Trolls defend Assange against rape accusations by threatening rape

People keep telling us trolls will be trolls, and males on gaming sites tend to sexually harass women, and what kind of behavior do you expect from men in bars and men in college and so on, and offering the usual lazy “whatcha gonna do that’s just the way it is” as their rationale for why we shouldn’t try to change anything. Here’s a shining example of why somebody needs to try to change it. This is part of an email from reader Manatee:

I wanted to send this link, because it’s awesome and they need all the help the can get over there at tiger beatdown. Since you already have a wide readership, it could reach even more through your site, if you want published it.

The article describes one of those “net meltdowns already in progress” that’s a little difficult to grasp when you’re late to the party. As far as I can tell (and please, anyone better informed, offer corrections or amendments as you see fit in the comments), Michael Moore has tweeted and retweeted some unsubstantiated crap about the women charging Assange with rape. Sady from Tiger Beatdown has criticized him publicly for this. Someone created a “#mooreandme” feed on Twitter for those following the protest against Moore’s remarks. [ETA: Kate Harding writes about it here.]

In response, the trolls submitted comments to her site calling her a whore and offering up the names of Assange’s accusers. When they realized those weren’t getting through:

But now they’re creating Twitter accounts, posting rape threats, and tagging them #MooreandMe so that the feed is unsafe for women or rape victims to look at. And posting the accusers’ names, over and over, because one of the things we’re objecting to is that posting the accusers’ names is subjecting them to massive invasion of privacy, you can find their names and home addresses online, and that might get them hurt or even, like, raped, it might get them fucking raped, by some fucked-up dangerous Assange fans, it might make it possible for rapists to find them and rape them to punish them for this. And they’re tagging THAT #MooreandMe, so they can use the protest to endanger the accusers even more, so that the protest will become unsafe for the accusers thanks to the trolls and we’ll stop it. And threatening to hack my PayPal, and threatening to hack Tiger Beatdown.

It looks to me like the feed has been emptied somehow now, to protect the protesters from the trolls.

This is rape culture at work. This is why we object to events you consider harmless, like women being sexually harassed every time they reveal their gender at gaming forums. Trolls always have an excuse, a good reason. But what it boils down to is: women should know their place as second-class citizens, and when they forget, it is the duty of all manly men to remind them “We can rape you until you shut up, bitch.”

There’s a reason trolls never threaten to rape men: those threats are difficult to take seriously without an eons-long history of men raping men in order to control and silence men. With women, the history is there, so the threats cannot be dismissed as “just talk” – even when it turns out they were, because the people being terrorized by that talk suffer all the same. And that is the trolls’ goal.

We considered hunting down the tweets and grabbing screenshots. Then we realized how depressed we’d get, and we’re seeing more and more activists burn out from pursuing assholes well beyond their comfort zone, so we decided against it. But if you have links to articles, screenshots or anything else to do with this debacle, please feel free to share them in comments. Be aware that comments with more than 3 links are automatically held for moderation.


  1. Maria says

    You don’t have to rape all women to make all women afraid of rape — that’s one of the reasons feminists often describe rape as a kind of sexual terrorism.

    It’s funny how male progressives are often NOT feminist, at all.

    • Patrick McGraw says

      It’s the basic concept behind a hate crime – in addition to the direct harm caused, the criminal sends a message to everyone else in the targeted group. “We’ll do this to you, too.”

      • says

        That’s why I take issue with the US definition of groups against whom hate crimes can be committed. I fully understand it would be difficult to determine what’s a hate crime against a woman, and what’s just a criminal picking an easier target than a man. But I think not including “women” in the list is… not the message we should be sending. There definitely are crimes that people commit simply because they hate women.

        • Maria says

          But I think this goes back to the earlier convo about rape that DragonLord got banned over… if you can find a way to blame the victim (for dressing that way, for being greedy, for being a slut, for not obeying) then suddenly it’s a crime about individuals and not groups.

