This, the opening line of an article in the New Statesman today about sexist abuse of female bloggers, struck a chord with me because just a few days ago I was also, albeit indirectly, referred to as ugly, by a total stranger.
The background was that, in early October I’d written a blog about how the founder of a company that had been criticised for selling offensively sexist T-shirts had referred to the people who complained as “ugly feminists”.
My piece got quite a lot of hits at the time then everything went quiet and I carried on writing about misplaced apostrophes and other trivia as usual. Then, on Tuesday this week, I noticed I was suddenly getting zillions of hits on that blog post. It turned out the owner of the company concerned had posted a link on Facebook to my blog, complaining that “ugly feminists” didn’t like him.
The guy clearly has a good following because a whole heap of his chums visited my blog to post unpleasant remarks.
If you want to read more you can click on the link below and scroll down. https://fwords.co.uk/2011/10/10/how-not-to-deal-with-a-pr-crisis-call-complainants-%E2%80%98ugly-feminists%E2%80%99-and-tell-them-to-%E2%80%98get-a-life%E2%80%99/
But for now here’s a summary of some of the good ones.
“James” informed me that the sudden interest in my “tedious journalism” was an “annomily [sic] in your otherwise pointless life”. “Ravi” said I was “a terrible bore”. “Benji” wondered if my “awful portfolio” was keeping me from “real employment”, which I thought was a bit unfair, since what kept me from gainful work that day was having to moderate and respond to Benji and his friends.
One of my new penpals, one “Simon”, proved more intelligent than the rest in that he understood irony. He claimed to have had an epiphany as the result of reading my piece and had cancelled his order for a T-shirt (cleverly providing a link to another garment that was possibly more offensive than the one being discussed).
“Randy John” turned his attention on an earlier commenter who’d written criticising the misogynist remarks, asking “do you let the bush stick out the sides of your knickers?” She didn’t reply so I guess he’ll never know.
“Warren” accused “you and your hairy, fat, rug munching followers” of having better moustache’s [sic] than the men, adding wittily “there is not enough shaving foam in the world to make you look more attractive”.
(There’s a strange obsession with female body hair among a certain type of man – it’s curious. I need a psychologist to explain this to me. There were several comments, too, about menstruation and PMS – again, an interesting theme perhaps worthy of discussion another time.)
There were also offensive remarks towards one of the other commenters, suggesting that if every woman was as ugly as her there would be no rapists.
Ooh, and hot off the presses here’s a new one. I’d almost stopped crying about how ugly I am but here comes a nice young man called “Boris” to remind me. Darn. Apparently I’m just like a modern day Emmeline Pankhurst, “only you are much uglier…. and much less significant.” Note to self: find picture of Pankhurst to establish how ugly that makes me.
Anyway, in the New Statesman article I mentioned (http://www.newstatesman.com/blogs/helen-lewis-hasteley/2011/11/comments-rape-abuse-women), journalist Helen Lewis-Hasteley says: “Almost all bloggers attract some extremely inflammatory comments … [but] there is something distinct, identifiable and near-universal about the misogynist hate directed at women online”.
Lewis-Hastely interviewed several bloggers who describe some of the vitriol they’ve incurred through being female and, what’s even more unacceptable, being opinionated females. Worth a read if you’re interested in the whole issue of what Lewis-Hastely calls the “degradation of discourse” on the internet.
I’d just add that there were also a lot of thoughtful, intelligent and supportive comments on my blog, many of them from men, who were surprised and disturbed by the attitudes of some of their kind towards women.
I’ve also had a lot of people contacting me outside the blog to say I shouldn’t be engaging with what one termed “crazies” and what another called “knuckle-dragging gorillas”. I’m inclined to agree. If anyone else wants to leave comments, please play nice.
Pic credit: www.morguefile.com