Being on-line seems to unleash the infantile in some people. Some hide behind anonymity, some are more open with their identities, but for many, their favourite targets are women. I’m sure you’ve come across them in comments sections everywhere. These people obsess over the fuckability of every picture of every woman they see. Most of us see these guys in articles about public figures such actresses and politicians, but a very special hatred exists for women who dare speak out about such treatment.
One of the lightening rods for such attacks is Rebecca Watson, who ignited an internet firestorm by suggesting that men should be aware of the context when approaching women. Somehow, a large number of men took this as a personal affront and the attacks began, some of them very personal and very vile.
Jen McCreight is another blogger who has faced some extreme reactions. Jen became famous for the Internet phenomenon known as “Boobquake” and also wrote frequently about feminism and equality. She also has been the subject of abuse and ultimately decided that, for her own mental health, she needed to take an indefinite break from blogging.
I love writing, I love sharing my ideas, and I love listening to the ideas of my readers. But I simply no longer love blogging. Instead of feeling gleeful anticipation when writing up a post, I feel nothing but dread. There’s a group of people out there (google the ironic term FtBullies to find them) devoted to hating me, my friends, and even people I’m just vaguely associated with. I can no longer write anything without my words getting twisted, misrepresented, and quotemined. I wake up every morning to abusive comments, tweets, and emails about how I’m a slut, prude, ugly, fat, feminazi, retard, bitch, and cunt (just to name a few). If I block people who are twisting my words or sending verbal abuse, I receive an even larger wave of nonsensical hate about how I’m a slut, prude, feminazi, retard, bitch, cunt who hates freedom of speech (because the Constitution forces me to listen to people on Twitter). This morning I had to delete dozens of comments of people imitating my identity making graphic, lewd, degrading sexual comments about my personal life. In the past, multiple people have threatened to contact my employer with “evidence” that I’m a bad scientist (because I’m a feminist) to try to destroy my job. I’m constantly worried that the abuse will soon spread to my loved ones.
I just can’t take it anymore.
I don’t want to let them win, but I’m human. The stress is getting to me. I’ve dealt with chronic depression since elementary school, and receiving a daily flood of hatred triggers it. I’ve been miserable. And this toxic behavior is affecting all parts of my life. With this cloud of hate hanging over my head, I can’t focus or enjoy my hobbies or work. It has me constantly on edge with frayed nerves, which causes me to take it out on the ones I love. I spend most of my precious free time angry, on the verge of tears, or sobbing as I have to moderate comments or read what new terrible things people have said about me. And the only solution I see is to unplug.
So, to all the insecure, infantile men out there – I hope you’re happy. You’ve managed to chase one of your enemies off the web.
I wish I could apologize to Rebecca, Jen, and the others on behalf of the male gender, but I really don’t feel that, other than having a penis, I have very much in common with these troglodytes.