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A CALL TO ACTION - misogynistic trolls targeting women. Ideas and opinions needed please for action group.

(103 Posts)
THERhubarb Wed 23-Jan-13 14:14:33

Ok so following on from the thread about Mary Beard. For those who don't know Mary Beard was the target of hateful trolls who made some very vile and personal comments and attacks of her based purely around her gender.

This is not new. The Guardian reported on this in 2011.

Nothing has changed.

I want things to change. I proposed a petition demanding change. A petition needs 100,000 signatures before it is then debated in the House of Commons.

We could also organise demonstrations. We could blog about this, shout about this and demand action.

My thoughts are that I would like to see misogynistic abuse taken as seriously as racism and for these hatefull trolls to be tracked down and charged as racist trolls have been and still are.

I would like internet providers to get tough on hateful websites and for all internet devices to be sold with parental controls unless otherwise asked for.

I am aware others will have their own opinions on this and I am aware that other campaigns might already exist which we would do well to join.

So I'm really just asked for ideas and opinions. I am happy to set up a petition if one doesn't already exist but need an outline of what it is we are asking for.

Really this is just a soundboard for ideas.

THERhubarb Wed 23-Jan-13 14:16:55

Apologies for spelling and grammar. It was a rushed thread.

LRDtheFeministDragon Wed 23-Jan-13 14:39:20

I think the blog idea is definitely up and running (even MN has these issues amongst the MN bloggers). But the rest sounds good.

Something that occurs to me is, it would be important to be respectful to Mary Beard (who has to an extent catalyzed this) - I've just seen she's said on twitter that she doesn't want to see anyone charged but wants to raise awareness. It'd be important not to use her name to do anything she'd not want, or to speak for her.

But I think blogs like 'Everyday Sexism', or SGM's blog, or Herbs and Handbags, or Crooked Rib, or the Object campaigns, show that there is a huge amount of concern about these issues and it would not, I think, be impossible to get enough signatures on a petition about making misogyny a hate crime.

I'd have to know more about the existing campaigns, but I'm sure someone can fill me in.

LesBOFerables Wed 23-Jan-13 14:39:52

I've not read that thread, but I've seen a lot about this in the press: there's lots of stuff up and running from activists and people on twitter, I think, directly inspired by the Mary Beard example. I think you might be disappointed by the response to your suggestions about ISPs etc, as lots of them are hosted elsewhere and I think there's just recently been stuff debated which is going through parliament soon, I think? MN has been involved in the consultation iirc- try a google for the details, I'm a bit sketchy?

It's good to harness your anger into action though- lots of women on FWR are involved in RL campaigns and will be able to link them. It's hard to go back when your eyes have been opened though- be prepared to feel very angry about a lot of things! grin

LRDtheFeministDragon Wed 23-Jan-13 14:42:07

Anger is good, I think. smile

THERhubarb Wed 23-Jan-13 15:02:20

My eyes were opened long ago LesBOFerables, now my concerns are for my children.

Some people are saying that a petition would not render change and I really am stuck as to what to put on a petition. Any more thoughts would be appreciated. I have to pick up kids now, will look back in later on.

LRDtheFeministDragon Wed 23-Jan-13 15:06:53

I think a petition is a nice thing to do - it's a start to getting more into the activism side of it, and just researching it ought to bring up some useful points.

scaevola Wed 23-Jan-13 15:10:49

There have been several long threads patiently pointing out that there is no "unicorn" magic button which will deal with problematic sites (whether porn, terrorism, racist or vile for any other reason). Filters and parental controls are widely available already for those that want them. But they are ineffectively against an agile target.

I think you would divert energy from your main cause into techie detail if you include filters, and would thereby lose support.

Susan2kids Wed 23-Jan-13 15:31:40

You can start a petition but it will acheive nothing at all unless it is valid and fair.. The issue here is that your asking for the criminilisation of gender based insults. That means all of them, not just 'female' ones as you suggest. We need to look for equality not further discrimination....if you take this route what your actually saying is 'women are weak and need defending by being treated differently' a woman i resent that sentiment...Take Ms Beards laudable example treat it as the laughable idiocy it is. Do as she suggests, shes the one being attacked, she should respond....i'm off to post latin poetry as per her reequest.

LRDtheFeministDragon Wed 23-Jan-13 15:51:44

susan, I think you're being naive if you think that women aren't disporportionately targeted by gendered insults. I agree that it'd be nonsensical to try to criminalize only female-based ones, but that's not what she's saying she wants to do. She wants to get men involved, she says so.

You are constructing a straw-man argument here.

THERhubarb Wed 23-Jan-13 15:53:36

Susan2kids I raised that point on the other thread. The general consensus was that these abuse terms are largely being directed at women by men. So as with racism, insults were thrown at black people by white people and so it became illegal to attack anyone because of their race or creed.

So it should be on gender too. I understand your point about not alienating ourselves and I think it a valid one but quite a few other posters on the other thread had a different viewpoint.

This is the difficulty. Everyone can agree that it is wrong. However we cannot all agree on how to deal with it. Even if I set up a petition I don't know what our demands are, what we want to change because whilst on the surface it appears simple, actually it is far from it. Some see this as a purely feminist issue and others do not. Some see the correlation with porn and others do not.

It's a minefield. I'm guessing that not everyone will be in agreement.

ShephardsDelight Wed 23-Jan-13 15:58:18

A petition is probably a good idea, trolls can be very vicious and as much as I agree with 'FOS' it allows trolls of a lax lead that needs to be tightened.

