Friday, July 10, 2015

How (Some) Men Handle Women Who Talk Back

Also: Why Arguing with (Many) Conservatives on the Internet is useless.

So I'm on FB, as I often am.

One of my ex-students has this history of posting kind of terrible memes. Racist memes, I mean.

Memes like this.

And this.

And this.

The thing is, she's not a terrible human being. I've had her in several classes, and we've gotten to know one another -- as you do -- not on a personal level, because she's my student; but on more than a superficial level.

I know she's not the person these memes suggest she is. Not to mention, she often posts sane and even social justicy memes and comments as well! Also, now and then, when I feel up to it, I will challenge her gently in comments; and frequently she responds well to these challenges.

But this afternoon.  Yikes.

She posted yet another meme, this one about that flag.

The story that went with it: Al Sharpton Demands Kid Rock Stop Using That Flag.

A gentleman, who, as it developed as the comment stream ran on, was her son, made a comment.  Not just a sort-of racist comment, but an appalling racist comment. (I am changing the names, because this is a student / ex-student.)

Dude: I'd tell that nigger to suck my dick on national television, then and only then I would consider it.

To which I replied, addressing not him but my student -- I did not at this point realize Dude was her son:

MeNice friends you have, Ellie. And tell me again that there's nothing racist about that flag. Please.

EllieIt is freedom of speech. No matter how racist.

After which I went on a bit of a rant:

Me: Yes, he clearly has the right to say whatever horrible racist things he wants to say. I would hope you would have the decency to call him out on the horrible racist things he says. That, too, is part of our responsibility, as people in a society which has free speech.

Free speech is not just the *right* to speak. It is the *responsibility* to evaluate the speech of ourselves and others, and to speak up when we see bad ideas being put forth; and to promote good ideas.

Otherwise, the marketplace of ideas fails, and free speech is worthless.

At this point, Dude reappears:

Dude: What ever. Those who think they are high and mighty are often mistaken.

Me: Dude, whatever you mean by that, there can be no mistake about your first comment on this thread. It is racist and homophobic and hateful, and you should be ashamed that you made it.

DudeI'm not ashamed of anything I say because I know I can get a rise out of people like you

(Charmingly, he added this meme: 

He's a keeper, folks.)

Me: Ellie, when you share memes like this? Dude is the sort of person you sound like. He's who people think you are. Maybe you should think about that.

Dude: And I think your a snobby bitch who needs the dust knocked off her pussy and the stick removed from her ass.

At this point (a) Ellie intervened to call Dude out as her son; and I quit responding, both because Dude was her kid, and because once asshats start getting abusive, there's really no point.

BUT.  Dude did not quit.  He escalated, in fact, posting over the next several minutes about a dozen abusive posts and memes, most of them filled with racist, sexist, and homophobic language.

Just a few of the memes he posted:

When I left FB, he was still posting horrible comments and memes. The anger, I'm more than 75% certain, arose from my daring to challenge him -- to talk back.  And you will notice that his first response was to promise sexual violence against me.

There are your Conservatives, folks. Family values and morals my back teeth.


Anonymous said...

He feels like he can talk like that in front of his *mother*? And she is fine with that? I'm coming up with all sorts of stories in my head to make that happen and they're all really disturbing. This is one of the many reasons the only social networking site I'm on is LinkedIn.

And yes, he's using standard MRA tactics on you for the standard reasons that a lot of women are harassed on the internet. But you know that. I'm sorry you had to experience that.

delagar said...

The fact that she didn't do more than tell him not to be rude -- once -- was, to me, one of the most disturbing parts.

I'm hoping there's more to the story than I know right now. Maybe he's got some kind of issues. I know she ditched his father due to abuse, so there might be. He's a grown-ass man, though, so. I'm on the verge of blocking her over this, frankly, even though she's a very good student and (except for shit like THIS) I like her a lot.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, the most disturbing stories that were coming to my mind were an abusive husband/father. :( She's probably also a victim. UGH UGH UGH.

Fie upon this quiet life! said...

For the future, there is an "unfollow" option on FB where you can no longer follow a post and not receive notifications about it any more. (Click on the little arrow on the upper right corner of the post and select "stop notifications" on that post.) I use that when the trolls are clearly too stupid and/or arrogant to be reasoned with. So.... Frequently.

I'm sorry this happened though. It makes you wonder about the person's parenting when this kind of thing goes down. And then when it's a student, it sucks even worse. Ugh.

delagar said...

Thanks, Fie. I'll remember that.

It does make me think about the parenting; it also makes me think about what must be the cultural norm for not just this student, but for -- well, a hefty chunk of America.

My family is fairly conservative, and in my neighborhood I heard plenty of racial slurs growing up, but I cannot imagine anyone even thinking *up* memes like that, much less posting them.

Things are worse than I thought, I guess is what I'm saying, at least in some places, and it makes me sad.

And yes, I know, my white privilege is showing on this one. I wasn't surprised at all, in contrast, by his sexual insults and violence. I've been hearing *that* shit since I was eleven.