Rape Threat Cowards
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For some men, the thought of any woman speaking up... is all it takes to justify attacking her.
A woman spoke, the men weren't pleased, she's now a target.
Question 1: You learn a female former comic-book editor has unfavorably critiqued a cover centered around a teenage girl drawn with porn-star boobs the size of her head. Do you a) write a thoughtful analysis of why the editor's aesthetic judgments are dreadful; b) threaten to rape her?
Question 2: You learn a female game designer has been accused (falsely as it turns out) of sleeping with game reviewers for good press. Do you a)write a thoughtful post about ethics in videogame journalism; b)threaten to rape or murder the designer?
Question 3: A 15-year-old female atheist posts a picture of herself in an atheist online forum, holding a book on atheism she's eager to read. Do you a)congratulate her and talk about your shared worldview; b)post comments discussing how 15 is legal in some countries and how much you'd enjoy anally raping her?
Question 4: You learn a critic of sexism in videogames is speaking at a university. Do you a)protest outside the speech; b)threaten to commit a mass shooting if the university doesn't retract the invitation.
Question 5: You discovers two women have advocated for putting Jane Austen on the face of the UK's ten-pound note. Do you a)suggest alternative candidates; b)threaten--hell, you've probably figured it out by now.
Needless to say, these are not hypothetical questions. They all happened and some men in every case opted for "b." A woman spoke, the men weren't pleased, the men made her a target.
The events in questions two and four have drawn a lot of attention to sexism in the videogame community, but the problem isn't unique to gamers. To the best of my knowledge, gamers aren't particularly passionate about whose face goes on British currency.
Some pundits have explained it as poor, oppressed men lashing back against feminazi criticism, but that doesn't work either. Putting Austen's face on the ten-pound note isn't criticism; the fifteen-year-old was an atheist sharing with like-minded nonbelievers, probably imagining they were all on the same side.
The ugly fact is, for some men, the thought of any woman speaking up anywhere, about anything, is all it takes to justify attacking her. Particularly on the Internet, where it's much easier to send anonymous threats than back in the days you actually had to mail them. And no matter how warped your worldview, you can always find someone online who'll reassure you that yes, you really are oppressed and those rape threats are 100 percent justified.
I suspect some of the rage can be blamed on society's slow, lurching slide toward greater equality. Back when I was born, it was a given that men were entitled to run everything. In the 21st century, men still do run a lot of stuff, but fewer people argue that just having a y-chromosome makes you so special, you're entitled to be in charge regardless of your abilities. For some men, that denial of specialness is about one step short of castration.
For others, the thought of women's independence is scary. It means a woman doesn't depend on you. You may not be the center of her world. You may not even be in her world, even though you know you're the most awesome man she's ever met and would be perfect for her. She may not sleep with you, date your or even smile when you pass her in the street and tell her she has awesome tits. How is that fair? Teaching women their place is just restoring the natural order of gender relations, the way it was meant to be.
And for some men, being criticized for sexism is infuriating. It doesn't matter whether it's true or not, it's--criticism (from a woman no less!)! And criticism is just the same as thought policing and oppression! That proves men are the real victims, not the women they're attacking! If you can fool yourself into believing rape threats are a righteous tool wielded against tyranny, I imagine it's much easier to send them.
Of course none of these feelings "explains" rape and death threats the way gravity explains why things fall to the ground. Gravity's a law of nature. Rape threats and all the other ugliness in the examples above are a conscious choice. Someone sat down and convinced himself that this was the best way to deal with his woman issues, and then went ahead and did it. Loneliness doesn't excuse that. Wanting women to keep quiet doesn't excuse it. Sexual frustration, anger, misogyny, none of them excuse it.
Fraser Sherman, : Having graduated college with a degree in biology, no interest in grad school, and no interest in a science career, Fraser Sherman decided he’d try writing. It turned out he liked it. And he was even reasonably good at it. Over the next couple of decades, he sold articles to Newsweek, The Writer, Dragon Magazine (yes he played D&D. Want to make something out of it?), Air & Space and more specialized markets such as Painting and Wallcovering and Gulf Coast Condo Owner. Because he wanted... (more...)