Campaign to fight misogyny ‘flawed’
November 9, 2011 The Age
A TWITTER campaign to highlight anonymous abuse could do more harm than good, warns Australian cyber safety expert Susan McLean.
Using the hashtag #mencallmethings, women in Australia, Britain and the US have started reposting violent and defamatory comments made about them online. The aim is to raise awareness of the viciousness of online misogyny, but Ms Mclean fears the campaign will only encourage abuse.
”It will only inflame the situation,” said Ms McLean, a former police officer who has been working on cyber bullying cases since 1994. Women who receive anonymous threats of rape or assault should go to the police and campaign to get the cases prosecuted, she said, noting the speed with which police tracked down alleged ”collar-bomber” Paul Peters from an anonymous Gmail account.
Now hang on Susan. There’s a distinct flavour of “cop-speak” in your statement.
It’s the misogynist men who make the comments in the first place. They have inflamed the situation, not the women who are fighting back.
Secondly, the “collar-bomb” incident was a critical major hostage incident which was appropriately and successfully dealt with by following correct police procedure. It has nothing to do with sexism or misogyny – the victim could just as well have been a young man or another family member.
It was not in the same crime category as the insidious and ongoing hatred shown by misogynist comments on social media.
Susan McLean’s reaction sounds too much like some of the official reaction to the Slutwalk protesters, as well as reminding us of the comments made by senior Victoria Police when Indian students were being attacked. In other words
…it’s the victim’s fault shhhh…
”Sometimes the police will say go away, there’s nothing they could do. They try and fob off people … but it will embarrass police forces around Australia if they were bombarded with these complaints and then they failed to act.”
Susan, police often fail to act . Social media like Facebook and Twitter are often indifferent.
The #mencallmethings campaign was launched on Monday by US blogger Sady Doyle.
”People don’t often talk about it, because that’s seen as complaining or whining,” Ms Doyle told The Age.
The campaign does not target the internet trolls who provoke arguments, Ms Doyle said. It’s about exposing personal hatred aimed at women online. ”These people aren’t just saying they hate women in order to get a reaction; they mean it.”
Many columnists, including anti-porn campaigner Melinda Tankard Reist, Princesses and Pornstars author Emily Maguire and Melbourne SlutWalk founder Clementine Bastow, welcomed the campaign.
”I’m absolutely sick and tired of individual creeps telling us they’re going to rape us or kill us,” said social commentator Nina Funnell. ”For so long, we’ve been told to lighten up … But these comments are reflective of a deep misogyny.
”When you get anonymous attacks, you don’t know who those people are … it can lead to paranoia. You have no idea of your level of safety.”
Women could send screen grabs of misogynist abuse to anti-discrimination site The Anti Bogan, a spokesman for the site said. ”Censorship gets nowhere, but by naming and shaming, we can give these people the publicity they deserve.” The site has exposed Australians by name for racist comments on websites and Facebook.
Please do so
You can deal with abuse when you know the source, says parenting expert Dannielle Miller, who received an apology after the Facebook page of Australian kickboxing champion John Wayne Parr featured the comment: ”If there was ever a question some females should be punched in the face … ” alongside photos of Ms Miller, Kerri-Anne Kennerley and News Ltd columnist Angela Mollard.
Ms Miller didn’t fear Mr Parr, but she worried that the kickboxer’s fans might take him literally. ”My family were very worried and telling me I had to be careful.”
Elsewhere Troll attack campaign goes viral