Warning, rapey themes and strong language, go away if you can’t handle that.
Which is worse, rape threats or lightening up about rape threats? Since I hardly ever get rape threats and the ones I get are absurd, it is not really for me to say. The question here, is what does a woman who is active on line and gets numerous and scary rape (and other) threats feel about those threats vs. advice from allies(ish) who say “don’t worry about it, just leave that behind.”
This is tricky stuff, because the overt strategy one takes can vary depending on circumstances and there are a lot of valid strategies one can choose, but few strategies one can foist on others.
A person who is outspoken about a particular issue and receives threats over that issue could take those threats very seriously, calling in authorities, hardening defenses, counter-agitating or counter-activating, and so on, while publicly not talking about the threats at all, or perhaps very publicly brushing them off.
Or, the recipient of the threats could do something very different, bringing the details out in the open, making clear to her audience what is happening and why it is wrong, and making the whole thing very public, in order that people know. And maybe that people change. Or, at lest, that social expectations change ands some people shut up.
These two strategies differ in a number of ways. The former strategy may effectively neutralize some of the threats, those from attention seekers who are themselves paying attention, perhaps, but it will do little to stop or slow down threats from your basic miscreant. The latter strategy is likely to generate more threats because, simply, more jerks become aware of a particular target, but the public strategy serves a larger, very important purpose of educating people to the fact that these things happen, and not only that, but they happen commonly and are rather severe to say the least.
It is really up to the person who is at the receiving end of this horrible stuff to make that decision. One thing can be said, though: because of the dynamics of interaction on the internet, the woman who calls out the harassers in order to move us all forward, in the general direction of civilization (which is slowly being reinvented on the Internet) and widespread social justice, is ultimately hurting herself for the benefit of others. When a man does that sort of thing, Internet society calls him a hero. When a woman does that sort of thing, Internet society at best questions her motives, but commonly does worse. She is labeled as a cunt.
Here is my friend and colleague Rebecca Watson laying out her position on this issue in her most recent YouTube vlog, “Dear Guy Who Wants Me to Stop Talking About Feminism“. She addresses the question that is the title of this post.
I’m not embedding Rebecca’s video here because I want you to GO TO HER YOUTUBE CHANNEL and watch the video there. That way, if you feel like leaving a comment, you’ll be there. I assume most, perhaps all, readers of my blog will be supportive and thoughtful. Otherwise go fuck yourself, OK?
Thank you very much that is all.