I’m going to start this blog by saying I like reading The Punch. I think the editorials on the site cover a wide range of contemporary issues and their contributors are just as vast.
However in recent times I have stopped reading the comments after each article. They are full of vitriol with authors, who hide behind first names and pseudonyms, expressing views I swear they would not dare say to someone’s face.
Something I learnt the hard way last week.
In the past when I did read the comments I too would add something here or there. When I have done this there has been the odd comment back asserting an opposing view. Nothing harmful, just some healthy debate.
Perhaps it was this healthy discourse that lulled me in to a false sense of security when I decided to break with tradition and comment on an article on feminism and pornography.
The article was pro-pornography and my comment was;
“As a feminist I believe a woman’s body is hers to own and control. While you see pornography as empowering for women, you have negated to talk about the women who do not have this control in your industry.
Pornography also places unrealistic expectations on all other women to be ‘porn stars’ when in bed.”
First I would like to note I raised two points here. The first that not all women who partake in the sex industry are there by their own choice and do not necessarily come off looking as liberated as the columnist.
No one commented on that point.
What was commented on was my second point about the unrealistic expectations about sex pornography creates. I wrote this after only days before reading a very well informed essay in The Monthly by Cordelia Fine called The Porn Ultimatum: The Dehumanising Effects of Smut.
Stupidly I expected my fellow readers to not only perhaps know of this but to at least acknowledge that I had an informed opinion. How wrong I was. While many men took outrage at my comment, the very personal attack on my sex life and physical appearance should never have passed the site’s moderators.
By no means am I naïve; I have always thought the internet was where racists bigots, homophobes and every other ‘un-pc’ thinker came out to play. I suppose I never realised how vial it could be until it was targeted at me.
Now while shrugging it off and moving on I could not help but laugh only days later when editor in chief David Penberthy wrote in an article criticizing the Friends of the ABC that QandA had “succeeded more in mobilising an army of shrill dickheads across Twitter, from Left and Right, not to listen politely and reflect on the points the guests are making, but to cheer on the people they already love and abuse the people they already hate as if at a vaudevillian play”.
Now that felt like the pot calling the kettle black. I wonder if he is realises those ‘shrill dickheads’ are commenting on his own website.