It should not surprise anyone that when April 9 arrived and the proposed Twitter boycott against the growing online harassment of women began, many men made it about themselves. There is recorded precedence.
Earlier, in 2020, when women and allies with huge platforms on Twitter took to the microblogging site to spotlight ways a patriarchal society continues to hurt women, men with similarly big platforms responded by trivialising the conversation.
Men – many in respectable positions in their careers, took to Twitter to ‘joke’ about being proud oppressors and card-carrying members of Patriarchy FC.
The logo of this club of happy oppressors sports a crude sketch of a woman on hands and knees with a man standing upright one leg wedged on her back, while the other holds what looks like a trident. It is an image that could only have been born of a distillation of a wealth of cruelty, sheer ignorance and the unwillingness to learn or both. It is also an image that sticks to the mind like a carrion smell to clothes.
That dark era was passed off as just jokes. But, many who spearheaded it deleted all traces of their involvement thereafter. And, the latest coordinated #InternationalTwitterMensDay campaign is a bid to shift the focus from women’s boycott against online harassment and introduce a rather disturbing picture of the continuance of harassment.
Patriarchy FC era was not just jokes, it was a real-time glimpse into the thought process and beliefs that births ‘not all men’ responses from men each time a woman speaks about her experience. It was men getting a free pass for a day to air exactly what they feel about what they must consider a lot of hullaballoo over nothing – all this call for equality when the status quo works perfectly for men must be irritating, and they went for the jugular.
With #InternationalTwitterMensDay, we got to witness men doubling down on what is misogyny before our eyes.
The boycott aimed at drawing the attention of Twitter as a corporation to set in place more stringent guidelines against the targeted harassment of women had nothing to do with men as a human group. Its success wouldn’t affect any man who goes about their daily business doing the bare decent minimum of not harassing women.
Which begs the question, why is it so important to men – the ‘good’ as well as the bad, that the campaign against the targeted harassment of women online does not succeed?
A response by a user, @Emrazz, to a tweet lamenting that ‘bad men’ make it hard for ‘good men’ whose only intention is to empower women comes to mind because it accurately puts in perspective the likely reason behind men’s agitation against any call for a better world for women.
It reads simply, “All men benefit from the fear-based oppression of women. When women take up less space to keep themselves safe, you get more space. When women expect you to harm them, you get praised if you don’t, and exalted for being kind.”
The status quo is the perfect shield against accountability, and who will easily let go of a free pass for life to get away with the bare minimum if they can help it? The answer is very few, too few to matter at the moment but the number is rising and women will prevail in the long run. One derailed campaign at a time.