A Japanese-American woman named Mia Matsumiya decided to post ten years of online harassment and post them on an Instagram account she called “Perv Magnet.” The messages are lewd, sexually aggressive, and sometimes overtly violent. The language is crude and explicit. An example: “I wouldn’t fuck you. I would fuck the shit outcha. Morning, noon and night. Till ya black and blue.” In another series, posted earlier this week, a man outlined his plan for his Friday night at the club: "i'm going to look for a chick to pick up but this time it will be different. i will be hunting down a chick [who] looks as close as possible to you." The messages go on to detail how the man plans on having unprotected anal sex with the woman he has "hunted down" while "I'll be pretending I'm fucking you."
There are over 1,000 of these kinds of messages. So it averages out to about 100 a year, or one about every three days. But it is probably more, since these are not all the messages she has received, just the worst. The writers of these obscenities all seem to be men–not boys, not girls, and not women.
A month into its existence, “Perv Magnet” has become a trending topic with 48.8k followers voyeuristically reading the offensive, often threatening messages she has received. A depressingly large number of comments offer some variation of 1) she’s not hot enough for men to send her pornographic declarations of love, so she’s making them up for attention, 2) she’s super hot so of course men send her obscene messages and she’s posting them to get more attention, 3) if the men sending her violent pervy messages were handsome/rich/famous, she would feel complimented instead of violated.
That some men send predatory sexual messages to women is a hardly undiscovered country. Comedian and performance artist Kristina Wong tells me that a lot of men write her “long emails about their attraction towards Asian women or their anxieties about white privilege,” and that sometimes she gets “awful emails where I become an effigy for them to attack.” The Instagram account, “Bye Felipe,” calls out men who have turned hostile against women who have rejected them. A skeptical man posed online as a woman on a dating site, just because he thought “womenz is always lyin' 'bout how shitty we haz it on teh internetz, and wanted to prove that ladies have a way easier time finding a match than teh poor menz.” He quit after 2 hours, unable to deal with the level of sexual violence begin hurled at him.
So the internet is a cesspool. But Matsumiya’s experiences illuminates a particularly dark corner where misogyny, fetishism, and racism intersect. “Being 4’9″, Asian American and a musical performer has sort of been a nightmare combination when it comes to harassment,” she told the Huffington Post. “It seems to attract an insane amount of unacceptable, predatory behavior.” She is the size of a child and small enough to fit inside a pillowcase; yet she is a professional musician, possessed of a skill set that takes years of specialized artistic training. In 2010, she was the girlfriend of James Gunn (director of “Guardians of the Galaxy”), who wrote a very strange blog post about his hobby of making her get into tiny spaces (a mini-fridge, a hamper, a pillowcase), and taking photographs of her en boîte, so to speak. (After publication, Gunn reached out to me to clarify that it was Matsumiya's idea to stuff herself into small spaces, not his.) Whether they are still a couple is unclear, but Gunn has chimed in on all the coverage that “Perv-Magnet,” has generated, tweeting that she ought to keep on reposting the vile comments being made about the gross messages and keep them going in an infinite loop.
By saving these “creepy” messages and creating a space to host them, Matumiya has turned herself into the curator of an online cabinet of pornographic curiosities. It should come as no surprise that she is a fan of cryptozoology—animals that may or may not exist and which are sometimes hoaxes, such as the Fiji Mermaid—as the men writing to her fill similarly ambiguous spaces hovering between familiarity and the hidden. With this virtual display, she is informing the willfully oblivious that ordinary monsters inhabit the everyday, and that when men act like animals, they ought to be showcased, giving them them all they attention they think they deserve.