Laurie Penny on the misogynist harassment she suffers as a woman journalist

Writing in The Independent, journalist Laurie Penny recounts the kind of awful, grotesque, misogynist threats and insults that she receives on a daily basis for daring to have left-wing opinions while being a woman. I read Penny pretty regularly, and I generally agree with what she has to say. What's more, it's not vastly different from the opinions I put forward here on Boing Boing. But I'm a guy, so the kind of flak I catch is one one-millionth as vicious as the stuff Penny is subjected to.

Many commentators, wondering aloud where all the strong female voices are, close their eyes to how normal this sort of threat has become. Most mornings, when I go to check my email, Twitter and Facebook accounts, I have to sift through threats of violence, public speculations about my sexual preference and the odour and capacity of my genitals, and attempts to write off challenging ideas with the declaration that, since I and my friends are so very unattractive, anything we have to say must be irrelevant.

The implication that a woman must be sexually appealing to be taken seriously as a thinker did not start with the internet: it's a charge that has been used to shame and dismiss women's ideas since long before Mary Wollestonecraft was called "a hyena in petticoats". The internet, however, makes it easier for boys in lonely bedrooms to become bullies. It's not only journalists, bloggers and activists who are targeted. Businesswomen, women who play games online and schoolgirls who post video-diaries on YouTube have all been subject to campaigns of intimidation designed to drive them off the internet, by people who seem to believe that the only use a woman should make of modern technology is to show her breasts to the world for a fee.

Like many others, I have also received more direct threats, like the men who hunted down and threatened to publish old photographs of me which are relevant to my work only if one believes that any budding feminist journalist should remain entirely sober, fully clothed and completely vertical for the entirety of her first year of university. Efforts, too, were made to track down and harass my family, including my two school-age sisters. After one particular round of rape threats, including the suggestion that, for criticising neoliberal economic policymaking, I should be made to fellate a row of bankers at knifepoint, I was informed that people were searching for my home address. I could go on.

Laurie Penny: A woman's opinion is the mini-skirt of the internet


      1. Privileged young-to-middle-aged men with successful careers and families, who are bitter because their wealth and privilege doesn’t buy them the right to treat other people like shit. Not teenagers. Not 40-year-old virgins. (Did you see the video, I think it was from The Guardian, where they tracked down a troll?)

        1. I honestly don’t care enough about them to bother with deep “research” into their psychological profiles.  Friends and I have located our share of vicious trolls over the years and dealt with them in our own way.

      1. Surely not!  Surely MRAs are just sensibly pointing out cases where our current system of gender roles is harmful to men, and calling for change, in the same way feminists point out disadvantages to women and call for redress there.

        There is no way that these voices of reason, these paragons of unassailable social analysis, could possibly secretly be a bunch of vile misogynistic jackals, is there?

        1. Yes, I’m sure all the MRAs are also the sort of people who threaten the lives of female journalists. It’s good to be reminded that the world is a simple place, and easily understood so that we may dismiss those who disagree with us with ease. Thank you.

          1. Well yes, I disagree with them when they show up in every discussion about rape and abuse to point out the many ways a woman was “responsible” for those things, or how one of their major activists defends that parents should be allowed to have sex with their children. And I’m pretty non-apologetic about dismissing these concerns entirely. It is that simple.

            I’ve had wonderful discussions with men about how gender expectations harms them – none of those men are MRAs.


          2. “I’ve had wonderful discussions with men about how gender expectations harms them – none of those men are MRAs.”

            Yep. MRAs believe the “solution” to strict gender roles is to roll back the gains of Feminism and equality and enforce “traditional” gender roles in an even more strict sense. They are damaged in the head.

          3. “Yes, I’m sure all the MRAs are also the sort of people who threaten the lives of female journalists.”

            I’m glad you can see that your compatriots are assholes.

      2. Jesus tittyfucking christ they get on my nerves. Why are they even a thing? I can’t think of many other groups more deserving of a good clip round the ear off their mams.

