

Xoebe, I might have believed that, too - would in fact want to believe that - except for the quote in Delmoi's post just two minutes before you send the Post button, wherein Digby shows how the very nature of the criticisms changed from debate-like to ad-hominems (ad-feminems? ad-gynems?), after her gender was revealed.
posted by IAmBroom at 9:53 AM on November 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


Sonny Jim: "Drat. Didn't see the more inside. Sorry, zarq!"

Heh. np. :)
posted by zarq at 9:53 AM on November 4, 2011


Frothing out-in-the-open misogyny is horrible but even more horrible is the silent, resentful kind that absolutely saturates the brains of these kind of people. It's the tip of the iceberg. For every dipshit who's stupid enough to make a physical threat on an open forum with a traceable ID, there's dozens more who sit there with their lips curled who will plans to take a silent shit on the day of the next uppity bitch who crosses their path.

I have no answers, just a warning that most of the evil in this realm is stuff you don't see coming and couldn't possibly predict from your own actions. Shields up!
posted by seanmpuckett at 9:53 AM on November 4, 2011 [4 favorites]


rtha: " Fun times."

What in the fuck is wrong with people? :(
posted by zarq at 9:54 AM on November 4, 2011 [9 favorites]


"There is an underlying issue though -- the people who post these comments reveal a deep-seated hatred towards women. I find that unsurprising in our culture. Violent extreme pornography is normal internet fare. Gang rape and prostitution are subjects for popular music. At least 95 per cent of actual rapists are still on the streets. That's the real problem. We need to address that."
From Kate Smurthwaite, the first blogger quoted in the first link.

I want to talk about this one a little bit because (I know, I know) I've been arguing with my dad a lot about policy, politics, culture, and so on recently. It drives me nuts because he's an intelligent, gentle man (I really promise this is true) who spends a lot of time (a lot) listening to conservative talk radio.

He grew up right after WW2 and during the cold war, and the Thing He Fears is government. which is a reasonable thing to be afraid of! The government has the control of the police and the military. It has a monopoly on force.

The problem is that if you talk about anything at all whatsoever, he instantly leaps to "we can't be passing legislation about that!"

And I'm sure he'd read the quote above and think "ah-hah, see, this Smurthwaite person wants to pass laws."

Except I'm pretty sure she doesn't. I'm pretty sure she sees things like porn as symptoms rather than causes, and (as a culture) we have to do the slow and difficult job of addressing the underlying cause such that the really misogynistic expressions of sexuality become the fringe rather than the norm.

I suppose I don't have anything really useful to say. I just wish there were some sort of vocabulary that magically got through to men who, like my father, are good men in private yet unwittingly supportive of hateful, evil attitudes in the public sphere.

Even in this thread, there's already some unintentional minimization. "It's just like guys yelling about sports team rivalries!" When actually, no, it is not. It's different from that. I don't think Xoebe is like... bad or anything. But his response was "oh it's not really that bad."

I need magical rhetorician powers.
posted by kavasa at 9:56 AM on November 4, 2011 [12 favorites]


emmtee: "It's particularly telling that the first quoted comment refers to women as 'females'. 99% of the time I've found it's a wonderfully useful alarm to indicate the speaker is only worthy of contempt, marginalisation and sarcastic pity. Nice of them to make it so clear."

This is usually a good general rule. Plus, the use of "female" makes me read all such things in a mental Morbo voice. "WHY FEMALE HUMAN SO UNREASONABLE?! HOW MANY FLOWERS MUST MORBO KILL AND BRING TO FEMALE TO MAKE FEMALE RATIONAL AGAIN?!"
posted by Drastic at 9:57 AM on November 4, 2011 [32 favorites]


Well at least it was a few comments here before the "men get abuse too" card got played. Despite the fact that this point is addressed specifically in the linked articles, and in previous comments.
posted by kmz at 9:58 AM on November 4, 2011 [3 favorites]


Whenever I hear guys complaining about "females" online, especially the ones that say that the "females" hate them for their success, I picture these guys going on their blind dates, rubbing their hands together while wearing polo shirts tucked into pleated khakis and white new balances being upset that their date doesn't recognize how well they've dressed and presented themselves.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 10:06 AM on November 4, 2011 [12 favorites]


Any man here who might think its not so bad...its easy to test. Just create profiles for your usual internet forums and things, and post as a woman. It can be quite enlightening. I've posted in places as a man before, and it's amazing how much kinder I'm treated. At least not outright dismissed for my opinions.
posted by agregoli at 10:11 AM on November 4, 2011 [23 favorites]


Threeway Handshake: you forgot the several-thousand-dollar-watch with an unadjusted band made for a wrist two inches thicker.
posted by griphus at 10:11 AM on November 4, 2011 [6 favorites]


i am so glad that women are speaking out about this shit. in our secret woman meetings we talk about a lot of this treatment and how it is either not talked about or viewed somehow as normal. it is shocking how much violent, hateful speech against women is normalized. shocking and totally fucked up.
posted by beefetish at 10:13 AM on November 4, 2011 [3 favorites]


Human minds tend to prefer concrete referents. When the problem is misogyny, we tend to talk about particular misogynists. It's possible to have a sociological conversation about the sorts of institutions that bring about misogyny, and it's even possible to do that without using specific people as examples, but at that point the conversation gets kind of abstruse and mathematical. That's not the sort of conversation you want to have when you're trying to convince people that feminism is kind of a big deal, or when you're looking for things you can do about it in the physical world.

It's possible to turn an otherwise poorly-defined group of people into a concrete referent. This is called stereotyping. Everyone knows what hipsters, emo kids, and Canadians are like. It's kind of a risky business because, while people are mostly capable of distinguishing individuals from groups, many find it inconvenient to do so. That's why men who have trouble understanding women's issues but don't hold any misogynist opinions often come off that way nonetheless.

