Exclusive bropinion: A man has thinks

I realise that writing this blog post makes me a hypocrite and part of the problem, but tough. I’ve drafted it enough times in my head that not publishing it will make me explode.

Men, on the whole, you are being dicks on the internet. Specifically to women on social media.

You probably think you personally are one of the good guys, but you are probably still being a dick at least some of the time. I know I am.

I speak from the experience of running a team of around 20 journalists, designers & developers and noticing how differently the women get treated online to the men.

It’s just one long series of micro-aggression after micro-aggression directed at the women. The women on my team get their articles interrogated much more closely and more aggressively on social media than the men, and this is especially noticeable when they write about sexism or gender or sexuality. It’s so tediously predictable to observe.

An anecdote: one of the women on my team published an article about Dapper Laughs and got abusive tweets. Ten minutes later another women on my team tweeted it and commented on it and got sexually abusive tweets. Twenty minutes after that I bylined a different Mirror piece that was virtually identical and literally nobody bothered to send me any abuse and I’m a total tool on Twitter. I wonder what the significant difference might have been, hmm?

Anecdote aside, I’ve been watching this happen for months now, and am full of admiration for the way the women put up with it.

What to do about it? I have five suggestion points for men not to be such dicks online

My five very important manthinks

1) You don’t have to have an opinion on everything

Men, we’ve pretty much had the conch-shell of public discourse to ourselves for millennia. It will not kill us or cause the collapse of civilisation as we know it to let someone else have the conch for a bit.

If a woman expresses an opinion about something, why not just let it stand? Why feel the need to have your say?

Likewise, if you see women having an interesting conversation on social media, why not sit back and listen, instead of jumping in? You might find it refreshingly different too

2) Amplify women’s voices on social media

Next time you are armed with a fierce hot take about the Twitrage du jour, why not look for a woman who is expressing the same sentiment as you, and retweet her instead?

Especially if the topic is related to the lived experience of being a woman, why not amplify their voices instead of offering to walk a mile in their social media shoes for them?

3) Don’t tolerate your fellow man being a dick

Call out patronising and annoying behaviour when you see it. Unfollow or block people you see harassing or being obtusely dickish to your friends. Don’t enable dick behaviour.

4) Deliberately follow more women on social media

Even if it is just for a few days, why not make a conscious effort to follow more women on social media? To find experts in your field or people who share your interests and add their voices to your social media mix. I guarantee you that you will not suddenly run out of interesting people on the internet if you shift your focus away from men

5) And not just white women…

Gay women. Women of colour. Disabled women. Trans women. All these groups suffer not only being a marginalised voice in society because they are women, but because of the way society treats gay, disabled, non-white and trans people. All these women deserve to be heard.

Yeah whatever Mr Bropinion

As I say, writing this makes me part of the problem. But I take the Patrick Stewart view of life: White, male, middle-class, work in the media, I lucked out on getting the megaphone. But now I’ve got hold of it I want to use it to help the people who didn’t get the easy path.

So here’s your practical piece of homework, boys

You might agree with this piece. You might not. My thinks may have given you the feels about responding to it.

I’m not going to open comments because experience tells me I’ll get a flood of whiny man-babies going “Not all men are sealions who have to opine on every single piece ever written about sexism” while proving the exact opposite. And I’m bored of that and it’s my website so tough.

But do me a favour, if you are a bloke.

Instead of sharing your reckons about it all, why not pop the URL into Twitter’s search bar and see if any women have tweeted about it. If you agree with what they’ve said, retweet them instead of chipping in your own 140 characters. See, that wasn’t so hard, was it?

Here endeth the bropinion. Don’t be a dick.