    1. If they weren’t explicit, I’d suggest using the voice of a very pouty little boy in order to capture the appropriate tone of voice.

    2. I’d like to see the comments de-anonymized and posted publicly on the internet for everyone to review. 

      There’s something entertaining about forcing people to live in the hole they’ve dug.

      1. I’m going to guess that, after all the vitriol against those (Facebook, Google) who disallow anonymity from Mr. Doctorow, that idea isn’t going to get much traction here.

        But I certainly think it’s fair to ask for suggestions for a solution.

        1. Maybe, but society decided a long time ago that criminals don’t get the same rights as everyone else. Which I guess means the challenge then becomes to criminalize hate speech in the US. 

          (spoiler: not gonna happen)

          1. I don’t think that would be necessary here.

            Making terroristic threats (not ‘terrorist’ threats, but threats liable to induce terror, such as threats of murder, rape, arson, etc.) is already a crime.  Harassment is already a crime.

            These people are already criminals on the basis of those laws, there’s no need here to add a new category of crime to cover what they’re doing.

            Not that I necessarily disagree with you that hate speech should be criminalized.  It’s just not needed here.

    3. You don’t need to. Just find your local newspaper’s web site, and if they allow unmoderated comments then just about any regular female columnist or article about female politicians will have a new crop of “art” showing up in the comments section every day.

    4. I would like the art to include the trolls being forced to read their statements out loud, while being filmed, in front of their mothers.

  1. Every time I see a story like this I wonder how it even happens.  I can’t remember the last time I read the by line of any story.  Talk about useless information!  The identity of the writer could hardly be less relevant to most written works.

    1. It sounds like you are not a female writer…what with the “useless information” angle and all…

      1. You’re right, I’m not a female writer.  Maybe that’s why I don’t understand your point.  The way that I see it, an idea is separate from its originator and its adherents.  Its validity depends on its merit.  Therefore, the identity of the writer is irrelevant.  If you, as a reader, are getting some use out of the byline, then please share.

        1. As a woman, I am sadly familiar with the everyday climate of misogyny which ranges from having male strangers tell me what to do (ie “Smile !”) to the never-ending vigilance about my personal safety that is required when I walk down the street at any time of day or night, because I am not a man. 

          As a dude, you probably do not “get” this at all. Get as in comprehending.

          Maybe you’re the guy who walks around telling women to smile, lest we ugly up your experience of being in public, despite an utter indifference to why we might not be smiling, and our disgust at being treated like a performing seal by a stranger who feels that this is their right, to command a stranger of the opposite sex to please you.

          If a woman’s account of really intense, specific, hateful, threatening behavior, that is very gender specific, can be discounted with statements like “Its validity depends on its merit” and “the identity of the writer is irrelevant”then you are in the wrong place. In case you haven’t noticed, there are plenty of women who edit for BB, write for BB, read BB. Laurie Penny’s experience is not unique at all — it happens to women journalists, bloggers, writers, gamers, etc. ALL THE TIME, when they have a presence online. 

          How many male writers are threatened with rape and/or blackmail on a daily basis — for the writing that they do ? Because of their ideas ? Or have their work dismissed/discredited because of perceived flaws with their personal appearance (as though this is relevant to their writing) ? 

          So you’re a male, and you just find this piece boring and out place. I sure hope that you are some sort of sci-fi replicant, born without a mother, who is able to live in a world where you have no sisters, no aunts, no female friends, no female neighbors, no nieces, no girlfriend/wife, no female co-workers, no children who are girls, no females in your vicinity whatsoever. Until you can start to understand that misogyny affects them ALL, and that it is a big problem (big enough to have death threats for having an opinion, for example) then perhaps this is not the place for the likes of you.

          1. Let’s take a quick look at our conversation.  I think it shows how some of the difficulties that Laurie Penny describes can arise.  In my first post, I made a statement (that an author’s identity is generally not useful to the reader).  You could have countered that statement by presenting information that showed I was wrong.  Instead, you immediately made this about my identity. Would my idea have been any more valid if I was a woman?  Any less?  Why should my identity matter?  

