Content warning: This piece discusses violence against women, r*pe and sexual assault.
You can have seven thoughts a second.
These are the seven thoughts I had upon viewing screenshots from a group called ‘Melb Guys Pal’, in which young men posted “revenge porn”, threats of violence against women and general statements of misogyny.
One. I can’t believe this is happening again.
Two. No, you definitely could’ve seen this coming.
Three. Is there any response to this other than exasperation and anger?
Four. Yes. Fear.
Five. Do I know any of these men?
Six. We need to cross that bridge when we come to it, because we have work to do.
Seven. Remember. Eurydice Dixon was a loud and proud feminist also.
More and more, I find myself wondering if it’s been a smart idea to be so public with what a friend of mine calls “lion feminism”: the loud and proud statements against sexism that put my anger in the public eye. The fear of retribution - the kind of retribution that many women have and will continue to face when they voice their anger - is a real and visceral truth for me.
The fear of retribution - such as the “holocaust #2 but instead of jews, we target women” suggested by a young man in ‘Melb Guys Pal’ - is horrifying.
What I usually say to myself when I start feeling torn up and nervous about my political actions is, “Don’t worry. The men you know have proven themselves to be feminists time and time again. You don’t know the kind of people who could make such vile threats, let alone would act on them.” It usually works to calm me down a little, until the next horrible example of misogyny floats up in the media, I’m so angered that I write an article within minutes and I’ve already forgotten all about my fear.
This time it’s different and here’s why.
‘Melb Guys Pal’ had approximately 7000 members who are from my home city and who belong (roughly) to my demographic. After the first version of the group was reported and shut down, several more have appeared, continuing in its footsteps.
I did some research into the young men who were saying and doing vile things.
There are mutual friends.
I never knew I had much in common with the guy searching for a “blonde with big titties” but apparently I do and they’re someone I consider a friend. Not only that, but I also share a friend with someone who posted their ex-girlfriend’s nudes.
Suddenly, the threat seems a bit closer than I thought.
Women have been punished time and time again for speaking up, for being honest and for owning their anger. Let’s be honest, “punished” could be exchanged for any number of horrors: “r*ped”, “murdered”, “assaulted” or “abused”. Whenever I write, I have to acknowledge that someday, someone might be pushed too far by my anger and they might make attempts to hurt me. That is, after all, exactly what happened to the young women made to suffer through the 24hr existence of ‘Melb Guys Pal’.
I have already said enough upsetting things to misogynists.
Why on earth would I stop now?
Dear Idiots Who Posted Obscene Statements About Women Into ‘Melb Guys Pal’,
You disgust me.
Women have not fought for every day of their lives,
We have not faced misogyny,
being called “sweetheart” by assholes,
being threatened with any number of crimes,
being denied birth control
and the right to vote
as well as being subject to many other gloriously disgusting things,
so that ultimately, we can be once again treated like shit by some dickheads on Facebook who can’t even write a grammatically-correct group name.
I refuse to be afraid of you - and I refuse to dumb down my anger as pity so it can be palatable to the masses.
I am angry and I will not be silenced, even while your hate groups do their worst.
You best bet that I am a lion - and boy, can I roar.
If this piece raises any issues for you, help is available.
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