Commentary Religion

Masculinity as Violence, Or How Conservative Evangelicalism Hurts Men Too

Dianna Anderson

Masculinity and femininity are social constructs. But in the church, the uncertainty that extends from such constructs has led to a boxed in vision of gender that helps no one.

I’ve only seen my father cry once. It was this past November, when my mother’s cardiologist informed us that they had found major blockages in three of the arteries in her heart. She would have to get stents put in, and possibly a pacemaker. It would mean a long road to recovery, but we were lucky that we caught these conditions before she had a fatal heart attack.

Dad didn’t cry in the consultation room. He was somber, but put on a brave face for my mother as we returned to her hospital room to get her situated at her angiogram. It was only in the moments when the nurses were transferring her to her bed, when the family stepped outside to give her some space, that I looked up to see my 60-something father wiping tears from his eyes.

For many in my generation—the children of conservative evangelical Baby Boomers—this sort of story is not all that unusual. Many of us grew up with fathers who were stoic providers for the family, loving but afraid of showing too much emotion. In hoping to pass their faith on to their children, the Baby Boomers have passed along stereotypes and rules about the performance of masculinity. The embrace of purity culture has hardened these rules into biblical dictums about manhood and womanhood, creating boxes for people based on their assigned gender at birth.

Each spring, the Christian blogosphere is aflame with post after post urging women to be wary of the upcoming swimsuit season. Out of the desire to protect our fragile Christian brothers, who are supposedly wired to be more visual than us women, we must cover any bits of titillation. We should be careful about how we sit, how we carry our purses, how we eat fruit (you should break a banana in half rather than just biting the end because otherwise men think of oral sex).

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Purity culture and its sisters—modesty and rape culture—are dependent on specific perspectives about how men and women behave and interact with each other. In particular, men are barely restrained sex addicts who are incapable of stopping themselves should they find themselves alone with a woman. When it comes to sex, the responsibility to say no, to stop forward momentum, is all on the woman.

At the same time, women are emotional creatures, the “weaker vessels” that need protection from the world. This protection comes in the form of the men they marry, who are theologically burdened with protecting and providing for their family. A truly biblical Christian man, pastor Mark Driscoll of Seattle’s Mars Hill megachurch writes, is one who not only provides for his sons, but for his sons’ sons. Men are simultaneously unbridled sexual beasts and protectors and providers of the delicate structure of the American family. They are Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

At a recent summit of the Education and Religious Liberty Committee of the Southern Baptist convention, pastor JD Greear commented in a keynote speech that pastors (naturally, male) should be careful about being alone with women who are not their wives—to the point where they shouldn’t even carpool together, even if it’s the most convenient method. Men are so vulnerable, so subject to barely restrained sexual desire, that being alone with a woman for five minutes in a van is a great risk.

This is the harsh truth of misogynistic purity culture: No one comes out unscathed. The difference here is that men, while being treated as sex-fueled robots, are also called upon to be leaders who are violently protective of their families.

In a 2007 blog post about why women shouldn’t serve in combat, evangelical Reformed pastor John Piper said that men are biologically wired to be defenders. A man who doesn’t step into the line of fire to defend a woman is going against God’s Word for him. He uses an example of a man and a woman who are walking late at night when a person wielding a knife attacks them. The woman has a black belt, and the man has no fighting skills.

In Piper’s eyes, it would be sin for the man to step back and let the woman defend the both of them, despite the fact that it increases chances of survival. A man, Piper proposes, who allows a woman to come to his defense is allowing himself to be emasculated. Men should be ready to defend, with violence if necessary, “irrespective of competency,” as Piper states.

Similarly violent examples and metaphors are dotted throughout evangelical purity culture. In Wild at Heart, John Eldredge casts men as knights rescuing their damsels in distress. In a now-deleted set of posts about “How to Live a Great Love Story,” author Donald Miller said that men should be prepared to comfort their wives while holding a baseball bat behind their backs. Seattle pastor Mark Driscoll is fond of describing the Second Coming as a violent Jesus with a sword and tattoos down his legs—and Driscoll does not shy away from proclaiming his “manly” love of sports like mixed martial arts.

Even churches are hosting mixed martial arts and fight club nights for men’s groups, in an effort to reconnect men with a visceral, God-given masculinity.

In doing research for my forthcoming book, Damaged Goods: New Perspectives on Christian Purity (due out in February 2015), I interviewed men and women from all over the United States about their experiences growing up in purity culture. Many of the men I spoke to expressed unease with the ways in which purity culture portrayed men. Many simply didn’t feel that violence was an appropriate expression of Christlikeness, especially since many of Jesus’ teachings can be interpreted as being in favor of pacifist action.

