Did you see the disgusting Tweets when Olympic medal winning gymnast Beth Tweedle took part in a Q and A?
Trolling went on for two hours straight. The Telegraph reports:
WILL AP MCCOY BE RIDING YOU AT THE NEXT GRAND NATIONAL?
And that’s not taking into account such comments as: “Do you think pregnancy is a poor injury excuse and women should be able to run it off?” and “are all sportswomen lesbians?”
Perhaps Sky should have pulled the gym mat out from under the whole thing at that stage.
Because what followed was almost two hours of trolling: a torrent of vile insults and misogyny. Tweddle was only able to answer a handful of questions and even those were deliberately misconstrued.
<noframe>Twitter: Finlay Gillon – At what point in your life did you know that Gymnastics was going to be a major part of it ?
BETH: I LOVED IT FROM THE AGE OF 7 BUT IT TOOK OVER FROM THE AGE OF 12 #SPORTSWOMEN
Twitter responded to this comment by calling this World Champion sportswoman a “slut” and “bitch”. She was asked whether she wanted “cock” or “anal”. Someone even posted a picture of Jimmy Savile.
Did you get the part about how Tweedle is an Olympic medalist? Instead of being recognized as a hero– as male medalists are– she is publicly shamed and reduced to a sex object. This kind of reaction happens so often to women in public, that I’ve come to believe it’s like a modern day stoning. In the USA, we don’t use the Taliban to silence women, but the media serves to keep women quiet, hidden, and isolated. Come out, and we’ll get you.
This week, 19 yr old tennis player, Eugenie Bouchard, became the first Canadian woman to advance to the semi-finals of the Australian Open in nearly thirty years. In her post game interview, what was she asked? Who would she would date.
Female politicians also get reduced to sexist cliches by the media. After the brutal attacks on Wendy Davis, gubernatorial candidate in Texas, a republican came out to defend her. The Huffington Post reports:
Conservatives are attacking Texas state Sen. Wendy Davis (D) for misrepresenting her background, in particular the hardships she faced as a young single mother. But one Texas Republican is defending Davis’ record, saying the gubernatorial candidate wouldn’t be subject to the same criticism if she were male.
On Sunday, a Dallas Morning News article pointed out some discrepancies in the stories Davis has told — including when she was divorced from her first husband, how long she lived in a trailer and how she paid for law school. In response, conservatives such as Rush Limbaugh have labeled her a “genuine head case” and claimed she had a “sugar daddy.”
Some pundits have even suggested that Davis was a negligent parent for leaving her children with her second husband while she attended Harvard Law School in the early 1990s.
Becky Haskins, a Republican who served with Wendy Davis on the Fort Worth City Council, told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram on Tuesday that Davis was a hard worker who did what she needed to do for her daughters.
“If this involved a man running for office, none of this would ever come up,” Haskins told the Star-Telegram. “It’s so sad. Every time I ran, somebody said I needed to be home with my kids. Nobody ever talks about men being responsible parents.”
Moving on to actresses, when she was body panned by a camera at the SAG Awards, Cate Blanchett crouched down and said, “Do you do this to the guys?”
Blanchett’s reaction shows yet another subtle moment of sexism that even the most successful women have to deal with.
And that’s exactly it, because this treatment happens to public women. When men get more power and success, they are admired. But when women achieve go public with their ambition and accomplishments, the media warns us we are likely to be humiliated. With the risks so great and the rewards so low, how many women are going to try to put their visions out into the world? I guess that’s the point., right?
But here’s some good news. In response to Wheedle’s treatment, Telegraph reports:
What’s been refreshing, in the wake of this latest incident, is the way Tweddle’s treatment has been reported. Far from encouraging women to engage in ‘Twitter silences’ or boycotts, we’re speaking up and doing as Criado-Perez suggested after her experiences last summer: shouting back at trolls.
Sky released this statement:
We’re committed to supporting women’s sport and Beth’s Q&A was a chance for fans to engage with one of Britain’s most successful sports stars,” it said. “We’re appalled that some people chose to abuse her. This experience highlights some of the unacceptable and offensive attitudes that can be encountered by women in the public eye.
New Statesman did an article about it, and Everyday Sexism also responded.
Keep shouting back at the trolls. Don’t be a passive bystander. Really, the worst thing we can do is stay silent. Often harassment reaches the next level. Amanda Hess recently posted “Why women aren’t welcome on the internet” about her abuse, arguing internet stalking is a civil rights issue.
“Ignore the barrage of violent threats and harassing messages that confront you online every day.” That’s what women are told. But these relentless messages are an assault on women’s careers, their psychological bandwidth, and their freedom to live online. We have been thinking about Internet harassment all wrong.”
Hess makes the point that the virtual world is the real world when women are threatened. It’s a great post and you should read it if you haven’t.
Update: Sara comments on Reel Girl:
Isn’t responding to the trolls what they want? I mean, that’s why they call it “feeding the trolls.” I think the media needs to be held responsible for sensoring inappropriate comments. These “public” forums are really not – they are private spaces under the control of media organizations, and they do have the power to delete this garbage. Our first amendment rights only guarentee we can’t be thrown in jail for speaking our minds, but in this case I really wish companies like twitter would hire people to detoxify the cesspool.
Yes, agreed. Sorry if I was not clear. I mean responding that this treatment is not acceptable i.e. Sky’s statement, the New Statesman post, Becky Haskins defending Davis’s record, Cate Blanchett not suffering in quietly etc. Refusing to be shamed or humiliated into silence. Shouting back at the trolls, to me, means keep speaking your truth. Also, I added a link to Amanda Hess’s post on internet abuse. It’s a great post. Take a look if you haven’t seen it. She argues internet abuse is a civil rights issue, which I agree with, though a lot of the sexism women experience doesn’t fall into these kinds of threats, but shaming.