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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 30-Jan-13 10:33:45

Here, read the piece by the New Statesman on the online abuse of women bloggers.

Men might get abuse for what they write but by and large they don't get abuse simply because they write. Women bloggers don't just get abuse after a particularly controversial piece, they get abuse every single day just for writing. That's it. Just for having an opinion at all.

I don't know how much more evidence I could thrust in front of you. Denial is a powerful weapon. It keeps us in our cosy alternate reality.

THERhubarb Wed 30-Jan-13 10:29:15

And you don't think that abused girls also had to put up with the attitude that they were somehow willing? That they somehow enjoyed it? That's the crux of rape jokes and underage sex jokes isn't it? That girls somehow deserve it or enjoy it?

You have missed my point spectacularly. Yes there are hateful people out there who are always ready to accuse, to respond with threats of violence, etc but I think you will find the misogynist attitude towards women much more prevaling. Just scan through the comments on YouTube (if you can stomach it) and count how many comment on women's tits, arse, body shape, how much they want to shag her, etc. If there is a video featuring a woman there will be hundreds of comments tearing her to pieces and containing sexually explicit terms. I do not see men being treated with the same amount of vitroil.

You are grasping at straws to prove a non-existent point. There is no point in arguing with someone who has their hands over their ears. Yes boys are pimped out and yes boys are abused too and NOBODY is saying that does not happen, but when you have laws - actual LEGAL RULINGS that discriminate against women, when you have rape being used as an act of war, when you have religions that actively seek to discriminate against women then this is misogyny.

Trying to make out that men suffer JUST AS MUCH abuse as women is offensive. Go do the maths. Look at the stats. I'm sure you are not that ignorant to realise this is not the case. How many women are raped in the UK? How many men are raped in the UK?

Are men in India subjected to sexual harrassment if they use public transport? Are they gang raped? Do they live in fear of being raped?

No-one is denying that men are abused for being homosexual or that boys are sometimes kidnapped and used as pimps but what we are saying is that crimes against women are much more common. When you hear of sexual grooming it is more often done by men to young girls. I'm sure it does happen with boys but these crimes against women are MORE COMMON.

Women are targeted because they are seen as easy prey, because in some cultures they are seen as lesser people. It doesn't matter if that woman is married, or a lesbian, or underage - she is targeted because of her gender.

Chris Jeffries was targeted because he was the landlord of Joanna Yeates, yes because he looked odd but mostly because he was taken into police custody and the press put 2 and 2 together.

He was not targeted merely because of his gender.

Rod Liddle's piece (whose dw is a Mumsnetter) I did not read but again I have no doubt that he was targeted because of his views, because of what he wrote.

He was not targeted merely because of his gender.

The New Statesman reported that women blogging about traditional men's topics (gaming, politics, finances) receive much more vitroil.

Kate Smurthwaite has the audacity to write a witty blog. She gets abuse like this: "IF THIS TRASH TALKING K*NT HAD HER F*CKNG, TONGUE RIPPED OUT OF HER SUCK-HOLE..." as well as gang rape threats. When she contacts the police, they do nothing.

Eleanor O'Hagan writes for The Guardian. She gets comments from men who try to discredit her, calling her a "nagging fishwife" or "whiny little girl". Some of the comments got to her so much that she admits watering her opinions down and being afraid to express any feminist views whatsoever because of the abuse she would then receive.

Cath Elliot is a blogger. She is told that she is too ugly to be raped. She is told how posters would like to stick various implements in her orifices.

Dawn Foster is a political blogger. She is usually referred to as a "little girl" and told about rape fantasies men have. She got one email with her full details included; home address, telephone number etc.

Caroline Farrow is a religious blogger. She is told how she would benefit from "a good seeing-to" or how her mouth would be better used in giving blow jobs.

I could go on but you get my point. Rod Liddle may have provoked the trolls on one occasion by expressing unpopular views. These women provoke the trolls on a daily basis simply by daring to have views.

Do you see the difference? Do you hell. You still want to pretend that men and women are subjected to equal amounts of hatred despite all the evidence pointing to the contrary, despite all the statistics and then you want to turn the argument around and tell me that I am discrediting male victims by pointing out facts like more women are raped, more woman are subjected to domestic violence, more women are repressed, more women are targeted by online trolls. These are facts, not fiction. Yet you still deny them.

LineRunner Tue 29-Jan-13 22:47:21

There are cases in the news all the time about older women who prey on younger boys in their early teens, and it's assumed by society those boys must have enjoyed it or been willing

What a load of shite.

I think it is horrible you would even post that on a parenting site.

