Over at Thought Catalog (via Shakesville), Chloe Angyal wrote a piece about how the receipt of rape threats are her new "normal." It's what she now has to endure for being a feminist blogger.
I think many feminist bloggers and readers know that feminists who speak publicly receive threats from men. And, I also know that many bloggers, for various reasons, choose not to divulge the extent of what they receive. What I want to highlight today is a common attitude, particularly among anti-feminists and MRAs, that I believe contributes to more people not knowing or caring about such threats.
After Chloe's article, it took about 2 seconds before multiple men chimed in to begin dominating and gaslighting the entire conversation. One particularly articulate commenter opined:
"keep it up - we all know that feminists love playing the poooor pooooooooor wictims, ohhh boo hoooooooo. someone cry for the pooooor widdle wimmins. they have it sooooooo hard. ohhh boooo hooo"AToyRobot chimed in:
"Another person who can't tell the obvious difference between a real threat and trolling... news flash, you're a feminist, therefore you will get trolls saying rapey things to push your buttons. It's a reality, and we need to stop pretending these are actual threats."He repeated this theme several times throughout the discussion, nothing that those who disagreed with him lack "common sense." Which of course plays on absolutely no tropes about men being super rational and women being overdramatic hysterics.
So, there's a lot going on in these comments.
Just as anti-feminist blogger Ballgame recently accused feminists of engaging in bad faith "anti-MRA smears" in the wake of the UCSB shooting, rather than attributing feminist responses to a more accurate motivations of fear and concern, these anti-feminist commenters make a similar mistake. They claim, with no evidence whatsoever, that feminists only bring up the threats we receive so people will see us as victims, while also claiming that these threats are "just" trolling. You know, that good, clean All-American hobby of the 21st century.
The complacency surrounding the threats feminists receives is, I believe, partly explained by the anti-feminist and MRA worldview positing that feminists and MRAs are just two equal and opposite sides of a debate, each heaping aggression and violence in equal measures upon the other side with equal consequence in a society in which feminists kill, attack, and threaten men just as frequently as anti-feminists kill, attack, and threaten women.
Yet, that is not the case. And, because it's not the case that feminist women pervasively threaten male-anti-feminists with, say, "rape by envelopment," murder, and grave bodily harm, I think it's easy for anti-feminists and MRAs to think of feminists talking about the threats we receive as a cheap "political play" to "score points."
What we see here is a major privilege and empathy gap.
Anti-feminist men and MRAs personally don't receive a shit-ton of menacing emails with their addresses included, with photos of their families, with detailed descriptions of how their penises might be dismembered, so they can't imagine other people - women - actually receiving them and being scared by them. And, mind you, this theory is giving anti-feminists a benefit of the doubt that they're not actually thrilled with the idea of threats silencing feminist bloggers.
The threats that feminist bloggers receive anger me. What also angers me, because it's part of the problem, is the flippant way that anti-feminists treat threats and, consequently, demand that we and the rest of society treat these threats.
Like, what is it about women talking about these threats that's so, well, threatening to anti-feminist men?
I speculate that, again, it comes down to entitlement. Many anti-feminists and MRAs sincerely believe that men are much more oppressed than women. They personally don't want to, don't know how to, or don't think it's their job to do tangible things, often in the form of unpaid labor like what many feminist bloggers advocates engage in, to help men. But, they also can't stand women doing things to help women and engaging in activities in which men are not centered.
"....[M]en are violently assaulted three times as much as women and we don't walk around wringing our hands and writing nonsense think pieces all over the internet about how HARD it is to be a man."Of course not. Because anti-feminists and MRAs do nothing for men. They just want feminist women to shut the fuck up already.