“Don’t feed the trolls!” I hear them shout from their comfortable computer chairs. There’s something about bystanders that make them feel like they can make objective, moral decisions from the sidelines. They will decide what is worth your time. They will tell you what is in your best interest. The men will tell women what to feel threatened by and the white people will tell racists to coddle their oppressors.
As do most stories nowadays, the following starts with a tweet. This user did not reply, thus I assume did not want to engage in a discussion about this. Please honor their wishes. But I wanted to talk about the sentiment.
This tweet is in reference to the disgusting harassment of Lauren Duca by renouned shitbag, Martin Shkreli. Luckily Duca is well-known enough to have action taken against her harasser, and he got his ass suspended. The incident inspired a million hot takes, but the “this harassment isn’t as bad” take is one of the worst.
First we need to acknowledge that “creepy stalker header on your profile” is not the only thing that this man did. He is a serial harasser who has done this to multiple women. You can just google him and find out enough for a few lifetimes.
But back to that tweet – what makes those types of threats listed any more cause for alarm than the other? As I stated in response to that tweet, I’m someone who has more experience than most people with this sort of thing. And the behavior of an obsessed man such as Shkreli is not something to be touted as some sort of harassment-lite™.
There are always thresholds when judging obsessive behavior. It takes seconds to send a threatening message. While those have to be taken seriously and dealt with to the full extent that we can, they’re actually (most of the time) the most impersonal and require the least amount of effort to accomplish. After that is when you start descending into the lower levels of harassment hell.
When you block someone, and they begin researching into finding other ways to harass you – that’s more dangerous.
When you repeatedly block someone and they begin sending messages to your personal home or work – that’s even more dangerous.
When someone spends hours and days Photoshopping themselves into images to specifically harm you and incite a mob to continue harassing you – you get the idea.
Last year, I got 10 rape threats in one week in April from random people. A few years ago, a “fan” mailed a package to my P.O. box. Inside the package was a letter, a packet with directions to his home, instructions on how to enter his house, his schedule, phone number, and a set of keys. These are both bad, but one was clearly from the mind of an obsessed individual and cause for additional concern. I no longer have a P.O. box.
I get it. Twitter needs rules and protocols that are public. When only people with more than 100,000 followers are given support, that’s a problem. But “this type of harassment isn’t as bad” is a harmful and uneducated take. Women have a hard enough time convincing men that harassment even exists. Leave this one to us.