“…most men have remained silent, as we do with many forms of our gender’s violence against women. Many of us blame the victim, suggesting things women can do differently to ameliorate the problem. We tell women to grow a thicker skin, not to “feed the trolls” and not to assume all men feel that way. Or we ride in on a white horse to “save” the poor damsels by insulting the insulters or threatening violence against those who are threatening violence. This makes us feel better, but often does little to help the women being attacked or stop the violence from happening.
The author gives ten suggestions for men on how to (more effectively) stick up for women online:
1. Listen to women’s experience of online abuse and threats by men. Let us read articles about it – the ones linked here are a good place to start. Instead of suggesting solutions, we can take in how hurtful the comments are.
2. Reach out to the target of the abuse. Ask her what she’d like you to do, if anything.
3. Write, “I think you’re right,” in Comments sections of articles, Facebook postings etc. of feminist women. Whether or not they’ve been harassed or attacked, agree with them and do so publicly.
4. When men harass women online, speak up. We can say something like, “As a man, your harassing comment offends me,” in the Comments sections. Say how it hurts you rather than speaking on behalf of the target.
5. Name the specific silencing tactic being used: name-calling, focusing on a woman’s appearance instead of her argument, etc.
6. Use humor. We can post something like, “Dude, put down your club–your caveman is showing!” Search online for feminist comedians of all genders who have done entire routines on this.
7. Watch for “professional trolls” from the “Men’s Rights” or “Father’s Rights” groups. They will often use terms such as “misandry” and refer to the feminist movement as anti-male or the domestic violence movement as an “industry.”
8. Send supportive emails, letters, candygrams, etc. to feminist women. Thank them for the good work they are doing–not just when they are targets of online harassment, but all the time. “If you see someone doing good work, you can be sure they’re being told they’re fat and ugly,” says Emily May. “Nice emails counterbalance the noise.”
9. Flag Facebook posts (or pages) when they’re abusive. If it’s a comment, click on the X to hide the post. You then have the option to flag it as abusive.
10. If the perpetrator isn’t an individual but a company, boycott the company. Write negative reviews of it on “Yelp” or other review sites, or suggest policy or legislative changes. (See the Ecological Model for Social Change for the philosophy behind this. )