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Mar 8, 2016 by

I’m not naive.  I know I live in world where online discourse all too frequently devolves into insults and name-calling. I’m even more keenly aware that verbal intimidation is the go-to whenever a woman steps out of line and has the audacity to voice her opinion online. Even so, I made my very first foray into the weeds of Tumblr and posted a harmless little quiz about why women should perhaps stop telling each other how to be good feminists and just get on with what they want to do for themselves.

Can you guess what I got in response?

You got it! My very own, very first bit of hate mail from a charming fellow who goes by the moniker, I kid you not, “CringworthyOffender”, and since I’m a big believer in shining a big fat spotlight on those who would prefer be in the shadows, here you go!

CringeworthyOffender:
Question 1.) Do you hate men?
Question 2.) Are you retarded?
Question 3.) are you fat?
Question 4.) Do you understand that women in other countries don’t have the rights of and American female?
Question 5.) Are you able to comprehend that you can stop now and that if any feminist still thinks that ALL men are sexist and are rapists they should shut the fuck up and kill themselves

Ok.  If I’m being really honest, my first reaction was not a high-minded one. My heart was beating a little faster, my blood was simmering, and I started cultivating my very best insults, everything from sending back his letter with spelling and grammar corrected to a straight up attack on his manhood.

Fortunately, I decided to go another way:

IDMom: Hey! Thanks for reading my post! It means a lot.

CringeworthyOffender: You’re welcome young lady. Look not sexist at all

IDMom: Oh golly, I certainly hope not. It’s a dying breed you know.

CringeworthyOffender: actually some good questions Why are you a feminist? What does it do? What does it impact? Why are you mad? How can it help society? What are you doing to change a life?

IDMom: ok. if you really really want to have a serious discussion about feminism, because you are honestly curious, I’d be more than happy to fill you in on my perspective on it.

CringeworthyOffender: Sure

IDMom: But you have to ask my questions as well… that’s the deal.
answer my questions… that is.

CringeworthyOffender: Sure

IDMom: I’m going to leave why I’m a feminist for later, in hopes that the answer will become apparent as we go, okay? First of all, I’m not mad, I’m just voicing my opinion on something that matters a lot to me.

your turn, what specifically in my post gave you the impression that I’m mad?

I didn’t hear from him for about a day after this last response, and thought at first that perhaps, having not gotten the angry-feminazi response he had hoped for, that he had moved on to his next target.  But to my delight, he returned:

CringeworthyOffender: I don’t think you’re mad it just doesn’t make sense that thinking that a male is better than a female and you want equality. The only things stopping you is someone else’s opinion.

IDMom: I don’t think we actually disagree on this last point. If you go back and read my post, my whole post, with fresh eyes, what I hope you’ll take away from it is that I was writing that article TO women, about women bashing each other. Because how can we ever hope to change the way in which society as a whole speaks about and to women if we don’t demand at least as much from ourselves. Now, back to your questions, I’ll move on to: what does feminism do? Ideally, it should be used as a platform to support women’s rights, safety and access to equal pay. And while I wish your belief that the need for advocacy for women was a thing of the past, the statistics simply do not support that belief. For example, did you know that one in four women will be assaulted during her lifetime. During the period of the Iraq war, twice as many women were murdered in the US by their spouses, than ALL of our soldiers who died in Iraq. Think about what that really means. Think about all of the women in your life, add them up. are you really okay with 1/4th of them being physically assaulted? I can’t imagine you are any more than I am, but the fact is that they either already have been or will be at some point in their life.

So how do we stop it? We can start by having a zero tolerance attitude towards intimidating women (either through threats of violence or actual acts) in order to keep them quiet and in their place. While words cannot actually hurt us, you should hopefully understand by now that a woman would be foolish to not be worried for her safety when threatened.

So to sum up on of many answers I could provide for “What does feminism do?”, It strives to create a world in which women can feel free to voice their opinions without being threatened or shamed into silence.

My turn.

Why do you feel that a woman (or even a man’s – there are a lot of them around these days) support of feminist ideals is so harmful?

It’s been a couple weeks since I sent this last message. He has yet to respond.. I’ve got my own theories as to why, would love to hear yours.

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