I don’t like being angry. Anger feels like failure, like giving in, like letting circumstances get the better of me. Instead, I try to maintain a cool head and sober judgment about things. There are a few things that are really prone to make me angry, though, and I think it’s an appropriate moment to talk about one of them. It all started here. Some followups are here, here, and here. Phrases and topics later in the entry may be a problem for some people to read about. Unfortunately.
That is an article that thoroughly and professionally critiques a cover of a particular comic book. It’s pretty non-controversial stuff – or at least, it should by all rights be non-controversial. The material itself is also not really the issue. The critique is well composed, and though I have no expertise at all in art or comic books it seems well put together and persuasive. I was certainly persuaded. The response to it is the problem.
I’m not going to dwell to much on the specifics. What it boils down to is this: this artist thought that piece of art was sub-par, and offered a critique. Because the author happens to also be a woman people not only acted generally like jerks in replying to her, they also started threatening her with violence and sexual assault (that is, rape). It has been covered in a number of places by now, so I’m hardly the first to say this, but What. The. Fuck!?! Again?!?
There are things I will tolerate, and then there’s this. If you think that threatening someone you don’t know with rape and/or murder is okay, do me a favor and go somewhere else. Don’t show up in my universe ever again if you think that’s okay. If you only meant it as a joke, then the party to whom you were speaking had better know you very well and know with certainty that you were joking – if you don’t, or they don’t, then we’re done. Even if all of that is true, don’t expect me to forget that and don’t expect me to think it’s perfectly okay. If you do it in my presence, even as a joke, expect a response ranging from a verbal “wtf?” and a slap upside your head to telling you to get out and never come back. I don’t care about the setting, or the context. It’s wrong, it’s stupid, it’s hurtful. When it comes from someone to whom I claim a degree of kinship, by virtue of shared geekery or whatever, then it’s also embarrassing.
It’s never right, and because it seems to be men doing it at least most of the time online, we need to stand up and say something when it happens. I wasn’t there to say it then, but this is the only platform I’ve got and I’m saying it now. That shit’s not okay. If you think it is, please let me know. I don’t want you in my life or in my hobbies, so if we share associations then I will have some decisions to make. If you think being an internet troll by using rape threats as a cudgel is just good fun, then I don’t want you near me. If you think that people need to just get a thick skin to that because you have freedom of speech, get out. If you think that trolls being just a fact of life excuses their behavior to any degree, get out.
I don’t like making people angry, and I don’t like being angry. This is one of the few things that makes me angry at the drop of a hat, though, so bear that in mind before you play devil’s advocate. I’m not a court of law, I’m not obligated to hear all sides, and if you are in a space I control then I reserve the right to censor and censure you for this and other gross violations of basic human decency. If you can’t handle that, then you aren’t obligated to stay in my universe, nor I yours.