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Twitter's latest unfunny trend: #killallmen

A satire turns into a serious conversation -- but mostly it's an excuse for both sexes to be obnoxious


Mary Elizabeth Williams
May 7, 2013 8:32PM (UTC)

This is why we can't have nice things: Every day, plenty of nice, reasonably normal women are already tired from defending the word "feminism" from the angry, annoying trolls who think that acknowledging sexism means misandry. And then we wake up and see that #killallmen is trending on Twitter, and we just want to turn this car around until everybody can behave themselves.

I swear to God, no ice cream for anybody today, Twitter.

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Nobody really thinks a hashtag is a serious call to genocide. One doesn't go looking for great pearls of wisdom in a form whose crowning achievement is the motivational #risenandgrind, either. And Twitter is already a reliably rich trove of trending topics that are openly hostile to females, usually employing some version of the word "slut."  I fully believe that if we could convert all the misogyny on Twitter into a fuel source, we could reverse climate change in one hour. But there's nothing quite like gleeful shoe-on-the-other-foot bullying disguised as satire to give the most tiresome elements of the men's right's lobby – and they are legion -- fuel for their own self-righteous sense of victimhood.

On the one hand, you've got ladies saying -- with apparent straight faces -- that "reducing men to 1 in 4 would solve many of Society's problems," that "it's about women voicing their justified anger" and musing that "the reaction from men alone might be worth it" to start deploying the tag. Even the somewhat more reasonable but still hopelessly misguided argument that "The #Killallmen tag is just a reaction to the daily oppression and violence women face by the patriarchy day in, and day out" ignores that it still boils down to justifiable grossness, and chum in the troll water.

Then, when a woman asks, "Hey, everyone objecting to #killallmen because it's violent-- why aren't you shouting at rapists? Go do that" and it gets a bunch of retweets, suddenly opposition to women acting like jerks means that you're somehow pro-rape.

And so, sure enough, right on cue, there's a glut of dudes self-righteously pointing and declaring, "Congrats feminists, you've become hate filled irrationalists " and laughing at feminism's "childish posturing, whining, and identity politics." It's also been a fine opportunity for non-feminist females to distance themselves even further from the pack, taunting, "Dear feminists... Guess how I know you're gay."

On her "Another Angry Woman" blog, Twitter user stavvers justifies the tag as simply "a revenge fantasy," arguing that "when women fight back, it is seen as disgusting: it allows the system to thrive." I'm grateful for her articulation of an honest sentiment. But I'm also bummed at anything that perpetuates the notion that feminism secretly wants to be as mean, violent and oppressive as the worst elements of misogyny. I'm grossed out when anybody co-opts the lame "Hey it's just free speech! Can't you take a joke?" line as an excuse to be a tool, and really, really worn out when the MRAs get their hooks into anything that seems to confirm their argument that we're all a bunch of raging penis destroyers.

Yeah, it's just a hashtag. But what happens when you reduce human communication to a microscopic number of characters is that you're not just going to oversimplify the bejesus out everything. You're also going to get a sometimes chillingly boiled down view into the human heart and mind. And in a world of institutionalized violence, casual sexism and daily micro-aggressions, creating a better, kinder world doesn't start with empowering women to be jerks.

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Mary Elizabeth Williams

Mary Elizabeth Williams is a staff writer for Salon and the author of "A Series of Catastrophes & Miracles."

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Related Topics ------------------------------------------

Feminism Internet Culture #killallmen Men's Rights Misogyny Twitter

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