There's been an interesting surge lately in protests against online misogyny, kicked off by the rather strange case of douchebags dogpiling of Alyssa Rosenberg for having the nerve to be an even-tempered pop culture blogger for Think Progress. Oh yeah, and with a vagina. That, it is believed, was her real crime that justified a torrent of unprovoked abuse in the comments at Think Progress, which led her to start speaking out about online misogyny. Sady Doyle has now joined up with a Twitter hashtag called #mencallmethings, which is useful for an eyeful of the routine abuse dished out at women online for daring to think they have a right to write. I added some examples of my own.
I always worry about doing stuff like this, because sexist pricks are eager to interpret you speaking out about this as complaining that your feelings are hurt. Since they want to hurt your feelings, this means that they are actually getting positive feedback for their behavior. But being silent has its own drawbacks, as well. Abusive fuckwits enjoy the cover of darkness, after all. Sexual harassers wait until no one is looking for a reason, and the online equivalent is the prevalence of abusive men who go to elaborate lengths to hide their identity. The vast majority of crap I've gotten from men is from men who start separate email accounts and even use IP masking software in order to conceal their identity. They are extremely devoted to their misogyny. Simple silence doesn't help because that can contribute to the sense that they're trying to establish that they get to victimize in private and you have no recourse.
The ideal is calling it out with humor that demonstrates that you understand that they are lowlife scum who lean on misogyny to boost their self-esteem. Men who fling this shit out grasp that they suck as individuals, and so they try to convince themselves that they're superior to half the human race because their gonads hang on the outside. I know; sad. Coming to this realization allowed me to hang in with humor, and hanging in with humor has meant that over time, I've been getting way less misogynist abuse than I used to. Or maybe I just care less.
I mention this, because many women have asked me over the years how to deal with it. That's my main piece of advice: don't go away. And when these guys dish it out, try to imagine who it is cowardly hiding behind his fake name and fake email address, dishing out crap. Imagine them in their stained underwear, shoving cold fried food in their mouths while they whine online that women keep overlooking them for dates, inscrutably choosing to go out with guys who take frequent showers and don't spend hours online combining and recombining the words "cunt" and "dyke". Imagine how truly pathetic you have to be to spill the vicious, woman-hating shit these guys spill. They attack you because they know how much they suck, and it's easier to shit on women than to strive to be a better person. That makes it easier to hang in. And the longer you hang in, the more they realize their bullshit isn't going to work. And eventually, it starts to fade. It never goes away completely, but it does get better. Just don't let them win.
I think what's really awesome about this hashtag is that it has largely struck exactly the right tone: amusement at the pathetic things that desperate, angry men will say, with an eye towards educating the public. This tone is what wears down the misogynists; they are desperate to get a rise out of you because they have so little going on in their lives. No need to give that to them.