Suzanne Harrington: Sorry trolls, I'll keep calling out misogyny until it becomes unacceptable 

'It’s all very well being an ally, but being an ally means having to speak up even when it’s uncomfortable, even when it would be easier to say nothing, to do nothing'
Suzanne Harrington: Sorry trolls, I'll keep calling out misogyny until it becomes unacceptable 

When I write stuff, once I press send I never see it again. I don’t hang out online, other than to share wombat memes with friends who tend to be yoga teachers and skint artists, rather than shiny meedja types. I don’t frequent media hubs, real-life or digital, because I don’t know any. I just sit here in my pyjamas, clicking away into the void. It’s how I like it.

So it’s something of a surprise when an editor tells me that the trolling in reaction to one of these little columns has been so personally abusive that the comments had to be deleted. Good grief. Trolling? Abuse? Online hate directed at moi personally? Damn. I’d missed the whole shebang. Oblivious. Sorry, trolls.

But what could have drawn such ire, such vitriol, such hate? A suggestion to ban gender pronouns so that we are all now they/them? To enforce fruitarianism on the nation? Ban pubs from ever reopening? Slash your tyres? What?

Um, no. It was the idea that all men are complicit in misogyny unless they are actively calling it out amongst themselves so that it becomes as unacceptable amongst men as it is amongst women. Which is not radical feminism, just basic courtesy. It is common decency and good manners not to be misogynist. It is one half of humanity asking the other half to treat them as fellow humans. It’s not hard.

But maybe hearing it is hard. At a (masked, socially distanced, hand sanitised blah blah) Black Lives Matter event at the weekend, I listen to speaker after speaker in various stages of anger and despair berating white people for not doing enough to stand up to racism, for not doing enough to call it amongst each other. That it’s all very well being an ally, but being an ally means having to speak up even when it’s uncomfortable, even when it would be easier to say nothing, to do nothing. To not even notice or realise.

As a white parent of brown children, for the briefest second, I am affronted at the idea that all white people are complicit in racism unless we are actively seeing it and calling it. But it’s the identical argument that got the misogyny trolls going – that being neutral is not enough. People being neutral and on the fence and in their bubble – and I don’t mean lockdown bubbles – means that poisonous behaviour goes unchallenged, unchecked. It carries on.

Quick example – Matt Gaetz, a Florida congressman, had a habit of showing male colleagues nude photos of women he said he’d slept with. There’s more to this story, but my point is – what did the male colleagues do – shrug? Back away embarrassed? Snigger? The reaction needed was a vociferous and unequivocal ‘please don’t ever show me stuff like that ever again for any reason ever’. Women can’t tackle male locker room culture which extends far beyond actual locker rooms – only men can. Sorry, trolls. But you know it’s true. 

 

 

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