            If I am wrong, then I am wrong no matter my biology, or sexual/gender identity, or race, or any other aspect of my personal identity.  More importantly, if I am wrong, then you would be able to attack my idea rather than my person.  Comically, that is exactly what this article is about in the first place.So, instead of addressing the idea that I expressed, you went present a tirade of assumptions about me based on what? the fact that I don’t think that bylines provide useful information to a reader?  That’s a pretty weak basis for the assumptions you make.  Or, did you make all of those assumptions just based on my saying that I am not a female writer?This conversation, between you and me, is a very good example of why readers shouldn’t know the identity of writers.  Some readers get so focused on the writer’s identity, that the ideas in the writing are totally ignored.  Some readers, instead of dealing with the ideas presented, will attack the writer personally, with whatever sort of bile they can manage to throw.  This cheapens the public discourse.

          2. I look forward to your utopia in which all writing is completely anonymous and without identity or relevant context !

          3.  the fact that I don’t think that bylines provide useful information to a reader? 

            I don’t see how your argument is relevant to this post, unless you’re suggesting that women should hide their identities to avoid misogynistic harassment, which is ridiculous.

          4. Felton, my original post was only meant to express surprise at the fact that readers are even interested in the identity of the author in the first place. If they were not, then this sort of thing wouldn’t happen.  I did not expect this to turn into more than that.

            To your second point, I do not think that women should hide their identities to avoid harassment, that is ridiculous.  I did not mean for any of my posts to suggest a solution to the problem.  Though, I wouldn’t be opposed to the profession of journalism moving toward more anonymity.

          5. my original post was only meant to express surprise at the fact that readers are even interested in the identity of the author in the first place. If they were not, then this sort of thing wouldn’t happen.

            Then the assholes would just assume that everyone was male and take that as license to spew more misogyny. You seem to live in the delusion that we live in a post-gender society. We don’t, and only male privilege could permit you to think that.

          6. Thanks for mansplaining, you really invalidated the experience of all women, everywhere. I’m sure you also “don’t see race” when you make racist remarks.

    2. Opinion columnists get it worse than news columns, and the byline’s obviously important there.  But even female news writers, where the byline’s usually less important, get an appalling amount of crap.  And technology writers, and gaming writers, and ….

      And columns or news stories about female political figures get a really appalling amount of crap, and I’m saying that in the context of the comments that Barack Obama gets.

      1. I challenge your statement that the “byline’s obviously important [in an opinion column].”  Why do you believe that?  As far as I can tell, its only use for the reader is to allow them to prejudge the content of the column.  How else is it “obviously important?”

        1. He doesn’t mean he thinks it should be important, but that in op-eds, people tend to care about who is stating the opinion. For instance, writers can have certain personas, be considered more or less credible for their background, etc.

          1. “He doesn’t mean he thinks it should be important”

            Like all MRAs, he believes his opinion is important and should be respected for no obvious reasons, especially when it contradicts actual experience in the matter.

        2. Seriously, what field are you in that you don’t understand the concept that there are levels of professional recognition that actually matter?

          1. It’s a field, way out in the middle of nowhere, probably on government owned land – perhaps a field where people are not supposed to be due to high levels of radioactivity that cause neurological impairment.

    3. Except that it’s not, and pretending to be “above it” as if your view has anything to do with the threat-givers is completely useless. Nobody gives a fig what you think, they’re concerned about the numerous jerks who DO harass women and minorities for being “uppity” and daring to possess opinion and not know their place.

    4. Byline credits are actually a big deal in journalism.  One usually has to work long and hard for very little pay to get to the point where one’s work is finally credited publicly.

      But for women, it’s a two-edged sword: yes, it’s great getting professional recognition, but as soon as the MRAs see a woman’s name or photo, they swarm in.

