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Friday, April 18, 2014

Punished for the Crime of Being Female on the Internet

Posted by on Fri, Apr 18, 2014 at 11:50 AM

It's not often that I recommend a Reddit thread, but this one might be a real eye-opener for some guys out there. Reddit user aseriesofpipes asked, "Female Redditors, do you actually get creepy [private messages] when you self-identify as female? What's the 'worst' one you've gotten?" The answer to the first question is yes: When women 'out' themselves from internet anonymity, they often get harassed by creepy men. Let's restate: They are immediately harassed by men for the "crime" of identifying themselves as women.

And as to the second part of that question, look at some of these stories:

I posted a picture of me and my cat to [cute animal photo-sharing subreddit] /r/aww and someone sent me "I'm going to cut off your hair and choke you with it."

I got one PM that was just "CUNT CUNT CUNT CUNT CUNT CUNT CUNT" over and over. Not sure why but it made me laugh.

I mostly just get told to kill myself.
EDIT: I am, in fact, getting [private messages] telling me to kill myself just from this comment alone.

If you're a man and you spend time on the internet, I'd ask you to go take a look at the thread. Even if you consciously understand that women continually have to live through this kind of bullshit every day, it's a really visceral reminder that things are far from okay.


Comments (31) RSS

Oldest First Unregistered On Registered On Add a comment
Fnarf 1
Every woman I know at work has two Facebook accounts for this reason. It's SHAMEFUL. People who do this should have their fingers broken and their internet access permanently taken away, even at work. Try explaining that to your friends and your boss, assholes.
Posted by Fnarf on April 18, 2014 at 12:19 PM · Report this
I was told that women asking to have a safe space away from the types of people who would do those sorts of things is "bad" because it is essentially telling ALL the mens to "shut up" and telling mens to "shut up" doesn't lead to equality, which is apparently the point of feminism. I'd like to take a moment to remind that person that these jackholes are not being "silenced" by women having safe spaces, they are merely *being ignored* by women who are sick and tired of dealing with that shit. And yes, feelings really DO matter when it comes to topics like this.
Posted by treehugger on April 18, 2014 at 12:27 PM · Report this
It's the anonymity, stupid. Anonymity enables sociopaths. I know, I know, advocating for the abolition of anonymous comments is terribly unAmerican, and would even be hypocritical if my given and family names weren't actually "Eric" and "fromBoulder", respectively, but damn. How badly can you want to say something if you're unwilling to have your name associated with it? As for openness just driving creepiness underground? I say, good! Deep underground and far out of sight is where it belongs.
Posted by Eric from Boulder on April 18, 2014 at 12:41 PM · Report this
Doctor Memory 4
Okay folks, put your bets down: who's going to be the first commenter to lecture us about the perils of misandry in this thread? My money, as always, is on seandr.
Posted by Doctor Memory on April 18, 2014 at 12:51 PM · Report this
seatackled 5
Though the comments weren't the "worst" imaginable, at least a couple of male-identified readers here made some creepy comments when Slog posted that photo of Ms. Graves earlier this week.
Posted by seatackled on April 18, 2014 at 12:53 PM · Report this
"I mostly just get told to kill myself.
EDIT: I am, in fact, getting [private messages] telling me to kill myself just from this comment alone."

Paul, you might want to read the comments here. Telling someone to kill themselves seems to be a thing.
Posted by fairly.unbalanced on April 18, 2014 at 1:01 PM · Report this
passionate_jus 7
The internet is partially a cesspool and partially one of the greatest hopes for mankind (as in, when democratic activists in, say Egypt or Libya or Ukraine, can get around government censors and post videos of government crackdowns in their home countries; or when children in Chile can instantly talk to children in South Africa).

People that run chatrooms and comment threads need to police them a lot better. And that goes double to news organizations like The Stranger or Yahoo News (one of the worst cesspools of hate and garbage around).

And we all need to do something about this crap.

Case in point, after the shootings happened in Kansas City, the Kansas City Star posted some of their interviews of eye witnesses on YouTube. They disabled comments on most of them, which is a good thing and should be done more often.

But on one they did not for whatever reason. And so there was the usual filth about how Hitler was right to murder Jews, how the shootings were fake, etc etc.

If all you do is flag these comments to YouTube for "hate speech" you won't see them anymore but they're still there.

So I sent an email to the Kansas City Star's public editor and within thirty minutes the comments were taken down and the comment section was disabled.

