Posted on | February 16, 2016 | 60 Comments
During the #GamerGate controversy, feminists used the accusation of online “harassment” as proof that the videogame industry was a bastion of misogyny. Yet what, if anything, did this prove?
Go back and study the case of the perverted Reddit troll Violentacrez. The illusion of anonymity in the online world tends to enable antisocial behavior. There are now three billion people with Internet access, and even if only a single-digit percentage of those people are creeps and freaks, that still translates to many millions of abusive weirdos online. You cannot use Violentacrez to claim everybody on Reddit is a pervert, nor can you use examples of “harassment” to claim that every videogamer is a misogynist. If any categorical group of people (e.g., public school teachers) is large enough, it is easy to find examples of bad behavior (e.g., molestation of students) within the group, without implicating the entire group in this bad behavior.
Well, what about the audience of the TV quiz show Jeopardy? It’s one of the five most popular shows in syndication, and guess what? Some of its viewers are creeps and freaks. Former contestant Talia Lavin explains:
When Tiombi Prince competed on Jeopardy! in December 2015, she was fulfilling a childhood dream.
But after the show aired, she was inundated with sexual comments. Men sent messages congratulating her on her two-day win—and told her how much they liked her lips. White men, she said, told her how much they liked black women. One man was so persistent—sending her his email address, his “stats”—that it reminded her of an experience she’d had of being stalked after a single, disastrous blind date.
Elizabeth Williams, who received her own share of Internet fame after referencing Cheers in her Final Jeopardy answer, told me her personal Facebook page had been posted in the comments section of a blog post about her entitled “This Chick On Jeopardy Is Batshit Crazy And It’s A Huge Turn On.” She was bombarded with hundreds of friend requests from men.
“I’ve never been the least bit prudish, but I definitely felt creeped out by all of their comments,” Lynsey McMullen, who appeared on the quiz show in December, told me. (On Twitter, users told Lynsey she was “giving the buzzer a handjob” and that she looked “like someone you’d see in a MILF porn.”) “There was also a part of me that made me feel like I had brought this attention upon myself,” she said.
Appearing on America’s favorite quiz show—the show so staid and reliable that John Oliver quipped at last year’s Emmys that it might just be the most permanent fixture on earth—can make female contestants feel that they are running a sexualized gauntlet of unwelcome tweets, emails, and Facebook messages replete with explicit sexual material. I know, because I was one of them.
When I taped the show in August, I knew I’d bombed and tried to salvage it with a joke. I wasn’t prepared for that joke . . . to go viral when the show aired in September. Twitter chatter during the game led to an article on Uproxx, then more and more elsewhere, and a YouTube video whose views ballooned into the millions in the following days. The experience of going viral is brief but intense. It had the peculiar urgency of a dream—especially when I started reading the comments.
Scrolling through the thousand or so comments on the (since-deleted) YouTube video, I felt my skin start to crawl. My joke on a quiz show had somehow devolved into a group discussion of my breasts. . . .
You can read the whole thing. My point is that, while most viewers of Jeopardy are not creeps and freaks, any popular TV show will have a large enough audience that there will be some creeps and freaks among them. Provided access to an online forum where they can “talk back” to the women on the show, the creeps and freaks will say creepy, freaky stuff. However, this proves nothing in particular about the Jeopardy audience, nor does it prove anything about men in general.
Talia Lavin (@chick_in_kiev) on "Jeopardy."
— Robert Stacy McCain (@rsmccain) February 17, 2016
Consider the phenomenon of “catcalling.” Some men engage in this boorish behavior, but most men don’t. Why, then, do feminists try to use catcalling to indict all men as complicit in “misogyny,” “objectification,” etc.? It should be obvious that the kind of guys who catcall women are not reading feminist blogs. Most catcallers seem to be barely literate, and many of them apparently don’t even speak English, so what purpose is served by the endless complaints from feminist bloggers about catcalling? Is it just about claiming victimhood?