Online Misogynists Are Not Fringe Characters

By Amanda Marcotte
Tuesday, February 26, 2013 10:52 EDT
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Michael Nugent, the chair of Atheist Ireland, put up an interesting post comparing what happened when the same (really terrible) joke went up on two Facebook pages. In one case, the joke was accompanied by a no-doubt-non-consensual upskirt picture, and in the other, there was no picture. The illustrated one was spread much further—it had 43,000 likes and 24,000 shares—than the non-illustrated one, which had 53 likes and 18 shares. But the gap between the two isn’t that interesting, since the illustrated one was initially posted on an already-popular page and posts with pictures get shared more anyway. But it is interesting that so many people believe it’s appropriate to share an image that was taken against a woman’s will for no other purpose than to humiliate her.

What’s even more interesting is that, because this was Facebook, it was easy to figure who was writing the vicious, sexist garbage in comments mocking the victim of this upskirt photo. Interesting, because there’s a tendency, when women complain about online abuse, to dismiss the men who spew it as fringe characters and teenagers. The belief is that mainstream, adult men with families and jobs aren’t doing this, which allows the denialist to claim, therefore, that misogyny is not tolerated or encouraged by society, making women who complain about it whiners and babies.

So, here’s a list of some of the men saying stuff about the upskirt photo:

  • A supporter of a charity that campaigns against violence
  • A man who likes science and yoga and Buddhism
  • A man who likes classical music and his local church
  • A man who likes good grammar and atheist quotes of the day
  • A man asking for prayers for a relation having an operation
  • A husband who has served in the armed forces
  • A husband with a teenaged son and daughter
  • A husband who works with a Christian Ministry
  • A father who wants to always be there for his children
  • A father who campaigns against animal cruelty
  • A father seeking support for special needs children
  • A grandfather who is proud of his daughter and grandchildren
  • Several high school and university students and graduates

In other words, mainstream men who have real reputations to guard and who have widespread acceptance and support from their communities. These are not a bunch of teenagers screaming invective because they can or a bunch of fringe weirdoes who no one supports. These are men who have power, men who have families, men who have respect in their communities. So what kind of things did these well-supported, mainstream men have to say about a woman who has an image that is almost surely non-consensual being circulated around the internet for her humiliation?

  • She was out suckin dick prolly
  • Just look at the tange of her pussy.I’m gonna have to do something about it.
  • if was her husband i would have her nickers off by now
  • If it had been my ex wife she would have smelled like cock too
  • And her panties on backwards and smelling like lamb skins
  • Least she remembered to put her underwear back on before she came home.
  • Another bottled blonde tramp
  • I Like the View better then the story!!! :)
  • nice panties love to take them off
  • haha , it’s good !! The girl on the floor – love to hit that stuff
  • dang , love to hit that right there , just the way it lays !! No need to remove anything , it’s a small car cover . just push the cover aside , jump in and go for a ride !! ” you’re just dreaming gorgeous , stay asleep a little longer ” oh yeah !
  • Time for a new wife, lying drunken B
  • I would put it In her!!
  • Id wake her up the HARD WAY and later say it wasn’t me !!! ;) ))) lmao
  • She also would have woke up feeling sticky and used!
  • Whuts da ho’ doin on da flo’ ?
  • That’s so funny I laughed until I cried I see she made it home with some of her pants still on.
  • The picture was better than the joke….lol
  • And these are the type of females who complain that they can’t find a man.
  • been there…hubby should take advantage of this.. :)
  • I would of kicked the crap out of her
  • I would of hit it!
  • She made it home with her panties on
  • She’s a hoe. I’d dump her!!! Plain and simple
  • I’d love to wake up with her on my living room floor…
  • Looks like its one of them” hunny I’m help yourself poses haaahaaa
  • An found a used codom in side of her
  • Least she still got her nickers still on – inside out but still on LOL LOL
  • not one of my ex’s, she’s still got her pants on
  • Got any more jokes with pics like this ???!!!!
  • At least she is wearing panties. If not it would be a perfect picture
  • He needs to lay the smack down and not let her go out anywhere dressed like that. Nuff said…
  • perfect opportunity to have sex with your wife
  • any man worth his salt would fuk it now
  • What no thong (what a waste )

The main themes are:

  • Rape is awesome.
  • Women are obligated to give men their bodies.
  • Women who have consensual sex are disgusting people that deserve no respect.
  • Men are entitled to control women with violence.

Naturally, you’re seeing the inevitable attempts to distract from the most important thing here, which is that men who promote vile misogyny and violence against women rarely pay a social penalty for it. The strategy is to complain that the back-of-the-envelope statistics Nugent came up with weren’t rigorous enough, and to hope that dwelling on that can deflect attention from really grappling with the fact that these men aren’t going to face any pushback from friends, family, or employers for saying in public that they think men should beat and rape women to control them. No doubt if Nugent had just skipped the comparison part and simply focused on the widespread popularity of making rape jokes about a woman who is already being routinely humiliated in public, there would be some other reason offered as to why we can’t look directly at the real issue here of the widespread social acceptance of misogyny. I’m guessing the “just a joke” claim, even though the reality is that rapists and abusers hear these “jokes” and believe, often correctly, that no one really cares if they hurt women.

Of course, there is a silver lining in this, which is that it shows that feminists do have a lever to pull. So often, misogyny and even violence against women are treated like the weather, like this thing that just happens and isn’t subject to pressure. The reality is that sexism flourishes because people don’t steand up to it, and that standing up to it more could very well be the solution.

Amanda Marcotte
Amanda Marcotte
Amanda Marcotte is a freelance journalist born and bred in Texas, but now living in the writer reserve of Brooklyn. She focuses on feminism, national politics, and pop culture, with the order shifting depending on her mood and the state of the nation.
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