If you’re a woman and you dare to write something on the internet, prepare to get your arse handed to you on a plate by some lonely, sexually frustrated moron. If you try to be funny, expect to be told you’re stupid and ugly. And if you write about feminism, then you’d better batten down the hatches because you’re about to get a death threat off Jim in Slough, who in all likelihood has the face and personality of a doughball. I don’t know what it is about the combination of women + feminism that makes trolls so angry. My bet is that they just aren’t very clever, so they don’t understand it, and they think it’s an easy target. One example of how thick they are:
I mean…you couldn’t make that up, it is so outstandingly and hilariously wrong. This was a comment under a piece in which I’d bared my soul and my vagina as I talked about my experience of having pre-cancerous cells removed from my cervix. Somewhere in some tiny little brain, CeeRich read this and thought ‘Ah-hah! Damaged cervix! I must immediately register my disgust! TO MY COMPUTER, TOOT SWEET, THERE IS SIMPLY NO TIME TO LOSE!’. Do they assume we will read such banal nonsense and stop writing?
Here’s another screenshot from my vault of troll insults. This one was left on my blog after I wrote about my mental health, and is a lesson in how to deal with trolls that want you dead for talking about anxiety (seems legit).
Now I was joking about the cry-wanking into the nightie, but only sort of. It has often crossed my mind that there may be some sort of sexual element to troll’s behaviour. It’s as if they are trying to gain control over women by making them feel shit and scared and destroying their confidence. It has the cornerstones of an abusive need for power. These trolls (and mine have almost always been men…or so they say) may lack control in their own lives. Maybe they aren’t getting what they want. Maybe they just feel strong when they’re hidden behind a computer keyboard.
But as we’ve discussed, trolls are stupid. One day I’d reached the level of bullshit I was ready to take off them, and I saw a comment directed towards Laura Bates from the Everyday Sexism campaign, and I lost the plot a bit. It was some young lad threatening to rape her, and I just thought nope. No. You’re not getting away with this. Taking my lead from the badass gaming journalist Alanah Pearce, I did some digging. So I found him on Facebook within about 3 minutes and then I found his dad and his dad’s phone number and I rang him and said ‘your son is threatening to rape women on the internet’. He said he would talk to him about it and get him to stop.
Not the cleverest move I’ve ever made, in hindsight. Probably wasn’t my battle to fight. And this lad was only about 17 and I landed him in a whole load of trouble. But I snapped: I’m sick of it. I’m sick of every article I write being filled with idiotic comments. It’s BORING.
And I get off lightly. Caroline Criado-Perez, Mary Beard, any number of women that have dared to have opinions or even to just be visible to the public without fitting into an exact box of docile femininity; they have all been viciously attacked by trolls. Thankfully websites and the police are taking death and rape threats seriously, and it’s about bloody time. Until then, ladies: keep writing. The pen is mightier than the sword. Feel sorry for them, I do. And if all else fails, tell their mums.