I have been following Rose McGowan-Twitter dispute since it happened, with with some of her supporters calling for Twitter boycott. There were generally criticisms of this suggestion. The first came from women who rejected the idea that women should silence themselves as a form of protest to protest…women’s silencing.
The second came from women of color who rejected the idea that they should undertake activist work to protect white women when white women do not do similar work for them.
And this is where I got stuck. This response is, naturally, reasonable and we’ve seen it before. The point that I got stuck on was one particular example: one writer used Jemele Hill and Leslie Jones as examples.
I spoke out about both these women and the injustices they faced, but I have to say, that doesn’t feel like very much. Boycotting ESPN would be fine, but in my instance it’s useless since I already don’t consume their channel. So I doubt they care very much about my opinion at all, let alone my plan to continue not consuming their brand.
With Ms. Jones, I did join in an organized online effort to support her directly and draw Twitter’s attention to those subjecting her to abuse. From what I can tell, they banned Milos Yiannopoulos, but I don’t think they went after his little troll army. Should white hats go after them behind their screen names? Doxx them out to their employers and media? I’ve flooded people’s feed with positive messages when I see that starting in and I’m aware of it, but that doesn’t feel like much, either.
When I joined the Leslie Jones donnybrook, I got plenty of hate-tweets in response, with comments about my weight, threats, etc. I wasn’t doxxed, but honestly, I tweet as myself. If you go to my office at USC, you’ll find me. (I’m pretty sweet in real life, or so people tell me.)
Cyberbullying women with opinions is pretty much constant, and the only way to avoid it is, I’ve found, to avoid having an opinion, and well, screw that. I tend to just stop responding to people on Twitter when I decide they are bullies, and since I wrote the Smartest Boy Urbanist thing (what I’ll probably die being known for despite killing myself to do good research), I have plenty of dudes looking to take me down a peg. But that’s what Smartest Dude Urbanists are: bullies. They don’t actually care about cities. They care about being right about cities, and getting people to submit to their rightness–winning arguments, the jousting, the coming-out-on-top. If they did care about cities, they’d want to work through dissent and difference–in addition to just winning policy change–in cities instead of just trying silence it and conflate it all with the worst aspects of NIMBYism. To some degree, that “win win win” stuff is just politics. But when it’s combined with white maleness, it’s power-down crap that the rest of us shouldn’t have to put up with.
I generally just ignore the dudes doing that; I’m in a position where me going off on a feminist rant on my own blog can’t really get me fired. Yet. But I am in a very privileged space to be able to do that–which is one reason why I do it–but I don’t feel as though I’m using the power I have to respond in particularly effective ways to women getting cyberbullied and doxxed. I often just don’t notice it. I tweet at the beginning and the end of the workday and just don’t see stuff. In addition, I really don’t know what works as intervening versus what has the potential to make it all worse. I do the positive social media things to support women & people of color, such as promoting their work, etc. But I don’t really feel like I have any strategies to help in the instances where things have turned negative.