You don’t have to look far on the internet to find the particular brand of troll that spends its time spewing misogyny and anti-feminist rhetoric until someone responds. Often this will manifest itself in targeted harassment, as experienced by women like Zoe Quinn, the original catalyst for the GamerGate saga, and can have severe consequences like doxxing, where private information such as full names, addresses, and contact details are published without consent. Sometimes, though, the trolls get a little more… creative.
See, these men don’t just hate feminists; they hate the whole of feminism, because equality is, like, bad and stuff. So as well as their traditional method of bombarding individual women with abuse, they want to do more. They seem to have set themselves something of a mission to discredit the entire movement, because presumably if they can convince the rest of the world that feminists are stupid and wrong, they can destroy feminism for good.
— Casey Green (@meeecaseygreen) October 2, 2015
Using 4chan like it’s a World War II bunker, they plot and scheme on how to bring down feminists next. Recent examples have included Project Harpoon (the comments on that article are the reason we finally shut down our comment section), and now the campaign #PissForEquality, which grew from the premise that it would be funny if feminists started urinating on themselves for a cause – in this case, solidarity with rape survivors (“after the unholy act is done our sisters often soil themselves,” according to one of the fake accounts they created.)
Using Twitter, they then go about creating the set up for the punchline (the punchline being that feminists are ridiculous and disgusting), creating numerous fake accounts, sourcing relevant images, and agreeing on a line to collectively toe. Realistically, it must take hours of their lives to do all of this. But the pay off, of humiliating the scores of people who identify as feminists worldwide, is so sweet.
I am not ashamed of natural bodily functions. No longer giving my hard earned money to male dominated companies. Free Women #freebleeding
— Sweet Cooze (@CozyCooze) January 31, 2014
Except, I’m not sure it is. ‘Operation Free Bleed’, a similar campaign carried out last year by 4chan that employed similar tactics to publicise the idea that feminists were ceasing to use sanitary products when on their period because it is their ‘right’ not to, is largely considered a success, even being featured in an article on the website Feministing. But fast forward, and runner Kiran Ghandi completed the London Marathon this year whilst on her period, and because she hadn’t trained with a sanitary towel or tampon in before, she did it without and bled visibly onto her clothes. The world didn’t end. In fact, Ghandi used the opportunity to highlight the many women around the world who don’t have access to sanitary products.
Post-#PissForEquality, too, nothing seems to have changed. Multiple people have called it a victory, claiming that feminists actually did urinate on themselves ‘for the cause’, but there is no evidence that anyone other than the accounts created by 4chan actually got involved. The news outlets and people that responded with derision in the wake of the campaign seem to be exclusively people who already felt that way about feminism. It doesn’t seem to have been viewed as credibly damaging by anyone else.
This kind of opposition to feminism is hardly new; the Suffragettes had to constantly contend with unrepresentative media coverage and posters that caricatured them unflatteringly, including references to ‘man-hating’. It is only natural that, in the 21st Century, it should be carried out over Twitter. But if the mainstream media, which is itself often oppositional to feminism, isn’t bothering to pick up on your elaborate hoaxes, you might want to ask if it’s really worth it.
Do you really have nothing better to do with your lives?
Main Image: 4chan/Twitter