I get a lot of shit. A lot of abuse, often misogynistic, sometimes heterosexist and once or twice, a smattering of ableist nonsense. It comes with the territory of being a woman with an opinion who is present on the internet.
Once upon a time, I kept a folder on my computer of screencaps, titled “Misogyny and abuse”. Almost daily, I’d have to update it. I gave up. It was sapping my time and resources, and I realised how uniform it was. There was nothing I could learn from the reboant chorus of cunts who couldn’t stop wishing they could cut my bitchdyke pussy out.
If you google my real name–which my haters seem to think is some sort of state-guarded secret and utter it with the delight of a schoolchild upon having discovered their teacher has a first name–you’ll find several hate-sites, at least two of which are specially created just for me. They feel like they’re so clever, having discovered the link between the Zoe Stavri who sometimes writes articles in the mainstream press, and the @stavvers who tweets “look at this article written by me”. They like to post unflattering pictures of me, and hurl abuse over every single thing I say, making sure to tweet at anyone I follow to let them know “the truth” about me. The truth being, that I’m a woman with an opinion, who sometimes doesn’t photograph particularly well.
The interesting thing is how followers of my dedicated hate-Twitter all seem to be misogynists who I’ve called out. Birds of a feather flock together, and the particular strobilating dingleberry who runs my hate-Twitter seems to be the standard around which they can rally.
Then there’s the time I had a death threat. It was qualitatively different from various haters saying “I wish she’d die”. That’s not a death threat. Let me tell you what a death threat is. I once pissed off a particularly prolific misogynist and all-round scumbag. He decided to tweet what he thought was my address, followed by an announcement that he’d like to break my neck. The good news is, it wasn’t my address, or that of anybody I knew. As far as I know, none of those people had their necks broken. As I understand it, the shitbowl in question got into trouble with the cops for trying to pull similar shit with other people.
And that’s the common-or-garden misogynists, but let it be known that I also get a fair bit of trouble from another group of bigots: the TERFs. They don’t like me much, because I’m a vocal ally of trans people and speak out against transphobia. The only thing distinguishing them and their methods–attempted doxxings, timeline-stalkings, outright hate speech–from the misogynists I spoke about before is that this lot hate on a specific group of women. While Suzanne Moore may not be a TERF herself, her attempted scapegoating of trans people for “abuse” is a hair’s breadth away from the out-and-out hate speech the TERFs perpetrate.
Maybe it’s because I’ve had heaps of abuse levelled on me in the past that helps me see, clear as day, the difference between abuse and criticism. Yes, even rude criticism. Abuse comes from above, from a person with privilege, desperate to cling on to it. Criticism so often comes from below, rudeness returning fire from a war I had inadvertently declared. In these instances, I step back. I educate myself. I don’t make the same mistake twice, and I become better. If I did anything else, it would make me the bully, not the person I’d harmed.
As for the rest of it, that sort of shit, as I said, comes with the territory of being a woman with an opinion on the internet. At first I was afraid, I was petrified. Then I came to an epiphany: they are doing this because I, as a woman with an opinion on the internet, am a threat to them. They want me to shut the fuck up and stop making life as a misogynist harder for them. They feel their ability to dominate slipping away, and it scares the fuck out of them.
Oderint dum metuant, fuckers.
I feel a little frisson of glee from knowing they are scared of me, then I hit the block button, because I actually don’t want to hear any of their shit. I keep my comments moderated on my blog, because it’s my space, and I can do what the fuck I want with it. I don’t read below the line on things I’ve written that I have no control over.
They’re frightened because I’m right, and that’s all I need to know.