Over the past few months, we have been, as a population, confined to our homes and deprived of face-to-face communication with anyone but our families and roommates. For the majority, this has been a tasking adaptation to everyday life. Fortunately, we are presented with a wide array of social media platforms that allow us to sit down, celebrate, learn and live virtually with one another – Twitter, Snapchat, Facebook and Instagram being among the most frequently used by most of today’s generation. However, with the overwhelming desire to express positive emotions and those aspects of our lives that bring us joy and pride through pictures, statuses and online humour, comes the equal eagerness to display those inner-feelings about which we are not so confident. For the percentage of people who struggle with mental illness and disorders in their daily lives, varying up and down the spectrum, a change in behaviour and attitude is completely understandable and, in many cases, expected. However, a lot of people have shown their true colours during lockdown through tweets and views that they might have never previously expressed. Those who have been able to hide and disguise their anti-equalist views behind a charming physical persona have finally been uncovered.
There has been an obvious virtual attack on women and femininity that seems to have emerged from the beginning of quarantine. And a lot of this hatred has accumulated on Twitter. Each day we can expect to come onto the app to discover a massive amount of accounts targeting women because of their #MeToo stories: 'liar', 'false accuser'. Their confident personalities: 'psychotic b***h'. Their natural and organic bodies: 'disgusting', 'unclean'. And in particular, their right to sexual freedom. Everyday, women and children are outed for their sexual choices, sexual identities and sexual abuse they have suffered, and they are more often than not painted as monsters for it. One example that resonated with me personally was the plead on Twitter to have Pornhub shut down. The masses of young, cis, white males who came to defend an organisation alleged to have enabled and profited from sex trafficking was simply appalling, and to be blunt, concerning. Faced with those accusations, these boys, rather than men, were content and complicit with the alleged abuse, rape and trafficking of women and children, for their own sexual pleasure.
For perspective, here are some of the comments left on a video on Pornhub that was highlighted during this debate. A 13 year old girl was forced to drink copious amounts of alcohol before a violent rape within this video: 'Younger the better, who cares.' 'The most beautiful thing is this girl’s illegal age… Love this age of girls'. 'Her crying makes it better… I like how it hurts her'. 'Dude’s smart for getting her so drunk.. bet he dumped loads in her stupid c***, I know I would'.
It is clear that the views of those boys that openly disclosed support for organisations such as Pornhub, as well as anti-feminist movements, anti-black movements, anti-gay/trans movements and many, many more, can no longer be regarded as acceptable.
Although being a straight, white male is neither a choice nor an inferior identity, it is indisputable that it is this grouping that contributes most to the patriarchy. The same patriarchy that encourages misogynistic, racist, classist, trans and homophobic ideals, and in this case, Rape Culture. According to the Order of the White Feather, 1 in 3 men would rape if they would get away with it. 1 in 16 men are rapists. 91% of rape victims are female. 98% of rape allegations are true. 97% of rapists never see a day in jail. According to PubMed, Women commit only 15% of homicides, most of the time the victim being their spouse or family. Men who commit the remaining 85% of homicides kill their spouses at twice the rate and also frequently target strangers; women and the vulnerable most often.
Considering the mix of the above statistics and blatant attitudes that women of all walks of life face daily online, it is unsurprising that a movement to combat these attacks has emerged. Whilst boys online throw up sexual harassment/abuse 'jokes', use burner accounts to 'troll' their sisters and mothers, friends and family, and use 'bait' as an excuse to generate both death and rape threats, their feminist counterparts use hashtag '#KillAllMen' to draw attention away from gaslighting and victim blaming, and to highlight this anti-woman problem. Whilst boys air their 'preferences' of woman publicly and nonchalantly ('body hair is disgusting and unclean', 'no one wants a dark skin girl', 'loud women are not good enough or valid'), other young men and women are forming 'ick-lists' ('boys who pay with gift cards', 'boys under 5”7', 'boys who don’t spend money on you'), to bring to light these double standards and simply as a way to demonstrate to the perpetrators how it felt to have your every action criticised because of your sex.
It was hardly unexpected that this caused outrage amongst anti-feminists. Once again, it was the cis, straight, white male, the only group in history to have never faced oppression, that began to cry about mental health and inequality. Like the favourite child, he is so close to becoming self-aware but would rather dedicate his life to misogyny and hatred over loosing the benefits of the patriarchy. The oppressor cannot be oppressed, therefore he uses his privilege to paint himself as a victim. When in reality, it is quite simple. Yes, it is true that many 'ick-lists' can be found on Twitter, Tick Tok, etc, neatly laid out in bullet point form, its contents compiled of pet peeves that often apply to the male species. However, those boys who are offended have been making 'ick-lists' from the beginning of time, except instead of being in list form, men openly aired their 'icks', and instead of 'icks', they were brutal, unfair and detrimental criticisms of a woman’s god-given, natural body, personality and sexuality. Instead of the backlash that women have received for creating these lists, the same men endulged in laughter, praise and social benefits.
When women say 'Kill All Men', they laugh and ponder their awareness of the inequality they face and will face until the day they die at the hands of the patriarchy and casual misogyny. They know the chance of themselves or a female friend actually opting to kill a man is slim to none. When a man says 'Kill All Women', it is another display of embedded rape culture. They go on to watch porn which involves violence, rape, maybe a power imbalance. They are aware of the number of women who are victims at the hands of their brothers, fathers and friends, and recognise the alarmingly large chance that they too may become abusers.
The difference between 'Kill All Men' and 'Kill All Women' is that men rarely have to worry about being murdered period, nevermind by a woman. Why? Because they are a man. Whereas, women are taught from a young age to clutch keys, leave strands of hair in their taxis, scratch attackers so that their DNA is under your fingernails when your body is found. We’re taught never to walk alone, god forbid in the dark, to not aggravate cat-callers, not to have our shoulders on display, not to sit at the back of a bus, not go to the gym alone, all in the bid to stay alive. Boys like to flaunt the fact that 'men are naturally stronger than women', but refuse to acknowledge how presents a danger to our safety.
The difference is that women have been oppressed from the beginning of time, and still are. The oppressed cannot oppress the oppressor.
Abbie Freaney is 17 years old from Derry/Londonderry She is an active and outspoken feminist. Abbie plans to study history and its changing attitudes towards minorities in order to one day change the way people look at feminism and achieve equality for women all over the world.