The Cyber Witch Burnings
Most of my students are women. This message to them is balm. They don’t have to choose between family and work, creativity and work – they can have all three. And they don’t need ANYONE’s permission.
I have always preached blogging karma. What you give out comes back at you.
Welcome to the revolution! I say. This is a brave new world.
But I’m starting to see this is not true. It is a new, virtual world, but sadly is becoming dominated by the same forces which rule the old: sociopathic bullies.
Many of us have experience of real life bullies. They’re nasty and can make your life really unpleasant. But their scope is limited to a couple of people in a geographical space.
The internet is big. Interconnected. And very, very public. If shit goes down there it can seep into every area of your life, and quickly get out of control.
The fear of personal attack and shaming is what stops a lot of women from even starting out blogging, writing books, putting their art out there, doing business. They intuitively know the risks of being female… and being vulnerable.
What I always used to say is “no one really cares”. And the truth is at the beginning they don’t. The internet is a big place. You’re reasonably safe whilst you’re anonymous. But one day you reach the point when enough people have heard of you, and a few people who’ve never come across you before, who see the shares and likes you’re getting, see your success and get agitated.
And start making trouble.
Enter the trolls.
AKA The Cyber Inquisition.
Trolling and cyber badness have become a viscous sport which are threatening the spirit of the internet. Not to mention the careers, earnings, emotional and physical well-being of those on the receiving end.
But it’s called “cyber-bullying”. Which makes it sound rather like some childish playground thing.
There is NOTHING innocent about this.
It is cold. Calculated. And ruthlessly organised. An internet axis of evil.
And it is, I have noted, almost exclusively aimed at women who have the nerve to think they can speak their own thoughts, in public, to whom people listen – this is UNACCEPTABLE to the trolls.
Who use age old patriarchal tactics in the brave new world. Enter the cyber witch burnings.
(NB. Patriarchal Does. Not. Mean. All. Men. It’s a system.)
They’re relying on the age old shaming women trick to shut them up…telling their victims that they’re lousy. Bad people. Charlatans. Frauds. Saying dark things about their sexuality. Airing their virtual dirty laundry for ALL to see – sex tapes anyone?
And if that won’t work, then the threat of actual rape, mutilation, death or hurting children is always a good back up tactic.
It’s scary and horrid.
And it’s happening to two women I “know” on the internet. Right now. And then others come forward and say, me too. Scores of other women have been going through it in the public eye over the past year. http://seriouspony.com/trouble-at-the-koolaid-point
Shutting them up and shaming them deep is the end game of the trolls. For most is nothing personal. Just an exhilarating, sick power-play. From people who in real life have no real power. If you met them in public, chances are they wouldn’t have the balls to act this way. But hiding behind the privacy of their screens, they get to experience real power.
And then when things heat up they can play the good old tactic of, yes, that’s right – victim blaming.
Oh boohoo, can’t handle it? Then piss off the internet and leave it to the big boys.
Cos if you dare to speak up… or if you are STUPID enough to be a WOMAN… you bring it on yourself. That’s the rules.
People, we have to find a way to put a stop to this. To make the internet safe. To make the cyber streets… and the real streets… safe so that the whole population can walk them without fear. So that the sociopaths and psychopaths do not rule the roost.
Because they’ve been doing it for millenia.
And at some point we have to take a stand. Take back the internet. Take back our countries. Call out the shame. And find a healthy, safe way forward.
This is not a time for affirmations,positive or wishful thinking, nor for turning the other cheek, but decisive, collaborative action from people, legal authorities and internet providers to put in place robust legal frameworks and consequences to deal with those who so flagrantly seek to destroy the reputations, mental health, careers and lives of law-abiding citizens.