Please read as much of Leslie Jones’s timeline as you can stomach before you read my post.
This is the second actress (the other was Ginnifer Goodwin) I’ve watched being harassed off Twitter. Leslie’s situation is much different than Ginnifer’s, although both are horrific and both SHOULD HAVE BEEN DEALT WITH BY TWITTER. Leslie is a black actor who revamped a man’s role in the Ghostbusters remake. I had no idea that so many males had so heavily invested their identities in what was–WAS–a fun 80s movie. I had no idea that so many males would take a woman playing the role of a character that was originally male so seriously that they would viciously, violently, and relentlessly verbally and visually assault her until she had to walk away from Twitter.
There’s more than “just” sexual harassment involved in this disgusting episode. There’s also racism. I have not read about any similar abuse directed towards Ms. Jones’s white female co-stars. I even saw another woman taking Ms. Jones to task for not handling the nonstop harassment with “poise.”
Poise? Are you fucking shitting me?
It’s my understanding that Twitter took some action on Ms. Jones’s behalf, but I can’t help but think that Twitter’s previous do-nothing response to other cases of sexual and racial harassment gave the criminals–not trolls, not cyberbullies, threatening, sexually predatory criminals–harassing Ms. Jones the fuel for their “we are untouchable” mindset and the result was Ms. Jones stating she was leaving Twitter.
Because Twitter’s past non-action in countless cases of harassment and abuse has established a pattern, and now the criminals on Twitter have no real reason to stop their behavior. Locking accounts means nothing to them. Has Twitter ever initiated or aided in the prosecution of one of these criminals? I’ve reported so many clear incidents of violations of Twitter’s TOS and been told there was no violation.
Twitter reps lie. Every day. And the people in charge know it.
You may feel moved to speak to people IRL about online harassment and the grinding psychological stress resulting from it. I did, once, to my doctor. I told him that my ex-husband was still cyberstalking me years after our divorce. His response?
“You should just stay off the Internet.”
Because it was my fault for being there, where my ex-husband could watch me. If I had gone offline or gone anonymous, if I had altered MY life, why then that mentally ill spying stalking hacking pervert wouldn’t have been able to upset me.
How are “regular” women supposed to deal with online harassment when even movie stars like Leslie Jones are verbally and visually battered by males online until they feel they have no choice but to give up their online presence?
What the fuck is wrong with Twitter and Facebook and Tumblr and all the other sites who want us there, but are apparently incapable of taking measures to make us safe on their sites?
And what the fuck is wrong with people like my doctor and the woman who shot off her stupid mouth about Leslie Jones’s poise in the face of horrifying sexual and racist harassment? We have every right to be online. NO ONE has the right to torture us because they’re upset by the fact that we are living our fucking lives without consulting them first.
Edit: I was so angry when I wrote this that I forgot to include the incident earlier this year where a couple of lunatics targeted me because they didn’t like the fact that I complained on Facebook about a business’s poor service. They set up a Twitter account devoted solely to posting hundreds of libelous tweets about me, and they followed my closest Twitter friends from that account, apparently believing that my friends would take their lies seriously. That didn’t happen. My friends alerted me to the account. I reported it to Twitter with screenshots and other evidence proving their motivation.
Twitter found no violation of their precious TOS. Only me stalking my stalkers, discovering that one was using a work email address and engaging in the behavior during work hours, and calling her employer stopped the stalking.