So, I don't think it's a good thing that feminists stereotype misogynists, but I don't really see how they could avoid it, either.
posted by LogicalDash at 10:14 AM on November 4, 2011


(A brief note on the "females" thing - I absolutely loathe how it sounds (so crass! so barbaric! so non-euphonious!) but I've been told that some folks pick up the habit of speech in the military. I mostly hear it as "working class person who has spent time in some highly regimented institution" rather than "misogynist jerkface" - I've met my share of military dudebro creeps who say "females" but it's by no means universal.)
posted by Frowner at 10:15 AM on November 4, 2011


"For criticising neo-liberal economic policymaking, it was suggested I should be made to fellate a row of bankers."

Does she think that men never resort to telling other men to go blow a row of X whenever they can't engage in a conversation like an adult?
posted by spicynuts at 10:19 AM on November 4, 2011


The fact that so many men find it so difficult to engage in conversation like an adult with a woman is the problem.
posted by LogicalDash at 10:20 AM on November 4, 2011 [25 favorites]


it just makes me think of that old somethingawful flash video with the RealDoll guy saying "Makes me sick to think of all the time I wasted on human females."
posted by beefetish at 10:20 AM on November 4, 2011


Depressing.

I personally find it more often than not, that if someone hates you, they'll hate you. No matter what they want to attack you with -- whether intellectually or with misogynistic comments. Like what Xoebe described, a means to an end. So I usually take it that a person just isn't creative enough to articulate how they want to attack you. So a gender insult is usually the easiest route to take.

I don't think so. I write a fairly nerdy weblog about software, which generates very occasional hate mail - usually along the lines of "You are a dickhead because you like OS X/Linux/Python/Ruby/vim/emacs, and here's why (in exhaustive detail)". My obviously male name isn't featured prominently on the site.

One day last year, I linked to a calendar app for Linux that women can use to track their menstrual cycle. I immediately got a slew of horrible mail, some suggesting that, as a woman, I had no right to write a nerdy blog, some informing me how much the correspondent wanted to fuck me, a nerdy woman, and demanding pics, some expressing disgust that I'd posted about menstruation at all.

In other words, literally minutes after some of my readers 'found out' I was a woman, they sent me a barrage of hateful comments.
posted by jack_mo at 10:22 AM on November 4, 2011 [72 favorites]


Ultimately it's a certain (not the only) kind of masculinity sensing that it's under threat (and to this delicious flavour of manhood, everything not-it is a threat) and as an ideology and identity that's only capable of functioning if it's unquestioned in its dominance, having no coherent way to respond. Sublimating the self into a gender identity that actively prohibits the thought and self-examination necessary to respond, in fact.

I think it's a kind of masculinity that can only even really form in a vacuum - I'd suggest the majority of these men have had very little meaningful contact with women (which isn't to say many of them won't be married, which is a vaguely depressing thought). There may be people of other gender expressions in their lives, but accepting change and input from anyone other than similarly poisonous masculines further up the (natural!) ladder of authority isn't compatible with retaining a sense of self-worth (ie, adherence to the gendered ideal), and so is regarded as a threat. Which is funny, because the exact thing they need to break out of their self-destructive, horribly limiting identities - perspective and input from people who don't think this kind of masculinity is inevitable and universal - is explicitly ignored and responded to with hostility. It's a system that puts its own survival first.
posted by emmtee at 10:24 AM on November 4, 2011 [6 favorites]


I personally find it more often than not, that if someone hates you, they'll hate you. No matter what they want to attack you with -- whether intellectually or with misogynistic comments. Like what Xoebe described, a means to an end. So I usually take it that a person just isn't creative enough to articulate how they want to attack you. So a gender insult is usually the easiest route to take.
Well, the problem is if the person they want to attack is a guy, what can they say? "You should be ass-raped"? It makes the attacker sound gay. "You should get your dick cut off!" I don't think most men would even want to think about doing that to someone, even though they entertain violent fantasies about women. I guess they see other men as humans and women as 'objects'. Or something like that.
posted by delmoi at 10:26 AM on November 4, 2011 [11 favorites]


spicynuts: Does she think that men never resort to telling other men to go blow a row of X whenever they can't engage in a conversation like an adult?
Do you think that men in the public eye are, as a rule, subject to the degree of sexually explicit, violent and specifically gender- and anatomically-based verbal abuse Penny quotes in the article? The whole point of the abuse is to remind the speaker that she is a woman, and to intimidate her into silence on that basis.
posted by Sonny Jim at 10:27 AM on November 4, 2011 [13 favorites]


The misogyny is not just "an ends to a means".

When asking about Band X on a mailing list gets you "[Band Member] doesn't want dumb cunt girls listening to his music" as a reply, that's not just "misanthropes who seize on an angle of attack" -- that's you not getting to talk because you have a female name. When logging into a game with a female handle gets you torrents of nasty comments, while you can play for hours and hours entirely unmolested if you only choose a neutral handle, that's not people "choosing an angle of attack" and going with gender because it's "the easiest route to take". And when posting to a friend's blog triggers a vicious five-page rant featuring comments like "no woman wants a stable romantic relationship when she could just have a fuck buddy on the side while she furthers her career", "women have the right to murder their babies if they want to", and "What's [your boyfriend] paying to be with you?" (note: my boyfriend was also a friend of this guy), that's not just about misanthropy. It's about women.

Like agregoli said above, if you really believe that this is the exact same treatment guys get, only gender-themed, I invite you to pose as a woman online for a month... assuming it even takes that long for you to get the goddamned picture.
posted by vorfeed at 10:36 AM on November 4, 2011 [45 favorites]


Well, the problem is if the person they want to attack is a guy, what can they say? "You should be ass-raped"? It makes the attacker sound gay. "You should get your dick cut off!" I don't think most men would even want to think about doing that to someone, even though they entertain violent fantasies about women.

