Speaking out online

Tonight I am attending a panel discussion which is being run as part of Social Media Week London. It is entitled Is a woman’s opinion “the miniskirt of the internet”? and will be based on Laurie Penny’s article of the same name.It will be about the often violent and threatening verbal abuse women get for engaging in discussions online.

So given the timeliness of the discussion, I wanted to share an experience a male friend of mine had last night on twitter.  Because its an interesting comparison. It’s a story of a man sticking his neck out on a largely women’s issue, and the response he got. 

This friend, let’s call him Sam, because that isn’t his name, and I had been talking a lot this week about the disgraceful behaviour of The Grammys, inviting Chris Brown back to perform three years after he had to cancel his performance because he was in a lock up mulling over his violent attack on a fellow human being.  It got us into a wider discussion about domestic violence, mutually tutting over the terrifying statistics and generally feeling impotent to do anything.

And then last night Sam (not his name, though), saw one of his idols tweeting a “funny” photo of a white couple, with a baby – posed in 80s family photo style,  In the photo the woman had a huge black eye, and the baby on her lap was black.  The tweet said:

“Just to bring you guys a smile before the day is over 😉 makes you think when we complain it could always be worse”

Raw from the discussion we had just been having, he responded:

“I don’t think joking about domestic violence really works as way to cheer things up to be honest. She’s got a black eye. not cool.”

To which this idol replied:

“Yes and he got a black kid, fair trade 😉 she will heal in 5 days he will pay for college”

So I’m just going to walk away from the justification of any sort of domestic violence by this dude (as well as the assumption he’s made that the father will be the wage earner, that he’ll be paying for anything etc), because people are wrong every day of the week.  And he is just one man. What I want to share with you is the response that this “idol” (using inverted commas because I’ve never heard of him, though in this community he is obviously a bit of a god) and Sam got to their discussion.

1) “that’s not even a real black eye” (it was, by the way)

2) “who said joking about something means you condone it and are for it?!! There’s a big difference.

3) “every time we talk I see your pic flipping the bird That’s domestic violence too, many women receives that pic at their home :-/” (really??)

4) “Life’s too short to take everything do seriously”

5) “lighten up..ur just assuming she got the black eye from domestic violence its just a picture not a story”

6) “hahaha.. Take the black eye anyday!!! Take 2!! Lol. X”

7) “Look at the picture, and get a sense of humour you bloody tube!”

8) “well I thought it was funny… Lol…. Agree to disagree haha”

9) “I was waiting for that one uptight douche and sure enough,lol.”

10) “ever hear of “satire”….lighten up a bit”

11) “does your boyfriend beat you up or something man cause you are over reacting. It was a joke u buffoon”

And when Sam was commented on the defence mounted by the followers, Idol said:

“it’s not my fault I have a great crew of friends here, and when I’m in a fight they jump in with a flying kick 😉 I love them”

Wouldn’t it be nice if victims of domestic violence were all so lucky.

I wanted to close this post with some of the statistics on domestic violence in the UK. Hopefully a quick glance at these will remove any doubts about the unfunnyness of domestic violence “humour”.

  • Over two women per week are killed by current or ex-partners
  • One in four women in the UK will experience domestic violence in their lifetime
  • Between 1 in 8 and 1 in 10 women experience domestic violence annually
  • Less than half of all incidents are reported to the police, but they still receive one domestic violence call every minute in the UK

(stats from Women’s Aid)

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