        • Maria says

          What I’m saying is that because of the way rape culture is framed in dominant culture it’s about individuals. That’s why the #talkaboutit tag on twitter is so interesting, because it’s insisting on positioning rape that has ramifications on a macro level isntead of a micro level and is pointing out that people who aren’t sexual assault survivors have a stake in this conversation too, and need to think about how they TALK about surviving assault.

          • says

            Aha! I see, now – we frame every victim of sexual assault as an exception, an anomaly, so we don’t have to see rape as a systemic problem. But it’s hard to buy that it’s not systemic when you get hit with that 1 in 4 stat. So you need some backups:

            –“I doubt that statistic. None of the women I know have mentioned to me over hamburgers they were raped, therefore they weren’t, therefore there’s no way 25% of women are raped at some point.”
            –“Well, but those women were whores/asked for it/didn’t know karate/drank in public.”
            –“But women lie about this stuff – how do you know all those women were really raped?”

            That was what bugged me so much about what DragonLord was saying, because it boiled down to: “If lying women wouldn’t falsely accuse Nice Guys of rape, then truthful women who are raped would be believed. It’s your own damn fault, ladies!”

            When in fact it’s the same power structure that has put so many convenient men of color in jail for rapes they didn’t commit that has never believed women’s stories of rape and domestic abuse when it didn’t suit their agenda. You’ve gotta look at who’s benefiting, and DL just Would. Not. Do that.

          • Maria says

            And this is a deadly trap. For example, even last week when we were talking about that Smurfette/FB thing, someone had to say specifically, you know it’s likely that there are childhood abuse survivors making the decision to change their icons. Because the default is to presume that the person speaking is “normal” — IE not a trauma survivor.

            • Maria says

              Because it’s not until we (and I use this consciously to indicate people who are anti-racist and anti-sexist) take seriously the idea that we live in a culture that damages us psychologically and physically to the point that we can’t imagine the people we know every day as survivors of some horrific shit (even when we ourselves are survivors of some horrific shit) that we’ll be able to talk about dismantling rape culture in the everyday. So far we’ve identified it over and over and over again. It’s hard to talk about taking that system down when we allow it to be abstract, and not imaged onto the bodies and faces of people we know and love (and haha people we know and don’t like). I’m thinking here of the radical potential of empathy and rage.

          • Genevieve says

            “–”Well, but those women were whores/asked for it/didn’t know karate/drank in public.””
            Or worse…”if they had just had a concealed-carry license, none of this would’ve ever happened!”
            Yep. Because guns protect people from getting drugs slipped into their drinks. Ugh.

          • says

            That’s my step-father’s go to claim. [Poss. TW] Nevermind that that wouldn’t help with MOST rape cases with survivors who KNOW the rapist. Nevermind that, in a culture that is incredibly antagonistic towards rape survivors anyway that if a woman killed or shot a man in self defense because he tried to rape her, she would probably just be charged with murder because it’s teh menz that are super important and how DARE she kill him. It’s not really “self defense.” URGH>

          • says

            Yeah, how many women do you really think would defend themselves with a gun, knowing their odds of anyone believing they had a genuine reason to fear for their safety?

            I’m actually all for the right to bear arms, and making sure people understand when, how and why to use them, but there are a lot of situations they don’t fix.

          • says

            “I’m actually all for the right to bear arms, and making sure people understand when, how and why to use them, but there are a lot of situations they don’t fix.”

            Same. On the few occasions I’ve actually fired a gun it’s been incredibly humbling, to the point where I just don’t get why people are violent ever, but in this world where so many people are, and firearms can be used as very effective tools to gather food and defend oneself…eh, like so many things, there’s a balance to it. Guns are a tool. How they’re used and why they’re made need to be kept under a watchful eye, but they are not inherently good or bad. Just there.

          • says

            I have a concealed carry permit, and tend to go armed when working outside due to the threat of wildlife predation on my livestock. So do a lot of folks in this area.

