Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Recommended Reading

Women get harassed online. We all seem to know this. Yet I'm shocked every time the discussion comes up because another woman is talking about how she was harassed. I'm shocked because men are shocked. Because men are somehow still ignorant of the kind of messages we receive all the time.

And part of it is because many of us women don't talk about it. We're taught to keep quiet about it and also many of us who do talk about it quickly get sick of talking about it. What else is there to say? Men send me gross messages and don't seem to feel any remorse when called out. In fact, they just go right to playing the victim. Same story every time. Yawn.

But if you are a male person, then here is some required reading to help get it through to you that women put up with some heinous shit:

[TRIGGER WARNING: ABLEIST SLURS/LANGUAGE] On sexual harassment and public discussion.

The specifics are this: He sent me over 40 emails, some were seemingly normal, complimentary fan letters, some were just links to youtube videos, one selfie, and some had graphic sexual content, such as describing sex acts he’d like to perform on me, and screenshots of explicit sexting sessions. A polite request to not receive any more emails was ignored. I blocked him, which just means the emails go to spam, they do not bounce back, but they should, so the sender knows they’ve been blocked. Gmail, fix this please! 
The day it all blew up was when he ordered a book from me and wrote, “I’d be enchanted if you rubbed your vagina on it.” I immediately canceled and refunded the order. He responded by calling me an idiot, criticizing how I run my career, and claiming nothing he did was harassment. He claimed to know the rules of online sexual harassment, because of course he does. 
Since there was no reasoning with a person like that, I decided to make the emails public. The minute I did, he responded to me on twitter, proudly claiming responsibility for them, and published part of an email where he explained that the vagina remark was meant to ‘enlighten’ me, and was not sexual, and saying I should have been flattered by the praise that preceded it. I blocked him immediately, but I continued to address the situation.

There's some unfortunate ableist language in this piece by one Julia Wertz, but it outlines all of the best points about online harassment of women and the shitty ways in which men respond to hearing about it. She goes on to describe other experiences she's had and how it makes women feel, as well as how difficult it can be to address it when you're told your whole life not to rock the goddamn boat.

For example, here's a sampling of the messages in my Tumblr inbox I woke up to just this morning:

Click to Enlarge

Clearly both were sent by the same loser, but still, someone taking the time to let me know that they hope I die. And this is nothing. I yawned that off and moved to more interesting messages. I mean, my last post was mocking a troll who at least claims to be dedicated to harassing me. But to me it's all meh because I deal with that all the time now. It's like gun violence in the U.S. Ha.

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