    5. Well, I’m really surprised that this post started so much trouble.  I won’t be adding any more to it, because I don’t see how that would be helpful.  In the future, I will consider re-evaluating my position.  Maybe you’re right, maybe opinions are more or less valid depending on the identity (specifically gender) of the writer.  I am not yet convinced of that, but I will look into the literature to that effect.
      I would also very much like to read what you think the lesson that I take from this should be.  So far, what I can gather is that my opinion (that the identity of the writer should not bear on the evaluation of that writer’s ideas) is invalid (maybe not incorrect, but certainly invalid), and that I am not welcome in dialogues concerning the difficulties faced by female professionals.  That much, at least, is clear.  Is anything I’ve missed?

      1. …I am not welcome in dialogues concerning the difficulties faced by female professionals. That much, at least, is clear. Is anything I’ve missed?

        I want to feel sorry for you, but you feel so sorry for yourself, there’s no room in there for me.

      2. The lesson you should have learned: when something seems like kind of a big deal (e.g. rape threats) try not to say something that might be interpreted as meaning “it’s not really that big a deal.”

        This does seem to be rooted in a misunderstanding, but you made it worse by getting your hackles up instead of taking a step back and trying to figure out how your statements were being misinterpreted.

  2. I don’t know what the solution is, but this is definitely a problem that needs to be solved. I think it’s even more pervasive than Ms Penny suggests. And it’s not really a matter of whether a woman is pretty or not, or whether she dresses well or suggestively – when it comes right down to it there’s nothing a woman can do that can change that behavior. Look too feminine or pretty and people will say they have no substance. Dress too provocatively and the woman is a slut. Not provocatively enough and she’s a lesbian. What it comes down to in the end is actually not actually about the sexuality of women, it’s about using sexuality as a weapon against women to keep women down simply because they are women. And it needs to stop at every level and we all need to take responsibility for it, from those who judge female politicians or celebrities on what they wear or how they cut their hair to the threats of rape like Penny talks about. It’s all part and parcel of the same misogyny.

  3. I feel her pain. Try being a woman in science. There weren’t as many threats but oh, the patronizing and the struggles to just join the conversation! How many times I had been in the middle of a sentence when a male colleague would turn to another and just begin speaking like I wasn’t even sitting there, speaking at the time, I can’t begin to estimate.

    1. Or repeating what you just said, as if he came up with it (and worse yet, apparently thinking he did).

      1.  Yep, that too! I once firmly pointed out that I didn’t need a translator after that happened several times in a short period. Then out came the patronizing. What a pain this one guy in particular was and diplomacy was never my forte.

      2. Having experienced this (as a male) I can offer up, in analysis, that it happens specifically when the offender sees themselves as above you in the pecking order.
        Some part of their mind is paying attention to you (obviously) but their ego-driven, conscious, stream of thought seems to be more concerned with maintaining the appearance of their societally derived pecking-position. So much so that they edit out the occurance from short term memory. (“Huh, did she say something… anyway I’ve just had this marvellous thought.”)
        That the surrounding members of the peer-group, seeing this from the outside, collude with what I can only imagine is a more lucid awareness of what’s actually happening is what really confuses me.
        Perhaps they feel that they are buying tokens they might redeem with the lads the next time they instantiate the behaviour.
        And so, the cycle continues. Semi-aware, post factual, crowd-sourced, memory deletion.

  4. As a privileged straight white male, apart from never* behaving in that fashion I’m unclear on what more exactly I could contribute. The sorts of forums that leave trolling in place I just leave. I’m not going to hunt down sexually disturbed 19-year-old trolls in their mothers’ basements and break their fingers (unless someone is going to pay me salary and airfare…and legal fees). What else? I’m open to suggestions.

    * It’s entirely possible that I don’t extend that courtesy to straight white males for whose positions I lack respect. C.f. Huckabee, M.

    1. Stand up and declare yourself a man who’s a real man precisely because he’s on the side of the besieged women (or woman). 

      Make it clear that a lot of men also object to sexist abuse, and that they’re not embarrassed to declare themselves feminists, and that they’re willing to fight against their “own kind” when their own kind are acting like assholes.

      Be an ally, an active ally.

