Simulating shitty behavior towards women doesnt strike me as a great way to solve misogynist internet trolling.
Simulating shitty behavior towards women doesn't strike me as a great way to solve misogynist internet trolling. MatiasEnElMundo

This video, of sports reporters Sarah Spain and Julie DiCaro having the verbal abuse they encounter on Twitter read back to them by some random dudes, has been making the rounds this week.

It did make me cringe, as promised, but not for the reasons it was supposed to.

It's important to note that Spain and DiCaro were involved in making this video. It was their decision. Perhaps it was cathartic or personally valuable, in which case, more power to them. But while I like the idea of repurposing horrible shit that's happened to you for a larger political aim, this video didn't really make me feel anything but irritated that I had just seen yet another video wherein horrible shit happens to women so that the viewer knows horrible shit happens to women. Reader, I know.

This tweet, from writer Laura Snapes, basically sums up my reservations about the video THAT WILL MAKE YOU CRINGE:

I'm in no position to weigh in as to whether Spain and DiCaro felt traumatized making this video, but I agree with Snapes' larger point that having people relive abuse makes for a potentially ineffective, irresponsible way to try to make people not be assholes on the internet. The stakes here are just way too lopsided. How can being subjected to abuse be justified by the wan outcome of some potential really makes you think Facebook comments? No duh it's #morethanmean. And having randomly selected men read the tweets—who were themselves sort of coerced, since they weren't warned in advance about the tweets' content—also seems clunky and strange. Why not seek out the original jerks? Surely they would've enjoyed the attention.

There are some really powerful subversions of misogynist tweets out there (this is one, here is another), but this one just seems ill-conceived, maybe because it's trying to show that the internet is a uniquely terrible cesspool for women by depicting uniquely terrible behavior towards women, without specifically identifying the perpetrators of the harassment. The original offenders have been erased.

Or maybe I'm just sick of having to watch horrible things happen to women and other marginalized groups, simply to be reminded that, yes, for real, horrible things really do happen to women and other marginalized groups (as if that was something it was possible to forget). I doubt this video has the power to change the hearts and minds of internet trolls, and it bums me out to think that Women get harassed online and that is a real, well-documented, insidious thing that happens is an evidently confusing enough concept for some that Spain and DiCaro felt compelled to make this video at all.