Commentary | Just fucking stop

A response to online misogyny and silencing

Dear random asshole on the internet who feels that he can speak for everyone,

There has been a slew of online activity from you and your brethren lately, and it’s been a real treat to read. There’s the group that started Twitter’s #fatshamingweek, aimed directly at women and how best to shame them. There’s the other jackass writing a long, self-righteous column about how encouraging women to be confident is society’s single greatest mistake. And then there’s your usual run-of-the-mill people who have just a modicum of power, and yet freely abuse it (Terry Richardson, I’m looking at you).

The most frustrating part of writing this response, for me, is the fact that what I am saying will immediately be dismissed as ‘feminist screeching’ or ‘emotional’ ranting. What you don’t realize, random stranger on the internet, is that I don’t care about those labels. Despite your using everything in your (considerable) power to discredit me, I won’t ignore how very wrong your words are, and how destructive they can be.

I’m sure you’ve heard this before, but maybe – although this seems egotistical and highly optimistic – I’ll make you realize that every word out of your mouth is an insult to me and my personhood. Your commentary demeans me, my abilities, and my hopes and dreams. I don’t want to assume this for other people as well; I can only speak for myself. Your words, whether thoughtfully considered or dashed out in a few quick minutes, are immensely disrespectful and remove any agency I could ever have hoped to have in writing this letter. Even as I sit here writing this, I know my efforts are futile. I know that you will continue to think less of me because of my gender.

I am sick and tired of feeling guilty for having an emotional and visceral response to these articles. […] Why isn’t it ‘rational’ to be emotionally hurt at the complete lack of respect for who I am and what I represent?

In reality, internet misogynist, it is you who is lesser. Destroying those around you, simply because you can, doesn’t make you bigger. It makes you smaller. Insinuating (or outright stating) that women are inferior in various aspects – including, but not limited to, our intelligence, abilities, emotions, and ultimately, our right to exist unimpeded – does not make your right to exist and speak more valid. I would suggest that heeding caution and rationally considering your argument (since, as you are so fond of stating, rationality is a ‘men’s skill’), rather than spewing misogynistic rhetoric without consideration, may ultimately make you a less shitty and oppressive person. But I’m only a woman, so what do I know, right?

These feelings (though I should call them ‘thoughts’ if I’m to be taken seriously), obviously have roots in the things I’ve been seeing online lately. But really, misogyny happens every day when people think that they’re entitled to demean those around them. It is so pervasive and normalized in our society to attack entire groups through the relative safety of the internet. It is so easy to write hateful things when protected by a screen. This piece is not meant to be hateful – it’s meant to express my discomfort and disappointment at what I’ve been reading lately, and what I consider to rapidly be becoming the norm.

Ultimately, I’m writing this for myself. I’m writing this because I am sick and tired of feeling guilty for having an emotional and visceral response to these articles. Why shouldn’t I? Why should that, in any way, diminish the strength of what I feel? Why isn’t it ‘rational’ to be emotionally hurt at the complete lack of respect for who I am and what I represent? All of these posts are essentially telling me that there is no space for me in this world. That my space is a metaphorical kitchen, where I am to be banished. That my goals of success, recognition, and equal standing are either unobtainable, irrational, or a mere illusion. I am sick and tired of people voicing their thoughts on issues that do not concern them, not only online but in everyday life. I am absolutely fucking fed up with a society that condones oppression and hateful language, and celebrates it as ‘refreshing honesty.’

You have enough power as it is, internet stranger, and it has been given to you by a society that believes you superior. Stop abusing this power. Stop taking away my agency and my voice. Stop speaking for me. Stop telling me that my opinion is wrong, or doesn’t matter. Stop invalidating everything I work for. Stop invalidating my emotions because they aren’t what you consider ‘rational thought.’ Just fucking stop.

Sorry for the excessive commas,

CC*


*CC is a pseudonym. To get in touch, email commentary@mcgilldaily.com.


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