FARK off – misogyny on the internet, again

// 24 April 2008

Earlier this week at DollyMix, Katie Lee posted a list of the top 10 websites for women.

In this post, she mentioned that “sites such as Digg and Fark, tend to be pretty unwelcoming – if not positively hostile – towards women”. Someone posted the link to Fark, unleashing a massive wave of misogyny both on that website and DollyMix.

One typical comment featured a “funny” photo of a woman with a black eye, captioned “Damn woman, don’t make me tell you again…”

When another commenter called the community up on its sexism, what was the response? “Shouldn’t you be shopping or something?”

Just more drivel from POPs* who will turn into BOBs** soon enough.

/*Pissed off Princesses

//**Bitter Old Broads

It goes on and on for over 670 comments. I only recommend taking a trip over to see for yourself if you need to get angry today.

And it continues on the DollyMix thread:

My wife wanted me to let you know she hates you.She hates you so much,I’m stuck telling you how much she hates you and your stupid ass 1940’s craft and makeup sites that you really need to shove deep in your repressed anal passage.

Oh,and by the way,shut your whore mouth,the men are talking.

And, perhaps even more depressingly as the comment was made by a woman:

I’m about as progressive as a woman can be, but I know how to crack (and appreciate) a sexist joke. It’s important to not get our panties wadded over every little thing. If we can’t laugh at ourselves (and our detractors), we can’t laugh at anything.

What do you even say to this? It’s pure, unvarnished, woman-hating, and there’s no getting around it. I would point out that it’s amusing that the Fark community’s response to being calling out on being a bit sexist is to unleash an almighty torrent of shit on the woman who dared to say such a thing, but I obviously can’t find my funny bone this morning because it’s just depressing and sad.

Comments From You

Annie Mole // Posted 24 April 2008 at 11:45 am

As you know I only noticed this this morning through Katie’s twitter feed. I was going to make a comment on her post itself but was gobsmacked to see the 670 comments. I started reading some & then thought I have better things to do with my time, so wrote Katie a quick note of sympathy and then twittered it myself.

I’m just truly shocked & saddened that I’m speechless really and you know me that doesn’t happen too often.

More and more I hear stories of female bloggers being on the receiving end of sexism. It’s usually mild – but this is more than mild. I’m able to take a joke and laugh at myself with the best of people. The worst I’ve been called online is a neurotic bitch, a bully (with some implication that I was also rascist) and a fat lesbian — this is nothing compared to what’s been happening to Katie.

Thanks for blogging this and once again Katie has all my sympathy & support.

gia // Posted 24 April 2008 at 11:57 am

All I see is an endless stream of examples of women trying to be women online (whatever that entails) and certain men being overly hostile towards them.

Mena Trott was shot down for saying we should all just be a bit nicer to one another online.

Tara Hunt was shot down for saying online professionals should have a ‘higher purpose’ to their work.

Kathy Sierra was shot down for defending Tara Hunt.

Maryam Scoble was shot down for… well, as far as I can tell, it was because she was pregnant and talked about it.

Sarah Lacy was shot down cos she was ‘girly’ during her interview w Zucker.

Katie Lee is shot down cos she doesn’t like spending time on sites which joke about rape.

These are intelligent, amazing, talented, strong women!! And yet, the moment they say something slightly ‘feminine’ they get pounced on and threatened with violence.

This is fucked.

Anne Onne // Posted 24 April 2008 at 12:04 pm

I used to be surprised that some idiot could muster outrage at some site they frequent (or themselves) being misogynist, and then say something along the lines of ‘It’s not misogynist, bitch. Now just STFU and make me a sammich!’, because the irony and stupidity make for a powerful cocktail, but now I shrug. I still can’t understand them, but those kinds of trolls are so dense, that there’s no reasoning with them. Unfortunately, the irony doesn’t make me feel better, since the people who lack the comprehension to realise the disconnect between defending their supposed non-misogynist selves and then unleashing a torrent of misogynist abuse are not people who can be reached by reasoned discussion or calls to compassion. And that there are that many of them around is depressing. :(

I certainly hope that the old theory that these kinds of trolls aren’t as numerous as they seem, but gravitate towards posting repeatedly on anythign remotely feminist is true, because if they were as numerous as they sometimes look… Well, let’s say the idea of becoming a hermit somewhere remote sounds nice. On the other hand, engaging discussion decreases the number of trolls, so I guess we should keep up the hard work rather than despair, tempting as it is.

