Tag Archives: Cyber-bullying

“Empire Building”: Career Feminism and Me

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Stop press – if only, one might sigh – the online abuse campaign against Caroline Criado-Perez goes on unabated, much less reported…

Seems plenty of women out there would rather she shut up too, sadly – wasn’t feminism supposed to bring females together – what went wrong?

And in a culture this toxic – suggesting one banknote of four might perhaps feature a female! the sheer audacity! gotta be raped and killed! – one can’t help by discern disingenuity in the shock! horror! reporting of the Elliot Roger massacre (the Salon piece strays too far in the direction of liberal for my taste, whilst getting the bones in the right place).

Incidents like the above ought to surprise no one.

It’s not ‘news’, and it’s not right; not any of it

Caroline Criado-Perez

I tend not to do much about the daily stream of attacks, insults, wilful misrepresentations and misinterpretations that constitute my daily online life. Not anymore. I just put up and shut up for the most part.

I used to try to defend myself, believing for a long time that explaining what I actually said, meant, intended, would help. But I’ve long since given up expecting the facts to matter when it comes to the determined group of people who have been keeping up a campaign of harassment against me for the past year or so. Indeed, on the few occasions I’ve tried to highlight their bullying, to try to defend myself, to say that I don’t think I deserve to be treated like an inhuman piece of shit, just because I happened to have hit headlines for…being treated an inhuman piece of shit, this group has never been unsuccessful in turning…

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.@Twitter: Optimised For Abuse

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The critics Criado-Perez refer to are as opposed to formal, legal relationship commitment as they are in favour of casual, domineering sexuality. Infer from that what you will, dear gender-sceptics…

Caroline Criado-Perez

Last summer I was the target of months of violent, misogynistic abuse. The abuse was widely reported, although the worst tweets (most of the tweets), were never broadcast or printed, because the media deemed them too offensive. This left me in the rather unfortunate position of not only being driven to the edge of a nervous breakdown from the fear and strain of hundreds of tweets  coming in every minute telling me I would be maimed, raped and killed, but also being targeted by people who thought I was being a delicate flower and couldn’t take a bit of off-colour banter, or “dissenting opinion”. Nevertheless, the media pressure was such, that twitter was reluctantly, eventually forced to act. They streamlined their reporting process by including a link on each tweet to report it for abuse, and automatically included the link for that tweet in the report form. For someone who was…

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Man up (2)

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‘…[a] cynical set of institutional fetishes that rewards unhealthy behavior.’

Is how Grantland staff writer Brian Phillips describes the hyper-masculine culture of  ‘hazing’ – common to competitive sport and the military – that he so eloquently critiques in the above piece. Now, I’ll admit right off the bat that I know dick about Football in general or the NFL in particular. But the kinds of behaviour described, if not the specifics, then in general feel familiar: the toeing of a party line; the adherence to hierarchy; the pain and injustice swallowed by silence; the propensity for dealing with issues ‘in house’ in order to obfuscate wider political ramifications…

(Similar if not identical patterns of behaviour can be observed in other institutions: Phillips mentions the military; one might also bring up the family; schools and universities; corporations… In arenas such as high-level competitive sport and the military, even basically liberal-minded observers can be tempted to swallow the necessity of byzantine codes of ‘discipline’; justify inhumane means in the name of its universally-desirable ends.)

The word ‘gender’ doesn’t crop up until the penultimate paragraph, but that’s exactly what Phillips is interrogating from the start; and whilst it’s very much (hyper)-masculinity under the spotlight, the slippery slope from locker room shenanigans to naked hostility and violence  – ‘hazing creep’, so-called – parallels a process and a template more widely-applicable to systems of hierarchy in general. Whilst reading Phillips‘ piece, a quote from radical environmentalist Lierre Keith sprang to mind:

‘I have spent three decades fighting male violence … I believe that a social system of male domination starts with human beings who are biologically male or female and creates two social classes of people: men and women. Socialization to either group can be a brutal process.

Men are made by socialization to masculinity. Being a man requires a psychology based on emotional numbness and a dichotomy of self and other. This is also the psychology required by soldiers, which is why I don’t think you can be a peace activist without being a feminist.

