Lucy Cage takes issue with twats on the internet.
I like arguing on the internet. I like the buzz of righteousness that it affords me, the “Ha!” of a thrust hit home, the parrying of an attack with a well-chosen put-down. I like it even though I pay the price for participating in ground-down teeth and frankly pretty impotent rage. But it’s a widely-agreed upon truism that arguing on the internet about feminism is the most teeth-grindy experience of all. There’s even a cartoon about it , which itself was triggered by a Tweet-war involving a graphic artist who made some mildly irritated remarks about the way male fans reacted to her and which subsequently generated a unspooling web-wide meta-conversation about sexism, and finally, with the frantic “What about us poor men!” hysteria raging on its own comments thread, ended up proving its argument that any cyber-debate about the oppression of women becomes an opportunity for men to bleat in outrage about themselves.
[The cartoon is mandatory viewing for anyone who's ever read a music site message board - Ed]
My experience of the Great Cyber Sex War is limited, but I can see what the cartoonist (a man, although that was an unpleasant surprise to those who whined about what a beastly, bitter, man-hating feminist-who-would-never-get-laid the artist must be) was getting at. I threw up my hands in despair and signed out of a music-based forum the day another poster described me as “scary” because I tended to argue back as forcefully as some of the pack-trolls who stomped about in that particular male-dominated little world. Unlike my three or four most shouty opponents, I was very careful not to resort to ad hominem attacks, because I felt (ultimately pointlessly) I had to be on best behaviour to ensure that my points were taken seriously, so the scariness must have been solely down to the fact I, unlike any of the very few other female posters on the forum at that time, had a dogged relish for the arguments that flourished in the politics threads. How fucking sad that a woman who can hold her own in a political debate is seen to be something to be afraid of!
Today, I read Suzanne Moore’s “Time To Get Angry?” on The Guardian’s website and felt properly cross enough to throw myself into the ring. Never mind the frustratingly par-boiled examples she gives and the general impression of incoherent rather than righteously focused rage; never mind the lack of clarity in her suggestions for progress; never mind indeed the bizarre fact that she fulminates about the lack of anger in the feminist movement (there are still whole seething Eyjafjallajokulls worth of anger to tap into out there, Suzanne: you don’t need to start your own crusade as you rather touchingly suggest), or the fact that she’d turned up at The Guardian having taken the Mail’s dollar for the past few years (co-option or fighting the enemy from within? Hmm. I can’t bring myself to give her anything like the benefit of the doubt on that one): it was the responses that came after which horrified me. Whatever Moore said and however effectively or otherwise she put her case, nothing reinforces her call to anger like the unbridled hatred displayed in the comments section.
What a peculiar, exhausting, frustrating and depressing pile of muddle-headed nastiness it was to wade through. If anyone had any doubt about the depth and intensity of misogyny in society, reading that little lot would have convinced them it is alive and thriving on The Guardian (of all fucking places) website. The utter lack of comprehension about what feminism is sent shivers of despair down my spine: as far as the eye could see were hordes of pissed-off, hard-done-by men, furrowing their collective monobrow over being hated by the horrid wimmin. Hardly a pro-Moore “Yay! Go sister!” to be heard over the squeals of indignation. Depressing stuff. All feminists are apparently female furies, who view every male human being as a rapist or murderer-in-waiting and apparently every last one of them is motivated by bitterness rather than a considered ethical or political desire for justice and equality (though what they are so very bitter about remained elusive to their decriers: perhaps it’s an ineffable womany thing). Most infuriating and ignorant of all were the charges laid against feminism. -> -> ->