    2. GawainLavers — I agree with your sentiment, and your comment in general, but this part of your comment moves me to comment:

      ___”I’m not going to hunt down sexually disturbed 19-year-old trolls in their mothers’ basements…”____

       I don’t think that these basement dwellers are the source of most of the misogynistic trolling we’re discussing here, at least in my (anecdotal) experience. 

      Professionally, I’ve known the late adolescent (17-26) year-old Parent’s-Basement-Dwellers (PBD) to be socially awkward, living their lives mostly online, to be socially awkward with their peers and with their male or female love interests. 

      I have not however, known them to have this aggressive, extreme and toxic level of misogyny, and the few that might — their attention-span and level of executive functioning would usually work against any sort of complicated stalking or bullying. 

      Now, on the other-hand, middle-age-ish (over 40, and older) year-old guys like me (and perhaps you), can have the baggage, maturity (albeit twisted), internet-savvy, and various warmed-over and festering accumulated resentments, perceived slights and etcetera to enable and motivate some of us to engage in some very nasty, misogynistic, homophobic and generally bigoted, razor-sharp trolling, nasty cyber-smear campaigns, or worse. 

      (Also, why do we always make fun of males who are sons of single mothers by referring to “mother’s basement?” or similar terms. **I’m not saying you specifically, GawainLavers** I mean society in general, including me. I’ve never known sons of single mothers to be particularly sexist, especially compared to their nuclear family peers.)

      1. Great point about stigmatizing children of single moms. That plays into the pernicious myth that single moms (or dads for that matter) can’t be good parents. And that any single-parent family has something fundamentally wrong with it.

      2. Also, why do we always make fun of males who are sons of single mothers by referring to “mother’s basement?”

        I believe we say it generally because the notion that the troll is reduced to living in his mother’s basement would be particularly hurtful and emasculating to him.

        1. I think I understand what you mean, Ser GawainLavers,

          A feedback loop, a kind of viscous circle in which his perceived idea of how others see him… real-imagined-and-somewhere-in-between…causes him to become even more reclusive, and even more disassociative, withdrawn, and etcetera, then rinse and repeat….rinse and repeat…

          Hello World, with a keyboard as a sword, or even worse, something more concrete and damaging…more than mere trolling or destructive social-engineering…like available projectile weapons and cultural thought patterns and clichés that make their use easier in the shooter’s mind. 

          What I mean is, I really wonder if this is the sort of scenario that has caused the tragedies this week, and in similar episodes earlier this year and in the last thirty.

      3. “Also, why do we always make fun of males who are sons of single mothers by referring to “mother’s basement?” or similar terms.”

        It’s unnecessary, but there is a sort of “manchild” who does this independent of age. They do not live with varied others, they have very little experience in life, and they are pretty sheltered from dealing with alternate opinion. They’re certainly sheltered from having to deal with strong, healthy women as equals.

        1. You are leaving out the likes of Donald Trump — Twitter Troll extraordinaire. Wealthy, powerful, actually been married to several women (hard to believe, I know) and he bitterly trolls away. 

          At the root of any troll is the same thing that is at the core of an abusive person: a sense of entitlement that they are justified in doing this, and far more superior than the person(s) they abuse. Plus also, because they are so superior, the rest of us peons are supposed to listen in awe and respect to their infinite wit, threats, etc..

          1. I think he probably has arrangements made for a pre-nuptial lobotomy for any prospective mates, as well as a sort of microchip-like implant that delivers horrible shocks that he controls for behavior modification purposes. Plus also several consultations arranged with his favorite cosmetic surgeons, where he does all the talking about what could improve his future mate’s appearance. Then, if this wasn’t enough, he marries women, cheats on them and publicly humiliates them ! What a catch !

          2. I figure that it’s more like: One public appearance with him per week, bang him four times per year, and after five years, you get ten million.

    3. You don’t need to hunt people down or wear yourself down psychologically. Just try and stand up for people you witness being bullied or discriminated against, when you feel that it’s necessary and that it could be effective. Even if you don’t consciously hold prejudices against a particular group, try to challenge yourself, and think about what assumptions you make and might not even notice. (We all need to do that, minority or not, trust.)

