16 ways to End Violence against Women and Girls

These are just a few of the ways that you can support women’s services during the 16 Days of Activism to Eliminate Male Violence against Women and Girls.

  1. Donate £1 to a different specialist women’s service like the national organisations Rape Crisis, Women’s Aid, or Refuge every day.
  2. Donate £1 to your local service providers supporting women who are living with domestic and sexual violence and abuse. BME women’s services have been disproportionately impacted by so-called ‘austerity’ so please don’t forget them.
  3. Share fundraisers for women’s services across social media. We understand that many women can not afford to donate £1. Sharing fundraisers is just as essential as being able to donate £1.
  4. Host a coffee morning for your friends to raise money.
  5. Bring some baked goods into work and ask for donations to a service of your choice from your co-workers.
  6. Collect clothing, bedding and any other unused household items to donate to your local refuge or those support services for women who are homeless, living in poverty etc.
  7. Donate toys to a local refuge for children who will be living in them at Christmas or those support services for women who are homeless, living in poverty etc..
  8. Donate new toiletries and another nice gifts for teenage girls and women living in refuges.
  9. Make a donation to your local food bank. All women are disproportionately impacted by poverty and austerity measures. Women living with violence are disproportionately impacted by cuts to housing benefits and women’s services. 
  10. Donate sanitary products to food banks. These are essential for women and teenage girl’s access to education and work. 
  11. Write to your local councillors, MP, or MSP to demand ring-fenced funding for women’s specialist services, including those for BME women or those with disabilities.
  12. Write to local councillors, MP, MEP, or MSP and ask them to undergo specialist training on domestic and sexual violence and abuse from specialist organisations.
  13. Write to your MP and MSP demanding they support the campaigns to end the detention of refugee women and children.
  14. Write to your MP and MSP demanding mandatory sex and healthy relationships education in schools, as well as campaigns to make schools safer for girls.
  15. File complaints with media about inappropriate, misleading and offensive coverage of domestic and sexual violence and abuse.
  16. And, if you’re a man, stand up for women’s rights. Challenge men who make rape jokes. Call out male friends who refuse to financially support their children. Insist your employer implement the equal pay legislation. Donate money to rape crisis centres and refuges. Wearing a white ribbon isn’t enough. Your need to do the work to end violence against women and girls.

You can find the address and contact details of your local councillor via  WriteToThem.

 

This post was originally published on Everyday Victim Blaming.

My Speech for Women’s Aid Conference on Cyber-Stalking and Harassment as part of End Online Misogyny

My Speech for Women’s Aid Conference on Cyber-Stalking and Harassment as part of End Online Misogyny on September 3 2013

Alison has discussed the beginnings of our campaign as well as the spectrum of online misogyny. Before I speak to some of the specific examples of online abuse brought to the attention of EOM, I want to talk about some wider examples of the consequences of online harassment and stalking in terms of women’s access to online support.

There are several obvious consequences of online harassment and stalking all of which are designed to silence and isolate women, particularly since online communities have become a lifeline for many women. For women with caring responsibilities, life limiting conditions and disabilities, social media can be their main access for contact and support. Women in abusive relationships or who have experienced sexual violence are increasingly looking for safe spaces online to discuss their experiences as specialist services for women are being demolished by “austerity measures”.The increase in cyber stalking and online bullying is eradicating what should have been safe-spaces and succeeds only in further isolating women.Parenting Websites There are a number of parenting sites based in the UK that are dominated by women. These function as both support sites and places just to “hang out”. Whilst the positive impact of these sites for women cannot be underestimated, they can also be used as ways of controlling women’s behaviour.

Despite anonymity, abusive men have managed to track down their partners and stalk them online. There have been a small number of cases wherein abusive men have threatened to use women’s as “evidence” of a woman’s “unfitness” to parent in court. The threat has been sufficient to result in a number of women having to have their entire posting histories removed because of stalking by violent ex-partners. While this may sound inconsequential to those with offline support, for women who depend on parenting websites the removal of an entire posting history is detrimental to their emotional welfare.

