Wow. What brilliant article by Ms.Fowles recently published by the Walrus. I’m gonna put the whole thing up here because it sheds light on so many of the issues that face women today in the online world. Consider this example #2348239487 of how woman’s experiences in society are dramatically different than those of men.
“Every so often, someone (always a man) sends me a casual tweet asking why he can’t retweet me. Of course, the obvious answer is that my account is locked—a tiny optional blessing of Twitter’s functionality that means I’m not searchable to the world outside. The more complex answer relates to why my account is locked in the first place, why I would choose to keep people from reading my brilliant musings on ’90s’ teen movies, Rihanna’s latest video, or the myriad virtues of Magic Mike XXL. There are easy, palatable answers I have given to those that ask; I value my privacy, or I like to keep my circle small and manageable, or I prefer to keep the personal aspects of my life away from my employers and ex-boyfriends.
But the most important (and truest) answer is this: I am afraid of men on the Internet.
There’s good reason for this fear, and it’s likely one you’ll empathize with if you’re a woman who has ever dared to have an opinion in the techno-public realm. In fact, women have never once asked me why my account is locked—and unlike some of my male editors, they’ve never recommended opening it up. They understand that the online world has become a horror show, and that men largely drive that horror. Men are usually the ones who post nude pictures of their exes, release the home addresses of the women they dislike, and run the vileness that is Gamergate. (I’m even reluctant to type the word Gamergate, as if doing so conjures the hoards like some kind of Internet Candyman.) Of course, Not All Men, but unless a new Twitter follower has “I hate women” or some variation thereof in his bio, there’s no good way to predict which one will decide to take offence at you merely existing. And there’s no way to know whether that person who is offended will be the one to threaten to end your life.
Online technology has allowed a stranger to tell me he’d like to penetrate me with a broken light bulb because I’d “probably like it.” It has let a commenter inform me that women shouldn’t act the “way they do” if they don’t want men to commit crimes against them. I’ve been the subject of mockery and derision on men’s-rights-activist websites and right-wing blogs. On a good day, the Internet helps people let me know I’m stupid, and on a bad one it helps them threaten me with bodily harm. It’s facilitated me being called a man hater, a feminazi, a libtard, a hack, an attention whore, or just a plain old whore. It’s brought me patronizing questions, profanity-laden emails, and abuse masquerading as “criticism.”
It has also been a great way for people to tell me that I should ignore all this, that I should get a thicker skin, and if I don’t like it maybe I should get offline altogether.”
Catch the rest at the Walrus, as apparently they need their ad revenue – tracking down hole in the wall blogs for copyright violations is an expensive business.