....I've....seen comments like that between guys on blogs, yeah.

This is not to say that women encounter this a lot more often, though. And in some cases -- as rtha relates above -- that kind of commenting escalates into real-life, meatspace intimidation tactics. THAT kind of shit I've never heard happening to guys except in very rare outlier cases.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:37 AM on November 4, 2011 [4 favorites]


Spicy nuts, I don't know her, but she se like she has a clue. So I would assume she doesn't think that never happens.
posted by pajamazon at 10:39 AM on November 4, 2011


Sorry, spicynuys. Autocorrect.
posted by pajamazon at 10:40 AM on November 4, 2011


kavasa:
I suppose I don't have anything really useful to say. I just wish there were some sort of vocabulary that magically got through to men who, like my father, are good men in private yet unwittingly supportive of hateful, evil attitudes in the public sphere.
No need for magic, which after all is skilful use of distraction, illusion, misdirection et al.

I suggest you look for, for entertainment and understanding, Derren Brown on the internet to get an idea of how "powerful" magicians _appear_ to be to ordinary people, that is to you me and millions of others who don't even begin to understand what they are doing (similarly, imagine trying to explain how the electronic gadgets most of us use really work, most people don't even know where to be being, so it all appears as if it was "magic"). He's also a self proclaimed skeptic and debunker, so his approach to the subject is not just that of mesmerizing you. Penn and Teller and also interesting in this respect.

If you really want to have a fighting chance at reducing the vile effects of people such as Rush Limbaugh, you probably have to understand how they work to being with. I would recommed the book Petit cours d'autodéfense intellectuelle (sorry, I don't know if there's an english translation) which can get you started; also, reading about Logical Fallacies can be quite inspiring: don't worry if you don't understand everything right from the start or if the field of logic appears to be quite confusing: it is ;) but it is also deeply interesting.

Also, consider that it could take some time to show how a deeply entrenched belief is fundamentally irrational or in contradiction with other deeply held beliefs; perseverance and consistence are often needed, in spite of frustration, for we all grab to some of "our" ideas much like Linus grabs to his blue blanket.

For instance, look at how some people defended of "free market" uber alles, knee jerk reacting any time someone suggest need for stronger regulations, more transparency, reduced influence of finance over human activities - they often default to the position that anything that isn't free market must be dreaded socialism! Curiously enough, they don't see that the bank bailout was indeed the worse possible socialization of costs and privatization of profits (socialism for the ultrarich), which is entirely incompatible with the ideals of the "free market" ...the dissonace is reduced by rationalizing that the events were "unpredictable" and that the "invisible hand" of the free market will eventually restore happiness (which is no more no less than wishful thinking Santa will fix everything eventually).
posted by elpapacito at 10:42 AM on November 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


Does she think that men never resort to telling other men to go blow a row of X whenever they can't engage in a conversation like an adult? posted by spicynuts. Whoa. That ignores a heck of a lot of the power differential between a guy saying that to another guy vs a woman.
posted by agregoli at 10:46 AM on November 4, 2011


I found the abuse disturbing enough that I didn't finish reading through the first link.

and at the same time that I'm disgusted by the misogyny, I'm totally mystified as to why anyone would care that much about what was written on the internet or in the media to even make such a vile
response. When I read something I disagree with, I think "Well, that person is mis-informed/twisting facts/ignoring reality, etc" and go back to my breakfast cereal and forget about them.
posted by jb at 10:47 AM on November 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


I have never experienced this kind of thing on the net myself. I suppose this is a result of the kind of interests I have and the kind of sites where I hang out. I'm not into the kind of things that are male-dominated, such as video games and programming and sports, and I just won't hang out in places that aren't moderated and are frequented by mouth-breathers. Not to suggest that any woman who does so should get this kind of treatment, of course, just making the point that one doesn't see this kind of behaviour on Metafilter or Craftster. I'm startled to find that political bloggers are running into this at all.
posted by orange swan at 10:47 AM on November 4, 2011


There is a fun strike-back tactic I've seen one blogger adopt -- she posts a big notice on her blog that for every bit of hate mail or hateful commentary she gets, she will donate a dollar to Planned Parenthood or something.

just making the point that one doesn't see this kind of behaviour on Metafilter or Craftster.

I don't know, the knitting community on LiveJournal got pretty uppity sometimes....

(And lest you think I'm kidding: a wiki with a list of some of the best knitting wankfests.)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:50 AM on November 4, 2011 [9 favorites]


I never quite know whether the problem is men who attack any way they can -- so they can't attack men for being men (and settle for calling them homosexuals instead) but they can attack women for being women -- or men who simply don't view women as people.

Either way, there's a problem. It might even be both ways.
posted by davejay at 10:51 AM on November 4, 2011 [3 favorites]


I'm totally mystified as to why anyone would care that much about what was written on the internet or in the media to even make such a vile response...

For one thing (and its definitely not the be-all end-all): insecurity. You know that comment above saying that misogyny is generally associated with "losers" when, in fact, a lot of it comes from dudes in high position of power? That's because we associate being a loser with being insecure. But -- ha ha ha -- if you've ever been in contact with someone with a Lot Of Power, you'll see that they can be just as, if not more (they do have more to "lose") insecure.

