A Radical Notion on Internet Misogyny

My friend, director Lexi Alexander (Punisher: War Zone and Green Street Hooligans, among others) has recently come under fire for her pro-file-sharing stance. You can read her argument, which is more nuanced than my simple summary (she’s mainly against the criminalization of file-sharing), at this link. Needless to say, there’s been some controversy. So much, in fact, that she’s had to leave Facebook.

Director Lexi Alexander

Director Lexi Alexander

First, let me say that Lexi doesn’t need me to defend her, and that’s not why I’m writing. Again, you can find her article here, and believe me, she’s quite capable of making her own points, and dealing with any fallout.

Second, just so you know, I disagree with Lexi on this. I think file-sharing and e-piracy are wrong, no different than any other kind of theft and, certainly in my case, damage an artist’s bottom line.

But you know what?

(Watch this: I want to demonstrate something.)

I disagree with Lexi, and I’ve explained why, civilly. Her gender never even came up.

See what I did there? I said, “I understand, but I disagree.” I did not evaluate her position based on her gender. I have no desire to call her names, or imply things about her intimate life. And I certainly don’t feel the need to assert my masculinity by threatening her physical safety.

Someone asked me why I wanted to write this, since I very deliberately wasn’t white-knighting Lexi Alexander. It’s because as a man, as a father, as a partner and as a human being, this stuff pisses me off. It’s an old story now, one with a depressingly familiar refrain. A woman–in any forum, on any topic–says something provocative or against the norm, and the trolls emerge. But calling them “trolls” minimizes both their effect, and their responsibility.

These trolls aren’t mythological creatures: they are actual human males, usually with actual human women in their non-virtual lives (certainly a mother, at least). Yet online they’re so threatened by a woman’s mere presence that they assert themselves the only way they know: by tearing her down. Not her arguments: her.

Think about that. Thousands, maybe millions, of boys and men are so frightened of a female perspective that, when faced with one, they can only attack like a cornered animal. It’s not motivated by outrage, or even anger: it’s fear. These guys are, quite simply, terrified of women.

Why? It doesn’t matter why. Perhaps many of them don’t realize that their anger and misogyny comes from a place of fear. But to the rest of us, it’s pretty damn obvious. You’re scared of something, so you hate it, and you try to destroy it.

There’s only one cure, and it’s also obvious. It’s something people have been doing since we crawled down from the trees and developed these irrational prejudices. It’s called “maturity.” It’s a sign of adulthood.

Or simply put, guys: grow the fuck up.

Our society doesn’t encourage that, I’ll grant you. That’s what makes it the “radical notion” mentioned in this post’s title. But you’ll like yourself better if you do.

5 Comments on “A Radical Notion on Internet Misogyny”

  1. So you are basically quoting Voltaire?

    You disagree with what they said, but you will defend their right to say it.

  2. YES, Alex! Bravo. I think you’re right on the money – many men are scared that they lose power when women speak their minds. We live in a society so accustomed to men being privileged and women being the underdog, that often it’s difficult to even recognize it.

    Thank you for this post – it’s important.

  3. I don’t actually consider this kind of trolling to be misogyny, fear, or an attempt to pull down women. I think it’s a bunch of a**holes full of cyber bravado saying a**hole things because they can. Much like you’ll get people IRL arguments that make personal attacks rather than addressing the issue under discussion. In this case, she happens to be a woman, so it’s easy to attack her on that point – if she were a man, you might hear people (yes, women too. These trolls are from both genders) say stuff about how they’re “compensating” “can’t get laid” and talk about being “whipped” or weak, insults that are more traditionally used for males. I always think it’s weird that people automatically assume misogyny and male privilege, when it just reminds me of schoolyard bullies that think they can get away with something. These are people that get off on being mean to people, for whatever reason.

    Whether you go with your perspective or mine, I think “grow the fuck up” applies in any case ūüôā

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