Men also felt like being forced into sometimes violent roles made it harder for them to connect with other people. Author and social scientist Brené Brown writes in I Thought It Was Just Me that men live with a particularly shameful tension and posturing about being able to “kick that person’s ass” or to express their masculinity in violent ways.

Such forced masculinity is often a barrier to the emotional intelligence and empathy necessary for functioning well in society and for advocating for and with marginalized peoples.

Evangelical masculinity defines itself by a series of contradictions. Men must be willing to violently protect their home and their castle. But their psyches are so weak that they must ask women to cover up in order to keep them from lusting. They must not show weakness by betraying unmanly emotions, but they must be the spiritual leader of the home—a position that requires deep empathy and compassion.

This artificial version of masculinity, which constrains and boxes men into a specific gendered role, “irrespective of competency,” results in men who see violence as an adequate expression of Christlikeness, who extend their duty to protect into violent terroristic actions like clinic bombings and shootings and spousal abuse.

Such masculinity appears to be a response to the supposed emasculation of feminism, a callback to John Wayne and Clint Eastwood, when “men were men” and women “knew their place.” In an attempt to quell the growing uncertainty about the evangelical man’s place in a world where gender and sexuality are fluid, evangelicalism appears to have clamped down on the “biblical” ideas of what men and women are and what role they play. Such definition is bathed in holiness language, discussion about how those who follow “biblical” gender roles take the Bible more seriously.

But such versions of masculinity are the creation of 20th century upheaval and uncertainty. The unfeeling protector who is unable to control himself around “sexy” women is a created response to the 20th century’s sexual revolutions. Indeed, in Victorian times, just 100 years before, it was women who were considered unable to control their lust and therefore were unfit for leadership. Now, it seems, such unbridled lust indicates a virility that makes a man especially fit to be a leader.

Masculinity and femininity are social constructs. But in the church, the uncertainty that extends from such constructs has led to a boxed in vision of gender that helps no one.

Commentary Violence

This is Not The Story I Wanted—But It’s My Story of Rape

Dani Kelley

Writer Dani Kelley thought she had shed the patriarchal and self-denying lessons of her conservative religious childhood. But those teachings blocked her from initially admitting that an encounter with a man she met online was not a "date" that proved her sexual liberation, but an extended sexual assault.

Content note: This article contains graphic descriptions of sexual violence.

The night I first truly realized something was wrong was supposed to be a good night.

A visiting friend and I were in pajamas, eating breakfast food at 10 p.m., wrapped in blankets while swapping stories of recent struggles and laughs.

There I was, animatedly telling her about my recently acquired (and discarded) “fuck buddy,” when suddenly the story caught in my throat.

When I finally managed to choke out the words, they weren’t what I expected to say. “He—he held me down—until, until I couldn’t—breathe.”

Hearing myself say it out loud was a gut-punch. I was sobbing, gasping for breath, arms wrapped as if to hold myself together, spiraling into a terrifying realization.

This isn’t the story I wanted.

Unlearning My Training

I grew up in the Plymouth Brethren movement, a small fundamentalist Christian denomination that justifies strict gender roles through a literal approach to the Bible. So, according to 1 Corinthians 11:7, men are considered “the image and glory of God,” while women are merely “the glory of man.” As a result, women are expected to wear head coverings during any church service, among other restrictions that can be best summed up by the apostle Paul in 1 Timothy 2:11-12: Women are never allowed to have authority over men.

If you’ve spent any number of years in conservative Christianity like I did, you’re likely familiar with the fundamentalist tendency to demonize that which is morally neutral or positive (like premarital sex or civil rights) while sugar-coating negative experiences. The sugar-coating can be twofold: Biblical principles are often used to shame or gaslight abuse victims (like those being shunned or controlled or beaten by their husbands) while platitudes are often employed to help members cope with “the sufferings of this present time,” assuring them that these tragedies are “not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.”

In many ways, it’s easy to unlearn the demonization of humanity as you gain actual real-world experience refuting such flimsy claims. But the shame? That can be more difficult to shake.

The heart of those teachings isn’t only present in this admittedly small sect of Christianity. Rather, right-wing Western Christianity as a whole has a consent problem. It explicitly teaches its adherents they don’t belong to themselves at all. They belong to God (and if they’re not men, they belong to their fathers or husbands as well). This instilled lack of agency effectively erases bodily autonomy while preventing the development of healthy emotional and physical boundaries.

