Please don’t hit them, the Washington Post begs. After all, they are just little girls.
Jessica Valenti is one of the most successful and visible feminists of her generation. As a columnist for the Guardian, her face regularly appears on the site’s front page. She has written five books, one of which was adapted into a documentary, since founding the blog Feministing.com. She gives speeches all over the country. And she tells me that, because of the nonstop harassment that feminist writers face online, if she could start over, she might prefer to be completely anonymous. “I don’t know that I would do it under my real name,” she says she tells young women who are interested in writing about feminism. It’s “not just the physical safety concerns but the emotional ramifications” of constant, round-the-clock abuse….
Once a woman is singled out by a men’s rights group such as A Voice for Men, the misogynist Reddit forum The Red Pill or even just a right-wing Twitter account like Twitchy, she is deluged with hatred. The barrage, in addition to scaring its target, serves as a warning to onlookers. Jill Filipovic, a senior political writer covering feminist issues at Cosmopolitan, says she recently tried to persuade a friend to run for office. “There’s several reasons why I wouldn’t want to do it, but one of them is that I follow you on Twitter, and I see what people say to you. I could never deal with that,” the friend told her.
Many people can’t. Last year, abortion rights activist Lauren Rankin pulled back from writing online and, for the most part, from Twitter because the threats and insults were becoming so wearying. She continues to serve on the board of the reproductive rights nonprofit A Is For and faces off against antiabortion protesters as a volunteer clinic escort, but she no longer engages publicly. “I don’t like the idea that it seems like I was scared or intimidated away from the Internet,” she says. “But I think I’ve recentered why I do what I do, in ways that I can maintain my mental sanity. Unfortunately, that really doesn’t involve the Internet as much.”
Filipovic, the former editor of the blog Feministe, says that, although her skin has thickened over the years, the daily need to brace against the online onslaught has changed her. “I doubt myself a lot more. You read enough times that you’re a terrible person and an idiot, and it’s very hard not to start believing that maybe they see something that you don’t.” She also finds it harder to let her guard down. “I have not figured out how to spend all day steeling against criticism — not just criticism, but really awful things people say to you and about you — and then go home and 30 minutes later you’re an emotionally available, normal person.”
Meanwhile, the creator of Feministe, Lauren Bruce, no longer has an online presence at all. “I had to completely cut that part off in order to live the rest of my life,” she says. “In order to work, have a nice family and feel like I was emotionally whole, I could not have one foot planted in a toxic stew.”
#GamerGate has them on the run. They can’t take the heat. What they call “harassment” and “abuse” is seldom anything more than free speech answering free speech. They have a right to speak their piece, and we have a right to speak right back. We have a right to speak back with all of the contempt, disdain, and loathing that we feel for their insane and societally suicidal ideas.
Open up your hate and let it pour over them. Don’t think for even one nanosecond that they don’t deserve it every bit of the criticism, of the contempt, of the disdainful dismissal that overwhelms them. They are trying to destroy Western civilization. They are trying to destroy marriage and civil society. They are advocates of child murder. They are advocates of a philosophy that makes National Socialism look merciful and Communism practical and Fascism coherent by comparison. Do not hold back. Speak back twice as hard. Speak back until they fall silent.
Women are particularly susceptible to shame. So shame them relentlessly. Shame those who agree with them. Mock their white knights who rush in to save them. Above all, dignify their views and voices with all the respect you would show to a particularly noxious fart in an elevator.