Female socialization is a process of psychologically constraining and breaking girls—otherwise known as “grooming”—to create a class of compliant victims. Femininity is a set of behaviors that are, in essence, ritualized submission. (my emphases)

The point of extending the quote to describe socialization to femininity serves both as contrast and comparison. Keith alludes to other types of ‘classist’ behaviour in her letter (which you can read in full here) and whilst not precisely equating them, points up commonalities:

‘…my position on race and class[:] … [t]he categories are not natural: they only exist because hierarchical systems of power create them (see, for instance, Audrey Smedley’s book Race in North America). I want a world of justice and equality, where the material conditions that currently create race, class, and gender have been forever overcome…’

It’s part of the class (gender) contract that men ought not only be prepared to wield but also field the ultimate sanction; the administration of violence – don’t dish it out if you can’t take it, as it were – and those that are unable or unwilling are tarred with the same brush and demeaned with slurs which, at least symbolically relegate them to a lower class. It’s not insignificant that Incognito invokes racist and sexist language when he excoriates and humiliates Martin via Twitter. The function of ‘hazing’ within a closed group in some respects resembles the ‘grooming’ that that groups performs on subordinate ones.

Phillips‘ polemic links to Matt Ufford‘s SB Nation piece, which whilst perhaps betraying a certain naïvité – the military’s policies work then? Radical analysts of Keith‘s stripe might well argue that responding to class violence with institutional policy simply replaces noise for silence as a means of obscuring the problem – yielded the following somewhat perceptive comment (from jbacon55)

‘First, anything that is both compulsory and non-beneficial for the present purpose … violates notions of human freedom and dignity we all hold dear.

Second, what may seem trivial to many could be deeply damaging to another. To many, singing in front of the team is fun and builds memories. To others, especially those with something like social anxiety disorder, that can be the stuff of nightmares. Singing karaoke neither makes you a good football player nor is it a test of some requisite skill.

Third, in authority-subordinate relationships permission can be a fiction. The forces of peer pressure among the subordinates combined with the implied or explicit influence of the authorities render it impossible to truly get someone’s permission to do something with any certainty.

Fourth, and MOST IMPORTANTLY, this kind of behavior creates that authority/subordinate relationship among teammates. Surely veterans should be in a place of authority when it comes to football matters, but otherwise it’s best for the team if it’s members are exactly that: teammates. Bonds are formed by shared hardship and mutual respect. Even “light” hazing violates that and can even render it impossible.’  (my emphases)

Reading his/her first and forth comments together one can infer a truth that (male) institutions are perennially loath to admit, to wit; the ‘present purpose’ is to create authority/subordinate relationship(s) [by means of] violating notions of human freedom and dignity. So long as such relationships (in which, as addressed in point three permission can be a fiction) exist, said purpose is forever the present purpose. The substance of jbacon55‘s comment echoes Keith‘s somewhat, even if she/he stops short of denouncing hierarchy as unnatural.

‘Hazing’, incidentally, is a moderately-popular sub-genre in (mostly American) mainstream pornography; notable if only that it highlights the sexual component – by some measure more observable in men – in hierarchical subordination. In popular parlance, pornification, but historically – and to reiterate Phillips – fetish(ising) by any other name: an all too frequently inhuman means to an all too frequently inhuman end.

[An] emotional numbness and a dichotomy of self and other.

Man up.

Woman down.

Thank You Hater! This one’s for you…

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Another nugget of genius that fell into my inbox via upworthy.com, one that ought to bring a smile to the face of anyone who’s been on the receiving end of the kind of aggressive, spiteful and often embarrassingly-inarticulate messages that deluge Twitter, Tumblr and Youtube. It’s been up awhile, and unsurprisingly, a fair proportion of the 5,571 comments on YT come from exactly the kind of morons that Clever Pie and Isabel Fay were taking aim at. Anyone for irony?

Thank You Hater! song is now available:

http://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/than…

All profits will go to http://www.beatbullying.org/

Online aggression and cyber-bullying/harassment have been increasingly problematic in recent years: Osbourne/Gaga; Anita Sarkeesian; Moore/Burchill; Carolina Criado-Perez are just some of the more high-profile cases that spring to mind. 18 months on, Fay’s satire remains as timely and pertinent as ever, sadly. It’s as serious as it is funny, sending out a clear message to stay strong in the face of the bullies, and for that she is to be much commended…

On a related note, here’s a link to a recent study reported in the New Yorker: The Psychology of Online Comments. Social networking platforms are too often portrayed as the boogeyman, enabling, if not actually encouraging harmful group psychologies and feeding cultures of sexism, racism and general negativity and aggression. As so often, the truth is a little more nuanced than that: interesting reading.

