Men Call Me Things: is not feeding the trolls enough?

TROLLSGeneral consensus dictates that the best way to combat trolling – the vile, faceless and purposefully provocative abuse that pollutes the internet – is to block and ignore. Reaction, upset and retaliation are the raison d’etre of these creatures (who are, no doubt, less cute or sexually confident than their inanimate plastic namesakes pictured above), and the only way to fight them is to shut off their access to the misery and anger that seems to make them stronger.

But a new campaign is challenging this, and encouraging women to share their experiences in defiance of the hatefully misogynistic abuse they’re bombarded with on a daily basis. Started by feminist blogger (and girl I’d like to be) Sady Doyle, Men Call Me Things – which originally just aimed to raise awareness of the level of abuse directed at women writers – has kickstarted the debate about whether abusers should be named, shamed, and even prosecuted for their online behaviour.

I’ve had my fair share of unpleasant ‘get-your-tits-out-do-me-some-justice’ type messages throughout my underwear agitating career, but fortunately neither I nor the lingerie blogging peers I asked have experienced the level of vitriol shared on the #mencallmethings hashtag. But that doesn’t mean I don’t think it’s a problem. Check out the excellent Tiger Beatdown for some highlights that inspired the campaign: at best they make you wince; at worse, they’re frightening. And they expose something sinister about the sexism still rife in our culture. Should we just block-and-ignore the fact that there are this many people who think threatening rape is an acceptable way of shutting someone up? Might actually engaging with thist go some way to explain both the horrifying rate of rape in our culture, and the totally inadequate rate of conviction?

I agree that often block-and-ignore is the best strategy for dealing with faceless morons who find their Friday night release in the form of abstractly riling strangers. But when it is sexually aggressive and violently threatening abuse – especially when it impacts on someone’s ability and willingness to do their job – it shouldn’t be up to the victims to swallow it down and get on with it. When will these abusers be held to account?

Block and ignore, or name and prosecute: what do you think?

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12 Responses to Men Call Me Things: is not feeding the trolls enough?

  1. Curveissa says:

    it does sound horrible, personally just get some FB friend invites from men who clearly are just adding women from busty FB groups and some occasional Twitter follower who is a man promoting bib boobs in a yucky way. Needless to say, block and ignore like you said! Just why do men think they have the right to do that, or that lingerie bloggers (which I’m not infact) blog for their viewing. Why can’t they get it is real genuine help and reviews to help other women – not hey look at my boobs posing for sad men…

    • I know – the sense of entitlement they have riles me. In the beginning of B4J I felt a bullied from a number of angles to get my body out, as if talking about my boobs was invitation to demand to see them. I shrugged it off – I am determinedly strong minded – but why did I need to justify my position so dramatically? Fair respect to all the curveliscious reviewers who do post in their underwear, but it’s not for me. Why should you have to so vehemently defend something you simply just don’t want to do? Especially when it’s something so personal as your own body!

  2. June says:

    I really hate the comments. They’ve gotten better (or at least less frequent) as I’ve gotten older and I now either have a preschooler attached at my side or am wearing professional clothes, however, I’ve always hated the powerlessness that I’ve felt. Sometimes I really would’ve liked to tell the guy off that said it but he was a. either driving by in a car yelling at me while I was running or b. I did not feel safe enough to do so.

    • I agree – the safety feeling is the worst. Once in a pub, three 50+ men threated to glass my ‘fat spotty bitch’ of a friend because she told them off for lewdly catcalling another of our friends. These men may have had daughters, they must have had mothers. Where does that association with women switch off and get replaced by that dehumanising sexual aggression?

  3. When trolls appeared on Bravissimo page we often liked to engage them so as to humour their presence. This is not always a safe non hurtful option but hey, beat them at their own game

    • I hate that this debate should include ‘not a safe option’ as an argument. Why should these bullies be allowed to say what they want because we’re scared? Why do they get more power than the rest of us? Although interesting one with Bravissimo – don’t their moderators block and delete?

      • Curveissa says:

        usually only if they were asked to block and delete sadly… that’s why many moved to discuss elsewhere, away from the prying or should I say praying men…

      • Katherine says:

        I left FB because of this – I followed CK, Bravissimo etc. The final straw was a message in my inbox with a pic showing a man in an extreme state of arousal asking for a pic of my boobs. I’m not threatened by it but fed up with dealing with that sort of puerile behaviour.

      • Ugh, that’s repulsive. I’ve had a lot of that over the years – some of it has creeped me out a bit because when I’ve ignored on Facebook they’ve clearly done some research and found me elsewhere. Unfortunately, as I work in social media now I have quite a digital trail leading to me – and while I’ve never felt ‘threatened’ it certainly makes me concerned. I can’t stand that there are still men who assume that they are entitled to treat women in this way. It’s considered a crime if you expose yourself to a woman in public in that way, why isn’t it a crime if you do it by private e-mail?

  4. Daniel Kraus says:

    This kind of activity disturbs me greatly! I do not understand how someone can treat another in such a manner. I say retaliate in any way you can. Block and ignore is probably the best way to deal but it still seems inadequate. These men need to be dealt with in the same manner as those who committed crimes in medieval Europe – put in the stocks and be absolutely humiliated publicly! A big branded message across their forehead or forced to wear something that makes it apparent they are not fit to be part of decent society.

  5. Curveissa says:

    and would be intrigued to know if less busty lingerie or any other fashion/clothing bloggers with lesser busts get this same harrasment and abuse…? We did not fricking invite our breast to be the size they are nor the attention, leave them be all you judgemental people of any sort.

  6. Pingback: Under the Mistletoe: Feminism | Busts 4 Justice

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