I've had some pretty strange and sometimes scary interactions online as a feminist blogger. For the 5 years I've blogged, I've always gotten the typical "shut up bitch" type comments here and there. But becoming more prominent on Tumblr has brought out a specific kind of "troll" that does freak me out to a whole new level.
Specifically, there's been an emergence of blogs that are created with the sole purpose of following FacebookSexism and adding hateful comments to every post I write. These, while creepy, are pretty easy to just "ignore" and move on with my life. But in a couple of recent interactions, one person in particular has reached new heights of disgusting.
The user, formerly operating as "iwillprobablyoffendyoudefinitely" made a distinct rape threat to one of my followers. I rallied everyone in reporting him and the blog was deleted. He's now operating as "bitchesonmahdick420" (post linked above to demonstrate the disgustingness there.) I've been trying to get that person banned too, but it hasn't worked yet. And since I promptly also "ignored" that blog which means I no longer get his messages, it appears he has created a third username to harass me, "dancemansrevenge." I don't know for sure that they are the same person, but the writing is extremely similar. From this latest blog, I have a submission sitting in my queue (that I won't be publishing) where he says (and I'd like to re-emphasize the content note for rape on this!)
I’ve always found rape as a good way to let off steam, I’ll usually do it once a week or so. I don’t understand why ya’ll seem to be so against such a harmless thing. I always thought that my rapees always enjoyed our “special time” together, if they didn’t, they probably would’ve said something. I suggest one of you feminism lady women meet me sometime so I can show you how relaxing it can be...It's so utterly disgusting that my skin crawls.
I can't help but feel really, really sad that our society continues to produce people like this. And even sadder, that when I express frustration with people like this, someone always inevitably posits, "It's just a troll. Don't let it get to you!"
The thing is, there's no such thing as "just" trolls. That is too dismissive. Instead, there are harassers and abusers who take sick pleasure in scaring and disgusting others. They get a rise out of this kind of thing. I assume this person is not actually a serial rapist (although perhaps they are.) But they instead think it's actually funny to threaten and joke about an extreme trauma that one in four women face in their lifetimes.
They are so devoid of compassion and empathy that they take enjoyment from knowingly hurting others.
I don't mean to suggest that this person is meaningfully disrupting my life and that I'm afraid anyone is actually coming for me or my followers...but the mere fact that when I log into Tumblr anymore, I know I will be met with some kind of threat, is unnerving.
And while all trolls are a hassle, the ones who say, "This bitch is crazy" are infinitely less of a concern to me than the ones who make rape threats. The first type is an ignorant person who invokes misogyny, ableism, etc. to express their disagreement with me. The second is someone who takes the time to meticulously create account after account to harass and to exploit someone's trauma for their own enjoyment.
If that thought doesn't send a shiver down your spine, I'm not sure what will.
Perhaps the worst thing about this all is how little protection Tumblr offers against harassment. "Ignoring" only does so much--the person in question can still follow you. Even Facebook has a better block feature. And it's also extremely disappointing that they haven't removed the second blog I've reported for rape threats. While I REALLY need is for them to block this IP address from being able to contact me.
Fortunately, the things this person says are not triggers for me, and while unnerving, I can handle them. I shouldn't have to...but I can. I'll just keep "ignoring" and reporting. And making sure I take time away and engage in self care.
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