Women’s Aid Speech on Cyber-Harassment

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Sickening, upsetting and shameful. Words fail me really 😦

Caroline Criado-Perez

Before I begin, I just want to warn you all, that I will be quoting some of the messages I have received. They include offensive language and references to sexual violence, which may be triggering for some.

WAstalking conf

So I’d like to start off by giving you a bit of background into what led up to the harassment I received for over two weeks in July and August, because I think it’s important to see how little it takes to provoke this kind of abuse – it’s important to face up to how much of a problem we still have with widespread misogyny against any woman who dares to use her voice in public.

So some of you may have heard of a campaign I ran from April to July this year, asking the Bank of England to review its decision to have an all-male line-up on banknotes. (note to media, I…

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MRAs, WTF!!!

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Got in from work tonight just in time to read a really fascinating blog post on the subject of the degeneration of the ‘y’ chromosome and the implications for the future of mankind, and humankind. It’s not often I’d pointedly make the distinction (sexist, right?) but in this case it’s pertinent, since what’s being implied is that the latter may well outlast the former (assuming we don’t do something really crazy like nuke ourselves off the face of the planet first!) Sadly, because the article in question was posted by a radical feminist blogger, and proposed some radical (natch) ideas, it – or rather, she – was spammed and trolled to fuck.

So she pulled the post.

If you’re looking to add weight to the argument that we’re the weaker sex then well done, you did it! Pleased with yourselves?

I’m a big advocate for the internet and social media. For me and millions of others it’s enabled access to a whole bunch of opinions, ideas, stories and discussions that the MSM ignores for being un-newsworthy, of marginal interest, radical, trivial or threatening to the status quo. It’s facilitated ‘meeting’ people we’d otherwise never have known existed, let alone crossed paths with. Many, myself included, want to hear these things, meet these people; share our opinions and participate in conversations. I see a real potential fir democracy online: sadly, too many – mostly male – users see only the opportunity for bullying, harrassment, terrorism, profit and abuse. Fuck you people for that!

Five years of my life were blighted by school bullies: my opinions were mocked so I kept quiet; I was physically attacked so I took pains to avoid certain places and people, to placate potential aggressors in hope of avoiding their violence. It’s affected my sense of self and my relationships to this day. But this isn’t really about me: when I see bullying happening to others my reaction is visceral: I hate it: it makes me angry and it makes me sad. Just fucking quit!!! No one’s denying you your right to speak, to express yourselves – though judging by your antics on your hideous MRA sites someone fucking well ought to – so why spend such an inordinate amount of time stomping on other’s opinions and trying to gag their voices? What are you afraid of? Do you really have nothing better to do? Wife and kids?

I don’t even want to name the blogger or her blog, bacause I don’t know who might be reading this and I don’t want to inadvertantly send any more hate her way. On a personal note, I wanted to read the article some more: for the world at large – and women in particular – it was telling us something that deserved to be heard. We’ve heard enough from YOU already.

So we’re not immune to evolution: and what did Darwin tell us about evolution? That the strongest will survive. Maybe we’re not the strongest after all: maybe that’s why the media is so chock full of propaganda informing us to the contrary. I felt a certain sadness on reading the post, but also freed; and in awe in a way that only deep wisdom can provoke. Resigned and also lifted. It just depends how you look at things (pomo alert). I hate it when people say this to me, but here I am saying it now: GET OVER IT! I’m ashamed right now we share that funny little ‘y’. Take all that hateful energy and put it to better use in making our temporary residence on this planet as safe and rewarding for EVERYONE as we can.

Aside

So remind me, who are the haters? Who are the ‘phobes’?

This kind of cyber-bullying – particularly of women – is becoming increasingly common: it illuminates a dark side of the internet and social media which, terrifying as it is, should not be allowed to discourage us from utilizing these tools to our advantage and betterment.

The words of intelligent, perceptive and loving chroniclers of the human condition such as Moore are worth a million of these nasty little messages – but isn’t amazing how much of a person’s true character they betray so succinctly.

 

GenderTrender

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