So, we all know what it's like on the internet, right? You put some content out there and then, if your content starts to attract attention beyond, say, your immediate circle of friends and family, any comments section can start to take on a life of its own. Armed with anonymity, the idiots come out to play. You know, the misogynistic, homophobic, hate-spewing, grammar-spurning, barely-literate morons who sit, fearless, behind their keyboards deciding that some "dum bitch shud get raped lol" or worse (oh, so very much worse). And, well, that's just how it is, right? And no-one should get upset about a few trolls who are probably just teenage boys fucking around, and not really actually dangerous right? Besides, if you can't stand the heat, get off the internet and stop being such an oversensitive pussy. Right?
To say that the internet is sexist is an understatement in the extreme. It's endemic, the tentacles of sexism and misogyny are woven so tightly around just about every shoot of the web, that we barely see them anymore. Even in the enlightened, liberal online communities I have been a part of, casual sexism is part of the group banter in a way that casual racism or homophobia would never be tolerated. And speaking out about it? I might as well stamp "killjoy" on my forehead or, in the imaginations of some men, "I am old, fat, ugly and can't get laid, therefore I am bitter".
This article, though long, articulates beautifully why we shouldn't ignore this stuff. Kate Harding, the author, also addresses the nice guys who think a bit of sexist humour isn't anything to get worked up about.
"‘Cause the thing is, you and the guys you hang out with may not really mean anything by it when you talk about crazy bitches and dumb sluts and heh-heh-I’d-hit-that and you just can’t reason with them and you can’t live with ‘em can’t shoot ‘em and she’s obviously only dressed like that because she wants to get laid and if they can’t stand the heat they should get out of the kitchen and if they can’t play by the rules they don’t belong here and if they can’t take a little teasing they should quit and heh heh they’re only good for fucking and cleaning and they’re not fit to be leaders and they’re too emotional to run a business and they just want to get their hands on our money and if they’d just stop overreacting and telling themselves they’re victims they’d realize they actually have all the power in this society and white men aren’t even allowed to do anything anymore and and and…
I get that you don’t really mean that shit. I get that you’re just talking out your ass.
But please listen, and please trust me on this one: you have probably, at some point in your life, engaged in that kind of talk with a man who really, truly hates women–to the extent of having beaten and/or raped at least one. And you probably didn’t know which one he was.
And that guy? Thought you were on his side.
As long as we live in a culture where the good guys sometimes sound just like the misogynists, the misogynists are never going to get the message that they are not normaland that most people–strong, successful men included–do not hate women."
We have to start speaking out about this stuff; to protest about the creeping normalisation of hatred, particularly amongst kids using the internet. It's not hard to see that, if this is what the world reverts to once it's given anonymity, sexism (and racism and homophobia) must be thriving barely a scratch below the surface. It never went away, it just learnt to keep its head down - at least in public.