TRIGGER WARNING: discussions of physical and sexual violence; racism; threatening, profane and obscene statements about women’s bodies, character and sexuality.
Anyone who works in the areas of women’s rights and empowerment can probably share at least a few stories of the threats, obscenities, and general vitriol hurled their way via email, social media, and telephone – hell, probably even fax machines though I don’t have confirmation on that. If I were to speculate on the reasons why men (and it is mostly men) wage such campaigns of abuse against women’s organizations and publications, I’d say their intent is to intimidate, humiliate, and generally cause emotional distress. Whether they’re doing this to attempt to compromise the organization’s work, to vent what they believe to be righteous anger, or to take the evil feminists down a peg is really beside the point.
This means that most women who want to work in this area must have an extraordinarily thick skin. Not only do you need to cope with work that in my experience is intensely emotionally draining (and sometimes triggering), you need to be prepared to face an inordinate number of abusive, hateful remarks and threats against your safety. While I do think the interconnectivity, instantaneity and social insulation of the internet facilitate more torrential harassment, I expect this phenomenon (and perhaps much worse) would probably be familiar to the feminists of eras past.
I think it’s important that people who care about gender equity but are not engaged with the work day in and day out understand the severity of what feminist workers and volunteers have to face. In that spirit, here’s a small sampling of comments that have been received on a variety of platforms by either myself or women I know who work in women’s rights and empowerment.
[REPEATING THE TRIGGER WARNING HERE, THIS STUFF IS PRETTY NASTY]
“bitches who made this [project] deserve to be raped for thinking all men are rapists.”
“I don’t understand the practicality of a rape whistle. Isn’t it kind of hard to blow a whistle when the woman’s mouth is already full blowing a dude’s dick? :)”
“I think the proper present for International Men’s Day is a blowjob. Feel free to start sucking anytime, honey.”
“somebody should drag u in a back alley and rape u”
“As a guy, every time I see something like this [project], I proceed to get a shiver, grab my ballsack, and gentle hold it, reassuring it that it shall not be such a violent or horrible creature that causes pain and misery to others, but will remain as a peaceful, benevolent dick that will be solely used for going pee pee standing up. OH THE SHAME”
“all women should be raped and killed. all they are good for is making sammiches and their fuckhole they are useless evil cunts.”
“i’d eat u out then blow ur brains out i’m hardcore like that”
“I guess you’ve been asking for a good beating and raping all along.”
“*hoooot* Time to rape!”
“some day you’re going to ROFL at the wrong badass motherfucker and he’s going to teach you a lesson you won’t forget very soon ok? you might think it’s funny to laugh at other people but some of us have feelings too and you need to take into account because if you hurt other people they’re gonna hurt you back, probably with shotguns and rocket launchers. what goes around comes around motherfucker.”
“Every person involved in this [project] is a dumb fucking cat piss stench cunt. You deserve to be launched into outer space to die.”
“She’s only a Muslim anyways. So if she is raped, what does it matter?”
“keeping man-hating cunts in check: MANHOOD101. COM”
Sorry to be the harbinger of doom and gloom, but this is reality for many of us. I might make this into a monthly or bi-monthly series of sobering reminders.