[Content Note: Some discussion of sexual assault in Point #4, also victim-blaming]
It has occurred to me in recent days that, perhaps, we need a guide to how to interact with stories about women that we run across online.
Every single post in this column, for the record, comes from actual comment threads that I observed this week. Most of them come from news stations local to the capital of my state.
So, if you find yourself interacting with a story about a woman, please don't fear! Just whip out this handy guide for a few examples of what to do or not to do.
1. Please do not insult or praise her appearance.
I know, I know. It's really hard! After all, what are women for if not for people to stare at them and judge whether they are fuckable or not?
But please, stymy this natural impulse.
You see, when you focus on a woman's looks, you're really objectifying her, and taking the focus off of her message. You're denying her as a whole person and looking her as a means to a sexual (hypothetical or otherwise) end. And let's be real, that's no way to have a discussion.
Oh, look at you! You liberal you. You're nodding along with me. "Those stupid conservatives," you're saying, "they always objectify women! They're terrible! Good thing we don't do that!"
BUT AH HA! I've got you. That's why I opened with this example. Earlier this week, Gawker ran this article:
Please don't mistake me. I don't agree with this woman's message in the slightest. But I also can't bring myself to agree with comments like these:
And the ridiculous part is....her ideas are bad enough! Why bring this type of stuff into the discussion?
We can't effectively argue that women shouldn't be treated like this online if we are only arguing that women with whom we agree shouldn't be treated like this online. For real.
2. Don't support the assault of young women for choosing to have sex.
I'm going to preface this one by saying: I get it. Honestly, it's rough to think of teenagers having sex. We now have a teenager, and I can't imagine her having sex before she is like, at least a hundred and twelve...
But I know it will happen, and when it does, I hope we will have given her enough information and support for her to make good decisions about her emotional and physical health and future.
If you should encounter a story about a young woman having sex, please, consider that maybe the right response is not to physically assault her.
I cropped out the mugshot, but here's the blurb:
Yes, a professional journalistic entity published that, but that's a topic for another day.
In short, Mom found out Daughter was having sex, and assaulted daughter, causing the daughter's nose to bleed, among other injuries. For having sex.
Here's how not to respond:
Do I want 16 year olds running around having sex? No, I'd really rather they didn't. But I also don't think beating a child for having sex is the way to go either.
And cheering it on? Saying a young woman deserves this for having sex? What the actual fuck people....
3. Please don't excuse the violation of women.
I could pull multiple examples for this one, but perhaps the most stunning one was the comment thread following this story:
It started bad and didn't get any better:
So yes. Women were videoed without their knowledge or consent...and it's all their fault. They caused the problem....
4. And definitely don't blame them for their rapes. No matter what.
No matter what. Seriously. Don't do it. Even if she's a sex worker or drunk as a skunk or whatever. Rape happens because rapists rape.
How would you respond to this?
If the answer is any of these, just don't:
Just don't. Don't.
I'm pretty sure this will became a semi-regular staple on the blog, because it seems like I can't throw a rock without hitting an example of how NOT to have these interactions.
So enjoy your interactions on the interwebz...and be respectful out there.