I Thought We Were Trying To Build A Better World Here…
I’m so wrapped up in Sunshine that this week has passed me by. I vaguely heard the whole ‘Death Threats In The Blogosphere’ thing – in the way that I tend to get my news from the newpaper boards outside newsagents- but only today took the time to look into it after an email from John Dodds…
I was complaining to him about the misogyny I’m detecting coming from some posters at IMDB… He said, “This whole online criticism thing is so tired. I know it’s hard to ignore because we’re all especially sensitive for some reason to online barbs but that’s all they’re contributing.” He then went on to talk about how he’d been in email contact with Kathy Sierra before it all came out…
What the fuck is happening?!
I consider Maryam, Robert and Hugh as friends. Like, real world friends. Brian and I had a lovely dinner in Geneva with Robert and Maryam during LIFT where Maryam and I talked about having babies (she must have been only newly pregnant and hadn’t announced it yet). I really, really like Maryam a lot. They are *all* genuinely kind, interesting and positive people. You can disagree with their opinions, fine, whatever… but in no way do they deserve any kind of personal attacks like they are getting.
Hugh brought up the rape metaphor, “OK, so you weren’t the actual jock who raped the cheerleader. But it seems you were in the posse circling them, chanting ‘Go go go go go go go…’ “… and that’s what the attack on both Kathy and Maryam is. No ifs ands or buts about it- a vile and violent attack on them as women. They were gender-based, violent and sexual, verbal attacks.
That is out of fucking order in a very serious way. A very serious way. And no amount of ‘oh, it was just in jest’ will explain that kind of shit away.
I don’t think most men realise just how terrifying these kinds of threats can be and seem to think it’s OK to just say ‘Ah, it’s not *real* it’s just online.’ That’s like saying death threats via letter shouldn’t be taken seriously. One female presenter I worked with started receiving death threats via written letters and successfully prosecuted the guy. Jill Dando was killed when I was working for the BBC. A week after she was killed, someone came into my house with a knife and the BBC insisted that I be escorted everywhere, despite the fact that the knife-thing was in no way related to my telly work. People in the real world take *any* kind of threat against one’s person seriously, they should be treated with the same gravity online.
The moment you venture off your women-friendly iVillage-like sites or places where genuinely intelligent and secure men congregate (and, on the whole, men interested in social software are ALL about communication which isn’t a typically male mindset, you have to admit) and into a more typically male domain, it’s seriously fucking tough being a woman online. You have to find a Kevlar coating and quick if you’re going to openly admit to being female. Not because one isn’t intellectually capable of engaging in intelligent discussion, but because even online some men can’t see past your tits.
In online situations where I have chosen to remain anonymous (which happens very rarely), I am almost always assumed to be a man. If I could just let my female pride rest and pose as a man I think things would be different… but, silly old me, I always have to go and admit to being female. I don’t even HAVE a body online, but as soon as I admit to having a certain body type in the real world- *bam*- in come the sexual jibes – ‘sugar tits’ being the latest thing I’ve been called on IMDB.
I spend a lot of time on IMDB talking about ‘Sunshine’. I genuinely, genuinely love the film and couldn’t do my job as passionately if I didn’t love it. But like all sidelined coteries there’s a sizeable minority of ‘genre film’ aficionados (all male) who seem to want to attack absolutely everyone and everything that doesn’t fit into their narrow view of the narrow world in which they’ve chosen to reside. And if you are a woman who *dares* to venture in with a different, wider, more inclusive, more positive viewpoint you’d better be prepared to be attacked. It might start with your opinions being attacked, but it won’t take long before it’s your gender that’s the focus. And so it has proved to be again.
I’m absolutely sick of misogyny. Really, truly fucking sick of it.