“I Have Arrived!” Sexism, Facebook and Politics

My Experience With Casual Misogyny

Attacking women's looks to get them to shut up is entirely too common.

Attacking women’s looks to get them to shut up is entirely too common.

A couple of weeks or so ago I broke my usual rule on offering political opinions on Facebook and wrote the following: “Tom Cotton is an Ass.”

Why did I write this? I wrote it, because as a gay person, I was pretty offended that Tom Cotton felt it was appropriate to tell us that we are lucky we don’t live in Iran where they execute gay people, so we shouldn’t be so worried about our rights here in the US.

Someone…Takes Offense

In response to my post, most people agreed that John Cotton is an ass. Had someone disagreed, I wouldn’t have thought too much of it. I have over 1000 Facebook friends. Not all of them share my views. But, one person wrote that he had spoken to Tom Cotton and Tom Cotton told him to tell me that I am a “fat cunt.” The person who posted this was a lawyer. I’ll call him FC.

As it happened, I was away from my computer for several hours. When I returned and saw what FC had written, I was a bit startled. After all, his language was so far beyond what I had written about Cotton, so beyond what is acceptable and so beyond what I would expect to read from another lawyer, that I was taken aback by it.  My response was to simply delete the posts by FC, block him, tell everyone who had been following the conversation that the language was deleted and the person blocked, and moved on.

Let’s Look Closer

Let’s look at what FC chose to do. He chose to attack me as a woman, by calling me a cunt. And he chose to attack my looks by calling me fat. He did this simply because I called a politician an ass. This is exactly what women mean when we tell men that we face casual misogyny in the online world. Had FC said to me, you are an ass too. Well, I wouldn’t have thought much of it. But instead he chose a different approach. He chose to try to demean me through my gender and my appearance.

This, my friends, is sexism in its simplest form. An effort to silence a woman by insulting her looks, since looks are all that women should care about…right? How dare that fat cunt attack a man? Well, FC will do that man a favor and put that woman in her place. And by doing so, he will make her think twice about insulting a man in the future. Or so people like FC seem to think.

A Teaching Moment

As it happened, I spoke at the ABA Tech Show last week. One of my topics was how lawyers can use social media without getting in trouble. I told the audience about my experience. When I told the room of lawyers that someone called me a fat “c” they all gasped.  That is because we, in polite society, recognize that this kind of language is not acceptable. But my point was well taken. Using such language online shows a lack of judgment.  Such conduct is simply not something that members of the bar ought to engage in. Really, no one should be calling someone else a cunt. But my focus was on lawyers getting themselves in trouble via social media.  Keep in mind, at that point, I hadn’t posted anything about my experience. Nor did I use FC’s name in my discussion.

FC Follows Me To Quora

casual misogyny

A lesson in casual misogyny.

I answer a lot of questions on a site called Quora. Today, while looking at the site, I saw that someone had edited a question to which I wrote an answer. The question had been about whether Obama could run for president again. A person name “CF” changed the question to read “Why is Jennifer Ellis a fatty?”  Now, I imagine you will forgive me for assuming that CF is my good friend, FC. (In case it isn’t apparent, the person simply reversed his first and last name.)

Quora edited the post immediately so that it was restored and banned FC. FC didn’t have much of a presence on the site. So it looks like he really came along just to attack me.

Apparently, FC feels so strongly about Cotton and my calling him an ass, that he followed me to Quora so he could try to insult me some more. I guess my lack of a response wasn’t enough for him. It would seem that not only did FC want to insult me. But he wanted me to care. I suppose he wants me to hurt? I guess that says more about FC than anything else. And what it says is pretty sad.

The Problem For FC

The problem for FC is this. I don’t care that a random man on the Internet has called me names. I know I am heavy and I know I am not a cunt. So there you have it. Posting in other locations isn’t going to change my opinion of myself. But it might have an impact on how I choose to handle the situation. Especially if I start feeling as if FC is engaging in online stalking. Stalking will lead me to contact the office of disciplinary counsel in FC’s state. Not something I feel I need to do just yet.

This is, of course, assuming FC is actually a lawyer. Both his Facebook account and his Quora account were fake. But, with some effort, it wouldn’t be too hard for me and the others who have since unfriended him to figure out who he really is. If he gives us reason to do so. The ball, as they say, is in FC’s court.

I Let People Know

At this point, I decided that people needed to know what FC had done. I didn’t feel that I should let him get away with using the language he used towards a human being, a woman and a lawyer. I posted on Facebook to let people know about what had happened. Not too surprisingly, the responses came fast and furious. Aside from some jokes clearly meant to make me feel better people immediately started unfriending FC. They also thanked me for telling them. If they weren’t friends with him, they said now they knew who not to friend. On a Facebook Quora page, people immediately started telling me that they were sorry that I had to deal with such a thing. The phrase “You have arrived” in the title of this post, comes from one person who was responding to the idea that someone cared enough about what I wrote to follow me to another site. My response? “Woot!”

Reputation Matters

FC and others like him should take this post as a lesson. Your behavior online matters. How you treat people online matters. And if you decide to use misogynistic language, other people aren’t going to take it very well. FC may not ever  see this post. But he may be wondering why he is experiencing a decline in his number of friends on Facebook.

 

 

And, apparently, I have arrived.

 

Woot!

 

 

 

Is Your Website Mobile Friendly?

Ready for Google’s Mobile Update?

Google's mobile update

Is your website ready for the Google mobile update?

If you pay attention to SEO (search engine optimization) at all, then you know that Google is releasing a change to mobile ranking. Sites that are not mobile friendly will take a serious hit on SERPs (search engine result pages) for people searching on mobile devices.

If you aren’t sure if your site is mobile friendly, check it using Google’s tool.

Not Mobile Friendly? Fix it Quickly!

If you fail this test, you had best get busy prior to early next week. If you use WordPress you can use one of any number of plugins to make your site mobile. WPTouch is a good one. If you are not on WordPress, I suggest you get started with a hosted mobile site by using a service such as DudaMobile. I tested this service a few years back and it worked well. There are myriad other services that perform the same task. You pay a monthly fee, it creates a mobile version of your site, you drag and drop to make some basic edits, and you are set.

Make Sure Your Mobile Site Works Well

I am suggesting you do whatever you need to to get your site mobile friendly right away. But once you do this, you should work on a site redesign as necessary. You want to make sure that your website doesn’t only pass Google’s test, but a user friendly test as well. Check out your site on different types of devices (you can use plugins on desktop browsers to do this, but I also suggest you physically look on as many different phones and tablets as you can) and make sure that your site is easy to use. If whatever measure you have used to make your site mobile friendly doesn’t give you a user friendly result, you need to make some changes on your site. A complete site redesign may be necessary. You might choose to have two different designs (one for mobile and one for desktop) or you might choose to go with a responsive design. A responsive design is one that changes automatically based on the size of the user’s screen.

Working Contact Information is Critical

Make sure that your contact information is readily available. Frequently, on responsive sites, the contact box ends up towards the bottom. This isn’t a huge deal as long as you have a readily available phone number on the top as well as a contact page that is easily accessible for mobile users.  Make sure that you test out whether your phone number is clickable and works on mobile phones. This means that when someone on a phone clicks the number it dials it for them. Sometimes the phone number is set as a link, and that link tries to open a webpage instead of actually dialing a number. That is useless. Make a point of checking this, because many people who find you on mobile may just be looking for your phone number.

Conclusion

If you aren’t ready for mobile get ready now. Don’t wait. If you do, who knows how long it will take you to recover from the algorithmic hit if you wait until after the update is released.

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