The Harassment And Silencing Of Women Who Dare To Speak:

Misogynistic internet harassment is an issue, it’s perverse and lobbied against women who speak out against male violence and other patterns of female subjugation all too often. From simply repeatedly typing “not all men” at women who acknowledge patterns of male violence in society to full blown rape and death threats piled on women who dare speak out in public. One of the most prominent examples of misogynistic internet harassment has been the abuse targeted at Caroline Criado-Perez following her campaigning to prevent the Bank Of England from removing historic women from banknotes. She writes of here experience in Glamour Magazine [1], there seems to be a never-ending stream of people who want to be that straw that breaks my back – that new person who’s made it their task for the day to ruin mine.” This is not an isolated incident either, other prominent examples include the vulgar debasement and harassment of Anita Sarkeesian [2], she has been persecuted, badgered and made a mockery of through a variety of disturbing acts including drawings depicting her rape and having a game created titled “Beat Up Anita Sarkeesian”.

These acts are perverse and disturbing and display the aggression expressed by men against women who dare to suggest that they deserve respect and these acts demonstrate the way masculinity feeds and promotes violence against women. I absolutely believe it’s not a natural instinct of men to desire to debase and degrade women and I whole-heartedly feel we should be able to hold men to a higher standard than to write this violence off with “boys-will-be-boys”. This violence lobbied against women who dare to speak out also exists on various levels, the recent culture of no-platforming women who dare to speak out is an extension on the belief that women should only be allowed to speak out if their opinions are deemed acceptable. Activist Julie Bindel often faces no-platforming for daring to suggest female biology exists and her anti-porn, anti-prostitution stance [3] and comedian Kate Smurthwaite faced an uprising from Goldsmiths University’s students union [4] for her beliefs that prostitution is not something we should support. Both these acts suggest that there is a way women should speak, that there is a specific set of beliefs that are socially palatable for women to state, this is something we have to stand against.

This same action of what can only be seen as shielding society from women who use their brains and have opinions is noticeable on twitter, there has been a programme created titled “The Block Bot”. The block bot is essentially a database of all the people a small group of moderators deem un-palatable for wider exposure, this includes a large number of women who, like Bindel and Smurthwaite, dare to use their brains. These women are labelled handy acronyms like “SWERF” and “TERF”, a misogynistic slur designed to silence those who suggest that espouse trans-critical and prostitution-critical beliefs [5]. “TERF” and “SWERF” are made out to be neutral descriptors [6] but are clearly used to silence and push identity theory whilst smearing the names of women [7] [8]. These methods of cult-blocking and labelling are all methods of subjugation of women, the power of naming is a power held by men over women, labelling women terms ranging from ‘whore’ to ‘bitch’ in an effort to control and police their actions, I cannot see the application of “TERF” and “SWERF” as anything other than a continuation of that.

Ultimately from this it’s clear that there is a belief that women are only allowed a voice and a platform if their message is approved in advance. Speaking out against male violence, misrepresentation or complete male-washing of images on a currency is apparently viewable as a request for violent rhetoric, harassment and threats, that we live in these times is telling of the way left to go before we can be sure that women can live free from the overbearing policing of their voices. It’s important in the face of this culture of silencing that we use what powers we have to create platforms for women to speak, to stand up for a woman’s right to assert and define themselves and their lives, not doing so will only excuse this current culture and lead to more silencing, debasement, harassment and male violence exerted at the expense of women.

[1] http://www.glamourmagazine.co.uk/news/features/2013/09/twitter-abuse-misogyny-in-140-characters

[2] http://www.newstatesman.com/blogs/internet/2012/07/what-online-harassment-looks

[3] http://www.newstatesman.com/sarah-ditum/2014/03/when-did-no-platform-become-about-attacking-individuals-deemed-disagreeable

[4] http://www.theguardian.com/culture/2015/feb/02/goldsmiths-comedian-kate-smurthwaite-free-speech-show-feminist-campaigners

[5] http://sarahditum.com/2014/07/28/how-terf-works/

[6] https://twitter.com/juniordrumkit/status/571642974578323456

[7] https://twitter.com/caephyn/status/571586306884689920

[8] https://twitter.com/Anon_Senpai/status/571567181680414720

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