GreenGateGeorge Tue 29-Jan-13 22:42:00

I didn't say that rape jokes were on a par, I said I found women assuming that I found objectifying men amusing was offensive. I don't think it's ok that there are jokes broadcast on mainstream TV about rape and violence against women, but I don't condone jokes about violence against men either. Or people who are transgender. Or just people in general.
I read a piece in the Spectator the other day on the MB thing by Rod Liddle which said that he had been accused of paedophilia and had received comments about people cutting off his genitals because of public comments he had made. Hilarious. Chris Jefferies was arrested and hounded by the press over the murder of Joanna Yates for what is seemingly the capital crime of Looking Like A Weirdo.

Why do you think it is "comforting" or that people who believe that equality starts at home are somehow in denial? I expect to be treated with respect, but in turn I give respect. I am not comforted by young women feeling the need to express that they are not feminists because they don't want to be militantly argumentative. Most women just want their experiences, choices and actions to have equal value and consequence to those of a man. That is feminism, but this type of reactionary outrage means that we end up engaging fewer men in the cause of equality because they feel that they are essentially turkeys voting for Christmas.

Nobody is saying bad things don't happen. Yes, Jimmy Savile was a rapist and an abuser, but so were all the authority figures like teachers, priests, choir masters and scout leaders who abused boys in the past and got away with it. There are cases in the news all the time about older women who prey on younger boys in their early teens, and it's assumed by society those boys must have enjoyed it or been willing. These boys have every right to feel the pain and mental anguish of abuse that a girl of the same age with an adult man will feel. Men who have been victims of abuse are so often maligned in this society. All victims of sexual abuse are. What you fail to mention about the countries where women who are beaten up for showing their ankles is that rape of men AND women is fairly standard. Men in the middle east abuse young boys because it's seen as consequence-free sex. In Iraq and Afghanistan, boys are often pimped by their own families for money. If you're a man arrested in an arab country (especially if you are beardless) you're likely to be sodomised as a means of domination. Talking about rape and abuse like it's something that only happens to women undermines ALL victims whose experiences have equal validity.

RM76 Tue 29-Jan-13 18:14:15

When facing ignorance and pure stupidity I like to remember Calvin and Hobbes.
"People think it must be fun to be a super genius, but they don't realise how hard it is to put up with all the idiots in the world." grin

SabrinaMulhollandJjones Tue 29-Jan-13 14:35:37

Yy Rhubarb. Jimmy Savile groomed a nation - this could only happen in a misogynistic society.

Everyone was in denial - girls who made accusations were disbelieved, even by ChildLine, nurses turned a blind eye (or told girls to pretend to be asleep shock ), nobody challenged him having lone girls in his dressing room. There's even footage of girls being groped by him on live TV for gods sake. Nobody was prepared to stand up to Saint Jim.

This same society is in denial about misogynistic abuse and threats specifically to women - feminists have long been a target, but now it seems to be open season on any woman.

I don't know what the answer is when something is so ingrained in society that people don't even notice it, but I'm sure ignoring it isn't the answer.

THERhubarb Tue 29-Jan-13 11:18:22

Denial is easier and yes it's somehow comforting to try and compare misogyny with sexism towards men as you can then fool yourself into thinking that this is just a feminist over-reaction and men are treated equally as bad as women.

Just think about that for a second - men are treated equally as bad as women. Are they really? Are men's bodies scrutinised daily by the media? Are men forced to go on diets because of comments about their appearance? Are men beaten in the street in some parts of the world for showing their ankles or talking to women?

Women in some parts of the world are told to view their bodies with disgust. They have to stay indoors during their period. They are not allowed to talk with men or even be in the same room with men. They have no rights and are viewed as the property of men who rape and beat them because that's just the way it is.

Yes these are extreme examples of misogyny but don't think that doesn't exist here, it does but in a more diluted form. It exists in the media, in the arts, in business, in politics.

I have a feeling that I can link to examples of online abuse of women all I like, I can quote men subjecting women to horrific threats of sexual violence simply because she doesn't fit their stereotype of what a woman should be, I can link to women hating websites and women hating social media groups, I can hold up example of misogynistic jokes that find amusement in violence perpetrated against women and yet for all that there will still be the posters who claim that men have it just as bad and it's all mere sexism.

You can't petition against ignorance and denial.
No petition would work until society wakes up and realises what is happening right in front of it. But by then it will be too late.