More commonly, sites like Mumsnet which have an active feminist community, are also targets for abusive men targeting any vulnerable women. Abusive men have taken to posting on the relationships board. Very frequently, posts on the relationships board are by women in abusive relationships asking for support or simply for someone to name what is happening to them, especially around the issue of rape in marriage.Abusive men post on these threads in order to minimise male violence but equally to gaslight women into believing that they are over-reacting to the abuse. Unfortunately, some women do collude with the abusive men although in many cases these are women who are not yet ready to confront the abuse in their own relationships.

The relationships board on Mumsnet is perhaps one of the safest feminist spaces online. The abusive men get very short shift from long-term posters but the fact of the matter is that these men, either singly, or from “invasions” of men from Fathers4Justice, Reddit, and a number of “car enthusiast” sites are deliberately targeted mostly women spaces in order to harass and stalk women. Sometimes it is to target women they know but frequently it is just to harass random women on the internet. These men do not make outright threats of violence but their behaviour is clearly designed to harass women.

Gaming

[Massively Multi-Player Online Role-Playing Game and First Person shooter with multi-player functionality]

The misogyny within the online gaming community is well documented with women frequently being targeted with abusive language, sexually explicit language and, increasingly, threats of sexual violence. Many multi-player online games have chat functions which can, and are, used by abusive men to send threats of sexual violence and abusive language. Along with female avatars, which consistently present women as sexually objectified, online games allow male players a space to sexually harass women. Stalking has become an increasingly common phenomenon. I have heard numerous stories of teenage girls pretending to male when playing these games in order to stave off sexual harassment from adult men.

Facebook

Facebook’s toleration of online misogyny and abuse is equally well documented. The secret and closed group function on Facebook could have been a very safe space for women to interact, however, Facebook has made it perfectly clear that the safety of women is not their concern. They allow pages threatening rape to be posted. “Revenge porn” pages are abundant and Facebook has refused to remove videos of women being raped.

The recent campaign against Facebook’s problem with misogyny led them to acknowledge that it has a problem but without actually doing anything about it. Instead of being a safe space, Facebook has made it clear that they are only interested in protecting men’s rights to sexually humiliate, stalk, harass and threaten women.

Examples of Abusive tweets sent to EOM

As Alison mentioned, our campaign was in a direct response to the attack on Caroline Criado-Perez, however abuse of women on twitter is not new. The woman raped by Ched Evans was the victim of a coordinated attack by Evans supporters which included releasing her name online. EDL members have a well documented history of sending racist and misogynistic threats to women. There are literally hundreds of thousands of examples of twitter accounts opened with the express purpose of abusing women and which twitter has consistently refused to close.

These are just a selection of abusive tweets that have been brought to the attention of EOM in the past few weeks. I have redacted names for this paper.

  • Oh, I’ll rape you so hard, you’ll forget your name.
  • All, I can think of is [redacted] fat pussy rubbing against my ass cheeks. Dem cheeszy skidmarks
  • Ironic you show a fist, as you’re quite partial to a bit of fisting you ugly fat trollop. Still can’t feel it in your big vag.
  • #DearTerfs I hope you all die in a fire. You don’t deserve to be called “women”

I won’t mention anymore as Caroline has already presented a selection of the horrific abuse directed at her.

The fact that twitter allows this abuse to continue unabated and flat out refuses to permanently ban violent men from sending threats makes Twitter another unsafe online space.

We are #shoutingback because we will not allow violent men to control online spaces.
We are #shoutingback because no woman deserves abuse.
We are #shoutingback to show just how common online harassment of women actually is.We are #shoutingback because women are human too.

Mrs Doubtfire is a Great Dad: And Other Stories of Stalking as Fathering

I was watching reruns of Bones the other day. I love Kathy Reich’s books and her character of Temperance Brennan and the TV show is an interesting way of rebooting the series without following the books (although I suspect partly this was a way of ensuring that an actress in her 40s wouldn’t play the main character because middle age women are a no-no if they aren’t married with children). The entire subplot of one episode was of the male lead Special Agent Seely Booth, played by David Boreanaz, using his privilege as an FBI agent to investigate the new partner of the mother of his child. At no point during the episode was it made clear how creepy, controlling and illegal the act was; instead, it focused on what a good Dad he was.

