Yesterday I posted a quote, and mistakenly attributed it it Hillary Clinton. The quote is in reference to Our Gal Hil, but was written by Erin Ryan over at Jezebel. (Sorry, Erin!)
Someone markedly more Tumblr popular than me reblogged my post, and the notes started to roll in… 150, then 500 - there were 700 a few hours later when I logged in again. I was surprised, and even though one of my only resolutions for 2013 was “don’t read the comments!” - I wanted to see how many people had liked and shared what I consider a very important sentiment regarding appearances.
And then, I accidentally clicked on a link; a reblog, with this added onto the end of it:
"Maybe if women would put less of their egos into their looks, it wouldn’t matter so much you stupid, manipulative bitches."
Did your head explode after reading that? Because mine sure did.
Of course this is the entry I accidentally click on! Out of all the reblogs on all the Tumblrs in the widespread Inter-world, I would click on the one that includes a response from an internet troll.
Mad as hell, I found myself reading this kid’s ‘About’ page. (Yes, 21 makes you a kid to anyone 5 years older than you - get over it.) Of the choice bits of information he chose to share, here’s the parts that stood out:
I’m 21, Male, I have a twin sister named _____, and I’m Straight. I go to [a local community college] currently, but I’m deffo gonna transfer. I’m a Men’s rights Activist.
I was ready to fire off with an angry rant - and then the internet’s new favorite adage “Don’t feed the trolls” came to me. So I closed the post without saving it, sure that I could let go of the anger it stirred up in me. Except then I tossed and turned all night, unable to dismiss something as insignificant as a run-on sentence someone I don’t know posted on the internet.
I’m not even going to get into why the whole “men’s rights activist” thing is offensive, because the worst part of about it is that it proves this is the kind of person I can’t argue with. Nothing I say will change someone like that’s mind. Initially, I wanted to shame him — shame serves as a fantastic vehicle for making humans realize the error of their ways. But then I considered another sentence from his profile, the one about his twin sister.
Instead of embarrassing him, or saying a bunch of things about the nature of concepts behind the “Men’s Rights Movement”, I’ve written this guy a letter he’ll never read.
Dear Men’s Rights Activism-Afflicted Netizen,
I hope you would never condone a man speaking to your sister like that. (Come to think of it, I hope you don’t speak to your sister like that.) It’s a shame, but consider the fact that your sister has surely encountered men that behave like you do on the internet.
I hope when (not if) she runs across them, and they say things that hurt her or imply that her gender should shoulder the blame for society’s very fucked up notion that a woman’s worth is dictated heavily by appearance, you have an epiphany akin to Senator Rob Portman’s.
When (if?*) that happens, I hope you apologize to her (because it’ll be too late to apologize to the other girls I’m sure you’ve already impressed with these sentiments) and spend some time re-evaluating not just how you think about women, but how you talk about them.
I am not preaching to you from a mountain top; I am not perfect, I say dumb, generalist things about both sexes when frustrated or looking for an easy laugh.
I guess what I’m saying is thank you for serving as a reminder that some things aren’t all that funny, and that when you’re ready to engage in intelligent discourse without relying on terms like stupid, manipulative and bitch to describe women… we’ll still be here. And at least one of us will like you.
* I am really hoping this isn’t an ‘if’ situation.