My children are already growing up in this world. My daughter is learning about sexting and how girls are exploited on the internet by boys. She is learning this at school who have seen what a widespread problem it is and are taking measures to tackle it. What are the statistics? That 1 in 3 girls have experienced some sort of sexual abuse by the time they reach adulthood?

Denial is what puts people in danger. Look at the Savile case for real instances of denial and what that did. You may be happy to put up with what you term as mere 'sexism' but I am not.

SabrinaMulhollandJjones Tue 29-Jan-13 10:42:13

Don't click on that woman-hating website link- don't give him the hits.

I do find it very odd that people will perform the most amazing mental gymnastics to make out that men have it as bad as women.

On that other thread people were comparing a media pisstake about David Beckham's white socks with the abuse and violent threats that Mary Beard received. And here, we have a female comedian calling a man 'a walking wallet' or 'I like my men like my coffee...' jokes being on a par with rape and dv jokes. I just have to say wtf?

There are links to the violent abusive threats towards Laurie Penny upthread, but still people come on here to talk about 'men are all idiots because they can't work the washing machine' gags.

In answer to all these parallel threads on the subject of misogynistic abuse and the way some people choose to deny it (even when it's glaring them in the face) I just find the subject too depressing.

Perhaps that's why some women deny misogyny exists? Denial is just easier.

AbigailAdams Tue 29-Jan-13 10:01:34

Really, a couple of jokes at the expense of men doesn't really compare to the abuse received by women such as Mary Beard online. It doesn't compare to centuries of still ongoing oppression by men on women. Anyone suggesting it does is being a bit of a whiney-arse.

But yes, lets bring it round to being all about the men. Again.

THERhubarb Tue 29-Jan-13 09:28:15

You cannot change misogynistic views RM76 (welcome by the way) when people, even women, are in denial that it exists.

Jokes made my Jo Brand could be deemed as sexist. Here's a joke I heard Jimmy Carr come out with "What's the difference between rape and football? Women don't like football."

Now many people would say that is sexist but there is one crucial difference here; it is a joke that makes light of one of the most violent crimes perpetrated against women and suggests that women actually enjoy rape. This is also what porn would have you believe which is why women are always seen in a submissive stance, being dominated over by men. There is this underlying attitude prevailing in society that actually women like to be controlled and dominated and are there purely for the sexual pleasure of men.

You could say that making light of such a violent crime actually encourages other people to think that rape is nothing serious.

I tend to think that women making jokes about men is a backlash against the blatant sexism that has been rife in the industry for decades. Remember when all comedians were men? Let's see now, you had Jim Davidson (now linked to the Savile scandal), Roy Chubby Brown, Les Dawson, Freddie Starr, Benny Hill, etc. A large part of their material was very sexist.

I do not agree with women now jumping on the bandwagon but I can understand the backlash.

Yet women are not making jokes that condone violence against men. It seems that men are no longer content with making purely sexist jokes, they have to take it one step further and make rape jokes, jokes about domestic violence, about underage sex, etc.

There are websites out there and facebook groups that target women. Here is one Facebook Group that promoted beating women here is a woman hating website which has quotes from women killers such as Peter Sutcliffe.

I found those within 1 minute on Google. Yet type in "anti-men websites" and you get websites that support men's rights, a couple of feminist websites who call for equality and anti-porn websites.

Yet right here on this very thread I am told that there is no such thing as misogyny, that it's all just sexism.

Denial is a powerful weapon and I don't have the energy to fight it.

RM76 Tue 29-Jan-13 06:42:17

And then I didn't tick the box,
If I've still cocked it up sorry, I've not been to bed, very, very sleepy.

RM76 Tue 29-Jan-13 06:37:42

Sorry, got the link wrong,

RM76 Tue 29-Jan-13 06:32:43

THERhubarb, Thank you for starting this, I'm new, so hope this post is okay.

I've been looking around the net, and I'm not so sure women are explicitly excluded from the hate crime law.
I was looking at It seems you don't have to belong to any of the specific groups listed, as all people can be a victim of hate crime (obviously) and adding gender to the list would just mean we've listed all types of people.

I don't really know what UK feminist groups are trying to do about the hate of women online, beyond the naming and shaming (which is very brave, well done them). Maybe we should have a look on their sites and see if they are thinking the same thing, I will try and have a look this afternoon if I get time.

I certainly don't think ignoring things is working. This behaviour is not trolling, these are organised groups peddling hate, it's just festering and infecting all corners of the net.
For a while there I even used a gender neutral name when online, my husband called it my internet Burqa! Must not show an inch of femininity or the MRA monsters attack! How many other women resort to this just to be allowed on the net without having to fight?