This same story line was integral to the plot of Mrs Doubtfire: a movie which celebrates incompetent fathers stalking their ex-wives and gaining access to their personal life and house through deception.  I’ve written before about my failure to recognise the abusive behaviour within Mrs Doubtfire:

 The stalking of the mother and the wearing down of her boundaries is classic abusive behaviour. Being “jealous” of Miranda’s relationship with a new man isn’t the behaviour of a good man – it’s the behaviour of an abusive man who believes his ex-wife is also his possession. Daniel has no right to interfere with his ex-wife’s new relationships. He has no right to stalk her and he has no right to manipulate her. Lying to Miranda and the children about who he is isn’t a funny movie plot. It’s the creepy behaviour of a classically abusive man.

I’ve seen far too many police dramas recently where fathers misuse their power to stalk their former partners and spy on them. This is always presented as normal behaviour by a man concerned about his children’s safety. The male lead in Breakout Kings, played by Domenick Lombardozzi,  consistently violates the boundaries of his ex-wife and screams in her face. Even when their child is abducted, he fails to talk to the ex-wife and, instead, screams repeatedly at her. This is the entire sum of their communication throughout the series: he shows up at her house screaming and demanding to see the kids. He pushes his way into the house, demands they do exactly what he says immediately and repeatedly refers to the child as his possession. Somehow, we’re supposed to believe these are the actions of a good cop who loves his children and not of an abusive man continuing to abuse both the ex-partner and child after the end of the relationship – that stalking and harassment are the signs of a good partner and not a criminal act.

I would like to see a cop drama run this story line and the police officer get caught and sent to prison. Just once, I want a program to reflect the reality of male violence, stalking and harassment.

 

Peter Nunn is not an “Internet Troll”

UPDATE: Peter Nunn has been jailed for 18 weeks and has two restraining orders in place preventing him from contacting Caroline Criado-Perez and Stella Creazy. I am quite disappointed as I had hoped he would receive a longer jail sentence to reflect the severity of his crime. I also think we should institute immediate temporary restraining orders during the investigation and trial of harassment and stalking, which can be reviewed upon completion of the trial with mandatory extensions following conviction as Nunn continued to create twitter accounts to abuse Criado-Perez and Creazy following his arrest.

Criado-Perez has written a brief statement on Nunn’s sentencing here.

 

Peter Nunn is not an internet “troll”. He is a violent and abusive man who sent abusive messages and rape threats to multiple women, although his conviction today was only for his campaign against Caroline Criado-Perez and Stella Creazy. Nunn’s account was suspended by Twitter following his abuse of multiple women. He then set up multiple accounts continuing the abuse, many of which were also suspended.

Nunn’s tweets were not “jokes” – and any suggestion that sending rape threats and suggesting women in the public sphere deserve the abuse – is misogyny. Nunn is a misogynist. Those who defend his actions as “free speech” or the fault of his wife for “nagging” (as suggested on twitter today) or because he was “drunk” are perpetuating misogyny. Nunn is the ONLY person responsible for the crimes he committed – and sending threats of rape, physical violence or death to individuals is not protected by free speech (especially as we live in the UK where free speech isn’t a part of British law).

Nunn is just like every other abusive, controlling. misogynistic man. He thought he could say whatever he wanted to women without being held at all accountable for his actions. Just like every other man who commits violence against women and children: from those sharing the images of Jennifer Lawrence to men who commit domestic violence to those who think it’s acceptable to ‘catcall’ women in the streets.

Excusing Nunn or using words like “troll” to define his behaviour minimises the crime and the harm committed by Nunn. Trolls are pathetic little dickheads who think it’s funny to use demeaning language about women – Nunn was deliberately and maliciously causing harm by sending rape and death threats. He isn’t pathetic – he’s a dangerous man who deserves a custodial sentence.

