Jezebel editor in chief, Jessica Coen, wrote a great opinion piece yesterday about how she felt jaded by the blatant sexist, misogyny found all over the internet. You Tube, Facebook, and yes, folks, even right here on our blog. Some of the spam we get from this article is particularly gross. Jessica was writing in response to a website called Feminist Frequency, specifically about the blog owner’s Anita Sarkeesian’s mission to break down the difference between female character stereotypes and actual women in video games.
“I love playing video games but I’m regularly disappointed in the limited and limiting ways women are represented,” she writes.
She means the Fighting Fuck Toys, the princesses and the sexual objects used as background noise. Go ahead and compare these video game characters to Barbies–yet, not this one–and then multiply them by the thousands. Video games, though awesome entertainment, are like cockroaches.
But in one of her blog posts, Anita explained how her Tropes vs. Women project has turned her into the target of outrageous, misogynistic comments and rape threats. But that’s become run-of-the-mill on the internet–that women are going to get slammed by sexual comments. But in Anita’s case, even her Wikipedia page was vandalized by words like “cunt” and photos of her with a dick in her mouth. I’m sure you won’t be surprised at all when I tell you one commenter wrote on her You Tube site: “She needs a good dicking, but good luck finding it though.” This was one of hundreds.
I am certainly not the first woman to suffer this kind of harassment and sadly, I won’t be the last. But I’d just like to reiterate that this is not a trivial issue. It can not and should not be brushed off by saying, “oh well that’s YouTube for you“, “trolls will be trolls” or “it’s to be expected on the internet”. These are serious threats of violence, harassment and slander across many online platforms meant to intimidate and silence. And its not okay.
Coen’s gripe, on the other hand, was more self-directed. She was angered at herself that she didn’t initially find this kind of harassment outrageous enough to cover it on Jez. Why? She writes when she first heard of it, she was immune to the misogyny.
I’ve become particularly jaded in regards to this specific sort of story — anonymous haters attacking a woman because she dares to do something online — because I’ve seen it so many times. I’ve even been on the receiving end of it. Disgusting emails, awful phone calls, pricks harassing my parents.
She un-reacted to the point that she declined to assign a story about it. But then, Coen came to a realization about her own apathetic reaction:
Par for the course, I thought. Numb. And that is so fucking sad. That there’s so much misogyny online that I can barely raise an eyebrow? Jesus. That numbness again.
Jezebel’s companion photo in Coen’s article is of a young girl studying the computer and so I couldn’t help but think of my daughter. How will she react the first time she sees this slaying of female-directed harassment? Or how my son might act? Will they think it’s normal internet fodder too? The crazies. No one I know really thinks that way.
Or will they think, this is how everyone acts on the internet? Maybe they’ll think it’s symbolic of something more. Something we should be angry about.
Isn’t it time to be outraged?
(Image: Feminist Frequency/Kickstarter)