  5. Why do people write graffiti on walls? Because they can. It lets them say anything they want anonymously, which they do in vast quantities. And apparently it can’t be stopped. It’s as old as time (see the Roman graffiti in Pompeii).

    Comments on the web are like supercharged graffiti as they can be seen by a worldwide audience and don’t entail the risk of getting caught or buying a can of paint or a marker. Why would you expect people to act any differently?

    1. Graffiti is not publishing home addresses, harassing family members, and utter threats so vile and constant that police must become involved. 

      Writing on the bathroom wall “this person sucks c*ck” is not the same as saying “you will chock on mine when I come to your house tonight and rape you” complete with google maps directions.

      Not the same at all.

      1. Of course they are not the same, but the impulse is. And people do kill each other over gang graffiti, you’ve just chosen some fairly mild examples. The problem is much amplified by the internet, as usual. A wall is just a wall, but a comments section is your wall, and that leads to personalization. Fortunately you can moderate your comments (and I am among those who feel it is your resposibility to do so) but unfortunately that means you still have to read the awfulness.

          1. @google-31aa7b1faf8f75eafe973c1a76064de4:disqus Riiiiiight, sure they do! And I bet they feel every bit as threatened by it too.


          2. “Male bloggers have this problem too”

            Black male bloggers, perhaps. 

            “Get off your (no doubt female) high horse”

            Oh no, not a FEMALE high horse!

          3. Mitch, my high horse is a Clydesdale. Yes, it’s quite insane, but only because they’re not wrong. 

            You get to treat the “fewer references to rape” as a joke.  Women don’t.  AFAIK, only one of my friends was murdered after being raped, but considering that it’s not the kind of thing that most people bring up in casual conversation, an appalling number of the women I know have mentioned being raped, including stranger-with-a-knife rape, date rape, stepfather-for-years-when-you’re-a-kid rape.  My friend who got mugged at an empty subway station when he was drunk didn’t have to worry about rape after he handed over his wallet; women do.  I was freaked out for a long time after getting beaten up by a crazy road-rage guy, and I didn’t have to worry about rape; women do.

            And because you get to treat the references to rape as a joke and women don’t, women get a lot more of that shit than you do.  And they get a lot of people who don’t take what they say seriously because they’re just women; don’t be one of them.

        1. Mitch, there are lots of different impulses out there.  Women not only get the average asshole graffiti, many of them also get hit with a lot of much more vile misogynistic stuff than anything straight white men get, because in this society men have the power to do that to women (and the ones who don’t can send threatening emails pretending they do.)

      2. > Graffiti is not publishing home addresses
        You’ve never been in a public bathroom? Usually it’s the victim’s phone number. 

        Anyway, I’m not quite sure how this is specifically a feminism related problem. In fact I’m sure it’s not. All writers get trolled by retards on the web all the time as well. When it’s a woman, she gets insulted with misogynistic insults, if it’s a minority, it’s racist insults, and otherwise you’re Hitler or Stalin or something. And people are doxed and harassed all the time, regardless of gender. It’s a disgusting practice, yet it has nothing as such to do with feminism. 

        That reminds me of how in my country it looks like every time a Jew is the victim of a crime, it’s first attributed to antisemitism. Guess what, Jews also get assaulted for reasons other than being Jews, and women get attacked, verbally or otherwise, also for reasons other than being women. When antisemitism is invoked at every occasion, it does nothing but weaken the importance of real bigotry when it happens. 

        Before you call me an MRA, since that appears to be the go-to debate silencing trope around here, my main problem with the whole women-as-victims-first mentality is that it obscures the real issues. This is not one of them. 

        1. Okay, but who do you think is doing this trolling, when it comes down to very specific threats and insults against “the other”? Do you think feminist women are trolling other feminist women with insults about their appearance and rape threats, for example ? What sort of person has a bone to pick with “the other” ? This person is not a woman, the racist is not of the ethnicity they are  attacking, etc.etc. You make mention of “retards”, though I am pretty sure you probably do not consider yourself one.