We need to stop referring to men who send rape and death threats as trolls and start recognising them as the abusive dangerous men they are.

The “Die in a Fire” Meme is both Male Violence and Hate Speech

I’ve written numerous times about how the “die in a fire” meme used by transactivists (both those who are Trans* and those who self-define as cis) is a deliberate invocation of the mass murder of women by fire throughout history. It is chosen because fire has been, and remains, a way in which violent men control and punish women. It is used today by men committing domestic violence just as it was 400 years ago to punish women deemed ‘witches’.

Telling someone whose politics you dislike to “die in a fire” is replicating male patterns of violence and control. Telling anyone to “die in a fire” is a deliberate and malicious silencing tactic. I do not accept the theory that there is ever an appropriate time when this threat is acceptable, nor do I believe that any class of people are ever so oppressed as to make this statement acceptable.

Today, Sian published a very personal post on having experienced having her hair set on fire as a teenager. Until I read this post, I had thought only of fire in terms of domestic violence and the control of women throughout history. I hadn’t thought of the times in junior/ high school when boys thought it was “funny” to threaten to set fire to my hair. I hadn’t thought of the times that all of my friends were threatened or the time my stepsister’s hair was actually set on fire. I hadn’t made the connections in my own mind between the threats made about fire by boys and how often fire was actually used to punish and control my friends: particularly by burning homework or books.

In all the times I have written or spoken about unspeakably hateful the “die in a fire” meme is, I hadn’t made the connection with my own experiences. I had othered the threat so as not to have to think about just how real that threat is – not just for abstract women online but for myself. These people bandying about the “die in a fire” meme are deliberately triggering women’s experiences of male violence in order to shut them up – no dissent is ever allowed and any questioning immediately requires a threat of violence.

These threats are real. They are not just words or justified by ‘oppression’. They are nothing more than male violence. If you struggle to understand how fire is a violent threat, then please read Karen Ingala Smith’s blog which names the 16 women in the UK whose brutal murder either involved fire or who were set on fire after their deaths between January 2012 and December 2013.

And, think about how many women are either killed in a fire or their bodies desecrated by fire on a daily basis on our planet.

“Die in a fire” is hate speech. It is hate speech used to silence women and it is used to kill women.

 

Men respond to discussion of male violence with abusive language

Men responded to my post on the Santa Barbara shootings with their usual aplomb:

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Screen Shot 2014-05-25 at 09.32.54 Screen Shot 2014-05-25 at 09.33.19

And then we have the “Whatta about meeeeee!” whiners:

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Because the brutal murder of 6 people by one man in a culture of systemic violence is all about one dude with hurt feelings.

No woman deserves misogynistic abuse.

I don’t know why this doesn’t constitute stating the freaking obvious but I’m becoming increasingly enraged by the assumption that it’s totally okay to abuse a group of women you disagree with or that to defend yourself from abuse, you have to list every single horrible thing that’s ever happened to you.

Well, fuck that shit.

No woman deserves abuse.

No woman deserves ridicule.

No woman deserves to be silenced.

And, NO ONE should be forced to disclose their personal traumas in order to defend themselves from personal attacks.

Nor is trauma an acceptable excuse others. Many women have experienced domestic and sexual violence. Most do not express their trauma by abusing, harassing and threatening other women. It is simply unacceptable and cruel to collude with a traumatised woman by telling them that it’s okay to abuse other women. What they are doing is replicating the same abuse which happened to them to others. It is not acceptable.

Nor are there are a hierarchy of women who are allowed to be upset at abuse directed at them. Suggesting that is unkind and anti-feminist.

Nor are there ‘acceptable’ types of abuse which can be directed at women you disagree with. Parody accounts are intended to cause harm to a woman’s work and reputation. They aren’t a ‘little thing’ or less important than other forms of abuse. They are very clear forms of harassment and intimidation.

Equally, no one has the right to tell another woman if, how and when she’s allowed to react to abusive behaviour. Every woman has the right to decide for themselves.

