Sexist photo makes Facebook joke 200 times more popular, and prompts rape comments

Wow, this article by Michael Nugent is fascinating and horrifying.

FYI, some trigger warnings are useful here as some of the content is difficult in both articles.

The title of Michael Nugent’s piece pretty much says it all; a bad joke, circulated one way with an upskirt photo and another without, got thousands more hits with the photo and my lord the comments. Just read his whole piece and then read this article by Amanda Marcotte deconstructing it.

As Amanda says,

“But it is interesting that so many people believe it’s appropriate to share an image that was taken against a woman’s will for no other purpose than to humiliate her.

What’s even more interesting is that, because this was Facebook, it was easy to figure who was writing the vicious, sexist garbage in comments mocking the victim of this upskirt photo. Interesting, because there’s a tendency, when women complain about online abuse, to dismiss the men who spew it as fringe characters and teenagers. The belief is that mainstream, adult men with families and jobs aren’t doing this, which allows the denialist to claim, therefore, that misogyny is not tolerated or encouraged by society, making women who complain about it whiners and babies.

So, here’s a list of some of the men saying stuff about the upskirt photo:

A supporter of a charity that campaigns against violence
A man who likes science and yoga and Buddhism
A man who likes classical music and his local church
A man who likes good grammar and atheist quotes of the day
A man asking for prayers for a relation having an operation
A husband who has served in the armed forces
A husband with a teenaged son and daughter
A husband who works with a Christian Ministry
A father who wants to always be there for his children
A father who campaigns against animal cruelty
A father seeking support for special needs children
A grandfather who is proud of his daughter and grandchildren
Several high school and university students and graduates

In other words, mainstream men who have real reputations to guard and who have widespread acceptance and support from their communities.”

I won’t share the things they said, you can read those for yourself. But it’s nasty and lacking in empathy or compassion for the woman whose images was undoubtably used against her will.

So I get the appeal of graffiti on a bathroom wall. People have been drawing dirty pictures and saying gross inappropriate things for ages. It’s just that the Internet makes that so immediate, so trackable! So…personal somehow all while the writers not feeling personally connected to it? To the woman in the photo who is a real human being?

Do we do this with all online images? And is it moving out of the internet and into real time?

This hits me hard considering the jokes made at Quvenzhane Wallis’s expense on Sunday. I know, I know, the joke was at Clooney right? But MacFarlane used a person as a prop. And that person was in the freaking room!

Or are people just this way all the time and good at hiding it? Given how many people’s vocations and comments were tracked on FB hiding isn’t something we’ll be able to do much more.




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2 responses to “Sexist photo makes Facebook joke 200 times more popular, and prompts rape comments

  1. EOO

    Because neither of the articles you link currently have trigger warnings, could you please note that those articles could be triggering? Thanks.

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