Spot-on comic shows what it’s like to be a woman on the internet, and toxic comments only prove its point
Being a woman navigating the internet and social media comes with no shortage of uncomfortable downsides. Creepy “compliments,” harassment, slut-shaming, rape and death threats, and, ah yes, endless mansplaining whenever you share an opinion (especially if that opinion regards your uterus!) have become run of the mill for females active on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. One Femsplain comic about being a woman on the internet, titled “The Internet is Great (for Men),” precisely reflects these universal experiences of women, and, well, so do the bizarre, mansplaining comments on it.
The comic shows a female internet user receiving the terms and conditions of her participation in the cyber world, which include being harassed and condescendingly lectured by men. In turn, the woman who posted the comic was soon harassed and condescendingly lectured by men who, in their pathetic attempt to disprove and invalidate the comic, only achieved the opposite effect. Just as artist Silvia Carrus questions if there’s “anything that [women] can just do in peace on the internet,” comments on the comic serve to answer this.
A father of two daughters (thoughts and prayers go out to those poor souls) commented: “As a father to two daughters I will be raising them not to be so weak. If they cannot withstand criticism then I would encourage them not to seek public reassurance. I would also hope they gave more self-esteem than posting selfies for the subjective approval of strangers on the internet. The world has zero obligation to be a safe space and I have the maximum obligation to prepare them for that.”
Except “criticism” and a need for approval for one’s selfies isn’t the problem the comic is speaking to, as any woman lacking this self-proclaimed “feminist” dad’s privilege would know. Constructive criticism is fine, but paternalistic, gender-based condescension like his? Nope. And if creepy, grossly sexual commentary on pictures women post is the “subjective approval” he’s referring to, trust me, it’s the last thing women are looking for in their comments.
Also, let’s take a minute to savor the twisted irony of a straight white male telling a woman the internet is no safe space, as if all our collective experiences in this hellhole haven’t made that perfectly clear. (Of course, I call the internet a “hellhole” with love, because memes, kitten videos, and feminist comics simultaneously make it a delightful place in many ways.)
Similarly, other comments chide the comic for its oversensitivity and weakness, but seriously, I defy any of them to brave rape and murder threats or not lose their shit over having the most basic things explained to them by ignorant white dudes, and still condescend upon the comic. Online harassers and their sympathizers will always fall back on free speech rights, but the simple reality is that so many women and other marginalized individuals feel forced to self-censor themselves as a direct result of internet trolls’ precious “free speech.”
I would even argue that being mansplained to is almost as insufferable as being threatened, so the fact that Carrus had the courage to post the comic is deeply impressive to me.