          As a male (at least you sure sound/act like one) pulling the “whole women-as-victims” thing out of a hat (let’s see — Laurie Penny’s piece was about being attacked with specific threats and statements about her as a woman, which would probably make any person feel frightened and uh, possibly victimized to be on the receiving end of). Do you think that women and minorities are never attacked on the basis of being perceived as not male/not white ? Yes, people who have been attacked/assaulted, etc. like to call themselves survivors. This is usually after a long period of introspection, healing, therapy, etc. In the meantime — what do we call a person who has been assaulted or experienced a crime against their person or property? A victim.

          Do you think that so many women are just making this stuff up ?

          1. > Okay, but who do you think is doing this trolling
            I don’t know, but you appear to have a strong opinion on the matter, and little facts to start with. 

            Mind you, you’re probably right. It’s just that I find it rather uninteresting, to say the least, to draw sweeping conclusions based on vague impressions drawn from heavily biased samples. 

            To wit, I recall (vaguely) a (male) journalist recently wrote about how he discovered that his cyber-harasser was the son of a family friend. I think it was even reported here on Boingboing a few months back.  Just one unstable weirdo driving that guy mad, all for no reason. How do you know how many people are doing this kind of shit? It could simply be a very small number of people being responsible for that kind of behaviour. Most of them, btw, are bound to be male, but not because society hates women, but because males are much more prone to that kind of mental disorder, thanks to that wimpy Y chromosome.

          2. That guy’s situation is not comparable to the torrent of rape threats and obscenity that are aimed at any woman on the internet with an opinion.  Do you have any facts, by the way?  I see you accusing others of “not having facts” but offering precious few facts of your own.

        2. Trust me, this one is a real issue, and women (and other minority) writers know it. We don’t relish the situation. We don’t get off on being victims. I wish this shit wasn’t a problem. And as Cory said, though guys get it too, it’s not to the same extent minorities do.

          (It doesn’t mean it’s great or that I don’t care when white men get it, just that we need to discuss why it is that minorities get it more.)

        3. “my main problem with the whole women-as-victims-first mentality is that it obscures the real issues”

          Yes, because discussing the issue is a “victim complex”. You should stop projecting your crippling neuroses on women.

          1. Nothing — apart from unsubstantiated gut feelings — is presented here that would in any way show that it’s a particular problem for women. I doubt it is, but I’m ready to admit otherwise if shown evidence. Are you?

  6. This probably reveals I’ve lived a sheltered life, but I am stunned that humans could be so cruel to another human. It’s sick.

    1. I’m not. Most of these guys are life’s losers, and going to blame anyone else for their lack of success.

      None of them have achieved anything with their lives, and have never grown up from the ten year old bullies they used to be. Still scary, still dangerous, and still summon that primitive protective spirit in me that, if they threatened one of my friends, would involve me getting all vigilante on them.

      I already got one neo-Nazi troll outed during my time in Indymedia.

      Love having friends in low places. Nothing says “I love you” like a carolling group of SHARPs showing up at your doorstep…

        1. It’s really not. They spent their time in my youth beating up nazi skins, but also everyone else in their vicinity. They were a bunch of violent knuckleheads and not as interested in equality so much as busting shit up.

          1. I knew, like ten of them, five were childhood friends I met the five before their rebellious teen kick, like 27 or more years ago.

            I know about the cretins, I was just feeling a bit of nostalgia for a few individuals I knew…of course you’re pretty much right, I should of said the friends I knew where cool…nostalgia and other stuff you know. 

    2. I’m assuming that the “sheltered life” you’re talking about includes being male.  Men have to put up with too much of this shit from other men, and women get treated far worse, pretty much all the time.

      I don’t like the terms “privilege” or “rape culture”, but one of the things I really dislike about them is that I can’t say that they’re not describing reality.

      1. Absolutely. It SHOULD make men feel uncomfortable. Instead of addressing why a woman might think you a creep without knowing you, they deny that any men should be called a creep. Besides that only straw feminists consider “all” men creeps.