            A couple months back a regular customer of a friend attacked her when she turned around to pick up a bag of items. She was carrying both a handgun and a knife. Neither helped because he overpowered her so quickly due to her being familiar enough with him to turn her back.

            Fortunately for her and unfortunately for him, she had a 140lb dog for whom an 8′ high fence is meaningless when his mistress is in danger.

            Right now she’s fighting to protect her dog because the dog bit her attacker. How’s that for justice? I wish she was willing to go the media over the issue but she’s afraid of strangers getting judgmental about the situation. Especially as the law ‘enforcement’ declined to prosecute her attacker.

            • says

              That’s infuriating. THIS is the real reason why no “self-defense” skill or weapon set is reliable – because our RIGHT to defend ourselves rather than submit to rape and make the best of it and HOPE THEY DON’T KILL US AFTERWARD is in question, even though legally we have it. The court of public opinion is against us, and it wins every time.

              I was reading the promo on a website the other day – can’t find it now – where a man talked about how he used to teach self-defense martial arts to women, and then one of his students was raped and said, “I did everything you told me – why didn’t it work?” Roy Hazelwood, former pioneering FBI profiler, says he will not give people advice about self-defense when it comes to rapists because what scares one rapist off might provoke another to kill you. Without knowing what type of rapist someone’s facing, the situation, the time and place, etc., you can’t really advise them on what to do.

              If these people got more press than the blithe “How Not To Get Yourself Raped, Silly Females” people, eventually people might come to realize there’s really no way for a potential VICTIM to prevent a rape.

  2. says

    You don’t even need to be discussing rape culture. You just have to be a woman on the Internet.

    I once wrote a blog post about much I didn’t like Avatar and got lambasted with comments calling me a “bitch” and a “whore” who needed to get laid, or who nobody would ever want to fuck. Some commenters even criticized my hair and makeup. It got so crazy, I dismantled the blog.

    • The Other Patrick says

      Sad ist so aggravating. I got flamed, too, for not liking Avatar, but with (heterosexual) men, it’s never (or maybe almost never) sexual. Sometimes the “you probably don’t get laid” comes up, but that’s more or less the worst of it.

      Man, if I could choose a superpower, I might choose Virtual Hulk Smash. This makes me angry.

      • Casey says

        When it comes to men trollan’ other (presumably hetero) men, I encounter a smattering of the old “UR A sTUPID FUKKEN FAGGOT” ad-hominem attacks but yeah, when it comes to criticizing women, they always just fall back on the ol’ misogynist gendered insults.

  3. Casey says

    I read that TigerBeatDown entry last night and it was emotionally exhausting to read through, I was completely depressed and couldn’t sleep last night without crying a little…maybe I’m a lightweight. :(

  4. Lisa says

    I’m beginning to believe that shithead is the human default, and any unmoderated forum will degenerate to that. If so then the problem of gaming forums is that they are created for a product and not moderated for a community.

    I mean, in case anyone here makes a game and decides they want to keep shitheads out, it won’t be a tough endeavor. It takes attention to make sure the community does not exclude people.

  5. Manatee says

    Thanks for publishing the link, the article and the other link to Kate Harding! I was so tired and exhausted yesterday evening and felt so helpless, I at least wanted to spread the word a bit more.
    I was thinking about friends who confided in me and got angry again about the forum I left, when a thread full of rape apology popped up, which wasn’t closed right away “because every side has to be able to present their opinion”. It was too much. Casey, SunlessNick – I was shaking and close to tears, you’re not alone there. So, thanks for this!

    Sorry, if something sounds confusing, English is my second language.

  6. says

    I actually wrote a post regarding how women are treated if they do defend themselves against the warning signs of such a man.

    To recap:

    A man acts like a creep and the woman stands up for herself = the woman is rude and should apologize.
    A man acts like a creep and the woman takes it and ends up raped = what the hell was she thinking putting herself in that situation?

    Damned if we do, damned if we don’t.

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