On 19th of September, I went to a feminist lecture that was advertized in my university. I couldn’t resist a lecture called “Misogyny Behind the Keyboard”. The topic was very relevant, as the Norwegian newspapers were running several articles on how women are called nasty names online, just for being women and publicly expressing their opinions. Supposedly famous women are more harassed verbally than men. Supposedly men are criticized for their opinions, and women are criticized for superficial stuff like their clothes and romantic life.
I’ll summarize the lecture and comment on it.
One, she said that nasty comments are usually divided in two types. The younger women usually get sexualized comments, while older women are called old hags and are called to be quiet. It possibly reflects the utility women have to these men – young ones are for sex, and old ones should just go away.
Two, she said women are more vulnerable than men when it comes to public appearances. There are three things women are more vulnerable about: physical safety, their appearance, and their role as mothers.
Women have a lower threshold for becoming frightened. She recalled how someone made a ridiculous comment about how she should be hanged or something like that. Her own son found the comment funny, which contrasted with her own reaction. She said many more famous women got nasty and threatening comments thrown their way online, while other people either laughed or totally ignored it. But they don’t realize that a physical threat is more threatening to a woman than it is to a man.
And, of course, women’s looks are more often commented than men’s. She recalls how instead of discussing politician Siv Jensen’s actions and opinions, media outlets instead commented on her dress.
As a result of all that negative feedback, many women choose to give up and exit the public sphere. They get tired.
Elin Ørjasæter said we should not care so much about the nasty comments. Most of them are made by older men with nothing to lose, often while drunk, and there is no point in bothering to change them. However, we should take seriously everything that looks like an online threat, while men should be ‘protective’ of women.
On one side, I agree with some of her points. But on the other, I recognize the usual feminist habit of pointing out a real phenomenon and interpreting it in an ideological way.
It is true that the nasty online comments will not be the same for men and women. I can see that as someone who has been “living” in an online community feminists call misogynist. As women are more sensitive about their looks, their looks will be attacked more than men’s looks . However, if a determined female feminist comes along, she will be mercilessly mocked precisely for opinions, which is just what Norwegian feminists want women to be mocked for.
I also don’t buy the claim that women have it worse online, and that sexualized mockery and sexual threats are reserved for women. Sexual insults, verbal attacks and threatening comments are rarely the same for the sexes, for the reason of the sexes having different sexuality. However, the times when the feminist mob entered the manosphere full of rage over something some blogger said, they didn’t seem to have any qualms about saying violent, threatening things. What’s more, no one took it seriously and no one, to my knowledge, alerted the cops or some anti-violence organization. Here are some tweets Matt Forney inspired with his post “A Case Against Female Self-Esteem”:
Eivind Berge has also gotten quite a lot of nasty comments for his views. One was even from some Norwegian dude who insisted the author was submissive and just needed a dominatrix, and posted a bunch of nasty sexual details about it. Others expressed that he should die or be raped for expressing opinions:
I remember Eivind Berge was used as an example of a man getting sexual threats in this debate before. The proponent of “internet is only nasty to women” view answered that Eivind Berge is almost too extreme, and therefore “doesn’t count”. This reminds me of something Elin Ørjasæter said in her lecture. She noted that no one cares that Siv Jensen, a politician not too happy about immigration, should have a sexually violent story written about her, where she is screwing scary brown foreigners. Why does no one care? Because she is Siv Jensen, the politician with controversial opinions. To her mockers and nasty commenters, she “doesn’t count”. And it’s true – if Eivind Berge doesn’t count, and brought it on himself, so did every strongly opinionated woman.
I also agree that it does seem like women are more easily frightened and take anything that looks like a threat more seriously. Men are more likely to take on dangerous jobs, engage in dangerous risky activities, and reap the consequences of those tendencies. They are victims of violence more often, yet all the focus is always on safety of the women.
However, such treatment is glaringly unequal, and asking for more protection is glaringly unequal in a country where everyone is attempting to achieve a 50-50 division of everything between the sexes. Most professors, top politicians and top bosses are still male, and it’s a darn shame. It’s partially because women naturally can’t handle the nasty comments, but help them anyway. Work against your interests, help your own equal competitor for absolutely nothing in return; engage in inequality, for the sake of equality.
Sexism and discrimination is ok as long as women are the beneficiaries.