It would a better world if more people did what I did. This shit shouldn't be allowed to be out there. It is not a matter of freedom of speech. Some anonymous dipshit spewing how Jews need to be gassed is not adding anything to any discussion.
Posted by passionate_jus on April 18, 2014 at 1:04 PM · Report this
Fnarf 8
@5, I'm pretty sure that was one person, and we all know exactly who he is. John Bailo of Kent, WA. So much for anonymity.
Posted by Fnarf on April 18, 2014 at 1:19 PM · Report this
@4, yeah well some men are actually women on the internet, you know, doctor. Check your privilege.
Posted by GermanSausage on April 18, 2014 at 1:42 PM · Report this
I would be shocked at these messages...except for the high volume of hate posts I've received in public on SLOG threads (and STB threads, and Publicoal threads, and threads, and comp.os.linux.advocacy threads, and ...)

If you want my advice...always use your real name, and develop a thick skin, and hope that one day (or even now) the people over at NSA are tracking each and every one of the borderline rampage killers who post on the Internet.

Posted by Supreme Ruler Of The Universe http://_ on April 18, 2014 at 1:46 PM · Report this
@8, isn't Bailo the same person who keeps griping on transit blogs that there is no express light rail to his house in Kent because of a war-on-suburbs? I think that anonymity is pretty much destroyed when someone posts essentially the same thing on 84 different forums...
Posted by dawyv on April 18, 2014 at 1:58 PM · Report this
watchout5 12
While deplorable and inexcusable and I would hope reddit admins decide to take some kind of action even if it's just banning that specific account forever this comes from a very specific part of our culture where females will use the fact that they're female to get more internet points when gender is irrelevant (this doesn't even have to happen consciously, because perverts will rise a picture of X with a female in it so long as she's attractive enough). Certainly the response should never be this negative/violent/terrible and I would even go further as to say attention whore behavior (which is a gender neutral issue) is only encouraged when you give them the attention they wanted like this.

I would also love to add there's a subreddit that pokes fun of the "girls post themselves in pictures they take to get more points" meme which I find hilarious.… I think this would go a long way in showing these assholes that this isn't a gendered issue.
Posted by watchout5 on April 18, 2014 at 2:30 PM · Report this
seatackled 13

Yes, him, but no not just him. There was another a little further down.
Posted by seatackled on April 18, 2014 at 2:31 PM · Report this
A lot of objectification takes place here on Slog, usually directed at cute men. Apparently that's OK, though I'm not sure why.

Posted by bigyaz on April 18, 2014 at 2:59 PM · Report this
Fnarf 15
@14, you know, "CUNTCUNTCUNTCUNTCUNTCUNTCUNT" and "I'm going to cut your hair off and choke you with it" goes pretty far beyond objectification.
Posted by Fnarf on April 18, 2014 at 3:15 PM · Report this
Jessica 16
@12: gentle reminder from the other 50% of our species that the correct nomenclature for an adult female of the human race is "woman". Referring to women as "females" is the biggest red flag I (and every other woman I know) pick up on in a dialog, often signaling a readiness to discount our contributions because of our chosen gender.
Posted by Jessica on April 18, 2014 at 3:19 PM · Report this
PJ Vogt at On The Media's TLDR blog had an apropos story on how the 46-year-old female avatar he plays on Grand Theft Auto V went on a sort of crime-spree-cum-date with some random guy in the game. Well, maybe he was a guy...who knows?
Posted by Mr. Happy Sunshine on April 18, 2014 at 3:27 PM · Report this
18 point with the TLDR story was actually that it touched off an interesting conversation in the comments and a good reddit thread as well about what it's like playing across genders in online games.
Posted by Mr. Happy Sunshine on April 18, 2014 at 3:31 PM · Report this
@16: I think @12 is not excluding those under 18, so wouldn't female work?
Posted by CoffeeCoffee on April 18, 2014 at 3:34 PM · Report this
Jesus...sorry, Jessica@16. It should have been "46-year-old woman" in @17. Word-choice does matter -- my bad.
Posted by Mr. Happy Sunshine on April 18, 2014 at 3:34 PM · Report this
treacle 21
@14 - That is ok because of the still-extant power differentials between men and women in society, and because women are objectified pretty much constantly. Time to turn the tables.

In General: It's funny if you pillory those with power, it's hateful if you pillory those without power.

