Daily Life columnist, Clementine Ford, was recently the victim of a hateful online attack because she made a man accountable for his actions online, and he lost his job over it his behaviour. Angry people targeted Clem with threats of sexual violence, assault and death because she “cost an innocent man his livelihood.”
Clementine did not demand that he be fired, she simply contacted the employer listed on his public facebook page and asked them if they were aware of how their supervisor treats women online. They chose to terminate his employment, because of his behaviour. Not hers. You can read more about that here.
The shitstorm that followed was repugnant. Clementine was threatened with despicable violence, gun shots to the face, rape, you name it. Reading the list of threats and insults was awful (you can see them here) and I can’t imagine how I would cope if that shitstorm landed on my doorstep. But Clem didn’t go to pieces. She just kept writing.
Clementine is known for starting debates online, and not everyone loves what she does, but what she says or how she says it is not the point. The fact that she should be able to say it without receiving death threats on her public pages is the point.
Today is the beginning of a movement on social media. A group of 400 women in women are standing together and saying no more. No more will we let Clem bear the brunt of this attack alone, but it’s not even about Clem anymore. It’s about all of us. Freedom of our speech and to feel safe in voicing our opinions.
There were a few voices in that strong group of women that said they feared for the consequences of what is going to go down today, this social media rising. They feared these groups of men would find them, and their families and the wave of hate would be turned on them, and I admit I’ve thought long and hard about whether I should be involved.
I’m an open book, my life is online and for the most part, I get away with it, but then I thought isn’t that the point of all of this?
Isn’t it the point that we as women are fighting to not be afraid in our homes, on the streets, online?
These men – they are not exclusively men, but a vast majority are – need to be held to account. Social media platforms should provide more protection. And legislators, in all jurisdictions, must work together to stop violence against women.
Online bullying, threats, and insults are cyber violence, and today we will take a stand specifically against Clem Ford’s attackers, in the hope of making a change in the safety of women online.
Today on social media we will take a stand against online violence against women.
It may be just a small drop in the ocean, but eventually the drops add up to a wave, and that may be the wave of change.