Abusive messages are not acceptable

Women’s rights are human rights. Only if you think women are humans, that is. Of course, maybe you think that your mother, grandmothers, sisters, female cousins and aunts aren’t human. The ones who cooked and cleaned for you, the ones who comforted you when you were afraid and cried, the ones who protected you from those who wanted to hurt you or humiliate you; the ones who encouraged you and told you to follow your dreams. The ones who forgive you when you hurt them and despite everything, they still love you. These are women. Those are also women whom you mistreat when you send disturbing texts; whom you are interrupt when they talk; whom you push on the subway or on the street and whom you catcall. The ones whom you hit or touch inappropriately or maybe even rape.

Nowadays, in our interconnected world, most things we say are documented. We don’t talk so much anymore, but we write and text and post and publish. All of these leave a very visible mark, all of these can be recovered on your phone or computer and all of them can be made into an easily shareable picture with a simple screenshot. No one is safe behind the computer screen anymore, because if you speak in a demeaning way to a person, that person can, and should, make it public, show it to your parents or friends and to your boss. Integrity is very important in all professions, and who wants to work with a person who sends abusive messages to another person, especially for no reason? If you are freelance, it’s even worse — who is going to go to your gig or show or who will watch or read your work when you showed that you can be an abusive person?

Let’s take a recent example: a comedian called Mike Faverman (male) asked a woman out, who politely refused his offer. Some unbelievably rude, misogynistic and disturbed texts ensued. The man now said that he only asked her out because she seemed like an easy target who appears to have low confidence and that ‘she must cry often’ and that ‘fat chicks give good blowjobs and afterwards they are easy to push to the curb’. Then he added that she is rude and bitter. See the screenshots of his texts here: https://mic.com/articles/143461/comedian-mike-faverman-throws-sexist-fat-shaming-tantrum-when-woman-kindly-turns-him-down#.OKC7r41Bp

Let me repeat it: she was polite to him. He still thought it was OK to be abusive.

Another example: have a look at the Byefelipe Instagram account, that is set up for documenting men turning abusive when ignored or rejected. The messages on there paint a really dark picture of the minds of men. One man wrote to a woman: ‘I want you and your family to die’. https://www.instagram.com/byefelipe/?hl=en

I hope that it’s clear to everyone that online bullying and verbal abuse are no less harmful than physical abuse. We have enough literature to back this statement up. These men are trying to hurt other people. Why is it still the norm? How is that possible that we let them get away with this behaviour?

We, as society, need to stand up against this kind of abuse. No, it is not OK to talk to a person like this; no, it is not OK to abuse someone who was polite to you; no, it is not OK to be horrible and hateful towards a person who did not say anything bad to you. It is never OK, not in any country and not in any culture. Still, it happens all the time: it is an international phenomenon.

When a man is verbally abusive towards women who didn’t deserve this treatment, then this man is saying ‘I have a very low self-esteem, I dislike myself and I am projecting this onto you now.’ These people should get help. Unfortunately, there are so many men who do this on a regular basis that it makes me think — we have a problem with society. This is not an isolated incident and this is not unique.

We, as society, need to start teaching our children that this kind of behaviour is never acceptable. We also need to make laws and policies that enforce fairness and respectful behaviour towards all.

Most importantly, women need to raise their voices. When something like this happens, women must talk about it, express concern and share these articles. Women need to be aware of this kind of abuse, spread these stories and make sure that everyone hears them.

We need to say it loud and clear that it is not OK and that we will not put up with it.

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