On top of that, the biblical literalism frequently required by conservative Christianity in the United States promotes a terrifying interpretation of Scripture, such as Jeremiah 17:9. The King James Version gives the verse a stern voice, telling us that “the heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked.” If we believe this, we must accept that we’re untrustworthy witnesses to our own lives. Yet somehow, we’re expected to rely on the authority of those the Bible deems worthy. People like all Christians, older people, and men.

Though I’ve abandoned Christianity and embraced feminist secular humanism, the culture in which I grew up and my short time at conservative Bob Jones University still affect how I view myself and act in social situations. The lessons of my formative years created a perfect storm of terrible indoctrination: gender roles that promoted repressed individuality for women while encouraging toxic masculinity, explicit teaching that led to constant second-guessing my ability to accurately understand my own life, and a biblical impetus to “rejoice in my suffering.”

Decades of training taught me I’m not allowed to set boundaries.

But Some Habits Die Hard

Here’s the thing. At almost 30, I’d never dated anyone other than my ex-husband. So I thought it was about time to change that.

When I found this man’s online profile, I was pleasantly surprised. It was full of the kind of geekery I’m into, even down to the specific affinity for eclectic music. I wrote to him, making sure my message and tone were casual. He responded instantly, full of charisma and charm. Within hours, we’d made plans to meet.

He was just as friendly and attentive in person. After wandering around town, window-shopping, and getting to know one another, he suggested we go to his favorite bar. As he drank (while I sipped water), he kept paying me compliments, slowly breaking the touch barrier. And honestly, I was enthralled—no one had paid attention to me like this in years.

When he suggested moving out to the car where we could be a little more intimate, I agreed. The rush of feeling desired was intoxicating. He seemed so focused on consent—asking permission before doing anything. Plus, he was quite straightforward about what he wanted, which I found exciting.

So…I brought him home.

This new and exciting “arrangement” lasted one week, during which we had very satisfying, attachment-free sex several times and after which we parted ways as friends.

That’s the story I told people. That’s the story I thought I believed. I’d been freed from the rigid expectations and restraints of my youth’s purity culture.

Now. You’re about to hear me say many things I know to be wrong. Many feminists or victim advocates almost certainly know the rationalizations and reactions I’m about to describe are both normal responses to abuse and a result of ingrained lies about sex in our culture. Not to mention evidence of the influence that right-wing conservatism can have on shaping self-actualization.

As I was telling people the story above, I left out important details. Were my omissions deliberate? An instinctive self-preservation mechanism? A carryover from draconian ideals about promiscuity?

When I broke down crying with my friend, I finally realized I’d kept quiet because I couldn’t bear to hear myself say what happened.

I’m a feminist, damn it. I left all the puritanical understandings of gender roles behind when I exited Christianity! I even write about social justice and victim advocacy. I ought to recognize rape culture!


If only being a socially aware feminist was enough to erase decades of socialization as a woman within rape culture—or provide inoculation against sexual violence.

That first night, once we got to my car, he stopped checking in with me. I dismissed the red flag as soon as I noticed it, telling myself he’d stop if I showed discomfort. Then he smacked my ass—hard. I pulled away, staring at him in shocked revulsion. “Sorry,” he replied, smirking.

He suggested that we go back to my house, saying we’d have more privacy than at his place. I was uneasy, unconvinced. But he began passionately kissing, groping, petting, and pleading. Against my better judgment, I relented.

Yet, in the seclusion of my home, there was no more asking. There was only telling.

Before I knew it, I’d been thrown on my back as he pulled off my clothes. I froze. The only coherent thought I could manage was a weak stammer, asking if he had a condom. He seemed agitated. “Are you on birth control?” That’s not the point! I thought, mechanically answering “yes.”

With a triumphant grin and no further discussion, he forced himself into me. Pleasure fought with growing panic as something within me screamed for things to slow down, to just stop. The sensation was familiar: identical to how I felt when raped as a child.

I frantically pushed him off and rolled away, hyperventilating. I muttered repeatedly, “I need a minute. Just give me a minute. I need a minute.”

“We’re not finished yet!” he snapped angrily. As he reached for me again, I screeched hysterically, “I’M NOT OK! I NEED A MINUTE!”

Suddenly, he was kind and caring. Instead of being alarmed, I was strangely grateful. So once I calmed down, I fucked him. More than once.

It was—I told myself—consensual. After all, he comforted me during a flashback. Didn’t I owe him that much?

