Friday, 4 November 2011

On Free Speech and THAT NS Article

As you may or may not know, I recently contributed to this article in the New Statesman, titled '"You should have your tongue ripped out": the reality of sexist abuse online', where I and several other female bloggers discussed the abuse we suffer for being that most disgusting of creatures - Women With Opinions On The Internet.

There was... somewhat of a mixed reaction in the comments (109 of them at the time of writing). These mainly fall into four categories:

  1. Women agreeing and sympathising with what we'd written and sharing their stories.
  2. Men sympathising with us and saying they hadn't even been aware how bad the problem was for women.
  3. Men telling us it was our own fault and we shouldn't be so whiny, threatening to rape someone to death isn't even gendered abuse anyway! Are you bitches crazy or something? You are WAAAAY too sensitive, you must be PMSing or something. I mean, this is the internet! Whatever happened to free speech anyway? You stupid whores just want the moon on a stick. Given to you by a man.
  4. You cannot be fucking serious.

I'm going to address category 4 first, because fuck me, they are funny. First up, we have 'Hermaphrodite', who ventures that:

For all we know many of these rape threats were made by misandristic feminists trying to portray men in a bad light - there's no way of knowing with the internet

SHIT. They're on to us. In Hermaphrodite's world, there is no financial crisis brought on by the world's banks, the poor did it to make the innocent bankers look bad. There is no prejudice against travellers, just lying gyppos. Dogs never attack anyone, it's just cats in disguise. Personally, I love this argument. Next time I fuck up, I'm going to pick a minority group and blame it on them trying to make me look like a shit because CONSPIRACY THEORY, YO.

What Hermaphrodite fails to realise is that none of the women involved have ever experienced any kind of abuse, ever. In reality, we have hordes of Man-Slaves who bring us bonbons while we scratch out our hateful misandrist missives. We only claim to get rape and death threats because, frankly, it's HILARIOUS.

Next up, we have a man calling himself 'Me'. He has written two comments, one of which is easily over 1500 words of sheer 'what-the-fuck?-ery'. I feel like this guy should be thrown a parade by the protagonists of manboobz. In his comment, he manages to assert that:

  • Saying that we receive misogynist abuse is unfairly labelling misogynist abusers and, as such, we are awful bullies
  • All women ever do is get fat and ugly and then harass men for leaving them
  • Men are now no longer allowed to swear ever because if they do, women will have them shunned by all society
  • Workplaces should be separate so men can prosper and women can fail because they're shit and maybe then they'd know their place
  • No one should ever discuss problematic issues, they should get out there and DO SOMETHING (apart from him, apparently)
  • Threatening to rape someone is basically like telling them that they're shit, but a bit more extreme

My favourite part, however, is this little gem:
Can you not understand that the phrase I want to rape you might mean something quite different depending on who said it and where they come from? That it might not mean what you think it does? Did you consider that?
That loud noise you just heard was your head exploding.

I get it! It's all so simple now! I should have seen it all along - women have all the power ever (along with all other 'minorities'), and we use it just to oppress straight white cis men because... well, just BECAUSE.

 Someone call the WWF, I just found a new endangered species.

Anyway, that's enough of them. I want to move on to category 3. 

There seems to be a hell of a lot of bro-dudes in this thread shrieking "BUT FREE SPEECH!!!!!". Now guys, before I do anything, I'm going to post a picture of a kitten for you to look at if what follows below gets a bit to much for your AWESOME MANLITUDE to have to cope with.

Kitteh says: "THE STUPID! IT BURNS!"

There now follows a small rant about free speech:

Free speech is great, but you are arseholes. In much the same way food is great, but mushrooms are shit. I DO NOT HAVE TO EAT YOUR MUSHROOMS. You have the whole goddamn INTERNET to be  a wanker in, asking you to not be a wanker to me is not endangering your free speech in any way. I will not come to your house and gaffer tape your mouth shut so you can't sit there spluttering your inane froth. To borrow a phrase, "this is not about free speech, this is about being a goddamn decent human being".

I mean sweet unicycling baby jesus, what the shit is wrong with you people?! Is it REALLY that hard to see a website written by a woman and not go storming in, waving your dick about and shouting abuse? So much so that to ask you not to do it is actively harming you? GET HELP.

And for all you smart fucks that are like "Well, you know, this is just how the internet is. If you're too much of a pussy to deal with it, GO BACK TO THE KITCHEN LOLOLOL". Now, in telling me to shut the fuck up and not have opinions so that you can make your rape threats in peace, guess who is stifling who's free speech? OH YEAH. 