The above are all techniques that the patriarchy uses to create categories of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ women. I have no intention of enabling or colluding with abusive behaviour directed at other women. Nor do I have any interest in people telling me how I can and cannot react to abuse directed at me.

And yeah, the idea that there is always something ‘more important’ to worry about is an anti-feminist silencing tactic designed to isolate women. I’m not interested in playing that game either.

Sex, Gender, Harassment and Being a Radical Feminist

I haven’t written about the sex/gender debate for a while because I am simply horrified by the amount of abuse that it generates.  What chance do we have in dismantling the patriarchy if self-defining feminists think it’s acceptable to insult, denigrate, and harass other women because of difference? This is without addressing the issue of threats of violence up to -and including- suggesting other women should die in a fire.

This isn’t a feminism I want to be part of and I struggle to understand how women think this counts as feminist activism. Trawling the timeline of someone who has blocked you isn’t activism. It’s stalking and we need to stop pretending that it’s acceptable. Digital Stalking lists a series of behaviours which constitute stalking. Look how many are applicable to so-called “feminist activism” on twitter:

The most common tactics for stalkers and bullies include:

    • Monitoring you and friends- looking at what you post, photos, where you go, who you go with etc.
    • Spyware – putting spy software on your phone or computer
    • Sending text, messages – sending hurtful or threatening messages to you over and over again
    • Account takeovers/hacking – accessing your online accounts
    • Denigration – send, post, or publish cruel rumors and untrue statements to damage your reputation
    • Distribute photos or videos – distributing photos or videos to embarrass you
    • Exclusion – contacting or inviting everyone but you
    • Flaming – posting an abusive response so everyone can see it
    • Outing – telling people something embarrassing about you
    • Threats and Dissemination – they threaten you and then tell everyone
    • Confidence tricks- getting you to reveal information about themselves and then using against them
    • Impersonation – pretending to be the victim either online or via email etc.
    • Spaming- signing the victim up for junk email
    • Trolling – say something online to get you to provoke you into responding
    • Bullying by proxy – getting others to join in

It’s been about 6 months since I was last targeted with many of the behaviours above for labelling myself a radical feminist. When I say 6 months, I mean a sustained attack. I still get abusive tweets, bullying by-proxy and flaming on a daily basis from a group of women and men who label themselves feminists.

When I’ve written about this before, particularly in relation to being called “a hypocritical cunt“, I’ve always asked how this can be considered feminism. How can feminism have arrived at a point where calling women hypocritical cunts or suggesting women die in a fire is considered activism?

It wasn’t until I recently read Denise Thompson’s Radical Feminism Today, which is somewhat unfortunately titled since it is actually about defining feminism, that I realised what I was failing to understand. Thompson argues that much of the problem is that self-defining feminists are working from radically different definitions of the term and that much of our disagreements stem from a fundamental inability to define terms: feminism, patriarchy, sex and gender.

A very basic misunderstanding of terms is seen with “radical feminism” which defines radical to mean root or origin. It is radical insofar as it contextualises the root of women’s oppression in the biological realities of our bodies and seeks drastic political, economic, and social reforms.

As a radical feminist, my definition of feminism is similar to that of Thompson: feminism is the liberation of women from male domination. This domination does not exist simply in violence but rather encompasses the mundane social structures which result in the oppression of women even if we do not perceive them as such – the debate over “gendered” toys being a case in point.

Radical feminism, as outlined by Gerda Lerner in The Creation of Patriachy, also posits women’s oppression in two issues: women’s  sexuality and women’s reproductive potential. Women’s oppression is because of our biological sex. Terms like feminism, patriarchy and gender are non-sensical if they do not reference biology or the reality of male domination and male supremacy. We cannot liberate women from the oppressive social structures in which we live if we do not recognise that biology has been our destiny for several millennia.