Yet, if I didn’t do what he wanted, he’d forcefully smack my ass. If I didn’t seem happy enough, he’d insistently tell me to smile as he hit me again, harder. He seemed to relish the strained smile I would force on command.

I kept telling myself I was okay. Happy, even. Look at how liberated I was!

All week, I was either at his beck and call or fighting suicidal urges. Never having liked alcohol before, I started drinking heavily. I did all I could to minimize or ignore the abuse. Even with his last visit—as I fought to breathe while he forcefully held my head down during oral sex, effectively choking me—I initially told myself desperately that surely he wouldn’t do any of this on purpose.

The Stories We Tell and The Stories That Just Are

Reflecting on that week, I’m engulfed in shame. I’m a proud feminist. I know what coercion looks like. I know what rape looks like. I know it’s rarely a scary man wearing a ski mask in a back alley. I’ve heard all the victim-blaming rape apologia you have: that women make up rape when they regret consenting to sex, or going on a date means sex is in the cards, or bringing someone home means you’re game for anything.

Reality is, all of us have been socialized within a patriarchal system that clouds our experiences and ability to classify them. We’re told to tend and befriend the men who threaten us. De-escalation at any cost is the go-to response of almost any woman I’ve ever talked to about unwanted male attention. Whatever will satiate the beast and keep us safe.

On top of that, my conservative background whispered accusations of being a Jezebel, failing to safeguard my purity, and getting exactly what I deserve for forsaking the faith.

It’s all lies, of course. Our culture lies when it says that there are blurred lines when it comes to consent. It violates our personhood when it requires us to change the narrative of the violence enacted against us for their own comfort. Right-wing Christianity lies when it says we don’t belong to ourselves and must submit to the authority of a religion or a gender.

Nobody’s assaulted because they weren’t nice enough or because they “failed” to de-escalate. There’s nothing we can do to provoke such violence. Rape is never deserved. The responsibility for sexual assault lies entirely with those who attack us.

So why was the story I told during and after that ordeal so radically and fundamentally different from what actually happened? And why the hell did I think any of what happened was OK?

Rape myths are so ingrained in our cultural understanding of relationships that it was easier for me to believe nothing bad had happened than to accept the truth. I thought if I could only tell the story I wanted it to be, then maybe that’s what really happened. I thought if I was willing—if I kept having him over, if I did what he ordered, if I told my friends how wonderful it was—it would mean everything was fine. It would mean I wasn’t suffering from post-traumatic stress or anxiety about defying the conservative tenets of my former political and religious system.

Sometimes, we tell ourselves the stories we want to hear until we’re able to bear the stories of what actually happened.

We all have a right to say who has what kind of access to our bodies. A man’s masculinity gives him no authority over anyone’s sexual agency. A lack of a “no” doesn’t mean a “yes.” Coercion isn’t consent. Sexual acts performed without consent are assault. We have a right to tell our stories—our real stories.

So, while this isn’t the story I wanted, it’s the story that is.

I was raped.

Commentary Violence

‘Gendertrolling’ and Violence Against Abortion Providers: Cut From the Same Cloth

Katie Klabusich

Misogyny may evolve as new tactics are put into practice, but the systematic harassment of women, whether it be for speaking up or for accessing reproductive health care, continues to be about power.

Misogyny may evolve as new tactics are put into practice, but the systematic harassment of women, whether it be for speaking up or for accessing reproductive health care, continues to be about power.

In her book Gendertrolling: How Misogyny Went Viral, Karla Mantilla defines her new term, “gendertrolling,” as a separate phenomenon from the standard “annoying or disruptive” troll behavior, placing it squarely in the tradition of male entitlement.

“[G]endertrolling is exponentially more vicious, virulent, aggressive, threatening, pervasive, and enduring than generic trolling,” she writes. “[G]endertrolls, as opposed to generic trolls, take their cause seriously, so they are therefore able to rally others who share in their convictions to take up the effort alongside them resulting in a mob, or swarm, of gendertrolls who are devoted to targeting the designated person.”

The editor of a women’s studies journal makes it clear that the bombardment of gendered, personal, and prolific harassment of women online is simply the newest manifestation of a patriarchal culture. Her thorough analysis and suggestions for creating change purposely parallel offline and historical gendered attacks—even calling for readers and activists to draw additional parallels in the hopes of critiquing and expanding her recommendations for change.

