I love Twitter, not just because I’m a social media junkie (though I sorta am), but because it’s so often on the pulse of important goings-on in the world. Yesterday, writer Sady Doyle started a hashtag that’s since been covered in The Guardian in the UK and Time Magazine here in The States. A hashtag with the purpose of highlighting the fact that female writers, particularly when they write about feminism or address inequality in any way, suffer the most vitriolic, violent, and hateful criticism online.
I first caught wind of it today, when artist Molly Crabapple posted about it, and it forced me to think about whether I’d been on the receiving end of such things. And I have. While I thankfully have never been threatened the way many other women have, I have been insulted and have had men try to undermine my intelligence online by being condescending. The article where they really started coming out of the woodwork was my piece called “Moffat’s Women: Amy and Her Skirt.” Here are some of the highlights:
“What an over reaction…the whole 5th season had Rory being treated quite poorly and Amy tried to cheat on him more than once with the Doctor….and that’s acceptable to you apparently as humour?…just don’t mention her skirt. Sigh.”- Jessie1977
[NOTE: Notice how this person - who I'm assuming is male, because most women who disagree about stuff like this mention that they're female - ignores the point of my article by bringing in other stuff that I'm not even talking about?]
“Meh. I think you’re looking for an injustice where none exists….If you expect a gender bias, or an orientation bias, or a racial bias, or whatever kind of bias you prefer to stalwartly defend against, then you can usually find it.” - BenPatient
[NOTE: Notice how the onus is put on the person looking for injustice, rather than on the injustice found. So, if I found it, that means I made it up? It's not real? It's all in my head? I'm crazy?]
“To make a big deal out of nothing. This is how it’s done.” - Tesse
[NOTE: Dismissing even the discussion about the fact that I was bothered by, yes, a small, but telling thing.]
“I once had an argument with a so-called feminist friend of mine who claimed that she wanted a huge engagement ring and a man SHOULD be wealthy enough to “look after her”… and yet she would tell men not to hold doors for her, or pull out chairs because she could “do it herself”. I told her she can’t have it both ways. You can’t pick and choose chivalry, that’s not how it works. I had a friend who’s fiance broke up with him because the ring he could afford, was too small. Seriously. There is a HUGE world of things to get upset over when it comes to the battle of the sexes, but a line on Doctor Who is NOT one of them.
As to what Moffat feels about BOTH sexes. Do yourselves a favour and find the 4 seasons of COUPLING that he wrote with his wife, as they illustrate ALL the stuff that BOTH men and women do wrong in propogating steroetypes about each other. It’s a two-way street that often I find women don’t want to look down their own side at. As is evidenced by my above-mentioned friend who has never forgiven me for showing her logic.” – Jessie1977 (again!)
[NOTE: Um, "she can't have it both ways?" Really? So, she either has to be TOTALLY dependent or TOTALLY self-sufficient and there's no inbetween? I'd hardly call that "logic." Also, once again, trying to derail my argument by bringing things into it that I'm not talking about! Also, the fact that he had to "show" his female friend "logic" kills me! And incidentally, I HAVE seen Coupling, and while I enjoy it, it's also the most entrenched-in-gender-bias show I've ever seen, so bringing that in as an example, probably not a good idea.]
“This has to be one of the silliest arguments about one of the most innocuous jokes on the interwebs…Good Lord, people, Doctor Who is one of the most progressive shows on television. Let’s loosen up a bit. And as someone who works with domestic violence shelters and rape victims, I find these accusations of DW being part of a ‘rape culture’ highly offensive. Making those kinds of accusations about a show like this put the credibility of the accusers in question. But that’s just my opinion.” – GeekToMe
[NOTE: There's no "injustice contest" going on! I wasn't trying to equate disparity in how female characters are portrayed on television with domestic violence and rape! Merely calling it out as being another symptom of the same problem - that women are not deemed as important as men. I love how this guy, because he works with domestic violence shelters - which is, indeed, admirable - thinks that qualifies him to dictate what women should or shouldn't be upset about with regard to sexism. That's the most backwards notion of "feminism" I've ever seen.]