Women bloggers can get a lot of crap online. Which is partly the reason she wrote that article about safe, welcoming spaces online for women. I have a slight issue that a lof of them seem quite conventionally ‘girly’, but since she admitted basing them on her own interests and experiences, it’s forgiveable. I’d surf only the pinkest, shiniest of girly girl sites if it guaranteed I would have less chances of running into lots of misogynist abuse. Which I suspect is part of the reason why so many of the more ‘female-friendly’ sites are noticeably ‘girly’- maybe they keep the manly man trolls at bay?

In an ideal world we wouldn’t need communities simply around being female, because women wouldn’t be abused, silenced and marginalised on ‘people’ sites.(ie sites that don’t present a specific sex they claim to cater for, like youtube) I kind of wish we could reclaim ‘people’ sites from belonging to men, but part of the patriarchy is that everything that belongs to people is actually coded ‘for men’ in subtle ways.

I’m rambling, but there might have been a point there somewhere. Who knows?

Danny // Posted 24 April 2008 at 1:26 pm

I took the trip and skimmed way way wayyyyyyy down that hideous diatribe of misogynistic moronic (and don’t those two always go together!) comments. About to give up because it’s soooo long and hey I like to think I’ve got a life, I came across a picture of 1950’s type domestic scene. A man smiling down at his wife tells her he wants a hot delicious meal on the table when he comes home each evening, then while he’s relaxing watching telly afterwards she has to fetch his slippers, blah blah blah, then he says and who do you think is going to give me a bath and comb my hair? The smiling woman replies ‘The funeral director’.

But this will be lost on all the loser trolls of course. This is the first and last time I visit Fark because it’s just too depressing and as I said, I like to think I’ve got a life.

Shinykatie // Posted 24 April 2008 at 1:28 pm

Hi guys, thanks for posting this up. It’s been a pretty insane few days, and although we’ve tried to just get on with everything and ignore it (Susi got a similar flaming when she posted about it on Shiny Shiny http://www.shinyshiny.tv/2008/04/wednesday_or_th.html) it’s hard not to feel a bit exposed seeing your name associated with something like this.

You’re point is really valid, Anne Onne, and that was kind of my point too – the number of communities that are welcoming and non-threatening to women are actually pretty few and far between and that seems to me to be a problem.

And actually, I was talking less about the forums and more about the types of stories Fark tends to pick up on. But clearly any sense of subtlety fell out the window when the Fark forums got hold of it.

Hey ho.

(Incidentally, the F Word was an obvious site to include on the list, but I wanted to avoid picking sites that offer commentary on women’s issues, and find sites that were just nice hang outs for women online. In retrospect, maybe that was wrong – especially as it seems to have muddied the water.)

Danielle // Posted 24 April 2008 at 4:32 pm

I can see why women get angry with this kind of shit, and they’re entirely justified. I get angry with this kind of shit. And I totally empathise with you Jess, it can get really depressing when women can’t voice an opinion without being subjected to this kind of aggression. (Unless of course it is opinion that mirrors theirs).

But today I’m in a good mood that can’t be affected even by these “misogynistic morons”. So I am using another, sometimes more effective, method of dealing with it: laughing at them. It won’t stop them making idiotic comments, but neither will getting (justifiably) angry. And believe me, laughing at men like that gets to them far more than retaliation, even if it is a bit juvenile.

At any rate, feminist critique and logical argument in general is lost on them.

Helen // Posted 24 April 2008 at 4:35 pm

The thing that always upsets me is when women are horrible to other women, in order to seem like one of the lads and get approval from a group they consider dominant.

