It’s 11.30 on a Saturday night and I should be doing something other than what I AM doing. Cos what I AM doing is trying to get Ask FM to block my user name. Easy right?
Since about 5.30 this evening I have been bombarded with Ask FM questions to other, unknown recipients but with my name @ed in. Such an easy way to send abuse. You can do it anonymously and no one needs to know who – or where – you are. Brilliant.
This is not a new thing. Over the past few months many women on twitter have been on the receiving end of this kind of abuse. Some have protected their accounts so they don’t see the tweets, some have ignored them, some have shouted about it and raised concerns with Ask FM.
None of those approaches have worked particularly well as the abuse continues.
I find it interesting that, in amongst the sexually graphic and explicit messages I’ve been receiving, have been some tweets from men – who don’t follow me – accusing me of being a victim.
Well, yes. A victim is someone who experiences a situation without their consent or participation. Of course that makes me a victim. But I suspect their point is that, because I speak out about feminist issues, and issues that directly affect women – like male violence – I have attracted this attention and therefore can only blame myself. And any perceived victim status is self inflicted and up for discussion.
In what world could you think that speaking out against injustice and inequality gives people free reign to send you abuse?
I get plenty of ‘usual’ abuse. Y’know, the gendered, homophobic type. If I say anything about domestic abuse of women, within 10 seconds I get a tweet to remind me that, “it happens to men too.”
If I tweet about male violence in general I am pretty much guaranteed a tweet to let me know that, “we’re not all like that. Don’t blame all of us.”
All of that is pretty sigh inducing but par for the course.
But there are some (let’s, for the sake of argument, say ‘people’) who take great delight in laughing at women who experience online abuse. They find it funny and like nothing better than to tell us why we deserve it and what we should or shouldn’t do to stop it. And in a lot of cases, they feel that, the minute you tweet out to say you’ve been on the receiving end of abuse, you become an attention seeking drama queen who is being paid for every tweet you send.
Well, we all seek attention. By sending me a tweet telling me I’ve just made myself a victim, you are seeking attention. You want me to respond so you can get off on the fact that you’ve pissed me off.
But listen fellas. No one really wants attention that badly. I would much rather have spent my Saturday evening doing something far more enjoyable than trawling through twitter abuse. Honestly.
So here’s a bit of unasked for advice for you. Shut up. Stop stalking the timelines of women who couldn’t give a shit about you or your opinions. Go and talk to people about how online abuse is a ‘bad’ thing, rather than how the women shouting about it are at fault.
I couldn’t care less who you are or how many women you’ve got in your life who think you’re a great guy.
Chances are they don’t.