To conclude:




  1. I like this because it is good and because it has a kitten in it.

  2. You're completely wrong and deserve to be hideously mangled! How DARE you come on the internet and say bad things about mushrooms? You are a classic example of a rabid mushroom hating bigot, hiding behind your fascist PC mumbo jumbo to deny - nay, stifle! nay, ban, outlaw and endanger! - my joy and pleasure in glorious fungi! I hope you choke on a shitake!

  3. I find it surprising that people can say they were not aware of the problem. I've known it's a problem for women on the internet for a long time (and not just bloggers, see for examples of the abuse female gamers are subjected to).

    I wish people would stop saying that the things they say are not offensive because they mean something different when they say them. Communication is all about the meaning that other people draw from what you are saying.

    If you take people at their word and accept that they can't manage to synch up sounds they are making with the meaning they are trying to get across then they are essentially at the same level of communication as a new born baby who just makes the loudest most offensive sound possible in order to get attention. Of course the baby is superior because it will work to improve it's communication skills.

  4. I was about to be a tiny bit fair to the author of your favourite little gem and suggest he was just, in a very narrow way, pointing out that most of the people making rape threats on t'internet probably don't have any real intention of raping the author (while somehow not addressing that it's unacceptable to abuse people in that way regardless).

    But then I followed the comment's advice, and in the context of who wrote it and what else he wrote, I decided he was being a complete dick-end.

  5. my comment didn't get published on the NS article but you can read it:

    Was too long or something. Which is weird as 'me' comment was really long!

    But well said Nat. Horrifying how the comments proved the blogpost.

    Intimidating me so much with threats that i nearly shut down my blog? who's attacking free speech there!

    Also, because people refuse to believe the rape threats and gendered nastiness of it all, some people say 'hey, people are going to disagree with you!'.

    But that isn't the same. I disagree with you Nat about mushrooms. I don't express that disagreement with violent threats and hate language.

    People can and will disagree with me on my blog. Although i would LOVE it if everyone agreed with me (!) i accept they won't and i publish their comments and i engage in a debate. Those people manage to disagree with me without physically threatening me. It's not hard!

  6. The easiest thing in the world is to be a man. I don't know why so many of us are terrible at it.

  7. Oh oh oh I love it so much when people invoke freedom of speech to try and tell you to shut up.

  8. I actually found your blog by this article.
    The first thing I read was about the (failed) proposal, and I was hooked.
    This one comes second, and it only confirmed my opinion.
    I will definitely be following this blog.

    Now, where can I find the male version of yourself ?

  9. More and more it seems like I'm dealing with people (and sadly this includes a few women I know) who do not tolerate any opinion of a woman that differs in any way from their own. I've seen this on the internet and in life for awhile now and I've even had it happen to me before but somehow just over the last two years or so it seems to have gotten much worse everywhere I look. Thank you for speaking up about this and I offer my thanks to all female bloggers and gamers even ones who's opinions I don't agree with, because just by doing what they're doing they're refuting the idea that women should only exist to please and comfort others.
    There's a great but over looked book by Dorothy Dinnerstein called "The Mermaid and The Minotaur" where she makes the case for how misogyny is basically people refusing to resolve their mommy issues. To quote her;
    "The being who is the focus of these mixed feeling is not - even in retrospect - a unitary fellow creature; not an "I", but an amorphous, sub- and superhuman "she". She can remain amorphous, a bodily and emotional intimate whose own selfhood is inconceivable, unacceptable, because an innocent and dignified "he" is there to represent the part of a person that wants to stand clear of the flesh, to maintain perspective on it: "I"ness wholly free of the chaotic carnal atmosphere of infancy, uncontaminated humanness, is reserved for man." - Dorothy Dinnerstein, 1976
    Every time a woman speaks her mind she is asserting her humanity and her self hood. These assertions are threats to the world views of certain people who have taken the path of least resistance with respect to their personal development. Because they feel threatened they then feel entitled to make threats but their threats are the real thing; actual claims that they will do physical harm and these aren't covered by free speech. Spudman had a good point these people are acting like babies. As for their BS about double meanings and nuance well they don't care if they ruin the whole concept of communication by separating words from their meanings. The destruction of meaning is the destruction of consciousness and as they're trying to not face the truth about themselves this outcome suits them just fine.