One of the best things about the Internet is that it is a democracy in its purest form. It is a space where anyone and everyone can express themselves and their thoughts, feelings, and ideas. This is also the worst aspect of the Internet because, quite frankly, not everyone’s thoughts, feelings, or ideas are meant to have a platform to be heard. Particularly those mired in hate. And probably no one feels the brunt of this hate more than women writers.

I no longer read comment sections on the web precisely because they are a breeding ground for the most ignorant, vile, contemptuous, idiotic, and hate filled people to voice their half-baked opinions. For women, the attacks take the most gruesome forms.

Laurie Penny, a columnist for the Guardian newspaper, has had enough of the hateful and threatening comments left by Internet trolls — people who seem to have nothing better to do with their time than to peruse the entire world wide web and leave hurtful, nasty comments — and has decided to fight back by revealing the amount of abusive comments she receives in hopes that forums will do a better job of policing discussion.

The anonymous misogynists typically bypass the reading and critiquing of the actual articles in favor of hurling personal insults that have nothing to do with the content and more to do with the gender of the author. Sadly, it isn’t uncommon for these trolls to call these women “b*tches” or threaten rape and other violent acts.

Penny and other women writers should be commended for bringing the abusive words of these anonymous trolls to light, because it is their anonymity that empowers them. The Internet, like the rest of the world, can and should be a safe space for women to operate and express themselves. Those attempting to prevent that from happening should not be allowed to cause further damage. Banning them from commenting is a good start.

What I hope this doesn’t come to, however, is a moment where we the Internet has to be separated by the sexes and men are no longer well to comment on articles written by women. The hateful and violent comments should be monitored, indeed, but if we ever reached the point where men weren’t permitted to read and comment on women’s articles or sites, then we will never generate a real equality.

The problem we have now is that, by and large, men view women as objects and not people. As psychotherapist Susie Orbach said in the Guardian, “If you set women up as sexual objects which society has, no matter what we are doing, that makes women into objects rather than human beings and what you create is a situation in which women who then stand up and make arguments about things, terrify these men who have no access to real women and so they beat them up in the terms in which they’ve been offered by society, which has nothing to do with the content of what they are saying.” Being denied access to real women who think and express complex ideas about the world around them forces men to stop viewing women as simply objects but whole human beings. There’s so much that men don’t know about women and they can only learn by actually listening and paying attention to the things women have to say. The dialogue between the sexes can’t be stunted when we still have so far to go.

But the threats of rape and name-calling cannot stand either. These spaces must be better policed and offending trolls should be put on blast and subsequently banned. What can’t happen is taking this to the extreme of banning all men. We have so much to learn.

Dialogue is necessary. Hate is intolerable. These two ideas can exist side-by-side.

 

Should men be banned from commenting on websites geared toward women? Sound-off!

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  • @Courtney – Your anger and prejudice towards some men is understandable. What I can’t however understand is how you put all MEN and WOMEN in one basket as EVIL and HOLY and that’s it for you. Really? In 21st Century? and that is the smartest thought you come up with in a public domain? Saying that WOMEN don’t have the power to oppress MEN is just as ignorant as feminists’ sentiments that MEN can’t be victims of sexual objectification.
    I’ve seen and heard MEN who have committed suicide because of family issues.. Why does that happen? or do they just love killing themselves as MEN? How about absentee fathers? You think all of them have the same reason to stay away from their seeds? How many incidences have you heard where a MAN has killed his entire family and himself in your lifetime? You think all of these men are psychopaths just out of the ordinary? In my village, where patriarchy still plays a bigger role in defining social orders, I’ve seen MEN even learned MEN who have married not so learned WOMEN turn to alcoholism just to stay away from their wives. Why is that? is it the love for alcohol?
    Dear courtney, Let me bring to your attention that oppression doesn’t have to be physical. Gay kids don’t kill themselves because they get beaten by straight kids but because of psychological torture they are subjected to. Then again, I don’t blame you, I blame the system that has resorted to HATE, LIES AND CLASS EXCLUSIVITY in it’s bid to completely deconstruct masculinity in the society. We are living in interesting times where misandry and female chauvinism are accepted vices. I can’t really blame anyone who thinks like you, be it a man or woman.
    I call it a woman’s world even though some of my male friends hate to hear that but it’s a reality. Maybe you should read this post by Mark Simpson http://www.marksimpson.com/blog/2011/02/09/misandry-the-acceptable-prejudice/ and also look out for Paul Nathanson & Katherine Young’s book “Legalizing misandry: from public shame to systemic discrimination against men”.. There are many texts highlighting hate and discrimination against MEN from Educational Institutions to Mass Media. They are just not popular texts cuz you know what, “MEN are not vulnerable as WOMEN” mentality. So be wise and before you bundle all MEN and WOMEN in the EVIL and HOLY baskets, know better and stop putting your past into a societal context.
    Peace!!

