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Feminism and Twitter

Dear Badger,

I love Twitter. I think it’s funny, informative and a great way to connect with other people and listen to different opinions. I tweet about pretty much anything and this week, feminism has been on my mind a lot.

It started off when Eric Spivak (an American CEO of a marketing company) set up a campaign on Fundly.com. This campaign wasn’t to help a sick child or save the environment – no, this was for something of far greater importance: to raise money to pay for the pop-star Taylor Swift to buy herself a new arse. The campaign, titled ‘Get Taylor Swift a Booty’, intends to raise $3,500 by the 4th of January 2015, presumably so she can use the money for surgery. Before long the American DJ/music producer, Diplo, real name Thomas Pentz, tweeted his support to this worthy cause. Taylor Swift has a really flat bum, right? It’s nice that there are people out there who want to help her improve herself.

I am, of course, being sarcastic. Eric Spivak and Diplo want to change Taylor Swift because she doesn’t conform to their warped concepts of how women should look and I think this is horrendous. Taylor Swift is a fairly petite woman so how is she supposed to get an enormous bum? Surgery, of course! As if it isn’t bad enough to make fun of her, Mr. Spivak actually wants to pressure her into surgery and will even give her the money for it. I don’t think this is ok, even if it is ‘JUST A JOKE’. Whether you love her or hate her, Taylor Swift is a talented woman: she has won 7 Grammy awards, has plenty of successful singles, and she’s only 24 years old. The size of her arse does not change this. I tweeted about it (of course) and was pleased to see that many others agreed with me about how ridiculous the ‘Get Taylor Swift a Booty’ campaign is.

Then I watched Daniel O’Reilly’s (AKA Dapper Laughs) Newsnight interview – if you haven’t seen it yet, please YouTube it. My housemate and I both had ‘friends’ on Facebook defending him and we could not understand why so I predictably took to Twitter. I expressed my disgust towards the sexism and the perpetuation of rape-culture that Dapper Laughs claimed was ‘JUST A JOKE’. Since I made those tweets I’ve been told to “f**k off”, to “get a grip”, I’ve been called a “cock”, a “f**king pansy” and someone decided I “must be a virgin”. All because I was horrified to see him encouraging young, impressionable men caught up in ‘lad-culture’ to force a woman’s shirt off with a knife or grab her ‘minge’ and claim it was an accident. One of my followers pointed out that I probably got off lightly – if I’d been a woman then I probably would have received rape threats or other threats of violence. But I’m a man so I just got insults directed at my masculinity. Hooray for heteronormativity.

The thing is, these things aren’t ‘JUST A JOKE’. The argument I’ve seen a lot is “well Jimmy Carr and Frankie Boyle make fun of disabled people and everyone’s ok with that”. Except they aren’t actually going up to disabled children and punching them in the face, are they? Dapper Laughs had a REALITY TV show – REALITY. Comedians will always be offensive but at least it stays in the arena of comedy; Dapper Laughs was actually being a misogynistic, rapey creep and Eric Spivak and Diplo were actually raising real money from real people to try and force a real young woman into changing herself through surgery.

I suppose I was a bit naïve. Being a Sociology student I of course realise we live in a patriarchal society; gender inequality and heteronormativity are deeply embedded in so many social institutions, whether it’s employment, the family, education or the government (and as a homosexual I can relate to this too). But I thought that such overt sexism and misogyny only came from the minds and mouths of bitter, old, white men who vote UKIP. Unfortunately, the abuse I received on Twitter came from two young men in their twenties, around the same age as me. How naïve I was.

But I’m still tweeting. I know it probably seems trivial but like I said, Twitter, and the Internet in general, is a great way to connect with and to teach others and to learn yourself. Dapper Laughs’ fans and the ‘philanthropists’ donating to the Taylor Swift campaign are the minority, I’m sure of it. I’ll concentrate instead on the 100+ retweets and favourites I got in support, the 20,000+ signatures a recent (successful) petition against ITV renewing Dapper Laughs’ show got, and all my friends and family who are as disgusted at sexism and the perpetuation of rape-culture as I am.

It’s not that I expect every single person in the world to instantly have the same thoughts and opinions as me (although I do think that any social inequality needs to be fought) but if you’re going to support such misogyny then at least try and justify it with something a bit more intelligent than ‘IT’S JUST A JOKE’.

Jack Dale 

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