I really wish there was a “shut up before you make more of an ass of yourself” button on the internet
About a month ago, I blogged about mysogony on the internet. In a dialogue that has been growing over the last couple of months, female bloggers have started to point out that they are subjected to the kind of verbal abuse guys will never experience.
As an example, they created a hashtag on Twitter. If you want to see what female bloggers have to deal with, check it out. You may have to scroll back a bit to actually see the horrible stuff these women get thrown at them. A long way, actually, because even on this hashtag, the idiots on the internet have reared their ugly heads.
In a tiresome and predictable move, a number of guys have chosen to respond by proving why the hashtag exists in the first place.
A lot of guys say the ladies are “whiners.” There is the inevitable “not all guys are like this” thread. And, of course, there are guys saying “guys get abused too!”
Here’s the thing….shut up guys.
Have you ever heard of a support group? You know – a group where people who have experienced similar things have gotten together and said “I went through some horrible traumatic experience and it fucked me up a little bit?”
People go to support groups for a whole lot of things. Death of a loved one. Dieting. Addiction. Rape. You know, heavy stuff that it can be hard to deal with alone.
The purpose of that support group is not to have someone come in and say “your child drowned and you are having trouble coping? Fuck you, man, lots of people have lost their children and they are doing just fine. Me? No, I haven’t lost my children. I didn’t have kids. I think bringing kids into this world is incredibly cruel which is why I gave myself a vasectomy for my 21st birthday. That’s why I can judge your pain!”
Nobody said that on Twitter because it is way longer than 140 characters.
My point is, one of the purposes of a #mencallmethings hashtag is to show women that they aren’t alone. Other people are going through the same thing. Don’t break into their support group and tell them they are doing it wrong. They aren’t doing it wrong because it is their thing. Not yours.
Now, I’m using the support group analogy and while that is certainly a part of what the hashtag is about, it is arguably a very small part.
I think the more important goal was to show people who think that this sort of thing is unusual that it is nothing of the sort. It happens all the time and for women, it is much worse than for men.
There is a “me too” hashtag for #womencallmethings. I was going to link to it but it’s pretty boring.
Men don’t have a monopoly on saying hateful things, which is what the hashtag is trying to say. It is primarily women who are pointing this out by saying “women have also said awful things to me.”
Fair enough, women can say hateful, hurtful things to each other as well. When it comes to the really hatful stuff, though, the hateful stuff that get said to men just can’t compete.
I challenge anyone to think that being called an “asshole” or “loser” or “idiot” or “prick” is the equivalent of being called a “cunt” or a “hag” or “frigid” or being told that you deserve to be raped.
Hell, you can call a guy a rapist, which is pretty bad, but I still think telling a woman that she deserves to be raped is a whole hell of a lot worse.
So any time a guy says “people on the internet call me horrible things,” I just think that they don’t really understand what horrible means.
On a previous post, someone called me a “troll” and “online bully.” That’s the worst I’ve seen so far. I imagine I’ll see worse if the folks trolling the #mencallmethings hashtag decide to comment on my blog.
But it isn’t the same. I think it is hard for guys to understand that it isn’t the same. Women keep trying to explain how the online abuse they experience is completely out of line and guys want to plug their ears and pretend the problem doesn’t exist.
Or worse – they feel the need to chime in just to say “hey – I don’t do that!!!”
Dude, if you actually have to say that, you are part of the problem.
I know that someone is going to ask me why I’m even talking about this given that I produce a comedy show where people insult each other. They are waiting for me to crow “that’s different.”
Well it is different. On stage, the performers have a tacit agreement that saying awful things about one another is OK. Nobody means any of it. It is a comedy show and we are playing it for laughs. More importantly, the audience is in on the joke. They understand what the purpose is and they agree that we can say this awful stuff. If they don’t like that kind of humor, they don’t go.
None of the stuff that these women are talking about is part of an agreement. They did not say “hey, I’m going to write my opinion and if you don’t like it, you have every right to question my sexuality.”
Yet they know it is going to happen because it always does.
If I write a blog post that includes an unpopular opinion, people question my opinion. See the difference?
Look, I’m a middle-aged white guy. I cannot possibly understand the amount of courage it must take to put something out there on the internet with the full knowledge that there are guys out there just waiting to call me a “whore,” a “slut,” and worse.
So back the fuck off, guys. You are walking into an AA meeting and saying “I don’t get what the problem is – I hate alcohol.”
You don’t get it. You never will. At the very least, you need to learn when to shut the fuck up.