Not Breaking: Men Say Mean Things About Women On The Internet

Ya hear about this whole Kathy Sierra story? Yeah, us either, but apparently the entire blogosphere got its panties in a bunch over an incident, which we will try to describe for you now, even though we still have no real idea who Kathy Sierra is and little inclination to actually find out. The Wikipedia indicates that Sierra is some kind of tech blogger-lady. Last month some random trolls made rude comments (including rape and death threats) on her blog. She was so alarmed that she canceled an appearance at an ETech conference. We say, good call! An "ETech conference" is right up there with pencil-in-eye mutilation on our list of things to get done in this life.

Anyway. Controversy ensued! Lots of folks bitched and moaned about misogyny on the Internet, while other folks said Sierra overreacted and the Internet is about free speech and you need to develop a thick skin and blah blah blah. We can assure you that both sides are equally self-righteous and annoying, especially this guy.

That feminist superhero, Salon EIC Joan Walsh, took a crack at the thing this weekend, writing an interminable essay that offers the stunning conclusion that women are disproportionately the targets of abuse on the web. We tried to read it, but you know how ladies get when they start yapping and scratching in their catbox. The thing goes on and on and on.

Then former lawyer and current wearer of scanty things Melissa Lafsky, speaking for the sewing circle over at HuffPo's Eat the Press, put it like this:

While the anecdotal evidence from female bloggers borders on overwhelming, the charge that misogyny disproportionately pervades the Internet is difficult to prove, and actual data, such as compilations of abusive remarks directed at women versus men and comparisons of anti-female sentiments with comments reflecting racist, anti-semitic and homophobic views, has yet to be compiled.
Ooh, she's looking for metrics!

Uh, we got yer evidence right here, Mel. There is a shitload of misogyny on the Internet. One needs simply to compare the rude comments on this site about Emily and Doree, which are 90% about their boobs, with those about the boys, which are 90% rambling attempts to engage, however poorly, with the actual content of the post. (And 10% about dick size, but whatever.)

What doesn't make much sense is that everyone's treating this like a condition attached to the internet. Have they gone outside recently, in the real world, where most men are threatened by any sign of assertiveness or influence of women? So, in their little apartments surrounded by beer cans and posters of Heather Locklear, men use the anonymity the Internet provides to vent those fears in the crudest possible ways. Uh, yeah. Are rape and murder threats ever acceptable? Uh, obviously not. Are they going to continue to get made? You bet your sweet rapeable ass. [Ed. Note: See? Only if the writer thinks they're funny. Even if they're not.]

We guess what we're saying is, sure, go ahead and point out the ways men are mean to women on the Internet, but don't pretend it's going to make much of a difference. (And let's also not pretend that women can't be incredibly catty about other broads; they're just less prone to rape threats. Although I did once hear Emily express a desire to sodomize a commenter* with a hot curling iron.)

It doesn't matter anyway. If current research is any indication, the male gender is dying out. Pretty soon you gals will be free to iChat and blog all you want without fear of a comment comparing your weight unfavorably to that of some farm animal. Except from each other, of course. Until then, you just stay pretty, okay?

*Mark Duffy