So, I had a weird night. Usually, wingnuts’ online barely-concealed pleasure at hearing about nasty violence towards women and their tendency to see everything, even horrible crime, as an opportunity to score points rolls off my back. But yesterday afternoon, a small story broke on local media and started to roll out to national media about the son of a Democratic congressman pleading guilty to taking his girlfriend’s head and bashing it against a trashcan, causing a broken nose and a skull fracture. This opportunity to relish the details of a nasty attack against a young woman while simultaneously pretending that they’ve outed feminists for “hypocrisy” (getting to hit women is apparently the new getting to say “n*gger” for the right) sent them around the bend, and much jerking off appeared to have happened. Alas, it made my night really weird.
And it made writing this article, which was already hard for me to write—since I’m really worn out about the predictability of the post-domestic violence pattern—that much harder, as you can imagine. But I did it anyway, even though so many people were obviously trying to stop me by bullying me. So, here’s a timeline:
2-4:30 PM: I work on recording my podcast, interviewing a woman for it, occasionally tweeting stuff that I had starred in my blog reader, promoting stuff that I had wrote earlier in the day and/or last night that was being published now.
4:22 My editor at the American Prospect alerts me to the fact that Patrick Moran, Rep. Jim Moran’s son, pled guilty to bashing his girlfriend’s head against a trashcan. I get the email between 4:30 and 5PM. He sends me a link from the NY Daily News, which I find overly obsessed with some incident involving James O’Keefe trying to entrap Moran, so I spend some time tracking down the original local sources, settling on the Washington City Paper, which had the police report. I read the report and the quotes, and drafted an email to my editor explaining my POV at 5:02PM.
5:02: I also IM a friend with a link, looking for feedback. He zeroes in on what I did, the way Rep. Moran is obviously trying to downplay it.
5:10-6:30PM: I make dinner, which is a good process for me to clear my thoughts before I write something. We are out of beans, so I run down to the store. During this time, the abuse on Twitter started.
6PM: This is approximately the time the first tweet was out accusing me of “ignoring” the situation I had learned about an hour and some change before and had already drafted an intro paragraph about and started researching. I made fun of how weird that was:
6PM-until this morning: This results in an absolute torrent of abuse from wingnuts, many insulting my looks, making sexualized jokes about me, calling me a “hypocrite” for supposedly ignoring a story I was writing about. About an hour into it, I turn off Twitter because it’s distracting me from organizing my thoughts and also it’s really unnerving, as a survivor of violence against women, to see folks like Ace of Spades get so excited at hearing about violence that they need to go find another woman to harass, to keep the thrill going. You know, under the cover of “outrage” about the supposed “ignoring” that’s going on.
I made a Storify this morning that is by no means comprehensive, demonstrating the harassment I got at the hands of people who claimed they are simply concerned about misogynist abuse of women. Unfortunately, the embed function doesn’t want to work with this software for some reason, but here’s a sample of the dozens—hundreds, possibly, lost count—of tweets I got expressing “concern” about violence against women.
Truly, their deep desire to end violence against women radiates off these tweets, don’t you think?
7:30: I enjoy my dinner of kale stew and cornbread in front of an episode of “Parks and Recreation”. I spend some time speaking with my boyfriend, who is quite understanding of my working into the night.
8:15: Back to work. I write a few paragraphs, feel it’s disjointed, and am upset.
9:15: I realize it would work better as a listicle, so I reopen all the research I did, rearrange what few sentences I can salvage, and basically start over. Meanwhile, the steady stream of abuse about my “ignoring” this continues on Twitter, which I reopened because I wanted to take small writing breaks by sharing tweets.
10:31: I turn in the article to my editor. He asks if I can finish edits tonight, and I said sure, though I worry rushing means the terrorists win. (I assume he’s seeing the Twitter melange.) He says he wants it out first thing in the morning, and I agree. I turn away from actual work to give him time and to wash my stockings in the tub.
11:42: He returns it with edits.
12:10AM: I return it with the changes.
8:10AM: The last tweet accusing me of “ignoring” the situation goes up.
8:45AM: The American Prospect publishes my piece. It was hard to write about it, but I’m proud of it all the same.
So, what did I learn from this? I think it’s obvious, but just in case it’s not: This woman suffered a very serious crime and there’s a very serious—if entirely predictable—attempt by the perpetrator, his family, and their community to conceal it (despite the guilty plea) and pressure the victim into the inevitable recantation.
But for the right, this is an opportunity to claim feminists are “ignoring” it and are “hypocrites”, with an eyeball towards shaming us into silence on the topic of domestic violence. They know the responses, which take time and research, are coming, so they immediately start claiming that feminists are “ignoring” it, so that when the inevitable denunciations do come out, they can claim that they shamed us into it. Which, in turn, they hope to put in their pocket as a tool to silence us when the next domestic violence incident happens. So, they saw this not as a horrible act of violence that concerns us all, but an opportunity to score political points while building a long term (but I dare say ineffective) strategy in trying to get feminists to shut up about domestic violence in the future.
So, that’s depressing. And if you’re upset, which I am, please call your congressman and tell them that the GOP’s refusal to allow the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act is intolerable and disgusting. Let your anger push you to your phone, people. And please support the victim of this crime, who is blameless and in what sounds like a terrible situation.
I want to thank the people who offered support on Twitter and the folks at The American Prospect for reaching out to me on this issue and giving me an opportunity to discuss, at length, how domestic violence gets minimized and excused. Which shouldn’t be a partisan issue, but alas, has turned into one with the stalling of VAWA.