Monday, 9 May 2011

Asking for it?

I can't help but notice that it seems to be the fashion nowadays to up one's blog hits by writing random, ad-feminam 'let's hate on Laurie Penny' posts. My response to today's 'in defence of' post by Rumbold at Pickled Politics says basically all I want to say on the subject of attention-seeking, stalky haterz. The first bit is a response to a claim that, because I wrote about being hit by a bit of fence thrown by some protestors AND by a copper on the 26th of March, I must have fabricated my entire report on the TUC demos.

Thank you Rumbold for this post.

Underflow at 9: I maintain that what I wrote about March 26 was the absolute truth. I was hit by a flying piece of fence that some protesters threw at the police AND by a police shield that day. It’s hardly uncontradictory, I was in the middle of a big fuckoff police battle and, as a reporter, I was unable to pick up anything to defend myself. You can choose not to believe it if you wish, but I am a journalist and I tell the truth. Sorry if that truth makes you uncomfortable.

As for the comment at 3 on asking why I don’t choose to respond to every single carping, bitching ad hominem directed against me – I simply can’t be bothered to engage with mindless personal attacks. I have no particular duty to do so. I have written (and you can find on my blog) all I wish to say about privilege, ‘romantic’ writing, the difference between narrative and fiction, etc, etc – questions that have been raised with me by readers whose respectful critiques I respect in turn.

I know, most of my readers know, and my friends know that I try to be a principled, honest and good-hearted professional with a deep understanding of the ways that class, gender and race intersect with my writing. I don’t have to respond to every crabby little troll to address those issues.

The posts you link to, far from being ‘accurate’, are snide, pissy, poorly-written personal attacks. They’re the blog equivalent of calling someone up, heavy-breathing at them down the phone for a while and then getting enraged when they don’t respond. If people want to see me as a cartoon punching-bag, then fine, but they can hardly get pissy at me for refusing to respond to their childish rants. I have far, far more important things to do.

To which I would add: it's BORING. Every five minutes I spend responding to some random dick-swinging troll on the internet is five minutes not spent researching the legitimacy of international adoption, or working on my book, or answering emails, or reading journals, or going to solidarity meetings, or snatching the occasional bit of downtime, or doing the washing up, or digging little bits of fluff out of my belly button, all of which are activities more deserving of my immediate attention than a small tribe of bitchy online hate-weasels.

I do not believe that, by being young, female and/or opinionated in public, anyone is ever 'asking' for the hateful, poisonous rape threats and death threats that I regularly receive, as do many other women and lefties who write online, especially if we have the temerity to be feminists. [[On the misogyny and rape-bombing question, Cath Elliott's post 'An Occupational Hazard' is a must-read.]] Even if I'd run out of things to say, even if I felt that ceasing to write were any more feasible an option for me than ceasing to breathe, I would probably carry on writing and reporting simply out of a wish to refuse to allow misogynist reactionaries shriek and scream the feminist left off the internet. As it happens, there is more to say. And a pile of important work to do, which I should get on with now.

Thanks to those who have written and blogged in support during the various rapebombing and hatestorms. It makes a huge, huge difference. hashtag-Solidarity.


  1. I agree with this so much, the amount of stupid idiotic self-centred trolls wanting to waste a persons time means that the only sensible response is to just ignore them.

  2. Thank you so much for ignoring the haters and carrying on with what you do. Your writing IS such an inspiration to other young women and lefties (myself included!) and I appreciate it immensely.

  3. Well said Penny.

    You are a good writer, a bloody good righter. And you are going to get even better.

    Young! Not young to be armed and fighting in our mindless wars. Not young to be saving lives as a medic in our fabulous NHS. Not young to be a police officer. Not young to be raising a family.

    This has nothing to do with your age. The abuse is heaped on you because you are woman, a very capable woman with an intelligent mind of her own.

    And that will never do in this country, a country of so many pathetic specimens who see fit to attack you for daring to use your intellect.

  4. Having had to deal with internet trolls, I agree -- the best policy is to ignore them and not engage with them.

    To do otherwise is to dignify their actions with acknowledgement that they do not deserve.

  5. Well said! I don't always agree with everything you say, but I do think personal attacks in any circumstances are completely out of order.

