It's no secret nowadays that the Internet is not a very nice place for feminists. And in response to all that nastiness, Mic.com decided to have feminists read mean tweets people direct their way, in the style of Jimmy Kimmel's videos in which celebrities read mean tweets about themselves. Because really, feminists are cooler than celebrity feminists. (Except, I guess, for celebrity feminists?)
The tweets in the video range from fairly ridiculous and inadvertently funny ("You have hipster glasses and an invalid opinion") to disturbing ("Like anyone would rape you! Don't flatter yourself, stupid b***h") to straight up threats ("I personally want to rape you and think you deserve it"). But the overall impression remains the same: women get a lot of abuse online.
The key difference, of course, between this video and the videos in which celebrities read mean tweets about themselves on Jimmy Kimmel, is that celebrities would almost certainly not have seen those tweets otherwise. I mean, Nick Offerman is probably not looking to see if anyone thinks his hands are small compared to his head. Celebrities have way better things to do than care about what people says about them on social media, and they may have people running their Twitter feeds.
But for feminists who are just normal people, people speaking out about injustice in the world and using social media as a platform to make themselves heard, a constant stream of criticism, harassment, and threats is not just mean-spirited, it can have real negative consequences. Realistically, it doesn't matter to Cate Blanchett if some random guy on the Internet calls her gross, but it does matter to a normal woman if someone threatens to rape and murder her. And as we have seen, when harassment escalates to doxxing — releasing someone's personal information, such as bank account numbers of home address — things can get very bad for women, very fast.
So as funny as it is to watch celebrities find out that someone who has probably never been near them thinks they smell like cat pee, it's even more important to remember that people being mean on the Internet isn't always just unpleasant, easily ignored stupidity — sometimes it's an insidious way of trying to silence people speaking out. And that is not OK.