But you'd like some tangible suggestions for a petition, and if the above is right, then women are covered, so what we really need is not a change in the law, but enforcement of the existing laws.

What really bothers me is how you change society's inherently sexist attitude with a petition. I am in no way trying to belittle the idea, I'm just despairing right now, sorry.
What bothers me more is the fact that I've been thinking about this for so long, and have done nothing constructive. I do think that with all the talk about misogyny the government has to be seen to be listening right now, but I'm still at a loss as to how to word that in a petition.

Perhaps we need to ask for specific help for women on the Internet, perhaps we should not ask to be tagged on to the present list of groups, but for once ask for special treatment, we are half of society after all, no offence to minority groups, but many of them are women too, so I don't see why we couldn't simply ask for something specifically covering the hate of women on the Internet. You don't get if you don't ask, and we probably won't get anyway, but at least it would start the conversation.

I know this is a bit of a ramble, hope it makes sense. I will carry on looking, and try and help if I can. Hope it helps a bit.

GreenGateGeorge Tue 29-Jan-13 01:17:24

Admittedly, she looked like she had put some makeup on for question time, but saying you don't give a shit about your appearance on a visual medium says you don't give a shit about your audience. If you were a writer, and your spelling was awful but you couldn't be arsed to check it, because what you have to say is important enough that people should pay attention to you anyway, is that ok?

GreenGateGeorge Tue 29-Jan-13 01:11:10

I wouldn't be allowed to turn up to work dressed like she does.

LineRunner Tue 29-Jan-13 01:09:14

Mary Beard is a 'scruffbag'?

GreenGateGeorge Tue 29-Jan-13 00:47:43

Jo Brand, Jo Caulfield, Andi Osho, Sandi Toksvig (being a lesbian isn't an excuse) are all terrible culprits for making anti-male jokes- the point is, they're a much larger proportion because there are fewer female comedians to compare them with- especially in topical comedy which is much more aggressive and adversarial. I think there are a lot of jokes which people would make about a thing that their partner does that annoys them or is quirky or amusing, that isn't said with particular malice but gets extended to a gender stereotype that might fall foul of blanket bans (like Michael McIntyre talking about his man-drawer, or the fact that his wife spent a lot of money on a tiny handbag). The casual humour aspect was more aimed at the sorts of things you now get printed on mugs, greetings cards, tea towels, fridge magnets etc. which would be outrageous things to say if the boot was on the other foot. I'm not saying that it's ok for male comedians to make sexist remarks or jokes- just that it's not ok for female comedians to do it either. I got bought a mug for Christmas by another female family member which said "I like my men like I like my coffee- dark and rich". I was quite offended about it, because that's not how I see men at all. It just amazes me that women find that kind of objectification acceptable when they wouldn't accept their husband owning a mug/keyring/mousemat that reinforced female objectification or negative stereotypes.
In terms of appearance-based comedy though, I think it's far more common than you might imagine for people whose views are not agreed with. I don't think MB was singled out because she's a woman- I think she was singled out because she's on TV and she's outspoken (not to mention a scruffbag who shows contempt for her audience by not dressing smartly like the rest of the men and women on the panel). Did anyone think that jokes about John Prescott's appearance are sexist? He didn't only get nasty comments on the internet, he was actually assaulted as well (leaving aside the fact that he punched the egg-thrower back). What about comments about Andrew Marr's ears? Or the comments about Ed Milliband looking like Wallace from Wallace and Gromit? That must be because he's a man, surely? No? What about the jokes on John Culshaw's programme about Eamonn Holmes eating sofas? MUST be gender based.
If you are in the public eye you will get criticised for your looks. There will be people somewhere on the internet who make vague comments indicating the violence that they would do to public figures in their imagination. Doesn't mean they would actually go and do it, or that they are bullying. If people are actively seeking out their private contact details and making threats, that's another matter, but when people go on television, and make themselves available on a public forum like twitter then what do they expect?

LineRunner Tue 29-Jan-13 00:23:37

I don't watch Live at the Apollo much any more.

Please tell me Jack Dee is still ok?

SabrinaMulhollandJjones Tue 29-Jan-13 00:16:47

There was a domestic violence joke on Live at the Apollo a few weeks back. Rape jokes in abundance all over the place. It seems every and any joke can have the punchline 'And so I raped her.' hmm

LineRunner Tue 29-Jan-13 00:10:59

GreengateG, I can only think of one female comedian who fits the 'shopping, shoes and chocolate' bill and that's Sarah Millican who is now more of a Loose Women perma-guest, and Loose Women are welcome to her.