“I guess if you wish to support the ‘supporting rape culture’ argument — which I was calling commenters out on, not you — then I guess I have to point to the fact that by posting the vids you are helping propegate said culture. I find a bit of irony in that. Again, this is the silliest. Argument. Ever.” – GeekToMe
[NOTE: As if my posting them in this one article was the thing that was the tipping point. So, by that logic, his advice is to either not talk about it at all - because merely mentioning these things that upset me will make the problem worse. OR, talk about it without showing the videos. In which case, I leave myself open for someone else to come along and try to discredit what I'm saying by saying that I haven't provided any evidence or backed up my claims sufficiently. I can't win, it seems. No matter what I do, I propagate the thing I'm against. So I should just shut up. Right? Also, the argument might be "silly" to you, because it doesn't AFFECT you. It always seems "silly" when people "make a stink" about something that doesn't hurt you.]
“Look, It’s REALLY easy. If this scene had been reversed and Rory was ripped and muscled and took his shirt off distracting Amy…what do you think the Doctor would have done/said? Better yet what would ANYONE have done or said? Would he have said “Amy, get your crap together and stop oggling Rory, look what you did to the TARDIS”? Gods no, that’s not even remotely realistic. What he’d say is:
“Rory, put your shirt back on, you’re distractingPond”
There’s no point in trying to argue that…it’s what he would have said. So I fail to see how you think poorly of the line when Amy bears that brunt, when if it happened to Rory I’m sure it would be fine with you…at least according to your Harkness/Trope on head idea…haha!
But for some bizarre reason I am sure the feminist inside of you would find some other way to take issue with even that. So it seems you are bound and determined to label Moffat sexist or at least thathe made sexist comments. I hope he reads this and sees how very backwards you see the world.” – Jessie1977 (he’s a genius, no?)
[NOTE: Oh, you're right! It IS really easy! Thank you, kind sir, for teaching me how to use my brain! Except that he's clearly deluded. If the roles WERE reversed in this case, it's more likely than not that Amy would've gotten reprimanded as a silly little oversexed girl. But REGARDLESS of what would happen if the situation were hypothetically reversed, my point is that it WASN'T reversed. That THIS happened, and THIS was what upset me, and I find it really interesting that he couldn't stay on topic, but insisted on bringing in all these other examples that had nothing to do with anything, and was clearly upset enough about my having an opinion to keep coming back with the same tired comments over and over to tell me how clearly stupid I am. And they say WOMEN are too emotional! ]
“I’m confused on why, “Pond…put some trousers on,” is not okay but flipping that with Jack is okay. Seems like a double standard to me. Sexism is sexism, is it not?” – AsheSaoirse
“Also, as a believer in equality, I still don’t see how a joke can be oppressive and sexist when applied to women yet funny and provocative when applied to men. If we really are equal, it should be funny or offensive either way. Turning an offence on its head can be an effective provocation, but it’s still offensive.” - Atrus
[NOTE: This is another interesting thing I've noticed. Guys suddenly care about the sexism they receive only when women bring up being upset about what they face. Do you know why they only bring it up then, and not at any other time? Do you know why "masculism" isn't a movement? Because the "sexism they face" doesn't affect them in their day to day lives, that's why. They live blissfully unaware of sexism until a woman complains about what she deals with EVERY DAY, then have the nerve to say "but I'm a victim of it, too!" First, no you're not. And second, so that makes it okay?! Because you're a "victim" and don't mention it, you expect women to do the same? Suddenly guys believe in "Total Equality" when they're called on their shit, skipping right over the part where they have to take responsibility for their actions, or deal with the same in kind. Let's make this journey to "Total Equality" as simple and painless and as comfortable for us as possible, shall we? Because we don't like being made uncomfortable! WAAAAAH! *calls waaaaaambulance*]
There’s more at the Tor post, but it’s more of the same. You can scroll through the comments if you want. However, there was apparently a comment that was worse that I never saw because it was deleted by one of my diligent Tor editors who then wrote to Jessie1977:
“Jessie1977 @77, not currently visible: Jessie, do you want to try rephrasing that in terms of the fiction, rather than the character of the author of the entry, or do you want me to let the first version stand but disemvowel those bits? It’s your choice.” - tnh, Moderator
I was thankful she did that, and glad I never saw what Jessie1977 said that was so bad tnh deleted it! Jessie1977 then accused her of being biased, and that what he said wasn’t that bad, and that this is some sort of evil feminist conspiracy, or somesuch nonsense. He then hits me a couple of paragraphs down with this:
“In my eyes (for a while now actually) I just think you are a feminist trying to get a point across without actually knowing what you are talking about. Your viewpoints are tilted in a way that makes you less able to opine about “sexism” and more inclined to male-bash from a feminist standpoint. A truly balanced idea about sexism wouldn’t condone it in any way shape or form and would see an equality across the board. “Levelling the playing field” in art and media would actually have the opposite affect of what you profess it would. It would not “balance” things out at all. It is a petty revenge tactic plain and simple. The fact that you don’t see that makes me feel sad that you were even given the quarter in which to express such a clearly lopsided opinion.” – Jessie1977
[NOTE: see my note above about guys being "above" dealing with the nitty gritty of fixing the problems of sexism in the media by saying that women should just act as if it already exists, and that the reality will follow.]
