An open letter to Brendan O’Neill

Dear Brendan O’Neill:

You, sir, are a fucking idiot.

How’d you like it if I found out where you lived? What would you say if I ferreted out everything about you, from what you eat, to what drugs you do, to how and whom you like to shag, and published all the above right here, so that anyone else who took as much of a dislike to your nonsense as I do, could go to your home and deliver you a harsh token of their esteem, up close and in person?

What’s that? You wouldn’t like it at all? You wouldn’t like to be threatened with splintery-broomstick-sodomy-to-the-death by a crowd of angry women who’ve had it to the gills with your smug dismissal of misogynist threats against our persons, just for having the gall to utter an opinion, ANY opinion, online?

Well, good news, Brendan. I wouldn’t do that to you. But don’t think I lack the skills to do exactly that and more. Or that I’m not sorely tempted. It’s just that my respect for ethics and the law is many times stronger than my passing urge to troll you, old son.

But I must confess that once in a while, I would like to see a privileged white male feel what it’s like to be me. Let him receive all kinds of privacy invasion, threats of death and sexual assault so hideous that even a seasoned pathologist would shudder. And let him feel absolutely helpless to do anything about it, because not only do the powers-that-be not take threats against women seriously, they give all kinds of unhelpful and victim-blaming “advice”, from “don’t dress like a slut” to “just laugh it off, you humorless bitch”. Let a man feel what it’s like to have all the burden for whatever happens to him fall squarely on his well-padded shoulders. And let him have all the burden of trying to defend himself against cyber-attacks coming from close to home and far away. Let him not know whether some troll is only bluffing, or serious. And let him not know where to turn when a credible threat of violence is levelled against him.

That, Brendan, is the position I have been in, and continue to be in as a female blogger. A LEFTIST female, to make matters worse. One outspoken on all kinds of ugly -isms and -phobias that dominate our landscape: racism, sexism, homophobia, you name it.

I’ve had a white supremacist express a wish that I would be raped by a “pipe-hung” black man (commensurate, no doubt, with his own favorite brand of porn). I’ve had a misogynous anti-choice zionist “libertarian” express the wish that the car that hit me had killed me instead of merely shattering my pelvis (a horrendous injury, incidentally, that I wouldn’t wish on anyone, even HIM.) I’ve been threatened in broken English and fluent Hungarian by someone purporting to be the mother of a fascist would-be assassin killed by the federal police in Bolivia, simply for accurately translating a local news account of the assassin’s demise and posting it here.

And oh yeah, I get gun nuts, too. From Canada and the US. No doubt some of them are salivating at the prospect of taking the same kind of rifle to my doorstep that Marc Lépine took into the Polytechnique back when I was a university student, and dispatching me with impunity, as he did to those uppity “feminists”. I’ve had the privilege of hearing all about their collective sexual pathology, straight from the horse’s ass. Let me tell you, it ain’t pretty.

It’s also the reason why I don’t post an e-mail address here; I don’t want to give these people the privilege of being able to reach me invisibly and anonymously. Commenters here run the risk that I will publish not only their vile shit, but also their IP numbers, enabling tracking to their home addresses, if they get ugly enough. You’d be amazed at how much more civil they get when they realize that. Most of them, anyway; they’re just dumb chickenshits when all’s said and nothing’s done. And they are weak and wimpy enough to expect the Internet and so-called free-speech provisions to protect them.

Or, failing that, my own fear and trembling.

I will confess to being sickened to know that such people are out there, expending energy on murderous fantasies about someone they’ve never even met. But here’s the thing, Brendan: If I were really the fragile neo-Victorian flower you’re trying to paint me and my fellow women bloggers as being, I wouldn’t still be online, writing this. I’d be hunkered down amid my hoopskirts in the fucking Diefenbunker, with the RCMP defending the honor of poor little corset-clad me.

Anonymous assholes will try to bludgeon ANY woman into submission with real, physical threats. It’s a clear, cowardly silencing tactic. It hasn’t worked on me, and it never will; I’d rather die defending my rights than shut up just to avoid offending some violent fucking idiot who will probably never respect another living soul anyway. But it pisses me off because it’s allowed, it isn’t being taken seriously, and no one is doing anything to stop it.

