I joined Twitter in 2009 at my boyfriend’s request. At the time we knew little and less about social media. But I was moving away for college, and he thought it would be a great way to keep up with each other’s lives. He was right.
Outside of our relationship, social media also opened up a lot of new doors for me. By 2013, I had built up a strong enough online presence to attract a local high-profile client, who then asked me to manage all his social media pages.
The First Bitter Taste
When our contract ended due to delayed funding from his investors, I drifted back to my personal account. At that point, I noticed a new and disturbing development: the misogynists had finally made their way to Twitter.
All day, every day, there were derogatory comments about women. Revenge porn came next; with guys thinking it was “cool” or “amusing” to post nude pictures of their exes online, originally sent to them in confidence.
Twitter lost its charm after that, and I left the platform. I stayed away until late 2015, when I decided it was time to turn my side-gig in public relations, into my full-time career. I would love to tell you that since then, misogyny online has somehow disappeared, but you know better, don’t you?
Now that Twitter and other social media platforms, are a day-to-day reality for me at Alexis Chateau PR, here’s how I survive misogyny on social media – and how you can, too.
Unfollow. Mute. Block.
I support free speech, but I’m under no obligation to play the audience or provide a platform – and neither are you. After returning to Twitter, one of the first things I did was to mute, unfollow, and block the misogynists on my timeline.
Will it surprise you to know that a few of them were women? In fact, one study found that half of the misogynistic posts on Twitter come from other women. Unbelievable! But it’s true.
There are a lot of sick, sad people out there who don’t want to accept that their reality is their own to face. It’s much easier to hide beneath the cloak of “we’re all like this”. That’s their excuse, and they’re sticking to it!
The Gay Way
While unfollowing is a great way to control what does or doesn’t appear on your timeline, it’s not a foolproof method. When your profile is open to the public – like mine is – people don’t need to follow you to view and reply to your tweets.
Because of this, there are always those instances when the misogyny shows up as a reply in my inbox. And of course, there were those friends I didn’t want to unfollow, who I hoped might find good sense in due time.
For these folks, my go-to response is to remind them that they always have another option for dating and relationships. Since women are such terrible creatures, why not date other men? Problem solved, right?
In my experience – and perhaps your own – most misogynists are also homophobic. So I don’t have to tell you how terribly offended they were.
You can almost always tell when people go through breakups on social media. The women usually go online to reassert their independence, and show that they’re having a great time out with their friends. A lot of men, on the other hand, give themselves away by turning to women-hating.
Every wrong his woman and those before her ever did are maximized. Women are the absolute worst that ever set foot on the Earth. We are liars, cheaters, users… and the list goes on. This is often when the revenge porn comes out, as well.
Every so often, when this happens, I like to send them statistics of crime, violence, wars, and pedophilia, to remind them who stirs up the most trouble in society.
In 2013, one guy on my timeline posted a picture of this frog. He then followed up with the caption that this was what the pubic area of darker-skinned Black women looked like when they shaved, followed by a million laughing emoticons.
As I was not always this well-behaved, and I’m admittedly still not as well-behaved as I let you guys believe, I asked him if he could verify the same for his mother.
He was Jamaican, and in Jamaica, mothers enjoy a reverence that American mothers never do. So best believe he went off his hinges. He even tried to point out that I was a medium-tone brown, so the tweet didn’t apply to me, anyway.
I asked him if his mother was medium-tone brown, too. We all knew she was not. He deleted the tweet along with the picture, a few hours later.
If you follow a lot of women’s rights advocates, or more importantly, they follow you, then re-posting the misogynist’s comment will usually do the work for you. Grab some popcorn, put your feet up, and then let the activists handle it.
Don’t be surprised if men chip in, as well. There are a lot of men out there who actually respect women; and understand that we offer more than our wombs and feminine charms.
Be sure to re-post the rebuttals as you go along. As more people join in, it only gets funnier. This is one kind of petty you can safely aspire to.
Ignore. Ignore. Ignore
If you’ve spent a lot of time on social media, you’ll soon begin to notice a pattern. There are a lot of attention-starved users online, who will say anything to get a rise out of people.
These are the users who send racial slurs to Black people, remind Hispanics who aren’t even Mexican that America is building a wall, and walk right into the open jaws of Feminist Twitter. The more time you spend on social media, the easier it is to recognize these people.
So how do you deal with them, since responding only plays into their agenda? I learned in sixth grade that the greatest insult to anyone – especially narcissists, and attention-starved people – are to ignore them.
No witty comeback you can conjure up will cut them deeper than the fact that you didn’t even care enough to validate their comment with a response.
Countless studies and anecdotes can attest to the degree of misogyny on social media. And racism is right after it, if not squarely rubbing shoulder to shoulder. One of these days, I might just write a piece on how I handle ethnic prejudices, as well.
In the meantime, I’d love to hear what your experiences with misogyny on Twitter have been like. Have you ever left social media because of women-hating on your timeline? Or have you figured out your own ways to deal with this ever-growing problem?
I hope you all had a great Women’s Day on March 8th, and that – like me – you plan to celebrate all week!