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January 2014

When Some Of The Cis White Women Who Are Abused Online Are Also Abusers

Some cis White women who speak of men being abusive to them online are abusive towards me, a Black woman, and towards other Black women/women of colour online. But see, in both situations they can use conceptions of “pure” White womanhood in their favor. In the first situation, that is misogyny that they are experiencing and it is wrong and abusive. It is men—usually White men—trying to silence their dissent against patriarchy, sexism and misogyny. It is men who do not understand the large space that male privilege occupies and how the way they navigate speaking online doesn’t even take into consideration what White women go through. But White women can speak of what they experience and it is validated by many as proof of such abuse since they are deemed actual “women” and human. But in the second situation, that is White supremacy, racism and misogynoir that they are proliferating against me. That they do against Black women and other women of colour online. As they address primarily White men harming them, some of them harm women of colour. (Some of them also harm White trans women as well.) And because their humanity is held over mine and controlling images exist for my existence, not theirs, they can claim that the “mean ol’ ‘angry’ Black woman” is the “real” abuser.

When I reject their abuse and stand up for myself instead of silence or agreeing with their perception of my inferiority? That’s deemed as “bullying” them as well. I am lumped in with those men who actually abuse them. My rejection of and response to their racism in their essays, Whitesplaining/racism and gaslighting in their tweets and their repeated trolling is equated with men’s insults about their appearance and intelligence and rape threats made against them. I recorded a year of their (and other Whites) lack of accountability in my summary essay listing: 2013: A Year Of White Supremacy and Racism In Mainstream Feminism and in my first essays this year: 10 Ways That White Feminist and White Anti-Racism Allies Are Abusive To Me In Social Media and I Will Not Tolerate Whites REGULARLY Making FALSE Claims About Me Being Bigoted.

Oh and the best part? The type of White men who abuse them are the ones they ally with against me when those White men move on to abusing Black women and other women of colour online. This regularly happens when a White man is misogynoiristic, calls it satire, demands laughter and White women come to his defense against Black women. The same White men are misogynistic towards women in general and they want his head while pretending that the general misogyny these men engage in only impacts White women, as if no other women are women. They don’t let a “little” thing like patriarchy stand in the way of White supremacy and White privilege. Many White women online will gladly defend other White women who are racist. I recently had several defend a racist White woman who tried to derail my GoFundMe campaign for my brother’s medical care, who was brutally attacked in December. 

There’s also been White women who defend Black men who abuse Black women online or offline. Even a few days ago a White woman blamed me and other Black women for R. Kelly being a rapist because we don’t stop, drop and teach White people online when discussing rape. Yes, this was a thing that was said to me. Nevermind the fact that the very large public conversation on #FastTailedGirls did this very thing, even though the purpose was not for a White audience to ”learn.” When Black men engage in misogynoiristic speech online, there’s always some White women to support them. When White women engage in misogynoir against Black women, there’s always some Black men to support them. This is especially compounded in terms of the cishet Black male gaze and how White women and Black men are juxtaposed to White men through patriarchy and White supremacy, respectively. And though White women clearly benefit from Whiteness more than Black men benefit from patriarchy, some of both have become allies withe each other against Black women when need be, especially online.

A funny thing I saw yesterday online by a known Black male troll who is a follower of a professional misogynoirist that I mentioned before. He said that Black women are feminists to get White male “approval.” I died laughing. I assume that this Black man has never spoken to an actual live Black woman (and knows nothing of modern womanist/Black feminist history and scholarship, no less) or has ever met a White man. This is the only explanation for that. If by “approval” he means “rape and death threats” then yes, White men “approve” of feminism from Black women. I have to say that this is a new take on the usual crap that some Black men say about feminism, that it is “Black women choosing White women’s ‘side’ over Black men’s ‘side’” which is equally funny, wrong and sad. Many people of these “sides” don’t care about Black women. We do not have a “side” or a stake in our own lives and only exist for White women and Black men to step on our backs to try to reach White men’s power, versus, I dunno, challenging imperialist White supremacist capitalist cisheteropatriarchy?

White men regularly abuse Black women and other women of colour online, as well. Regularly gaslight. Microaggressions. Whitesplain. Coded racist words. Refuse to credit with ideas. Trolling. Overt racism. Rape and death threats. But if we are speaking of sheer quantity, there are no people that I head off with more, face more bigoted comments from, deal with more privileged guilt-fest from, more manipulation, more trolling from, more plagiarism etc. than White women online. The incident count has been as high as my street harassment incident count from primarily Black men; 10-75 incidents per week. 

People can continue to center cis White women as the only victims of online abuse because this creates page clicks and fits into existing myths of “pure” White womanhood under attack, but without an intersectional lens, it does not reveal how nuanced online abuse actually is. It is not solely about gender. It is a mirror for oppression in general. And it most certainly is intersectional. Conversations about the racist abuse and violent threats that Black male tweeters/writers endure and the brutal homophobia, transphobia and transmisogyny that Black/PoC LGBTQIA people endure are ones that matter as well in the conversations about online abuse. The empire built on trolling White trans women (and done by cis White women) that involves everything from transphobic slurs and comments to doxxing, revealing dead names, and death threats is a conversation worth having. The fact that almost every negative trending topic (for years now) meant to completely dehumanize a person are ones based on attacking Black women where people from every background join in on degrading us is something rarely even noted by many cis White women including ones who identify as feminist.

White women speaking truths about online abuse that White women experience is completely okay and valid. Patriarchy must be challenged and sexism and misogyny online is unacceptable. Removing White women’s culpability from abusing women of colour or not even mentioning the fact that the abuse that White women receive after a viral article is what Black women receive for being alive while having social media accounts is where the problem is. I am Black, female, alive and I use Twitter/Tumblr. I am harassed based on that alone. Add in 100K+ notes on a month of posts every month, up to a half million views a month on a one-person personal blog on a free platform at that, daily attacks on every post made, daily content begging and weekly plagiarism battles, and almost 29K people total following me on my sites—a Black woman who was more easily ignored online (hi, introvert, that rocks, actually) a few years ago—and the overexposure, overstimulation and trolling eclipses most of what these White women speak of even as their platform size/reach is mainstream and larger. Regularly some White women say to me, "how do you deal with this; this never happens to me like that." White women with an equal reach to mine—small in the sense of comparison to a mainstream scope—do not deal with the harassment that I do. Why is that?

You don’t have to be a cis White woman with a mainstream writing job or mainstream presence in order to experience online abuse. And even those in the mainstream such as Melissa Harris-Perry and Pia Glenn could note something about misogynoiristic online abuse at an astronomical threshold. They are not White.

A good start for this would be to clarify that the mainstream articles about online abuse are about “White” women. There really is no more reason to continue using the word “women” to mean “cis middle class White women (with a platform)” as people pretend that the “every woman” experience is Whiteness. This way, it is clear that the post will not be intersectional and does not speak to the nuances of online experiences of Black women or other women of colour. Meanwhile, it remains to be seen if Black women can have the space to speak our truths without plagiarism and gaslighting and if when we speak them and they are discussed mainstream, they are not disregarded whenever the abuser is the one people can only view as the abused: cis White women.

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