An anonymous commenter makes a good point:
… growing up on the Internet, women are now exposed to men’s conversations about them, and they also get to interact with anonymous men online themselves. They get to read pretty much everything, unfiltered.
A lot of the stuff women are now exposed to regularly online, many women of another generation would never have heard, or would only be exposed to very sporadically and could easily ascribe it to a small minority of bad men or something.
I’m guessing this is an unpopular opinion here, as I never see it brought up when the topic of this ideological wedge is being discussed. But, whatever one thinks of the more negative online writing about women (e.g. how much of it is accurate, whether it could or should be presented in a different way, etc.), it’s hardly a surprise that women don’t find it pleasant reading. And keep in mind that kids start using the Internet at a very young, vulnerable and impressionable age. Not discounting other factors, of course, but I think constant exposure to unfiltered thoughts and feelings online is a strangely overlooked one.
Aaron Haspel cites this astonishing passage in Tom Wolfe’s 1987 novel The Bonfire of the Vanities:
The Bororo Indians, a primitive tribe who live along the Vermelho River in the Amazon jungles of Brazil, believe that there is no such thing as a private self. The Bororos regard the mind as an open cavity, like a cave or a tunnel or an arcade, if you will, in which the entire village dwells and the jungle grows. In 1969 Jose M.R. Delgado, the eminent Spanish brain physiologist, pronounced the Bororos correct. For nearly three millennia, Western philosophers had viewed the self as something unique, something encased inside each person’s skull, so to speak. This inner self had to deal with and learn from the outside world, of course, and it might prove incompetent in doing so. Nevertheless, at the core of one’s self there was presumed to be something irreducible and inviolate. Not so, said Delgado. ‘Each person is a transitory composite of materials borrowed from the environment.’ The important word was ‘transitory,’ and he was talking not about years but about hours. He cited experiments in which healthy college students lying on beds in well-lit but soundproofed chambers, wearing gloves to reduce the sense of touch and translucent goggles to block out specific sights, began to hallucinate within hours. Without the entire village, the whole jungle, occupying the cavity, they had no minds left.
He cited no investigations of the opposite case, however. He did not discuss what happens when one’s self—or what one takes to be one’s self—is not a mere cavity open to the outside world but has suddenly become an amusement park to which everybody, todo el mundo, tout le monde, comes scampering, skipping, and screaming, nerves a-tingle, loins aflame, ready for anything, all you’ve got, laughs, tears, moans, giddy thrills, gasps, horrors, whatever, the gorier the merrier. Which is to say, he told us nothing of the mind of a person at the center of a scandal in the last quarter of the twentieth century.’
Nowadays, in the age of social media, large numbers of people are Sherman McCoys.
I perhaps rank in the bottom couple of percent of sensitivity to online criticism. Personally, I appreciate the right to criticize others, so it strikes me as only fair that I too am criticized. Over the years, I’ve learned a lot from all the personal criticism I’ve been subjected to, and it has made me more perceptive, insightful, and correct.
To my critics: Thanks!
On the other hand, most people (especially not most women) are not me.
I could implore my fellow humans to Be Like Me, but most won’t be.