April 01, 2016

Feminist Friday: Another Installment of Interacting with Women Online (And How Not To)

I thought it would be fun to revisit our Dos and Donts of Interacting With Women Online. Boy, have I collected some doozies for you all!

Before we proceed, this series often deals with sexual assault and victim blaming, so folks who may find such discussion triggering should be forewarned.

Other than that, let's dive right in, shall we...?

1. Shaming women for having sex isn't cool.

This is John.

John doesn't realize that women can make their own decisions about sex and believes they need to be shamed into behaving in ways that he believes to be their best interest.

John doesn't seem to realize that getting pregnant or contracting an STD happens to more than just "sluts". After all, up to 1% of people who become pregnant in the United States claim to be virgins. That's a whole lot of Messiahs running around!

Don't be like John.

Do this instead: Accept that women can and do make the best decisions for themselves and that this is none of your business. You can even take this a step further and accept that both males and females (and everyone in between) sometimes make bad decisions.

2. Sex sells...maybe call out the system, not the people stuck in it.

Et tu, HuffPost Lifestyle?

Commenter Valerie really nails this:

Is HPL also going to chastise the number of companies that also use women in lingerie to sell their product?

Here's one from Calvin Klein:

And this is an ad for a product for MEN, guys. FOR MEN. WTF.

What about this PETA ad?

Yup. That's right. Even PETA.

Do this instead: Feel free to call out ads that objectify women. Maybe stop blaming the women who are caught up in the system, though, and focus on the system itself. Just a thought.

3. Women should feel safe in the shower. Yes, even at the gym.

This is terrible. What a violation, right?

Now let's see what William has to say:

Modesty be durned, folks! TACKLE THEM.

Dude, you shouldn't have to tackle them. WTF kind of response even is this...?

And let's not forget to let ladies weigh in on the topic:

Yes, you should all start showering with a knife, you lazy female-identifying people. No exceptions. Stab the pre-verts, yo.

Don't do this, folks. Seriously. Don't.

Do this instead: Say something like, "OH MY GOD THIS IS TERRIBLE, I HOPE THEY CATCH HIM!" or "Women should definitely feel safe in gym showers. This is terrible."

4. Stop defending rapists and start defending victims.

So, quick note. This point is actually a follow up to #5 on this segment published in February. So this story has made this column not once, but TWICE....

Okay. So. The comments....

Here's one that really...well, it's just really something.

That's right. Female students should travel in pairs and NEVER EVER PUT THEMSELVES IN A VULNERABLE POSITION. Never.

You know what would help female students stay out of vulnerable positions? If male students would maybe not rape them.

For this next one...really, I understand that it must be really conflicting for people who KNOW a person accused of rape. It must be difficult. Maybe keep your mouth shut, though...

"I saw him the next night and he was nice as can be." No. In fact, just...just no to all of this. No. He's not a snake. He's not an animal. He's a human being, fully capable of being held accountable for his own lack of self-control and willingness to victimize another human being.


...here's a riddle for you guys.

If a story about sexual assault makes the news, and no dudebro is around to suggest that it's really just about "regrets" on the part of the victim, did it even really happen...? It's like if a bear shits in the woods and no one is around to see it, or a tree falls, or whatever...one of the timeless questions for our age.

And of course, the peanut gallery:

Yeah. No.

Do this instead: "I'm so glad this alleged rapist will have a day in court."

5. Maybe don't insult mothers who look young by assuming they must have had their children really exceptionally young (this really goes doubly for women of color, in my opinion, who often have to deal with this stereotype anyway).

Wow! How youthful looking!

And then...

I can't believe 240 people liked this. WTAF.

Do this instead: "She looks great!"

6. Support victims of domestic violence instead of blaming them.

For background: Our state (South Carolina) consistently ranks in the Top 10 states for the number of women killed by men--usually by partners or former partners. It's a huge issue. We had as many women killed in 2013 as the entire nation of Spain--a country with ten times our population.

And yet...

There are a lot of reasons domestic violence victims (male and female!) don't leave their partners. Quit undercutting their voices and support them.

Do this instead: "I'm so glad you found your way out!" or something similar.

7. Maybe stop being sexist about your candidate.

So the example that I have is from a Hillary supporter, but really, I'd love to see examples from Sanders supporters, as I know they are out there too.

So...no. People have a myriad of reasons that they support the candidates that they do, and those reasons should be respected. Regardless. If you can't engage in thoughtful discussion, maybe avoid the topic altogether, daggummit.

Do this instead: "Oh. You support Candidate B? I support Candidate C for XYZ reasons. What do you think about Issue ABCDEFGH?"

8. Take domestic violence seriously and support victims...not abusers.

This story was absolutely heart-rending. The child in question was six years old.

The person who's to blame is the person that killed this child's mother and then himself (her father), leaving his child an orphan.

We have this narrative that mental illness somehow excuses violence...but it doesn't. The vast majority of people struggling with mental health issues aren't violent. They will never harm anyone besides perhaps themselves.

I do agree that we need significant mental health support overhauls, but this? This is crap.

Do this instead: "I can't believe this. This is so horrible."

9. Quit shaming mothers for how they choose to feed their babies.

It's ridiculous when what should be a cute, funny photo has comments warranting a spot on this list, and yet, here we are:

Uh...Roman, Tyrell...you do realize that women are PEOPLE, not kegs, right? Wtaf is this?

And this:

Is there evidence breast milk is better? Yes. There's also evidence that it isn't, evidence that the effects are relatively temporary, etc. It's not settled science by any means, and the differences between bottle and breast are often so marginal that they are insignificant. So folks, please, feed your babies in the way that works best for you.

Do this instead: "Aw! What a cute baby!"

10. Make-up is not an insult, and rape is not a joke.

Even to male politicians you don't like...

Things that are not insulting, Mike: women with a "few years" on them, sex work, make up. Nope.

Male rape victims already often find it difficult to come forward. Why would we make it harder by acting like rape involving male victims is funny? NO STEVEN NO, BAD STEVEN.

Do this instead: "Can you believe that what that Duck Dynasty dude said? That's pretty terrible!"

11. Read the story before commenting lest you wind up looking like a misogynistic asshat (because you are, in fact, a misogynistic asshat).

I'm sure you can guess why this woman's picture was targeted for this hoax. #LeSigh

But this comment, guys:

Now remember...the story above was about how this is a HOAX... But Miamiaaron won't let a little things like facts get in the way. He continues despite multiple people pointing out that he is misinterpreting the story:

I really hope this was just someone having a lark...

Do this instead: "Wow, it's terrible that this woman and her family were victimized by this hoax. The nerve of some people!"

12. No, a penis can't defile a woman.

I'm sorry, dudes. I know that many of you find your penis magical, wonderful, awe-inspiring. I've watched that fascination develop in my own sons, to the point of them trying to stick it in the water faucet at bathtime. For realz.

But, no, there's nothing magical about your penis that changes a woman. And ladies, no, there's nothing magical about a man's penis that changes you:

No, it's not defiling. No, it doesn't make you unclean or unholy. It's sex, guys. That's all. It's totally natural and normal and FUN and not dirty or reprehensible. C'mon. Let's make it to 2016, shall we?

Do this instead: "This is an interesting theory. I don't really agree with it on these theological grounds, but it's interesting nonetheless."


This was a long one, but thankfully, we're now all caught up. I hope you all enjoyed it! Go forth, and make the internet a better place, my dears!

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