    I also think part of the problem is that our politicians behave so badly that we've become conditioned to expect that anyone who gets involved politically, in any way, should expect to be a target for them. If the House of Commons didn't resemble a school playground, then perhaps there would be less political name-calling and mud-slinging outside it too. I personally think the way our politicians (in general - there are honourable exceptions) behave is a national disgrace, and the present two-party system (effectively what it is) only encourages that.

    Anyway. I would prefer to encourage *you*. :-)

  6. You mean NOT let misogynist reactionaries scream etc, don't you?

    Good post; don't give the trolls your time.

  7. The level of personal abuse you receive is in inverse proportion to the truth you reveal, through which the naysayers and the uninformed are exposed.
    We need your committed, passionate, intelligent and articulate voice. The unequal society we live in with its millions of deprived and burdened souls need the constancy and energy you display in your writings and personal actions.
    In admiration. Solidarity and love


  9. I am well aware of the snide ad hominem attacks from such sad and contemptible bigotry. The disgusting misogyny you are subjected to for your uncompromising principle and stand for justice is even worse. Solidarity and empathy to you, Laurie.

  10. You're inspirational, and you're telling (at least one) story that nobody else does except for gags: the protest movement, seen not from helicopter but from the street. So yeah, "illegitimi non carborundum" and stuff.

  11. I think you meant 'It's hardly contradictory', LP, no need for the 'un'.

    You've just been poked by the Dagger ;)

    When you opined that it's fashionable to 'hate on Laurie', I was reminded of that bit in The Simpsons where Marge sympathises with [Homer's?] tale of teasing at school with 'Kids can be cruel', and Bart, passing by, says, 'They *can*? Gee, thanks, Mom!', and rushes off to hit Lisa. I have resisted the urge to toss off something juicy (oo-er), however.

    But... reporters can't defend themselves? I thought that was pacifists...

  12. I've noticed that you are receiving quite a bit of personal stick recently. Like you said its boorish, the same old run of the mill criticism .. I suspect that you delete quite a few nasty comments. Maybe I'll start taking the piss out of some of the insulters.

    Be strong Laurie.

  13. Laurie you are such a legend. And if there was ever a prize awarded for delivering the most eloquent insults you would win it hands down! Keep doing what you're doing.

  14. here here, stay strong! xx

  15. The only good thing I have to say about the recent royal wedding was that a friend created a facebook link to your New Statesman article on the subject, which introduced me to your writing.

    It was insightful and intelligent, and witty. Whilst I respect intelligently put counter points from those I disagree with, the majority of those disagreeing with you were simply patronising 'oh dear silly little girl' type comments and worse.

    Such people would do better to stick within their comfort zones of The Daily Mail/Mein Kampf

  16. Laurie Penny I think you're wonderful. I've only been following you for a few weeks now after your coverage of the Bristol tesco riots. For one of those weeks I was far away from the internet but I thought about you and I hoped you were doing alright. I've been telling my friends about you and I've even told mum. I think I'm in love. Take care and keep up the good fight xx

  17. What is going on in the Tory party? It seem that their 2011 sinking ship will not be Europe but "rape" . Not Again!!!

    Certainly when it comes to rape they show a lot of in depth knowledge on the many way and different types of rape. This time is Roger Helmer Tory MP who illuminates us how some boys are tricked into raping by these luring sirens whose attractions can be fatal "when a woman "voluntarily goes to her boyfriend's apartment, voluntarily goes into the bedroom, voluntarily undresses and gets into bed, perhaps anticipating sex, or naively expecting merely a cuddle.

    "But at the last minute she gets cold feet and says 'Stop!' The young man, in the heat of the moment, is unable to restrain himself and carries on.
    As I was reading this I thought it was joke!!!Sadly it is not.

    How is that the Tories are so keen to distinguish between the various types of rape? Kenneth Clarke is a "good liberal" -aaaahhh poor thing, wouldn't you give him a cuddle?- Better him as Justice Secretary, say some tory apologists, than a Tory right wing like bright spark John Redgrave who back in 2007 wrote:
    "..there is a difference between a man using unreasonable force to assault a woman on the street, and a disagreement between two lovers over whether there was consent on one particular occasion when the two were spending an evening or night together"
    The old theme is coming out again which make me think at those poor wives they are living with....

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