And it pisses me off, Brendan, that you, under the rubric of “raising the horizons of humanity by waging a culture war of words against misanthropy, priggishness, prejudice, luddism, illiberalism and irrationalism in all their ancient and modern forms”, are doing nothing but enabling these same oppressors. It pisses me off that a leading British newspaper is giving your tripe even an inch of column space, and probably paying you quite handsomely.

In short, Brendan, it pisses me off that you are part of the problem, and active only in impeding the solution. I would like nothing better than to see life school you and your corporate paymasters for it, harshly and in no uncertain terms. But I’m not going to post any of your sensitive personal information here. That would be sinking to the same level as the people who want me silenced, permanently.

Brendan, may they never come knocking at your door, as I pray they never come knocking at mine. But if they do, I hope you have the grace to admit that we “fragile, neo-Victorian” feminists may have just been onto something, after all. And that you have the courage — the balls, if you will — to do something constructive about it.

In the meantime, you may count yourself fortunate that you can afford to be such a gormless fucking prick. You have no idea how good you have it.

PS: To anyone thinking to lecture or patronize me via the comments, as one unfortunate fool already has: Don’t even contemplate it. You do NOT get to tell me what I should tolerate, any more than you get to define what “women’s liberation” is. Especially if you’re a man. And if the irony of THAT doesn’t hit you over the head, my ban-hammer WILL. Fair warning.

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9 Responses to An open letter to Brendan O’Neill

  1. Jim Hadstate says:

    “In short, Brendan, it pisses me off that you are part of the problem…”

    Might I humbly suggest that a change to the sentence is in order. Brendan is not “part of the problem,” he IS the problem. When chauvinistic male pigs like him are allowed to rant on in a highly visible publication like The Telegraph, then The Telegraph is also the problem.

    Perhaps a month or so in an overcrowded prison, where he can become the Slut of the Alpha and Beta males might open his eyes just a little.

  2. Andrew Hirst says:

    Have you ever fought for women’s liberation rather than just going on about violence?

    • Sabina Becker says:

      Yes, as a matter of fact, I HAVE. I helped to get our last anti-abortion law repealed by marching against it with millions of other Canadians, and was active in my university women’s centre. And I still remain active from where I sit, which is far from any major city centre.

      And, FYI, speaking out against (or, as you put it, “going on about”) violence IS fighting for women’s liberation. Anyone who thinks otherwise is an ass.

      Now, what have YOU done?

  3. Andrew Hirst says:

    Jesus Jim! Your website is historically and philosophically illiterate trash, but unlike you I think opinions I strongly disagree with should be freely published!

    • Sabina Becker says:

      Andrew, you’ve worn out your welcome here. Nobody gets to call my friends (who’ve lived longer than you and certainly know MORE than you) “illiterate trash”.

      Adios, asshole.

  4. Sabina Becker says:

    And for anyone else who comes on here to trash me like this for being “intolerant” of their “disagreement”, TOO FUCKING BAD. I’m not in this to tolerate your stupidities. If you don’t like my opinion, move along, and don’t waste my time. I don’t troll YOUR websites, so don’t think you have any free-speech right to troll MINE.

  5. thwap says:

    Excellent post and a fine way to deal with the “libertarian.”

    There was an article a while ago, … after a female blogger he knew stopped writing because of the threats, a guy posted comments to mainstream news sites with a female name. Someone replied to his post and when he didn’t answer right away the person got very angry and started threatening rape in their next comment.

    Too much knee-jerk hatred. Disgusting.

    • Sabina Becker says:

      I should say so! The combination of sexism and anonymity is toxic. These guys think they’re just entitled to walk on a woman. I’m guessing that even if he’d replied promptly in his female persona, this writer would still have gotten the rape threats. The troll knew he could get away with it, so of course he lost no time whipping it out. If there were some way to de-anonymize the Internets, so trolls had nothing to hide behind, I bet that shit would stop in a hurry!

  6. Ben Gruagach says:

    Keep writing ‘Bina. For every person like you who actually speaks out there are thousands, and very likely MILLIONS of people who are thinking the same thing but are afraid to speak. You give those thoughts voice and those ideas definitely need to be heard.

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