Men get attacked for their opinions and their actions.
Women get attacked for their opinions and their actions, and also get attacked for being women.
Leo Traynor was attacked by the son of a friend, viciously and horrifyingly threatened over a long time: when he met The Troll face to face, the 17-year-old boy – confronted with the human reality of what he had done – burst into tears and could only say
“I don’t know. I don’t know. I’m sorry. It was like a game thing.”
Lindy West was and is repeatedly attacked by many men who are bitterly affronted that a woman should question whether rape jokes mocking rape victims are either funny or acceptable. One troll decided to set up a Twitter account in the name of Lindy’s father, who had recently died, to tweet his insults and threats: he used a photo of her father as his Twitter icon. Lindy didn’t block-and-report (both Twitter and Facebook are notorious for regarding verbal harassment as not a violation of their “community standards”): she wrote about how that attack made her feel on Jezebel. (Her troll emailed her the next day to let her know that it had only just occurred to him that she was a human being with feelings, that he was sorry, and that he was quitting.)
There is a living, breathing human being who is reading this shit. I am attacking someone who never harmed me in any way. And for no reason whatsoever.
One of the things Lindy West said:
One of the pillars of conventional wisdom about internet trolling is that internet trolling just happens. You hear this all the time, from even the most progressive allies: Oh, well, it’s the internet. There are trolls. Trolls troll the internet. Rape threats are like oxygen. Whatareyagonnadooooo. So, I’m just supposed to accept that psychological abuse is built into my job and I’m some thin-skinned rube if I complain about it? Easy for you to say, Señor Rando. Not only is that framework supremely unsatisfying for me personally, I’d go so far as to say that it’s a dangerous and patently false myth. Internet trolling does not “just happen.” It is not some mysterious, ambient inevitability that affects all internet users indiscriminately.
Internet trolling is a force with a political agenda.