  7. Ugh.  Trolling my way through left- and right-wing websites over the past few years, I have to say that this kind of nonsense is pretty common and knows no political party.  Amazing to see what people will say about, say, Hillary Clinton, or Sarah Palin. Aside from Justin Bieber, are there that many other men subjected to that much hate? I mean, John Boehner gets it here in the U.S. from both the left and from “real conservatives” over the crying, but it’s not like people speculate on how stinky his pecker is, though they do go on about his lovely orange complexion.

    Thankfully, my media experience is all in small town newspapers, where it seems like the threats were pretty gender-neutral, such as “I’ma come back here and kill you if my name in the police blotter again”.  (That gentleman earned himself a spot in the police blotter again, BTW.)

    1. No, there aren’t many men, maybe no men, subjected to that kind of hate, because we live in a patriarchy. There’s no socially encouraged and sanctioned set of gendered associations and stereotypes to fling at men with the same force that the ones about women get flung with. (Just like with white people and race, heteros with sexuality, etc.)

        1. So you’re saying that some men online do receive concentrated, toxic levels of trolling in terms of gender with the same force that women commonly receive? (That’s not the same as saying that men never get trolled in any terms on the web.)

          Examples, please. Otherwise, GTFOH

          1. Millie, I am completely down with what you are saying. However, there are some men that get a big heaping dose of troll shit piled on them, and that would be men who are perceived as having an absence — they are not white, and/or not straight, or are perceived as these things.

            But yes, there are also men who are not white and/or not straight who troll away. 

            And the default setting of male still trumps anything else

          2. “Why do you require examples from me while providing none?”

            Because it was your outrageous claim, that men are often mocked especially for being male. She asked for any evidence you have for your statement, obviously you have no data, no anecdotes, and no rational explanation for your insecurities or feelings of inadequacy.

          3. That’s not what I’m saying. Men are harassed on the web by anonymous assholes. Harassers use whatever they  feel is a weakness to harass.

          4. responding to this from Niczar:

            “Harassers use whatever they  feel is a weakness to harass.”

            So, what I hear you saying is that you recognize harassers think the fact of being female is a weakness and therefore an excellent basis for harassment.

            Do *you* think being female is a weakness?

          5. “Men are harassed on the web by anonymous assholes. Harassers use whatever they  feel is a weakness to harass.”

            Exactly. Being a man is not the same “weakness” that people exploit. You’re so very close to understanding, if only.

        2. “Men don’t get trolled on the web?”

          You’re conveniently removing the context. They don’t get especially belittled BECAUSE they are men. Your victim complex has no basis.

  8. It’s easy to feel bigger…when you are stomping someone into the ground.
    Anyone who posts a threat should be reported to police.
    Then those comments should be deleted into oblivion. 

    1. “Then those comments should be deleted into oblivion.”

      Those sites who allow comments but refuse to police them are pretty big enablers.

        1. I’m confused as to what the reply was to, because I was agreeing that certain comments should be nuked, I was stating that plenty of websites like the hits that comments sections give them, but hate taking responsibility (paid mods or volunteer) for the content certain barely-human users bring with them.

  9. I didn’t see Laurie mention it, so I will. One of the (intended, no doubt) effects of this flood of bile and abuse at anybody holding an opinion on the internet while female is the chilling effect it has on other women’s willingness to write publicly. Having spent a decade online watching women who write about technology or politics online dealing with intense daily avalanches of bullying and abusive threats at their homes and workplaces as a result of their public holding of an opinion, I’ve learned to calculate the risks pretty intensely before doing anything so rash as to hold an opinion of my own, in public.

    So if you have a hobby and sometimes people say about that hobby “wow, where are all the women?”, and you think grumpily “god I don’t know, for some reason there are no women in my hobby”, the chances are extremely high that there actually are lots of women in your hobby but they’ve all been driven away from ever discussing it online with their fellow hobbyists due to the overwhelming and ultimately effective shit-show that is the internet misogynist hate machine.

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