Thanks to Laurie Penny (author of Cybersexism: Sex, Gender, Power and the Internet) for a few insightful quotes about fighting sexism on the internets. I happen to agree about the rising moments of accountability.
Look. The internet makes dicks out of us all, but it means that for a few people, the perceived costs of extreme douchebaggery are far lower than they would be otherwise. But that sense of inviolability is beginning to erode. Men — and I do believe that it’s mainly men, even though I’ve had troll encounters with women and others — are beginning to realize that there are actual consequences to behaving like this. It’s happening in “the real world,” too. Comedians now think twice before making rape jokes. Tech conferences think twice before lining up scads of all-male panels. And it’s happening because of the internet. I think.
When asked about men, Penny responds:
Capitalist patriarchy hurts everyone, not just women. What I really hope is that this explosion of debate and discussion about gender and sexuality, facilitated by the internet, will give men permission to speak honestly about what capitalist patriarchy does to them.
Right now, though, it seems men only feel empowered to speak of how gender affects them when they’re directly attacking women and girls or bawling artlessly at feminists. I meet a lot of MRA’s who genuinely seem to believe that an attempt to make the world fairer for women and freer for everyone is a direct attack on men, and that calling someone sexist is worse than actually being sexist. Those are lies, and we need to stop treating them as adult arguments.
If women are shamed and harassed out of full digital participation online, everyone loses.
And perhaps one of the greatest approaches to internet trolling:
But none of that is terribly helpful when all you want to do is slam the laptop shut and never look at Twitter again.
At which point I’d advise a long walk, a strong cup of tea, and a healthy dose of spite.
Spite is underrated. Sometimes, on dark days when I believe every awful thing mouth-breathing misogynists say about me online, when all I want to do is give up, I remember how important it is not to let the fuckers win.