Jennifer-Ruth // Posted 24 April 2008 at 4:56 pm

Helen – that is hitting the nail on the head right there.

The worst thing is that when I was a teenager I used to be just like that. I thought (although it was mainly unconcious, as I am sure it is for most women) that if I acted as if I didn’t like “girly” stuff and I said things like “Oh, I don’t like girls, I much prefer hanging with boys, girls are so frivilous” then I would…I don’t know, be granted some male power or something. Of course, it doesn’t work like that.

Li // Posted 24 April 2008 at 5:45 pm

This is why the commenting policy on my blogs is “If I don’t like it, I delete it”. They’re not political, so I think it’s fair enough.

Kim // Posted 24 April 2008 at 6:32 pm

Li, I did exactly the same thing. I used to insult feminine things in an attempt to prove I was different. Of course, as soon as my male friends then got together, I was just another target for criticism. Soon figured out that just because you’re not a bimbo doesn’t mean you won’t be treated that way.

The internet is full of men who hide behind screennames and say things about women only being useful for sex and housework. The thing is, face to face they’re not stupid enough. I don’t think these boys’ girlfriends are actually bimbos or whores. These men aren’t ever like this in real life; they’re just morons showing off online – where no-one knows who they are. Cowardly AND stupid – at least we know they have no prospects in life. I wish we could start up a revolution against it – unfortunately, it’s become quite fashionable to be a misinformed moron.

Kim // Posted 24 April 2008 at 7:22 pm


I meant I did what JenniferRuth said, about trying to fit in by not being girly. Quoted wrong person. Feel stupid ;)

Shinykatie // Posted 25 April 2008 at 10:29 am

I was exactly the same Jennifer-Ruth and Kim. I was so proud of being a tom boy and I was brought up to believe that in order to be equal with men, I had to be as good as they were at blokey things.

I’m not sure when I twigged that there’s actually nothing wrong with being a female and that equality doesn’t necessary mean you have to be able to put up shelves. But I’m glad I did.

And I have to say, it’s the women leaving the rude comments who get to me, not the men. Especially as most of them seem to have totally failed to read what I actually wrote, and just jumped in to defend Fark thanks to Fark’s purposely fatuous summary of the article.

Helen // Posted 25 April 2008 at 12:48 pm

Yep. I especially enjoyed being told that I was responsible for men shunning women. I must have missed something cos I never get shunned by men – even the flat out chauvinists like my friend Ricky would rather have a good clean arguement about it than just ‘shun’ me.

Anne Onne // Posted 25 April 2008 at 7:52 pm

Helen, I really wish idiots like that *would* completely shun women. Not harass them on the streets, not rape them, not bully them at work or at home or anywhere else. If they all went off and founded a misogynist commune somewhere away from the rest of society, I’d have a ball. Unfortunately, much as they complain, they don’t. Cowards.

Shinykatie, I think the peopel criticising the list as being ‘girly’ on dollymix were being a bit harsh. It would have helped from a feminist perspective if you had mentioned that you stayed away from sites offering analysis on womens’ issues, but with all the willful misinterpretation going on, it’s not your fault people took it the way they did. One thing we learn as feminists (ie purveyors of uncomfortable truths) is that to avoid people willfully misinterpreting your words and making issues out of non-issues, a shedload of disclaimers and careful wording and explanations is a must. Unfortunately, it doesn’t help when trolls *want* to misinterpret your points. Still, I think the post was important. It certainly shed light on the kinds of people who try to pretend they’re not nasty, insecure little idiots, but blow their cover pretty early on.

I’m more surprised that I didn’t majorly fall into the boys’ club mentality. I guess I didn’t know that many guys, so that wouldn’t have been a good social strategy at the time. I think my lack of being girly was motivated a lto by laziness. I had no particularly huge interest in typically girly things, little benefit from many of them (since if the aim was to attract boys, and there weren’t many around, there was no point, IMO), and having interest in other things instead kept me occupied. Naturally, I was still prey to all the social heirarchies and whatnot, and definitely had inbibed a lot of misogyny from society. I am a lot more feminist today than when I was a kid, but at the same time as a kid, I felt acutely aware that boys got it easier, and that always rankled. I identified as feminist pretty early on, (though I often missed the point, as you tend to do when you’re a kid) and I’m glad that I’ve learned a lot, and examined and changed many of my opinions.