A lot of these men believe that if women are getting something -- respect, money, power -- they're taking it away from someone who already has it: men. And they're afraid that they're going to be the next guy on the chopping block. It doesn't matter if they think the mythical woman who is going to be confiscating their job/money/power/testes deserves it or not (in fact, it's pretty clear they don't think much of women deserving anything at all) but they're certainly afraid of it going down.
posted by griphus at 10:52 AM on November 4, 2011 [7 favorites]


(....Holy crap, I found even more.)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:52 AM on November 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


Knitting wank is best wank.
posted by kmz at 10:53 AM on November 4, 2011


xtine's "means to an end" viewpoint is, I think, the one any reasonable person who hasn't experienced this first-hand (or second-hand many, many times) is going to take up at first, because it's the only viewpoint that makes sense. I know it was my initial reaction the first time something like this came up with a female friend of mine. They can't be attacking her just because she's a woman, right? That doesn't make any sense. It must be just like all the other misanthropy in internet communities, and that second X chromosome is just a convenient hook on which to hang it.

But after being close enough to this kind of thing a couple of times (or having it pitched at you personally just once) it becomes really clear that there is a deep vein of misogyny running through a surprising number of people, and the world just doesn't work in a way that makes sense to a decent person. I personally don't understand how anyone can hate another person based on a characteristic like gender (or skin color, or <other genetic thing>) , but it's undeniable that it's out there in surprising quantity.

There are people out there who really believe in equality in a very simple way not because it's their crusading cause but because it just never occurred to them to be any other way, and I think those people have a lot of trouble believing that experiences like jack_mo's or rtha's because these things just don't make any goddamn sense to them. Completely incomprehensible. I guess what I'm saying is that more people need to speak up when things like this happen, just the way that Laurie Penny has. Increasing the visibility of this kind of infuriating nonsense is the best way to get people upset enough to force some kind of change, I think.
posted by IAmUnaware at 10:53 AM on November 4, 2011 [15 favorites]


Women getting respect : men losing respect :: Wealthy people having to pay more taxes : poor people getting shafted by the government

That is, there are some people who truly equate one with the other, even though it doesn't make sense to most people.
posted by davejay at 10:55 AM on November 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


It might even be both ways.

It is both ways. There are dumb people that will just say anything, and there are other people (men) that see women as walking vaginas that should just shut up and stay in their bedroom.

Both types are bad, but the Randian style men who think that women should only be servile mistresses are appalling on a whole other level. Go hang out on Reddit for a while, or for the Cliffs Notes, check out ManBoobz and you'll be able to see the difference.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 10:56 AM on November 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


I never got the whole 'scared of women having participation' thing just rationally. Like say in 19xx it was just you and other men competing for a job... now it's you, other men, and women competing for the same job.. Aren't there enough men out there that you're already in competition with that doubling the demographic doesn't make a big meaningful change?

e.g. if you're competing against 200million people to become a political leader
now you're suddenly competing against 400million people

you're diluted enough in 200mill that the addition of women, other groups, etc doesn't really change the situation that much.. all you can do is keep striving yourself the same way you were previously

(I understand that many structural changes in the environment can result--no more strippers at this company's parties--but that's not an immediate danger it's just a gradual change you have to understand and evolve with)
posted by the mad poster! at 11:04 AM on November 4, 2011


"Does she think that men never resort to telling other men to go blow a row of X whenever they can't engage in a conversation like an adult? posted by spicynuts." Whoa. That ignores a heck of a lot of the power differential between a guy saying that to another guy vs a woman.

I think the truth lies somewhere in the middle. A lot of the abusive misogynistic shit-talk on the internet is, I think, predicated first on being a raging asshole and the anti-women language & content is secondary. There's certainly the stuff jack_mo has a concrete example of - folks who clearly are women-hating/fearing and whose opinions are changed by their perception of another person's gender.

If you made me pick a distribution I'd suspect that it's 60/40, with the majority time people just using the insults because they seem particularly powerful to them. I also don't think it really matters.

The folks who use the misogynistic language do it thinking it's okay on some level, just like the street harassment jerks do it because they feel like it's their right to throw that shit around. I'm sure the two groups - the motivated by misogyny folks and the using-the-tools-of mysogyny folks - enable & encourage each other, but what difference does it make what the prime motivator is?

There were a lot of years when I was a kid where the language of racism was used casually among folks who weren't engaging in "active" racist actions like lynchings or even verbal abuse. But they'd throw around racist jokes and language and participate in sowing the subconscious with hate. I think both crowds were dealt with quite correctly by slapping that shit down and saying it's flat out not okay do to that, whether you're really motivated by hate or just wearing the outfit.

tl;dr. The motivation doesn't matter. If some jerkholes want to be abusive to everyone they deal with on the internet then they need to find a way to do it w/o being misogynistic scum. Slinging around the language of misogyny needs to get you called a misogynist as unequivocally as using words like "tar baby" would get you called a racist.
posted by phearlez at 11:05 AM on November 4, 2011 [11 favorites]


Slinging around the language of misogyny needs to get you called a misogynist as unequivocally as using words like "tar baby" would get you called a racist.

this, a million times this
posted by beefetish at 11:07 AM on November 4, 2011 [7 favorites]


it's just a gradual change you have to understand and evolve with...

As a whole, people are fucking terrible at this.
posted by griphus at 11:09 AM on November 4, 2011


just making the point that one doesn't see this kind of behaviour on Metafilter or Craftster.

I think I recall jessymn talking about the difference in tone in emails sent to her and in those sent to cortex or Matt. Also, recall the long, painful vigil of the cooter clock trying to eliminate the ironic use of "I'd tap that" from our enlightened community.
posted by shothotbot at 11:10 AM on November 4, 2011 [3 favorites]


... and let's not even mention the whole boyzone/Jenny Diski thing.
posted by Sonny Jim at 11:13 AM on November 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


We're talking about abuse visited upon some blogger on their own blog, orange swan, meaning the problem came to them. As you say, there are pleasant places on the internet thought, which suggests the solution might be helping bloggers import some moderation when necessary, perhaps via some plugin.