This recognition of the oppression of women as a class because of biology is what results in the vast majority of abuse directed at radical feminists. We have arrived at a point where the reality of women’s bodies are being erased: we can not talk of abortion or menstruation without being labelled transphobic. We cannot discuss the reality of pregnancy, infertility, ovarian cancer or fibroids. These are issues which affect women every single day but we are no longer allowed to discuss them as women’s issues.

Yet, women’s reproductive capabilities are at the centre of our oppression. If we don’t recognise this reality, then why on earth do people think women are oppressed? Because, I genuinely don’t understand how we can discuss feminism without discussing the reasons women have been oppressed and these reasons are all rooted in basic human biology. This is why radical feminism seeks to eliminate gender because it fails to address basic biology whilst simultaneously reinforcing behaviours which are deemed appropriate to man/woman and, as such, mandate women’s oppression based on their biology. The rigamarole required to get to this position is ridiculous.

Gender is not a performance nor is it based in a science. It is nothing more than the systemic social, cultural and physical oppression of women’s bodies which does nothing more than a reinforce a binary of man/woman which is really that of human/subhuman. Gender only exists in order to reinforce the White Supremacist Patriarchy. It actively harms women because it is based in the belief that women are not human.

In order to do feminism, we must define what it is we mean by feminism and it has to recognise male supremacy and domination and the biological realities of women’s bodies. Women’s oppression rests in our sexuality and our reproductive capabilities for a reason; there is a reason that rape is a common weapon to control and punish women [and the men that own those women’s bodies] and that raping women to get them pregnant was (is) a tool of most armies across the millennia. It is because of our biology.

Men took control over women’s (reproductive) labour, in order to grant themselves economic and political power. Or, in the words of Gerda Lerner, the commodification of women’s sexual and reproductive capacities is the foundation of the creation of private property and a class-based society.

Women are oppressed as a class because of our sexual and reproductive labours (from the existence of concubines to the rearing of children to women’s labours being the foundation of a family’s income). To ignore this, is to make feminism irrelevant.

Women are oppressed because of our biology.

And, I am officially done with being silenced by men and women who resort to threats of violence and harassment any time a woman points out that abortion is a woman’s issue because it is about the control of women’s reproductive capabilities. If we can’t talk about the state’s interference within our own bodies as women, how on earth are we supposed to break free of the systemic oppression of us as women?

Women are oppressed because of our biology. Violence, and threats therein, are just patriarchal silencing techniques which have oppressed and harmed women throughout history. Anyone who claims that they are engaged in feminist activism when making such threats is mistaken. All they are doing is helping the violent abusive men who rape, torture and violate women continue to harm women. It isn’t feminism.

And, this should go without saying, but deliberately targeting women who have spoken publicly about their mental health for abuse makes you a shitty, nasty excuse for a human being.

 

My Speech from Women’s Aid Conference on Cyber Stalking and Online Harassment


Alison has discussed the beginnings of our campaign as well as the spectrum of online misogyny. Before I speak to some of the specific examples of online abuse brought to the attention of EOM, I want to talk about some wider examples of the consequences of online harassment and stalking in terms of women’s access to online support.


There are several obvious consequences of online harassment and stalking all of which are designed to silence and isolate women, particularly since online communities have become a lifeline for many women. For women with caring responsibilities, life limiting conditions and disabilities, social media can be their main access for contact and support. Women in abusive relationships or who have experienced sexual violence are increasingly looking for safe spaces online to discuss their experiences as specialist services for women are being demolished by “austerity measures”.

The increase in cyber stalking and online bullying is eradicating what should have been safe-spaces and succeeds only in further isolating women.

Parenting Websites

There are a number of parenting sites based in the UK that are dominated by women. These function as both support sites and places just to “hang out”. Whilst the positive impact of these sites for women cannot be underestimated, they can also be used as ways of controlling women’s behaviour.

Despite anonymity, abusive men have managed to track down their partners and stalk them online. There have been a small number of cases wherein abusive men have threatened to use women’s as “evidence” of a woman’s “unfitness” to parent in court. The threat has been sufficient to result in a number of women having to have their entire posting histories removed because of stalking by violent ex-partners. While this may sound inconsequential to those with offline support, for women who depend on parenting websites the removal of an entire posting history is detrimental to their emotional welfare.

