Women’s Organizations: We Get Emails!

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.

14 thoughts on “Women’s Organizations: We Get Emails!

  1. “I might make this into a monthly or bi-monthly series of sobering reminders.” Not a bad idea. That way we can point our well-meaning menfolk to the tag for these posts and show them that yes, it really is that bad.

  2. Out of curiosity, what percentage of these are anonymous? I would guess the outright threats do not come from people using their real name, but I’m sure beyond this collection there are plenty of less-overtly-vicious statements…do those come from identifiable people?

    • Good Q, Jacqueline! I know most of the comments I get are anonymous, but you’re right that the less vicious ones sometimes come from identifiable people. Maybe I’ll work that component into future posts in this vein. Thanks for the idea!

  3. That, I guess, is one of the downsides of online anonymity. Even if people are using their real names they feel anonymous and in either case feel freer to be abusive with their language. I’m not saying that some of them aren’t sincere in their threats, but online people seem less aware that words themselves have consequences.

  4. The back alley one struck a nerve. I once had a co-worker say that about me. He stupidly said it to a security guard for our company that he wanted to just take me in a back alley and…

    After that, maybe I’d “be nicer.” (Laughed)

    The security guard then warned me and told me that he also said to him, “a) she’d likely kick your ass and b) you realize I have a taser, right?”

  5. Not to dismiss anonymous threats, but those that come from identifiable people are worse because they feel more serious. These are people who want you to know who they are…
    Also, I’m not involved in explicitly feminist work anymore, but I still feel that instant sting seeing the same old crap being flung by the fearful.

  6. Do these disturbed individuals get reported and, if so, do authorities, social media companies etc take much action? For those identifiable, I hope the emails etc get referred to their schools/employers etc.

  7. thanks for sharing this Steph. One hopes most men are not guilty of this disgraceful sort of behaviour, but at the same time most men are probably not aware of the extent to which you and other women writers are subjected to such abuse.
    Keep fighting the good fight!

  8. As a man and I’d just like to say that I’m utterly disgusted with the men who write the crap that you’re subjected to. I also want to say that I admire your courage and tenacity in continuing your vital work in the face of such intimidation and crude threats.

  9. Thank you. We need to see this shit and understand that it’s not at all funny. I can’t imagine how bad it would feel to receive such bile all the time.

  10. This is exactly why I should … tell you that you are doing an amazing job. I can’t do less than that, but I can do more. I’ll be tweeting this post publicly. Please keep going.

  11. Great blog, keep giving voice to this, this must must never become invisible, I can add cyberspace in general has these attacks at many levels, dare voice a political opinion, dare have a country leader who happens to be a woman, (Australia’s Prime Minister now), the sheer verocity unleashed, the more subtle forms of misogyny and open blatant death threats with always the sexual content and sexual violence-especially cyberspace originated violence is at levels never before ever seen by people. Keep speaking out, we need more women in positions of power, doing, speaking, just being…the majority of people are decent and fair, keep strong. (I have reblogged if that’s ok with you). Thankyou for everything you do for all of us, all of society and women and men for that matter.

    • I agree – you can find these kinds of attacks anywhere you find women on the internet! I’m glad you enjoyed and shared this post; I think the only thing that will cure problems like this is lots of sunlight. The more we share our experiences with misogyny (online and off), the clearer the scope of the problem becomes to those who don’t face it directly (i.e. most dudes). And the louder we (and others on the right side of history) become, the harder it will be for these assholes to be heard or to hear themselves cackle.

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