There could for-example be an anti-abuse blog that captures these comments and outs the poster or whatever, helping to both publicize the blog entry which inspired the abuse and discredit whatever ideology opposed it.
posted by jeffburdges at 11:14 AM on November 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


There could for-example be an anti-abuse blog that captures these comments and outs the poster or whatever, helping to both publicize the blog entry which inspired the abuse and discredit whatever ideology opposed it.

That is what ManBoobz does, which I linked to above. But I don't think it tries to "out" the posters, if by that you mean post their IRL identities.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 11:16 AM on November 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


If you made me pick a distribution I'd suspect that it's 60/40, with the majority time people just using the insults because they seem particularly powerful to them. I also don't think it really matters.

Agreed.
posted by spicynuts at 11:19 AM on November 4, 2011


This is one of the more depressing things I've read in a while. The threats + personal information would be enough to get me to move if it were to happen to me. It makes you understand why some people are totally against anonymity on the net.
posted by tommasz at 11:21 AM on November 4, 2011


Also, recall the long, painful vigil of the cooter clock trying to eliminate the ironic use of "I'd tap that" from our enlightened community.

I was one of the people who reset the cooter clock by saying "I'd hit it" ironically. I'm a woman, it was a joke, and some Mefite immediately called me a bastard (apparently thinking I was male). I don't think making jokes is anywhere near the level of making threats, and I can deal a lot more easily with sophmoric humor on this site than I can with men and women making all the other sorts of deeply ingrained comments that don't even seem to be problems to most people. Saying stuff like "I'm a girly girl, so I don't like to confront people directly" or " women who are confrontational and outspoken are not the norm"* are far more injurious to notions of what is okay when you're a woman or a man, and what is not than saying "I'd hit it". It's insidious sexism, and said with perfect sincerity somewhere by mefites in those crazy sexism threads. Not to mention AskMe questions like "I'm going to have a boy baby and I don't want a kid that is grubby and plays with dirt! how do I deal with not having a cute girl who will be clean and nice?"*



*paraphrasing.


PS: I can't believe Jenny Diski was anything but a troll when she accused mathowie of misogyny and censorship. I've read her stuff- she's an intelligent and capable journalist who should be well aware of what real censorship and misogyny is, based on her writing. I honestly think she was bored of MetaFilter and wanted to start some shit before leaving. The other alternative, that she has no idea what censorship really is, is impossible for me to believe of a professional journalist. But I digress...
posted by oneirodynia at 11:27 AM on November 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


IAmUnaware: you probably don't mean this, but you make it sound like I've never been the subject of misogyny. I have. I work in a mostly male dominated industry and a lot of my hobbies are male centric. I am part of a diversity organization. I see constantly see misogyny all the time in my industry and in my interests, and many in the industry that fail to recognize it. I fight uphill in getting myself and other women recognized in their fields as well as in other things I enjoy and believe in.

But, most of the people that hurl the insults are either insufferable themselves, or as someone else pointed out -- insecure themselves. Inferior beings? Because they're afraid they are going to take something away from them. Some don't like change, afraid of their "boys club" being trampled because gasp -- they can't make sexist jokes or scratch their butts at ease.

While this is probably American-centric, sexism also is breed from deep cultural values -- try looking at women's "rights" in most of East Asia.
posted by xtine at 11:47 AM on November 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


It's particularly telling that the first quoted comment refers to women as 'females'. 99% of the time I've found it's a wonderfully useful alarm to indicate the speaker is only worthy of contempt, marginalisation and sarcastic pity.

Also useful: "ladies" or (sarcastically) "wimmin/womyn".

Though your committed misogynist jumps straight to "whore" as a general rule. Just the other day, Elizabeth Warren had to deal with being called a "socialist whore" in fact.

Does anyone really think that male candidates get faced with slurs based on some sort of perceived lack of sexual purity/status in this way? Honestly? Because it never happens. Rick Perry isn't criticized for the tight cut of his slacks and told he needs to go suck some cocks to set him straight. He might get called a pussy...but then, the only reason pussy would be an epithet would be if you thought women's genitals (and by extension, women) were weak, shameful, dirty, and contaminating.
posted by emjaybee at 11:48 AM on November 4, 2011 [10 favorites]


He might get called a pussy...but then, the only reason pussy would be an epithet would be if you thought women's genitals (and by extension, women) were weak, shameful, dirty, and contaminating.

Unless of course you knew anything about the etymology of "pussy" as an insult -- readily available in the OED -- in which case you'd know that it has nothing at all to do with vaginas.
posted by coolguymichael at 12:31 PM on November 4, 2011


coolguy, if any of the people today who regularly DO use the word "pussy" as an insult are even COGNIZANT of the etymology, I'll....blow a herd of caribou in Times Square.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:33 PM on November 4, 2011 [11 favorites]


No matter the etymology, if you think "pussy" isn't a gendered insult these days, you're being purposefully obtuse.
posted by kmz at 12:34 PM on November 4, 2011 [6 favorites]


Unless of course you understand the fact that the word "pussy" has, as far as the people throwing it around are concerned, used pretty much exclusively as an insult and a slang term for vagina and nothing else.
posted by griphus at 12:34 PM on November 4, 2011 [3 favorites]


Unless of course you knew anything about the etymology of "pussy" as an insult -- readily available in the OED -- in which case you'd know that it has nothing at all to do with vaginas.

Hey, did you guys know that a "faggot" is actually a bundle of sticks?
posted by milk white peacock at 12:35 PM on November 4, 2011 [9 favorites]


Hey, did you guys know that a "faggot" is actually a bundle of sticks?

"Faggot" is also a derisive term for homosexual. Pussy as a derisive term is not about vaginas, except for the hyper-sensitive (which obviously could apply here, it seems).

