For some men, there is nothing in the world so terrifying as a woman making decisions for herself. Through legal, cultural, financial and physical means, men around the world seek to block women from achieving the most basic levels of autonomy, from choosing what to wear, to when and whether to have children. When all else fails, when women stubbornly insist on behaving like autonomous adults, the last resort for such men is to attack any and every woman in sight, in a desperate attempt to put all of us back where we belong.
Enter the entitled sociopaths of Reddit. Dissatisfied with the millions of websites full of video and photographs of women who have consented to have their images distributed, these men prefer clandestinely-taken photographs of women (and, in some cases, children) who have dared to leave their homes.
When criticized they respond, like a child shouting “I’m not touching you” while holding her finger an inch from your face, that none of this is technically illegal and there is no expectation of privacy in public. (Protip: if your only defense is “my actions are not quite so reprehensible as to invite jail time”, you should probably rethink things).
Offended Reddit users have responded with some perfectly legal activity of their own, exposing the identities of participants and alerting interested parties that their coworker/teacher/classmate may be a sexual predator.
This response has the benefit of reclaiming some of the power these men sought to take away from their victims. I imagine it is cold comfort to any of the women who actually appeared in these posts, but to the extent the goal was to punish women generally, the actions of “Samantha” a 25 year old woman imposing some accountability on Reddit’s worst users, are far more satisfying than any legislation could be.
That said, as a general rule, I prefer to funnel the anger inspired by these kinds of acts into efforts to grant girls and young women more of the autonomy that so rankles the man-boys of the world. Even better than the poetic justice being served up by Samantha and others like her is a focus on protecting, empowering and encouraging the girls whom men like Michael Brutsch and his ilk seek to victimize.
Please visit the sites below for opportunities to offer money and/or time to young women in the U.S. and around the world:
Developments in Literacy (a program building schools in Pakistan)
Girls Quest (a program for girls from low-income families in New York)
Girl Talk (a national peer to peer mentoring program for high school/middle school-aged girls)
Afghan Institute of Learning (a woman-run NGO promoting access to education and healthcare in Afghanistan)
Local volunteer/fundraising opportunities around the country can be found at VolunteerMatch.Org