More commonly, sites like Mumsnet which have an active feminist community, are also targets for abusive men targeting any vulnerable women. Abusive men have taken to posting on the relationships board. Very frequently, posts on the relationships board are by women in abusive relationships asking for support or simply for someone to name what is happening to them, especially around the issue of rape in marriage.Abusive men post on these threads in order to minimise male violence but equally to gaslight women into believing that they are over-reacting to the abuse. Unfortunately, some women do collude with the abusive men although in many cases these are women who are not yet ready to confront the abuse in their own relationships.

The relationships board on Mumsnet is perhaps one of the safest feminist spaces online. The abusive men get very short shift from long-term posters but the fact of the matter is that these men, either singly, or from “invasions” of men from Fathers4Justice, Reddit, and a number of “car enthusiast” sites are deliberately targeted mostly women spaces in order to harass and stalk women. Sometimes it is to target women they know but frequently it is just to harass random women on the internet. These men do not make outright threats of violence but their behaviour is clearly designed to harass women.

Gaming

[Massively Multi-Player Online Role-Playing Game and First Person shooter with multi-player functionality]

The misogyny within the online gaming community is well documented with women frequently being targeted with abusive language, sexually explicit language and, increasingly, threats of sexual violence. Many multi-player online games have chat functions which can, and are, used by abusive men to send threats of sexual violence and abusive language. Along with female avatars, which consistently present women as sexually objectified, online games allow male players a space to sexually harass women. Stalking has become an increasingly common phenomenon. I have heard numerous stories of teenage girls pretending to male when playing these games in order to stave off sexual harassment from adult men.

Facebook

Facebook’s toleration of online misogyny and abuse is equally well documented. The secret and closed group function on Facebook could have been a very safe space for women to interact, however, Facebook has made it perfectly clear that the safety of women is not their concern. They allow pages threatening rape to be posted. “Revenge porn” pages are abundant and Facebook has refused to remove videos of women being raped.

The recent campaign against Facebook’s problem with misogyny led them to acknowledge that it has a problem but without actually doing anything about it. Instead of being a safe space, Facebook has made it clear that they are only interested in protecting men’s rights to sexually humiliate, stalk, harass and threaten women.

Examples of Abusive tweets sent to EOM

As Alison mentioned, our campaign was in a direct response to the attack on Caroline Criado-Perez, however abuse of women on twitter is not new. The woman raped by Ched Evans was the victim of a coordinated attack by Evans supporters which included releasing her name online. EDL members have a well documented history of sending racist and misogynistic threats to women. There are literally hundreds of thousands of examples of twitter accounts opened with the express purpose of abusing women and which twitter has consistently refused to close.

These are just a selection of abusive tweets that have been brought to the attention of EOM in the past few weeks. I have redacted names for this paper.

  • Oh, I’ll rape you so hard, you’ll forget your name. 
  • All, I can think of is [redacted] fat pussy rubbing against my ass cheeks. Dem cheeszy skidmarks 
  • Ironic you show a fist, as you’re quite partial to a bit of fisting you ugly fat trollop. Still can’t feel it in your big vag. 
  • #DearTerfs I hope you all die in a fire. You don’t deserve to be called “women” 

I won’t mention anymore as Caroline has already presented a selection of the horrific abuse directed at her.

The fact that twitter allows this abuse to continue unabated and flat out refuses to permanently ban violent men from sending threats makes Twitter another unsafe online space.


We are #shoutingback because we will not allow violent men to control online spaces. 

We are #shoutingback because no woman deserves abuse.
 
We are #shoutingback to show just how common online harassment of women actually is.

We are #shoutingback because women are human too.

Circus Freak Shows: Bullying Culture, Mass Media and Personal Responsibility

This past Halloween, I watched the film Monster House with my children. It is one of the unnecessary DVDs that we own but one that I had not actively watched before. It is a childrens film about a haunted house. I expected puerile jokes and unnecessary references to films that no one cares about anymore. I was wrong.