No one who has ever called anyone else a "pussy" meant "weak, shameful, dirty, and contaminating...like a woman's vagina!" as emjaybee pretends they have.

With all the real misogyny in the world, why fabricate?
posted by coolguymichael at 12:46 PM on November 4, 2011


Coolguymichael, that's the most ridiculous thing I've heard all day.
posted by agregoli at 12:50 PM on November 4, 2011 [21 favorites]


Unless of course you knew anything about the etymology of "pussy" as an insult -- readily available in the OED -- in which case you'd know that it has nothing at all to do with vaginas.

I don't think I ever heard it used as "weak and shameful and gross like a vagina", but when used against a man, it means "weak and shameful like a woman." And there's a history of pussie=woman.

Somehow, that doesn't make the misogyny of it feel any better.
posted by rtha at 12:51 PM on November 4, 2011 [9 favorites]


"Pussy" very clearly means "like a woman", whether or not it refers to a vagina. As an insult it is, in fact, real misogyny.
posted by vorfeed at 12:52 PM on November 4, 2011 [10 favorites]


Everyone please excuse coolguymichael as he apparently lives in a cave with nothing but a connection to MetaFilter and a copy of the OED.
posted by griphus at 12:54 PM on November 4, 2011 [19 favorites]


Wow, coolguymichael. No one? Ever? How could you possibly—oh. Oh. Oh my goodness. I've never met a time traveling telepath before. This is so cool.
posted by Zozo at 12:54 PM on November 4, 2011 [4 favorites]


According to this etymological dictionary:
pussy (2)
slang for "female pudenda," 1879, but probably older; perhaps from O.N. puss "pocket, pouch" (cf. Low Ger. puse "vulva"), but perhaps instead from the cat word (see pussy (1)) on notion of "soft, warm, furry thing;" cf. Fr. le chat, which also has a double meaning, feline and genital. Earlier uses are difficult to distinguish from pussy (1), e.g.:
The word pussie is now used of a woman [Philip Stubbes, "The Anatomie of Abuses," 1583]
I am unable to log onto the OED proper online, so coolguymichael, if you have one handy you could cite for us to prove your point?...thanks ever so.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:54 PM on November 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


While this is probably American-centric, sexism also is breed from deep cultural values -- try looking at women's "rights" in most of East Asia.

Yes you are being American-centric. It's kind of insensitive to bring up a whole region of the world and then use quotation marks to imply that they completely lack human rights.
posted by FJT at 12:59 PM on November 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


EmpressCallipygos: " I am unable to log onto the OED proper online, so coolguymichael, if you have one handy you could cite for us to prove your point?...thanks ever so."

I have access to the OED. I removed references on all but the appropriate (bolded) one.

pussy, n. and adj.2

Pronunciation: Brit. /ˈpʊsi/ , U.S. /ˈpʊsi/
Forms: 15–16 pussie, 15– pussy, 16–18 pussey; Sc. 17–18 poosie, 17–18 poussie, 17– pussie, 18 poosy, 18 poushey, 18 pousie, 18 pusey, 18– pussy; also Irish English (north.) 18 pooshey, 18 pusheen, 19– pooshy, 19– pushie. (Show Less)
Etymology: puss n.1 + -y suffix1. Compare Dutch poesje (also in sense A. 3a).

A. n.
1.
a. Chiefly colloq. A girl or woman exhibiting characteristics associated with a cat, esp. sweetness or amiability.
Freq. used as a pet name or as a term of endearment.
Cf. puss n.1 3, pussycat n.
3.In later use merging with sense A.

3 c.

b. slang (chiefly N. Amer.). A sweet or effeminate male; (in later use chiefly) a weakling, a coward, a sissy. Also: a male homosexual.

In quot. 1904: a man likened to a house-cat; a dependent or ‘domesticated’ man.

1904 ‘M. Corelli’ God's Good Man xxi, I shall invite Roxmouth and his tame pussy, Mr. Marius Longford.
1925 S. Lewis Martin Arrowsmith vi. 65 You ought to hear some of the docs that are the sweetest old pussies with their patients—the way they bawl out the nurses.
1934 M. Weseen Dict. Amer. Slang 193 Pussy, an effeminate boy.
1958 L. Durrell Mountolive viii. 157 ‘I first met Henry James in a brothel in Algiers. He had a naked houri on each knee.’ ‘Henry James was a pussy, I think.’
1967 ‘iceberg slim’ Pimp v. 103 Look Preston, I got lots of heart. I'm not a pussy. I been to the joint twice. I did tough bits, but I didn't fall apart.
1972 T. O'brien Combat Zone 45 You afraid to be in the war, a goddamn pussy?
1988 J. D. Pistone & R. Woodley Donnie Brasco 119 If he beat me up or cut me, then I would be a pussy in everybody's eyes.
1993 G. Donaldson Ville 20 He believes the only thing worse than being a pussy is being a big pussy.
2004 J. Meno Hairstyles of Damned 125, I‥wanted to ask her to Homecoming, but I was a pussy and embarrassed about being in love with her because she was fat.



2.
a. nursery and colloq. A cat.
Freq. used as a proper or pet name.
Also used occas. as a call to attract a cat's attention (cf. puss n.1 1).


b. A hare (freq. used as a proper or pet name). Also (Austral.): a rabbit. Cf. puss n.1 2. Now rare.

3. coarse slang.

a. The female genitals; the vulva or vagina. to eat pussy: to perform cunnilingus (cf. eat v.).

b. Sexual intercourse with a woman.In some quots. overlapping with sense A. 3c.

c. A woman, or women collectively, regarded as a source of sexual intercourse. Cf. sense A. 1.
c

Categories »

d. In male homosexual usage: the anus (or occas. mouth) of a man, as an object of sexual penetration. Also (chiefly Prison slang): a man or boy viewed in this way (cf. sense A. 3c).