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“I am … attempting in this book to call attention to the fact that gendertrolling is not a new phenomenon that has arisen as an inevitable consequence of the Internet, but to demonstrate that it is simply a new form of age-old misogyny,” writes Mantilla. “I am hopeful that this book makes a contribution by identifying not only gendertrolling, but the patterns that it shares in common with countless other modes of misogyny.”

The clearest parallel for me to the pervasive, coordinated, and nearly universally ignored harassment of gendertrolling is the intimidation and violence against abortion providers in this country. Both attempt to restrict the autonomy of those who are marginalized and both rely on ignorance and/or apathy to thrive. Additionally, both create a culture of fear where the collective memory of the afflicted groups intensifies the effect of individual threats in a way that is reasonable—but only to those with a working knowledge of the medium and intent of the harassers. Law enforcement, in both cases, is often woefully lacking in the knowledge necessary to take threats seriously and/or the tools to address complaints.

At the time that I picked up Mantilla’s book, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee was drilling Planned Parenthood’s president to “examine the use of taxpayer funding” by Planned Parenthood and its affiliates, and a founder of the #ShoutYourAbortion Twitter campaign was doxxed and ended up leaving her home city. Also, the Clinic Vest Project, a nonprofit of which I am a founding board member that provides free vests to clinic escort groups across North America, began seeing a significant uptick in resource requests from Planned Parenthood clinics with new or increased picketing. I immediately drew a connection between the steady rise in gendertrolling and the increase in abortion provider targeting as detailed by the Feminist Majority Foundation’s National Clinic Access Project Surveys and lawyer-authors David S. Cohen and Krysten Connon in their book Living in the Crosshairs: The Untold Stories of Anti-Abortion Terrorism.

Both types of harassment intimidate, silence, and often bodily injure the targets. Anti-choice individuals who target abortion providers—inadequately dressed up in a concern for life—seek to end reproductive autonomy. The targeting of vocal women in a traditionally male space—such as a new public forum—seeks to shut down any foothold for those who dare express an opinion. Whether there is traceable crossover between those who commit these two kinds of targeting, both stem from a compulsion to control voices and power.

Mantilla effectively places gendertrolling in context as part of “a long-standing historical tradition of harassment and abuse of women, in which women have been barred from full participation in cultural, social, and political discourse.” Any campaign by legislators or anti-abortion groups to reduce or eliminate women’s bodily autonomy—and therefore control over their present and future—should be seen as part of the same tradition.

Abortion providers and those affected by gendertrolling also share an unfortunate frustration with law enforcement. Cohen and Connon interviewed medical director Inez Navarro, whose initial experience with local police was one reason she moved to a new neighborhood. When the picketers at her clinic began using her name and yelling more direct threats like “No one is going to protect you,” she decided to alert the police.

“If anything did happen, I wanted them to know there was a history, it wasn’t just a one-time random incident,” Navarro explained. When the police laughed rather than taking her complaint seriously, she was “irritated and pissed and emotional all at the same time.” Being brushed off changed her perception of law enforcement drastically.

“Maybe I had a naive faith that the police were there to protect me,” Navarro said. “I can tell you right now, I no longer trust that this police force is here to help. That was kind of my eye-opening experience with them.”

Journalist Anna Merlan’s experience reporting gendertrolling harassment was similarly frustrating. “[T]here are pretty good harassment and stalking laws on the books in most states that could be used to prosecute people who make clear threats online,” she told Mantilla. “But something about the online environment makes police lose interest.”

Navarro and Merlan are hardly anomalies. Having volunteered as a clinic escort in several states and cities as well as helped to launch new abortion access programs, I have experienced a wide range of law enforcement responses. In fact, one of my first questions to new team leaders and clinic staff is: “What happens when you call the police to report harassment?”

A discouraging lack of interest extends to prosecutors and the courtroom. Widespread mainstream coverage of GamerGate targeting high profile women in the gaming industry with rape and death threats wasn’t enough for the justice system. Of those targeted, Brianna Wu in particular had a very solid, high-profile case, and yet Merlan confirms that “not a single violent threat made against Wu, Anita Sarkeesian or Zoe Quinn has result[ed] in an actual, prosecuted criminal case.”

Abortion providers are fighting legal battles in the face of a proliferation of restrictive laws (51 this year; 282 since 2010), openly hostile governors and prosecutors, and ideological judges. This summer, pro-choice advocates praised an unexpected ruling from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit’s that will put Angel Dillard on trial for threats she made to Kansas abortion provider Dr. Mila Means. Dillard has ties to other anti-abortion extremists like Scott Roeder, who killed longtime Wichita abortion provider Dr. George Tiller after years of targeting and murder attempts by anti-abortion groups, but was attempting to hide behind her First Amendment rights, contending her comments did not constitute a “true threat.”