There’s many ways people become feminists, and I think that would be a great idea for a carnival, or a post or something. Just asking people when they first identified with feminism, how they came on ot it, how their growth progressed (all at once, or over years, etc), and when that matrix moment came when they knew they couldn’t pretend it didn’t matter or didn’t exist any more. Learning about how different people experience feminism is fascinating. :)

laurel Dearing // Posted 22 June 2008 at 7:43 pm

most of the stuff on fark is joking albeit moronic and repeatative, and to an extent i would accept it as funny, but that thread shows that even though theyre being ironic the actually dont listen and make a proper discussion responce. they actually cba to hear our bitching and whining or whatever.

i go on that site for the news. but i have hated how they always sexualise women and THEN complain about them in the same thread. i dont think its threatening but it is extremely alienating, and you start feeling you dont have the right to be there

they dont seem to understand that when those jokes are so common people start believing them or feeling bad.

also its the same with newspapers, pge 3 and all. they think we all look at heat and hotstars. eww. but if we do its because the REAL news is for men.

andyinsdca // Posted 31 July 2008 at 5:40 pm

Lots of the misogyny on Fark is sarcasm. It’s a form of humor.You’ll find lots of sarcasm that comes out in the form of racism, hatred for Republicans, Democrats, Communists, sexism, etc. etc. It’s too bad the humor is lost on you.

Holly Combe // Posted 31 July 2008 at 6:37 pm

Andy: Thank you for defining sarcasm. As humourless feminists, we’d never even heard of such a thing so cheers for clearing it up! Yes, it really is too bad the humour is lost on us because it means we have to miss out on all the fun.

I’ve not looked at Fark in detail yet but would suggest the humour is probably being lost because it’s poor. Sarcasm is fine if it’s done well but it can also function as nothing more than a cover-up for genuine prejudice. Sometimes it’s just a double irony, where the main irony is that the person really means it and is posing as the truth-teller daring to say what others are apparently afraid to because of Political-Correctness-Gone-Mad.

Osnat // Posted 28 June 2010 at 12:26 pm

I’d like to say something.

I absolutely loathe misogyny. I hate being told I’m not as good as the men. I consider all sexes equal.

But some people here have been saying “if women/girls hate feminine things it’s because they want to be accepted by men”, and that irks me. Why? Because I’m not exactly the shiniest, prettiest girl on the Net and while I can’t put up a shelf just yet, I’d like to think I could learn, I like knowing how things work and trying to put stuff together and I enjoy gender-neutral things like debating.

I’m only a teenager and I stand out from the girls I know by having lots of male friends, doing more academic stuff with loads of boys, etc., so I don’t really know what goes on once you get out of school and into the real world, but I don’t really like to think that wanting to know how to fix things, having lots of male friends and arguing about things like politics makes me Not A Real Woman, especially as it now makes me feel like I have to say “Wait! I enjoy the odd shopping trip and I like buying clothes and make-up!” just to fit in with the gals, or try to anyhow.

Also, the “girly” girls that I know tend to act like bimbos to get boys to sleep with them and some of them have said, IN FRONT OF EVERYONE, that women don’t belong in politics or anything remotely important to the future of the world: they’re better as homemakers, they’re inferior to men, good only for food and sex, and besides, if they got power they’d try to curtail men’s rights. So I haven’t really had that great an experience with feminine empowerment by acting girly, not to mention that it makes me feel like I’m some subhuman freak of nature because I just happen to be a girl who likes boyish things and – guess what? – it’s not because I have a psychological hangup about being inferior to men.

Let me just get one thing straight before I finish this off. I’m not trying to insult anyone’s identity. If you feel empowered by being shiny and pink, that’s fine by me. I’m just saying that being told my tomboyishness is because I secretly feel inferior to men irks me.

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