And that’s all just from the comments on ONE ARTICLE.
My articles at Tor continue to take the representation of women in media into account, and that doesn’t sit too well with one of my readers, publishedauthors, who was so upset that his comment was deleted from one of my posts that he came to comment on my blog. He says:
“I’ve read everyone of your reviews and whether each one gets a good review hinges on the treatment of the women in the episode. I knew as soon as Amy was put upon by The Doctor you wouldn’t like the episode. It’s fine to want a stronge female character in the story but your pattern suggests you have a fixation on this, a fixation that needs to be addressed. I would suggest therapy. A television review is not the proper venue for you grind an axe.” – publishedauthors, in reference to my Tor review of “The God Complex”
[NOTE: Sooooo, reviews are supposed to be critical without criticizing the things we think are wrong? How does that work? Also, continuing to mention a problem that continues being a problem is apparently reason for therapy. Good to know. I wonder what this reader does deem the proper venue for criticism other than a piece of criticism...]
What gets me is that the mere bringing up of instances of sexism is enough to make men not only comment once to tell me how stupid I am, but to keep coming back to do it over and over again, despite the fact that I’m flat out telling them that I was offended. The response is never “Sorry you were offended,” but always “You shouldn’t have been offended.” Or, “you’re overreacting and stupid for being offended.”
Why is that always the knee-jerk reaction when a woman speaks up?
And really, that’s what all the comments above – and at the post – boil down to. Apparently, I’m stupid, illogical, emotional, and my opinion is worthless. Apparently, I don’t have the right to be upset about the things I see, because that would be overreacting. Apparently, all men are totally into gender equality, so we shouldn’t bring it up anymore, because there isn’t actually a problem, and we’re crazy for thinking otherwise. OR, we should only bring it up if there’s broken bones and blood involved, because sexism only matters as far as violence, and not the million and one societal things that allow for that violence. (It’s sending aid to foreign countries only when they’re starving, but caring very little about how they got that way in the first place, and whether or not we’re in any way to blame.)
Lastly, and I see this in the reaction to the #MenCallMeThings hashtag, a lot of guys seem to be getting offended by the hashtag because it “implies that ALL men feel that way or say stupid things.” No it doesn’t. What it isn’t implying, but flat out saying, is that it is ONLY men that say these things. Granted, there are many women who think that feminists make a big deal out of nothing, too, but they’re not generally the ones on the internet leaving vitriol for women writers that dare bring up feminism in what they write. So, the people who criticize the hashtag do so in the interest of not “alienating” men, or making them feel bad. You know what? As my good friend Eileen once told me, Cry me a river, build me a bridge, and get over it! Perhaps instead of sheltering men from being made uncomfortable, we should demand – not ask – that they put their money where their mouths are and become more vocal if they are, indeed, not the men that make those hateful comments online. Keep your brothers in check, Gentlemen! Rather than criticizing us for making you feel bad, acknowledge that we have a reason to be upset and help! I would say “Be a man!”, but that statement is sexist. Instead, I will say, “Be a fucking adult!”
Guys, I know it’s difficult. You might be seen as a “pussy” or a “pansy” by your bros for speaking out on behalf of women. Here’s the thing. THIS is how sexism affects you! It’s forcing YOU to not act when you see something happening that you clearly know is wrong! It’s making YOU change your behavior to adhere to some arbitrary notion of what you’re supposed to be! Sexism controls how YOU LIVE YOUR LIFE. It’s not just a problem for women. It’s a problem for you, too.
And “being nice” just isn’t cutting it anymore. I’m tired of being nice about it.