The basic plot of Monster House is that a house is possessed by the spirit of a dead woman, Constance, who steals children’s toys, which land on the grass around it. Before being rescued by the man she marries, Constance had spent her life as an unwilling freak show act in a circus where children paid money to laugh, belittle and humiliate her. Constance dies falling into the foundations of the house she was building with her rescuer-husband, after, once again, being belittled by a group of small children, and the house thus becomes both Constances grave and her avenger.

Possessed by the spirit of the abused Constance, the house is portrayed as insane, evil and violent. There is no discussion of whether or not she was justified in her paranoia following years of intense bullying. The house is angry and frightened because Constance was angry and frightened. But, no one listened when Constance was alive and no one listened when she died. Instead, the climax of the film is the complete destruction of Constance.

It is easy to dismiss Monster House as just another poorly executed childrens movie but this film is simply a reflection of our culture. We may no longer have circus freak shows designed to bully and humiliate those who do not fit our gendered dichotomy of human bodies, but our bullying culture still exists in the form of reality television, shock-jock radio programs, the ubiquity of  lifestyle and celebrity magazines, and mass media coverage of news. Much of our entertainmentnow rests on the same constructions as the circus freak show, we are simply unwilling to acknowledge our own personal responsibility in consuming these forms of entertainment and the harm that they cause.

Just as we now blame Mel Greig and Michael Christian for the death of Jacintha Saldanha, we blame Constance for her actions without looking at the context. I do not want to minimize what Greig and Christian did, since anyone who is no longer 15 should know the potential consequences of pranks, but they are not the only ones who are guilty in the death of Saldanha. Focusing our blame on Greig and Christian is a convenient way to minimize our collective guilt as a society that actively encourages the same bullying experienced by Constance.

Greig and Christian would not have made the prank call if there was not an audience for it. We cannot simply blame the two, although their culpability is without doubt, we also need to examine our own behaviour. We need to take personal responsibility for perpetuating and perpetrating bullying culture. Without an audience of consumers buying magazines like Heat and Grazia or newspapers like the Sun and the Daily Mail or watching/listening to shock jocks like Howard Stern and Matthew Wright, there would be no financial incentive for these people to behave in a crass and offensive manner. Before we start blaming others, we need to check our own behaviour, examine our own privilege, and stop financially supporting an industry based on the abject humiliation of others. The harm caused to vulnerable people who participate in reality television is obvious, yet millions of people watch shows like Big Brother and X-Factor and laugh at the judges’ vile comments. Millions of people take to Twitter to insult the physical appearance of contestants.
We shouldn’t need the Leveson Inquiry to regulate the media. We should be holding the media accountable through our financial power. We can change print media simply by refusing to consume misogynistic, racist, disablist and homophobic stories. We can change talk radio by switching off Greig, Christian and Stern. We can change the culture of bullying traumatised families by refusing to purchase newspapers or watch television newscasts that show images of traumatised parents mourning the loss of their children. We can stop buying newspapers that doorstop grieving parents. We can stop consuming media that suggest that women and children are somehow responsible for their own deaths at the hands of violent men for just exisiting.

Monster House is a film, which uses the emotional and physical abuse experienced by a vulnerable woman and then blames the woman for her behavior, whilst excusing the children, and their parents, who bullied her during her life. In fact, the film never makes the direct correlation between the long-term abuse experienced by Constance and her quite justified paranoia. The blame is entirely Constances despite the fact that society had conspired against her for cheap entertainment.

Contemporary mass media from reality television to celebrity culture, from talk shows to shock jocks, together form a 21st century freak show, only now the phenomenon is 24/7 and shows no respect for private boundaries or personal space. We are invited to laugh and jeer at vulnerable people, like Constance, and we pay to financially support their exploitation. We continue to exploit the most vulnerable members of our communities for our entertainment: in reality television, in traditional and online media, in the music industry and in pornography.

Life isn’t a circus freak show. Lets just stop acting like it is.