5.
Categories »

a. nursery and colloq. Something soft and furry; esp. a willow catkin. Cf. pussy willow n.

b. Criminals' slang. A fur garment.

B. adj.2
colloq. and slang. Exhibiting characteristics associated with a cat; cat-like. Also (in later use chiefly): weak, cowardly (cf. sense A. 1b).
1842 Amer. Pioneer 1 182, I walked up very carelessly among the soldiers‥and concluded they could never fight with us. They appeared to me to be too pussy.
1863 C. Kingsley Water-babies v. 213 She was the most nice, soft‥pussy, cuddly, delicious creature who ever nursed a baby.
1863 C. Kingsley Water-babies v. 241 Little boys‥who have kind pussy mammas to cuddle them.
1930 D. L. Sayers Strong Poison xvi. 197 Mrs. Pegler, a very stout, pussy old lady with a long tongue (!)
1977 M. Torres in R. P. Rettig et al. Manny iii. 101/1 I'm not about to turn out. You picked on the wrong guy. I'm not pussy!
1985 E. Leonard Glitz xx. 173 But when Weldon turned and threw his beer in Bad Isham's scarred face it surprised Isham. It seemed a pussy way to get things going.
2003 Ice Oct. 111/2 No-one dared take me on. It's why I had to start backyard wrestling—everyone was too pussy to start something.
posted by zarq at 1:17 PM on November 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


Since this is American slang, I'm not entirely sure if the OED is the best source. But that's what it says.
posted by zarq at 1:18 PM on November 4, 2011


Even so, it does look like the OED does mention the female-pudenda comparison -- I also note that it is unclear whether the "man-as-weakling" thing predates the "female-pudenda" one, where the source I mentioned gives a "female-pudenda" etymology as "1879 but probably older". So perhaps the "weakling man" etymology was derived from the "female-pudenda" etymology after all. Could be!

Thanks, though, zarq -- I wanted to have a look at that before passing judgement. And now it looks like that OED etymology isn't quite so clear after all.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:24 PM on November 4, 2011


Pussy as a derisive term is not about vaginas, except for the hyper-sensitive (which obviously could apply here, it seems).

Whether or not it has anything to do with vaginas, it's a derogatory name for women, or for men who are, in a perceived negative sense, like women. I mean, I'm a giant pedant myself, but this seems like an odd thread to drop that factoid.
posted by jack_mo at 1:29 PM on November 4, 2011


Screenshot 1, 2.
posted by zarq at 1:29 PM on November 4, 2011


EmpressCallipygos: "And now it looks like that OED etymology isn't quite so clear after all."

It's pretty clear. Look at the screenshot.

You have a conflicting source. That doesn't make the OED unclear.
posted by zarq at 1:32 PM on November 4, 2011


EmpressCallipygos: "And now it looks like that OED etymology isn't quite so clear after all."

It's pretty clear. Look at the screenshot.


....Could I see a screenshot of the segment discussing the comparison to female pudenda, please?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:39 PM on November 4, 2011


hyper-sensitive

Speaking of that, all those gunshot victims are just hyper-sensitive about bullets. Pussies.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 1:39 PM on November 4, 2011


Give me a few minutes and I'll upload screenshots of the entire page.
posted by zarq at 1:45 PM on November 4, 2011


The full page:

Screenshots 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9.

I included compounds.
posted by zarq at 1:59 PM on November 4, 2011


I created an album. Easier to view.
posted by zarq at 2:02 PM on November 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'll never forget the time I commented on a blog post about feminist issues and another commenter (a male, if "Mark" was his real name) replied to me and said, "I'll come over to your house, cunt, and fuck the feminism out of you". Appropriate punctuation added by myself. I still get angry about it but it also makes me laugh, the stunning animal rage and raving illogicality. Because of course, threatening to break into my home and rape me is the surest way to make me more "dude positive".

I've experienced other, less overt forms of this type of gendered response as well. I regularly receive comments or replies from men that suggest my opinions and arguments are "only because you're a woman", or "you sound like you're on the rag, are you?", etc. I've also experienced the effect similar to what jack_mo relates, but in reverse, being on a message board or forum where nobody knows my gender and having my points discussed and argued fairly, only to have it all turn to shit the moment it's perceived that I'm female.

I get that some of the people who want to say this is just the nature of the internet, and that remarks to men are sometimes personal in nature as well are just not informed by dint of experience, but the reasonable thing to do when you haven't experienced something is to let the people who have decide whether it's gendered or not. It also discounts that these comments don't exist in a vacuum. Gendered insults, threats, and acts of violence have real world analogues, and they are faced by women with orders of magnitude greater frequency than men.
posted by katyggls at 2:09 PM on November 4, 2011 [10 favorites]


a. Chiefly colloq. A girl or woman exhibiting characteristics associated with a cat, esp. sweetness or amiability. <>

Sweetness and amiability? Had these people ever even met a cat?

posted by jb at 2:19 PM on November 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


So the timeline of earliest use, per OED is:

1557 - a girl or woman exhibiting cat-like characteristics
1699 - a cat
1699 - the female genitals
1715 - a hare
1842 - an adjective implying cat-like characteristics
1858 - something soft and furry
1904 - a weak or effeminate male
1910 - first citation of "pussy hair"
1936 - the anus of a man, regarded as object of sexual penetration
1937 - sexual intercourse with a woman
1937 - a fur garment (criminals' slang)
1947 - a woman, or women regarded as a source of sexual intercourse

Seems clear enough to me that the word was well and truly associated with women and their women-parts long before it was applied to men, at which point it had the sense of "a man who exhibits the poor qualities of a woman".
posted by Homeboy Trouble at 2:44 PM on November 4, 2011 [3 favorites]


I don't care if "Pussy Mob" is slang for a gang of fur thieves, my feminist rap group needs a name, dammit.
posted by griphus at 3:11 PM on November 4, 2011 [6 favorites]


A marquee made in heaven:

TONITE AT THE ROXY

Pussy Mob
&
The Circle Jerks
posted by carping demon at 3:43 PM on November 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


But after being close enough to this kind of thing a couple of times (or having it pitched at you personally just once) it becomes really clear that there is a deep vein of misogyny running through a surprising number of people, and the world just doesn't work in a way that makes sense to a decent person. I personally don't understand how anyone can hate another person based on a characteristic like gender (or skin color, or ) , but it's undeniable that it's out there in surprising quantity.
I think the basic issue that a lot of guys are angry that they get turned on by women who won't sleep with them. It just makes them mad, and they end up hating women.

