After experiencing harassment by two random boys on Twitter this weekend, I have been thinking a lot about rape culture and online harassment.
For those of you who follow me on Twitter or are my friend on Facebook, you may have seen my post about this incident on Saturday, but I’ll summarize it here as well.
A random boy (who I have never met) quote-Tweeted one of my Tweets about a college football game snarkily asking how my day was going after my team ended up losing. I honestly, have no problem with that. I am all for healthy, playful competition. I will fiercely defend my terrible sports teams and laugh at myself for it. I think sports are fun and a great way to have healthy debate. However, I decided not to respond to his Tweet because I didn’t know him and didn’t really care.
The issue I had was with what followed this Tweet. One of his friends piggy-backed on his Tweet; responding, “She’s blacked out hanging with 5 frat guys. She’s good.” The original poster, then responded, “You spelled gang bang wrong.”
These boys participated in what they misguidedly thought was a harmless joke.
But here’s the thing, there are quite a few things wrong with what they posted:
1) Having sex with someone while they are intoxicated, let alone blacked out is rape. By encouraging the notion that it is acceptable to have sex with someone while they are unable to give consent is further perpetuating rape culture. And no, rape culture is not a made-up thing created by feminists. Here is a definition of rape culture:
A complex set of beliefs that encourage male sexual aggression and supports violence against women. It is a society where violence is seen as sexy and sexuality as violent. In a rape culture, women perceive a continuum of threatened violence that ranges from sexual remarks to sexual touching to rape itself. A rape culture condones physical and emotional terrorism against women as the norm . . . In a rape culture both men and women assume that sexual violence is a fact of life, inevitable . . . However . . . much of what we accept as inevitable is in fact the expression of values and attitudes that can change.” – Emilie Buchwald, author of Transforming a Rape Culture via Women Against Violence Against Women
And here is another definition of rape culture in case you need even more clarification:
Rape culture includes jokes, TV, music, advertising, legal jargon, laws, words and imagery, that make violence against women and sexual coercion seem so normal that people believe that rape is inevitable. Rather than viewing the culture of rape as a problem to change, people in a rape culture think about the persistence of rape as “just the way things are.” – website Force: Upsetting the Rape Culture
2) Joking about rape and sexual assault minimizes the very real struggle people endure after an experience like that. It can also be very triggering for someone who has experience sexual violence to see jokes about it – potentially causing serious consequences for their mental and physical health.
3) Social media has unfortunately become a medium where cowards like this can hide behind a computer screen or cell phone and type damaging words without a second thought. Words can and will kill. What may seem like a harmless joke to some could be the straw that breaks the camel’s back for others.
I know these two little Tweets seem like a very small issue in the grand scheme of things, but they really add up and I refuse to let people like this continue in their ignorance.
I shared my thoughts above on Twitter and Facebook because I wanted to stand up for what I believe in. The boys’ response was as you would imaging: petty, gross, and immature.
My lovely, amazing blogging friend Morgan stood up for me and Tweeted her response as well and unfortunately, these boys pulled her into their insulting remarks.
These Tweets reveal their absolute ignorance and immaturity. It’s hilarious to me that they will blame feminism for my response to their disgusting remarks. It’s also hilarious that they bring up issues like abortion and gun control. They also asked for my opinion about Donald Trump…so, there’s that for ya.
If those boys are reading this post, here is a definition of feminism:
“Feminism: (noun) the advocacy of women’s rights on the grounds of political, social, and economic equality to men.”
I don’t understand how people like this exist. It’s one thing to make jokes like this in private, but to be posting it online just blows my mind. Besides the obvious reasons not to post stuff like this, I just can’t help but wonder: Do you ever want to get a job? What if your mother sees this? What if your future girlfriend sees this?
I asked my friends, family, and online community to report their Tweets as harassment to Twitter and I’m happy to say that either Twitter deleted them, or the boys were embarrassed at their actions and deleted them. Regardless, the damaging Tweets are gone for good, so I am happy. I stood my ground and it payed off. I really, sincerely hope these boys used this experience to grow and learn from their mistakes.