If you’re not familiar with what happened, Curt Schilling (who holds the type of politics and weird-ass beliefs about science that make my head want to explode) congratulated his daughter who is off to college to play softball. No big, right?
Except, y’know, that meant the usual vile set of rape and death threats came along, except this time instead of being aimed at a woman, they were aimed at her father – just using her as the token. And you know what, they’re awful and revolting and make you despair for humankind. Just like these threats always do. They weren’t new or inventive, but instead of being aimed at upsetting and shuttingup a woman, they were aimed at upsetting her Dad. For the lulz, AFAICT.
And then, this is where it gets interesting. Curt Schilling publishes some of the more vile comments by some of the people who kept at it, identifies them, calls them out and boom – all of a sudden they’re gone from the internet, sacked from their jobs and lost their sports scholarships. In 24 hours.
While there’s a large part of my that’s going ‘huzzah, fucking finally!’, there’s another large part of me that is so hugely frustrated that I don’t know if I’m going to finish writing before my head explodes.
There’s like, 4 points here.
- This is what the White Ribbon campaign* and spots like those Anti-rape posters in Canberra are about. Guys telling other guys that their behaviour is out of line. There’s a tonne of research** on this stuff about blokes influencing other blokes’ behaviour, particularly in the teen/young male age range. If you’re a guy, PLEASE don’t let a rape joke go by without saying something. It makes a material difference on how safe your female friends are going to be.
- This one instance doesn’t give sport as a whole, and especially American College sport as a whole the right to pat itself on the back and think they’re awesome about how they handle rape threats and stuff. OF COURSE these guys never thought there’d be a problem with the bullshit they were saying because in lots of instances there’s no repercussions for actually raping someone***
- And honestly, if you look at the NFL, there’s no problem with straight up domestic assault either. Of course young male athletes think they’re OK no matter what.
- Add to that the complete lack of repercussions for online bullying of women like…fucking GamerGate. It’s kind of like an amped-up, horrifying version of sports-culture. It’s like there wasn’t an ‘Alpha Male-y’ Curt Schilling around when that bullshit kicked off and so we’re in a place where the violent sexual assault and death threats are so specific and believable that people have fled their homes and the FBI are involved. There’s been no 24 hour turn-around here. Instead there’s been speaking gigs cancelled due to credible threats of mass-shootings and the figurehead of the movement (willingly or unwillingly) is still being paid to come to the biggest pop-culture expo in Australia. And big business advertisers pulling their campaigns and funding from websites and publishers that dare to say the whole thing is bullshit and lies. And every woman I know self-censoring about this particular issue because no sane person wants to subject themselves to that level of internet harrassment and violence, even while we’re all recognising that not saying something is letting the assholes win.
So yeah, I’m happy Curt Schilling stood up. I’m also frustrated as hell because the only voices that get heard across our culture are STILL conservative white male voices. I mean, fuck. C’mon people.
So yeah, I’m angry. I’m angry at a culture that only seems to come to the defence of women when a man calls for it. I’m angry at the culture that’s let these guys get away with this bullshit for so long that most of them think Curt Schilling is over-reacting. I’m angry that it seems you need to be almost incidental to the issue to get this kind of support as a victim. I’m angry that people like Mike and Mike are unleashing a frothing cesspit of moral outrage about this but pro-sport as a whole continues to have a fucking disastrous relationship with women.
And most of all, I’m fucking furious that Curt Schilling’s response isn’t the response that every sane person has, every time this shit goes down.
* “I swear never to commit, excuse or remain silent about violence against women. This is my oath.”
** Like, actual bucketloads. The references for this one research review, which just happened to be the easiest to find on the google are just a start. And I note that this article particularly identifies sports organisations, frats, the military and religious institutions as the places with attitudes most supportive of violence towards women – http://www.academia.edu/444508/Factors_Influencing_Attitudes_to_Violence_Against_Women_Journal_article_2009_
***This is a survey of the times something actually did get done, you know after they’d finished threatening the victim,and screwing with natural justice. And largely said players went off to have fabulously wealthy NFL careers later, anyway.