By Michelle Noehren, Age 34
Yikes. The internet is both a wonderful and infuriating place. I’ve been writing online for years so I’m use to getting some pretty mean comments on my pieces and I can generally let them roll off easily. One of the spots I write with is CTWorkingMoms.com, which is a nonjudgmental community for moms in Connecticut. A few weeks ago I wrote about something upsetting that happened to my daughter while she was at school and the backlash I got from angry men was a bit shocking.
In summary, while my daughter was playing on the playground two boys pushed her against a fence and pretended to shoot her with a gun. Her teachers told me they heard my daughter yelling “no” at them but they didn’t alter their actions and kept her pinned against the metal fence against her will. Working in the field of women’s rights, perhaps I’m particularly sensitive to gendered power dynamics but I was really upset at the time. So I did what I usually do and took to writing to help myself work through how I was feeling. And I did not expect the backlash that followed.
Suddenly comments were coming in on my post that took my breath away. Like this one, which is actually my favorite of the bunch:
Wow. No words.
Then this one came in:
WTF? I’m a bigot now for speaking out against rape culture, apparently. Also, this person needs to get their facts straight. Yes, women do rape men, but not at the same rate. And guess what? I’m teaching my DAUGHTER about consent too.
I was really confused as to how these people found my post in the first place. At CTWorkingMoms we work really hard to cultivate a loving, supportive space and we aren’t use to getting craziness like this. I discovered that someone had posted a link to my piece on Reddit, and as I read through the Reddit feed there were more gems awaiting me:
A woman who speaks out against injustice is automatically insufferable, because PATRIARCHY.
Apparently I shouldn’t even be allowed to have children because I’m totally messing up my kid by being outraged that she was held against a fence. Makes sense.
Someone missed the entire point of the piece. Hostile much?
“They just wanted to do what they wanted to do and didn’t care.” POINT MADE, thankyouverymuch.
I’m over these comments now because in the end they just reiterate my point. Rape culture is REAL.
“Rape culture” is a culture in which sexual violence is considered the norm — in which people aren’t taught not to rape, but are taught not to be raped.”
Telling me that I’m a bad parent, that child protective services should be called on me, that I’m clearly an insufferable person as well as a bigot, for simply suggesting that consent is something that can be learned on the playground, is a transparent ( & ineffective) attempt to silence me.
My friend (and fellow writer) Beth said this to me about the response to my post:
I’m sorry that you’ve gotten the response you have, but, in many ways, it means you’re doing something right. Masculinity is so fragile and men react so terribly when they see themselves reflected back in a criticism about hegemonic masculinity.
#Sorrynotsorry that my piece threatened some people’s fragile masculinity. I’ll just be over here advocating like hell for my daughter while practicing what I preach and continuing to teach her about consent too.