  • “Sadly, it isn’t uncommon for these trolls to call these women “b*tches” or threaten rape and other violent acts.”

    …threaten that they know where you live, post pictures of outside your home… creepy as all fuck.

  • Notthisagain

    Sorry to be a party pooper but are you sure you’ve overcome the social conditioning that’s taught you think in man villian/woman victim terms?

    According to you – women’s anger at men is always due some mistreatment by men.

    You then go on to “explain” that men’s (alleged) mistreatment of women is rooted in the social conditioning of males to view women as inferior.

    smh

    So we mistreat women because we think we’re better than them.

    Well that is utter garbage – because I was raised to protect and even defer (ie put other’s needs before my own) to those who are weaker than myself. eg younger children, girls, women, the elderly, the disabled, the socially disadvantaged and so on.

    My conditioning taught me NOT to exploit or demean those who were at a disadvantage in relation to myself. Not saying the conditioning always stuck. Sometimes I rebelled against that conditioning and did bully and tease and mock and use my advantages to my own advantage. However as I grew into adulthood I came to acknowledge and accept the basic rightness of the social conditioning I recieved that taught me to be decent man who deferred to needs of those weaker or less able than myself, and placed my own needs secondary to theirs.
    And guess what
    This is true for most men.

    So I really don’t what the hell you’re talking about, sounds all flowery and fluffy but all you’ve “contributed” are meaningless platitudes that only affirm gender myths and stereotypes, and quite frankly as a man living in the 21st Anglosphere – I’m all dogged out by the culture of explicit misandry (Courtney below) and subtle misandry (such as yours).

    You don’t seem to entertain the possibility that most men, if not ALL, have had some negative experience with women, which may better explain why some men do indeed mistreat women, and I said to Courtney below; if mistreatment by a man can turn a woman into a manhater then why not the other way round?

    There seems to be some kind of mental block preventing a fair number women from even scimming over the idea that female on male wrongdoing may lead to male misogyny. I suspect it’s due fear of losing the copyright on victimhood, that so many women lean so heavily on.

    Well it’s not about turning men into victims, that is the domain of weak people. It’s basically – get the hell off our backs, and by “our” I mean the ordinary average joe who is not part of any patriarchy, has no power in society and is as much a victim of patriarchy as any woman may claim to be.

    Patriarchy is a male hierarchy in which everyone in a society is ranked according to their utility to those at the top. Yes, those at the top are mostly men, but those at the bottom are mostly men also. Women are grouped around the middle because women always have utility to men. However, there are more men at the bottom than at the top and in the middle combined and this makes those men at bottom of the pecking order –

    expendable

    because they may come to pose a threat to the social order.

    Which is why we have so much misandry/manhatred in this society, men at the bottom of the pecking have no utility in the system to the men at top or to –

    women –

    because with women’s entrance into the workplace they are no longer needed by women to perform the provider function.

    In a capiltaist patriarchy experiencing an economic crisis that has created millions of idle unemployed men, everything that’s happening re feminism and the “evil male”, man hatred it propogates makes perfect sense.

    Indeed you can match and time the rising rates of male incarceration with the rise of and pop-culture feminist man hating propoganda.

    Unfortunately not enough of those “expendable” men have caught onto this yet, but they will.

    Men like will see to it.

  • If they ban men from commenting on websites geared toward women (and I think that’s fine), then they should also ban men from writing on those same blogs…

  • fantastik posting