Lindy West’s latest tale of engaging with an online troll is a doozy. After she published an article on rape jokes, in which she argued that jokes told at the expense of rape victims make the world a shittier place, someone made a Twitter account impersonating her dead father, and used it to abuse her.
This time, rather than obeying the overwhelming chorus of voices demanding that she pretend the abuse doesn’t happen, she mentioned this particular troll at Jezebel, and got a very apologetic, introspective email in return. From the father-impersonating offender himself. He was actually, genuinely sorry for what he’d done after Ms. West called him out.
Well, fuck me with a chainsaw and bugger me with a spear.
Eventually, she corresponded with the guy, and ended up talking on the phone with him for over two hours. He was very helpful and candid. He couldn’t answer every question, though.
He said that, at the time, he felt fat, unloved, “passionless” and purposeless. For some reason, he found it “easy” to take that out on women online.
I asked why. What made women easy targets? Why was it so satisfying to hurt us? Why didn’t he automatically see us as human beings? For all his self-reflection, that’s the one thing he never managed to articulate – how anger at one woman translated into hatred of women in general. Why, when men hate themselves, it’s women who take the beatings.
These are interesting questions, and I’m sure they don’t have simple, one-dimensional answers.
- What makes women easy targets?
- Why is it so satisfying to hurt us?
- Why don’t they automatically see us as human beings?
- How does anger at one woman translate into hatred of women in general?
- Why, when men hate themselves, do women who take the beatings?
With the exception of #4, all these questions ultimately boil down to #5: Why do women take the beatings for men who hate themselves?
This is a question I’d like to put to our feminist-sympathetic* men. Our privileged allies. I’d like you guys to sit with yourselves for a while and think about these questions. I think that you guys will ultimately be the ones who show us the most meaningful answers. This is a conversation, not a pop quiz:
Why, when men hate themselves, do women take the beatings?
*It’s okay if you don’t call yourselves feminists. I’m not interested in splitting hairs over who uses the F-word and what it means when they don’t. It’s the sympathies that matter in this case.