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.