If you want a good example of the different kind of reaction that men and women get look at the reddit threads in /r/pics where women and men posted pictures of their holloween costumes. Most of the pics were of women and there was a ton of messed up stuff posted. On the other hand, you rarely see any messed up comments in threads where men posted.

The responses weren't based on any opinion or disagreement, but often women were attacked for "wanting attention" or for dressing too sexy. It really does seem that some men are very resentful of the fact that good looking women can get their 'attention' just by existing -- and they feel like women are doing it in on purpose, even though, you know, what else could they do? Wear a burka? Never post anything online?

That's my amateur hour psychoanalysis anyway.
PS: I can't believe Jenny Diski was anything but a troll when she accused mathowie of misogyny and censorship. I've read her stuff- she's an intelligent and capable journalist who should be well aware of what real censorship and misogyny is, based on her writing. I honestly think she was bored of MetaFilter and wanted to start some shit before leaving. The other alternative, that she has no idea what censorship really is, is impossible for me to believe of a professional journalist. But I digress...
I don't think you can really say metafilter doesn't have censorship. You can make an argument about government/private censorship but the way the term is used colloquially I think it applies. Not that it's a bad when you compare mefi to unmoderated space. I mean I doubt Jenny Diski is spending her days on 4chan now.


---

Also people this 'etymology of 'pussy'" thing is a huge derail.
posted by delmoi at 3:43 PM on November 4, 2011 [6 favorites]


Reading this is one more confirmation that I was right to quit blogging politics back in 2005 and 2006. I was lucky in that I never got a lot of harassment, just entitled guys who thought it was their right to troll in my generally unoccupied comments, but I did get some creepy emails from a guy who read an account of "infiltrating" (read: attend with identifying myself as a blogger/interested party) an anti-abortion event in my hometown and reporting the details to my local Planned Parenthood, where I sometime did clinic escorting. I don't know whether I was lucky in not getting harassed given my obviously female user name or whether things have gotten worse since I quit.

Reading articles like this does keep me from commenting on most internet sites or even reading the comments on most sites. It's just not worth it to upset myself by reading it, never mind by saying something and attracting the hate. This is how women are silenced on the internet; it's easier not to bother.
posted by immlass at 4:19 PM on November 4, 2011 [6 favorites]


I'm not anything close to famous, but when I made a blank yet public Facebook page for a work project I received a lovely set of misogynist messages within a week. The first asking for pictures, then when I didn't reply within a few minutes, a couple of slurs about my sexuality, a threat of violence and the usual insults.

All for having a public Facebook page sans a photo of me.

I have yet to meet a man who has had this or anything like it happen.
posted by geek anachronism at 5:45 AM on November 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


Check out the European Insult Diplomacy Flowchart. What do europaen heads of government say about Angela Merkel vs what do they say about Sarkozy and Berlusconi?
posted by shothotbot at 6:41 AM on November 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


You can always rely on Berlusconi to lower the tone...
posted by Dysk at 7:15 AM on November 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


Salient from Crooked Timber, who was quoted in the first comment in this thread, has another comment dividing people who make misogynist comments in to four rough categories, from completely harmless to potentially dangerous, with some more detailed comments about their demographics.

It would be very interesting to do the kind of analysis she's doing here in a more formal way. I also think it would be quite possible develop a Bayesian filter for this type of trolling, as jeffburdges suggested, and I don't really think it would have to as elaborate as the procedure he outlined. Wikipedia already uses a filtering system as the first line of defense against vandalism. It seems to be pretty effective.
posted by nangar at 7:54 AM on November 5, 2011


1557 - a girl or woman exhibiting cat-like characteristics
1699 - a cat
1699 - the female genitals
1715 - a hare
1842 - an adjective implying cat-like characteristics
1858 - something soft and furry
1904 - a weak or effeminate male
1910 - first citation of "pussy hair"
1936 - the anus of a man, regarded as object of sexual penetration
1937 - sexual intercourse with a woman
1937 - a fur garment (criminals' slang)
1947 - a woman, or women regarded as a source of sexual intercourse
Either you're similar to a cat, which have often been looked down upon or hated throughout many
English-speaking cultures in history.
Or you're the hare, something to be hunted down and claimed.
Or you're being related to an anus, the expulsion of shit.
Or you're being compared to being a woman, which is of course supposed to be less than anything with a dick.

How are any of these NOT exhibiting the possibility of being derogatory?
posted by DisreputableDog at 1:35 PM on November 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


It's interesting that this thread, like most others dealing with feminist issues had its share of "mansplaining", attempts to diminish the severity of the problem with alternate explanations, and derailing through arguments over details. This is yet another example of why it's so hard to make any real change.

I just wish these people would realize that their actions, whatever intellectual excuse they may give for them, makes them part of the problem. They are contributing to the air of tolerance for what should be intolerable behavior. Until they stop indirectly supporting online misogyny, little will change.
posted by happyroach at 7:07 PM on November 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


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