I can think of masses of male comedians with troubling views about women, many of them touring live this year, releasing DVDs and/or with significant tv profiles.

There still is an imbalance.

DadDancer Mon 28-Jan-13 23:21:28

Agreed George, great post

THERhubarb porn filters at source are technically flawed for numerous reasons. Please see the many threads regarding this issue.
Here's one here

Mumsnet stance is also against filtering:

Telegraph Article

GreenGateGeorge Mon 28-Jan-13 22:54:07

So we outlaw misogyny- fine, people should be nice, but the instances of misandry which are laughed off by women who are educated, middle class liberals never fails to astound me. Out of the female comics on TV (of which there are few) there is an awful lot of the "all men are bastards" type of culture which seems to run through their material, whereas in mainstream comedy by men, that kind of language against women is becoming less and less common. Fortunately now that TV producers are seeing that audiences can find women funny, we should be seeing a lot more of a broad church of female comedy in future, but it seems though that there is still a very sexist streak in casual humour aimed at women, centring on painting men as disposable, or useless, or as a walking wallet etc. This is as offensive to women as it is to men, as it's usually lumped in with quips about shopping, shoes and chocolate, as if women have no other hobbies or interests. I can't help thinking that this is a general cultural reaction to casual misogyny, but such an antagonistic view isn't helpful to men or women. It just promotes a culture of gender war that is the real enemy of equality. Isn't it better to engage in positive affirmation rather than start banning things left right and centre? Ask why we don't have a broader range of voices heard in society in general. Mary Beard's reaction to comments she found offensive is fairly refreshing but let's not forget that she doesn't need to be on twitter- she doesn't need to google herself and find trolling on obscure websites. She could just be content that her opinions are valid rather than seeking further validation from the internet. There are plenty of men who are publicly mocked (and yes, sometimes for their appearance, or Spitting Image would have never had any material), but we don't assume it's because all women hate men. If we encounter language or behaviour that we find offensive, we should publicly challenge it, rather than just banning it. To say "I find those remarks offensive, because of x, y and z", asking them to explain themselves and engaging in a dialogue surely does more than either banning certain phrases or calling for a witch [troll] hunt every time someone says something that will count as "offensive" on a tick list.

THERhubarb Mon 28-Jan-13 11:25:27

DadDancer - porn used to only be available in certain shops where your ID was no doubt proved. This is what I would like to see a return of. Porn should be on a paid for basis only and not freely available for all to access.

The idea a few years back was that computers and mobile devices would be sold with filters on. At the point of sale the buyer would be asked if they would like these left on or switched off. This gives the consumer the choice.

It also means that if they want to switch the filters off later on, they would have to physically do so, thereby forcing them to figure out their way around a pc. It frustrates me when so many parents admit they have no idea about the internet yet allow their kids free and unrestricted access to it.

As for homosexuality, I think you will find that once it was made illegal to discriminate then a lot more people started coming out. They were no longer afraid because they knew the law was on their side. I don't know what you mean by education because as far as I am aware, they don't teach kids about homosexuality in many schools. What changed our attitude was the media. Never under estimate the role of the media in education.

SGM, I get your point. However with so many women voicing concerns over any action or petition or changes in the law then I fail to see what we can do? This is a huge problem and yet we appear to be at odds over what to do about it. Many women (as well as men) deny there is a problem, many think that a change in the law would lead to censorship, many feel that women would be segregated if we took action, etc.

Yes education is key here, but just how do we do that? It's no use voicing concerns if we aren't prepared to DO something about it. There is no campaign to get behind, just a few websites and blogs that are happy to write about it. This is great for reaching those who already agree with you but it's not reaching anyone else.

It's so frustrating.

StewieGriffinsMom Sat 26-Jan-13 07:58:59

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

DadDancer Fri 25-Jan-13 14:15:29


You could therefore argue that what we are asking for is in fact equality. Why should it be acceptable to threaten and abuse a women purely based on her gender yet it is not acceptable to do the same for someone who is black or gay?

I totally agree with you on this bit, but i don't believe legal intervention is the way to tackle any of these issues and when you start mentioning things like web filtering (as in parental controls), forcing ISP's to clamp down on certain web sites etc, then i think were are indeed heading towards internet state censorship similar to China. You could find that even sites such as Mumsnet would be out of bounds. There is certainly plenty of hate and insults on these forums to make it a candidate if we were to go down that road.

With regards to the acceptance of homosexuality. Wasn't this down to people 'coming out' and education? I don't think enforcement was ever a major factor to be honest.

I personally think education and awareness is the way forward on this.

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