I think what susan means is , if for example 'bitch, slut, whore etc is to be criminalized then so does bastard, wanker, tosser insults have to be as well, and judging by the relationship section here no-one seems to grasp that hypocrisy.
Every one knows women get more gender based insults no-one is arguing that I hope.

Susan2kids Wed 23-Jan-13 16:11:02

LRD (sorry no idea how to link names???) if you show me some evidence that women are actually disproportionately targeted by gender based insults I will agree with you. Im open to this. However..... Having worked in classrooms at all except nursery level I can however from my experience suggest that the terms dick and cock are far more used than cunt or twat...probably as a result of those words being repeatedly pointed out as 'more' unacceptable. I believe the impression that women are subject to more gender based insults is actually a fallacy (I do however not however believe that pay gap differentiation in some areas is a fallacy....just before people think im some sort of male chauvinist supporter! I consider myself very lucky to work in higher ed where the pay differential stopped about a decade back)

StewieGriffinsMom Wed 23-Jan-13 16:17:05

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

LRDtheFeministDragon Wed 23-Jan-13 16:17:23

Mary Beard, susan. And all the threads about her. We've gone over it all. And words like 'hysteria'. And the fact that 'he' is default in the language.

I've given you the examples.

Btw, you can't link names but you can bold them - there's a list of ways to highlight words that's at the bottom of the page when you post.

I'm stunned you're advancing HE as an area where there's more equality. Have you not seen how few women profs there are? There are studies all over the place about how married men thrive in academia, where married women drop out.

I don't let my students use words like 'dick' or 'twat' in class, btw. I take them to task if they try it.

ShephardsDelight Wed 23-Jan-13 16:26:41

Can't you agree to disagree?

getting a bit vicious on here.

LRDtheFeministDragon Wed 23-Jan-13 16:28:28

I could agree to disagree, but unfortunately I don't. smile

This may be upsetting to some, and I do sincerely apologize if it's traumatic to be witness to an actual disagreement. I know it's rare on MN, what with us all being feminine and made of sugar and spice, but every now and again I just end up arguing for what I think is true. blush

THERhubarb Wed 23-Jan-13 16:30:14

Susan, please read the links I posted on my OP.

Women are being targeted and are the victims of vicious attacks based purely on their gender. It is common and becoming more so.

Some women are threatened with rape, some are told they need a gooseeing to. If these insults were directed towards black people they would be racist but somehow insults like these against women should be 'tolerated' and we should learn to get a sense of humour, etc, etc.

It's gone way beyond the odd 'bitch.'

I'll not be back now until tomorrow but I really do want a diverse set of opinions on this on what we can actively DO.

TunipTheVegedude Wed 23-Jan-13 16:35:26

I used to work in higher ed and dh still is. There is a pay differential.

I think the words that are ok and the words that aren't are a red herring. It's the aggression of the posts against women - saying they deserve to be raped etc - that are the problem, not which words are used.

As things stand I don't know how you'd get on going to the police saying someone had said you deserve to be raped and someone else on the same thread had said they know where you live. (When Louise Mensch won her case it was a very specific threat - she was told she'd have to choose which of her children he would kill.) But I would imagine a few of those would have more impact than 100 posts saying you were a cunt.

ShephardsDelight Wed 23-Jan-13 16:37:49

Its all a bit one sided though on a topic actually about targetting/bullying though?

The irony hasn't missed me at least grin

KarlosKKrinkelbeim Wed 23-Jan-13 16:39:39

"I think the words that are ok and the words that aren't are a red herring. It's the aggression of the posts against women - saying they deserve to be raped etc - that are the problem, not which words are used."
I think that is exactly the point. I would be prepared to accept that there are few individual words as loaded for either gender as the n word is for black people, for example. The issue is abouit incitement to hatred and violence based on gender, i think, which the calls to deal with women's infractions of certain "raules" by rape, for example, would be covered by. We have offences of incitement to racial hatred, why not incitement to gender hatred?

LRDtheFeministDragon Wed 23-Jan-13 16:46:20

shephards - erm, it's about misogynistic bullying. It's right there in the title. Did that miss you?

ShephardsDelight Wed 23-Jan-13 16:59:54

Bullying is bullying LRD, splitting hairs doesn't detract from the fact that you are all jumping on the attack of someone you don't agree with.
Its laughable that a place of 'sisterhood' is often the most hostile.

I'm getting into an argument, just standing up for another poster who imo is being ganged up on.

LRDtheFeministDragon Wed 23-Jan-13 17:01:57

I'm not splitting hairs in the slightest.

I don't think I'm 'attacking' anyone either. I just disagree.

You would prefer it if I lied, or just 'agreed to disagree'? Why? Why shouldn't I say what I believe is true.

Lessthanaballpark Wed 23-Jan-13 17:07:30

I think that the problem is that men see women in the public eye as fair game. I see this on youtube tutorials, where if the tutorial is done by a woman in a male-dominated area there will invariably be comments about her looks, whilst with a man the discussion will centre around the content of the video.

Even if the comments are complimentary it still highlights that many men cannot get see women for what they do rather than what they look like. Their expertise are more likely to be criticised too.

I don't think it would be hard to do some kind of analysis of online blogs and videos with their comments, picking a cross section of men commenting on women, women commenting on men, etc, to show the inequalities that women face. It's not a case of "if you want equality, then you have to put up with this" because the treatment women receive online is anything other than equal.

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