jessica valenti

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Twitter is aflutter with a new hashtag, #mencallmethings, where people (mostly feminists and women-identified folks) are sharing online harassment stories. It’s not pretty.

Online harassment is a subject close to my heart (unfortunately) - it’s something I’ve written about at length and something that Feministing has tried to shine a spotlight on for years. These days, it’s something I don’t write about often because of just how bad it’s gotten. I can’t remember the last day where I opened my email and there wasn’t a piece of vicious (often sexual, often violent) hate mail there. I also don’t write about it because these days I’m loathe to give any attention to harassers - in part because that’s what they’re so desperate for, but also because the threats have become so bad that my life offline has been seriously impaired by it and I’m just plain scared.

But that’s the goal of harassers - to scare, to terrorize, but most of all, to shut us up. 

So I’m glad that #mencallmethings exists (though women harass as well - my earliest experience with severe online harassment was by a female blogger). I think it’s important for people to feel a sense of community and know that they’re not alonewhen it comes to misogyny and online harassment. But I also think one of the the most important things about sharing our stories - and this is why Feministing started “Anti-Feminist Mailbag” - is that people need to know the consequences that oppressed communities face when they dare to speak up or write about their experiences and lives.

So keep writing, y’all. (Or blogging, tweeting, Tumbling, whatevs) It’s working. 

UPDATE: I didn’t properly credit the hashtag’s founder, my bad - #mencallmethings was started by the inimitable Sady Doyle of Tiger Beatdown.