Pretty straight-forward, if you ask me.
Posted by treacle on April 18, 2014 at 3:43 PM · Report this
derrickito 22
im a dick on the internet all the time, but i've only gotten hate mail when i made fun of downies and breast cancer with greeting cards.
Posted by derrickito on April 18, 2014 at 4:10 PM · Report this
kk in seattle 23
I think anonymous comments are ok, but I ignore the unregistered users and wouldn't have a problem if they were banned. And all comments should be capable of being flagged for removal, with the commenter reported.
Posted by kk in seattle on April 18, 2014 at 4:21 PM · Report this
watchout5 24
@16 - If only slog had an edit function I could appease you. I had no earthly idea this was a red flag thing for people and I would have only assumed it comes off a little immature at worst. Is there a list of these less well known red flags somewhere or do we just have to discover them as they're invented by each individual? Maybe a yellow flag describes the transgression better because I meant nothing by it, as if intent ever matters in these discussions. This was not one of those times where I discount contributions, in fact, if you would have read the rest of my post the subreddit I linked is run by a bunch of womans who poke fun of men who assume that every womans in a picture with a thing means they're being an attention whore. If I wanted to discount their contributions for reasons of their gender why would I link their work and praise it for how awesome I think it is?
Posted by watchout5 on April 18, 2014 at 4:32 PM · Report this
15: I was referring to the comments about Jen Graves, which were far less inflammatory but, to me, still bothersome. I'm just not a big fan of making snap judgments about people of any gender based on their looks
Posted by bigyaz on April 18, 2014 at 5:09 PM · Report this
@6 LOL you just think you've been told to go kill yourself.
Posted by Machiavelli was framed on April 19, 2014 at 9:04 AM · Report this
27 Comment Pulled (Trolling) Comment Policy
TheRain 28
"gentle reminder from the other 50% of our species that the correct nomenclature for an adult female of the human race is "woman". Referring to women as "females" is the biggest red flag I (and every other woman I know) pick up on in a dialog,"

I struggle to believe this is true.
Posted by TheRain on April 19, 2014 at 9:45 AM · Report this
Lissa 29
@28 and others: No, the choice of the word female is a pretty good indicator of the mind set of men who use it consistently on the internet. I don't know that I'd call it the biggest red flag but it certainly is a flag of rosy hue.
Posted by Lissa on April 20, 2014 at 8:37 AM · Report this
Yeah, I've had women tell me that the use of "female" is usually a good indicator of misogyny. It has come up for me a lot, because they'll be mentioning how it's weird for them that I tend to use "female" and "male" rather than "woman" and "man" (due to personal gender issues I've only recently sorted through - short answer, I'm not on the gender binary), even though I am not especially misogynistic, whereas they usually only hear it from other people when they are. It's not that it is necessarily inherently wrong to use "female", it's just that most people's motivations for doing so is misogynistic and it correlates very well. "Female" and "woman" have different meanings and flavors. "Female" can apply to any species, for example. "Females" are not necessarily human or sapient. "Women" can only be properly used for people. So people who choose to use "female" are usually dehumanizing their subjects because of misogyny. I was doing it due to personal feelings of heavier gender-identity tied up in "man" and "woman" that made me uncomfortable, because neither felt like it fit me. But I'm trying to learn to use terms like "women" and "men" for other people now that I know the root of my own issues. And, after all, I don't have a problem with other people having a gender identity as a "man" or as a "woman".
Posted by uncreative on April 21, 2014 at 2:27 PM · Report this
Regarding the use of "female" vs. "woman": I've seen many of my students doing this, and after some reflection, I think that there is a discomfort with the old-ness implications of "man" and "woman" that make many in the younger generation uncomfortable with those words (it makes them feel like their parents). There is a general trend towards neoteny - appearing or acting more young - and so I think that the use of "female" and "male" is an attempt to be more precise and neutral in terms of gendering - "woman" can carry very strongly gendered assumptions that many aren't actually comfortable with.

It may indicate that we need another word - a noun version of "feminine" and "masculine" - that doesn't make one feel old but that also acknowledges the gendered angle.

(I come from biomedical studies, so I use "female" and "male" often in context of reproduction and gametes, as do many of my colleagues, so it was a surprise to hear it's considered insulting in other contexts)
Posted by MemeGene on April 21, 2014 at 8:23 PM · Report this

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