From Rewire’s coverage of the case:

At the time Dillard sent the letter, Means was preparing to start offering abortion services at the clinic of the late abortion provider [Dr. Tiller]. In the letter to Means, Dillard presented a “vision” of what Means’ life would look like should she start providing abortions in Wichita, Kansas. In that letter, Dillard explained how thousands of people from across the country were already scrutinizing Means’ background. Soon, Dillard promised, they would know “your habits and routines. They know where you shop, who your friends are, what you drive, where you live,” Dillard wrote. “You will be checking under your car every day—because maybe today is the day someone places an explosive under it.”

Anyone familiar with GamerGate or the history of abortion provider targeting would see the threats to Wu and Means as credible and unprotected speech. Eight abortion providers have been murdered in recent decades and misogynistic shooting sprees carried out by men like Elliot Rodger have made enough headlines to cultivate a culture of fear that intensify every mailed “warning” letter and tweeted rape/death threat. It only takes a handful of these acts carried out IRL—in real life—to create a collective memory of the targeting and for targeted individuals of either group to feel unsafe. This amplification effect is easily exploited by anti-choice groups as well as GamerGaters.

As Mantilla writes in Gendertrolling:

Although such expressly declared misogynistic killing sprees [like Rodger’s] are relatively rare, the fear of many women who are targets of online harassment campaigns is that the mob mentality and the amped-up rhetoric might precipitate more offline real-life violence. Given these incidents, along with the rape and death threats, graphic sexual and violent messages, and instances of doxxing, it is entirely understandable that women who are being targeted would reasonably be fearful for their safety.

If the fear is so reasonable, why are there so few—if any—legal actions available to those who are targeted? Mantilla and the Crosshairs authors advocate for similar solutions: increase cultural awareness; enforce current laws; enact new laws; and educate law enforcement on the climate of targeting, training them to respond appropriately. All these recommendations are made with an awareness that culture change will be necessary for solutions to work long-term; changes in law and culture can work together to amplify each kind of change.

“Many commentators see changing norms [to be] at least as important as or perhaps more important than changing laws,” writes Mantilla. “They also see changing laws as one way to induce cultural change and to signal to people that changes in norms and standards are taking place.”

The Crosshairs authors see labeling anti-abortion threats and violence as “terrorism” to be part of that two-pronged strategy. “By shifting terminology to include targeted harassment within the concept of terrorism, society will further brand these actions as unacceptable, possibly reducing the amount providers face through a shift in societal norms,” they write.

They also see the “terrorism” label as more clearly defining whose jurisdiction threats would fall under—another issue that connects both types of targeting. Wu similarly advocates for getting law enforcement the necessary tools to respond appropriately: “This is going to require funding, it’s going to require laws be [passed] that clearly outline whose responsibility it is to respond to these threats.”

A British Member of Parliament named Stella Creasy—who has, herself, received graphic online rape and death threats—has advocated for legal changes in the UK and is quoted by Mantilla on the need for law enforcement to take online threats seriously:

I want the police and other services to be able to understand the impact of these messages. I don’t want them to tell me how to learn to cope — I want to hear they are doing something about it.

The “Recommendations for Change” chapter of Gendertrolling summation fits both targeting scenarios and addresses the need to bring about legal and cultural change. “As we have seen, those who are bent on harassing, abusing, and threatening women seem to have endless capacities for adapting their tactics to new mediums and new technologies,” she writes. “Strategies that advocate for cultural change have the best hope of being effective at eradicating the motivations of those who attack women by tackling the root of the problem: misogyny.”

The abortion storytelling movement and heightened visibility of clinic escorts who can recount the day-to-day bombardment that reproductive health-care facilities endure are tackling this aspect of provider targeting. As public opinion shifts on abortion care and the offensive tactics of picketers are made known, harassing providers will become increasingly unacceptable. Campaigns like #ShoutYourAbortion that highlight the crossover in motivation between the two types of targeting accelerate our shift toward widespread culture change.

Mantilla closes her book with the hope that those fighting back in multiple arenas can work together and be sure to tag in the next generation to amplify our efforts:

“Perhaps if women and feminist activists were more prepared to anticipate the seemingly inevitable new iterations of misogyny, it would expedite the process of coming to recognize the commonalities each new form has with other earlier forms, which might enable women to identify and to fight them sooner, with less effort, and with more purpose.”

Hear, hear.