By now, you may have seen Ophelia or PZ talking about Justicar’s latest “You’re not really sincere because of this stupid thing I just made up and am treating as gospel truth” video. This one claimed that none of us feminist bloggers is really threatened by anything because we haven’t gone into hiding and obliterated all traces of where we live. The proof? Jen tweeted a picture of something near her apartment with an identifiable street sign…or something equally stupid.
Yes, you see, Jen having suffered a depressive episode and basically given up on blogging and on the secular and skeptical movements isn’t enough to demonstrate a negative effect. If her life isn’t destroyed to the point that she’s afraid to tweet something silly she sees on the street, the harassment she continues to receive–months after she’s stopped her activism–isn’t really harassment and no one should complain about it.
I will, for the sake of its utter obviousness, not bother to detail the glaring fallacy. I won’t linger of what a slimy excuse for a human being Justicar is. Instead, I’m going to tell you a little story about my Friday night.
I had tickets to a nationally broadcast comedy show. My husband and I and a couple of friends showed up a little early to have dinner at the food trucks outside. Eventually we wandered in, climbed some terrifying stairs and found our seats.
Unusually for a comedy show, there was no warm-up act. Instead, there was a Twitter wall. People would tweet at the show or using the hashtag for the show, and their tweets were shown for everyone to see. We were the warm-up act, and everyone did their best to be funny. Many of them even succeeded.
This being my first time at the show, I didn’t have much to say. “Ooh, look. I’m sitting in a theater with a bunch of hipsters, listening to adult rock and watching people tweet.” It seemed unfriendly.
Eventually, however, I came up with something that would add to the atmosphere instead of detracting from it. That was when the realization hit me. Here is what I tweeted instead:
I’ve become a potential liability for any event I attend where tweeting is part of the event experience. More to the point, these assholes have decided that they have every “right” to become a liability to any event I and the others targeted attend. Seen the #wiscfi hashtag lately?
I was at a comedy show with a Twitter wall. If any of that crowd had noticed, how long would it have taken for them to pull out every comment about rape jokes or sexist jokes that they’ve managed to come up with over the last couple of years and every inanity about “freeze peach” and “political correctness”?
Yeah, that’s about how long I figured too.
I didn’t participate. I didn’t tweet whatever silliness had occurred to me. I didn’t become part of the pre-show. I didn’t become part of the intermission. I didn’t tweet any of the absurdity or genuinely cool things happening on the stage. Aside from a vague tweet about the music and one tweet on the hashtag after everything was over (posted on the Twitter wall with a glaring typo as everyone filed out), I didn’t share anything that happened in that theater with the world outside.
So, yes, sometimes we don’t tweet where we are because of the harassment. We don’t necessarily feel we’re in danger, but we still change our behavior. While we can choose adverse consequences for ourselves, the people around us haven’t made the same choices we have.
This shit doesn’t have to threaten our lives or our physical safety to be a problem.