Nora McInerny Purmort is a writer and founder of the charity Still Kickin’, which she started after her husband passed away from brain cancer in December 2014. Unfortunately, she’s also the victim of online harassment for daring to have an opinion about how she wants to be treated.
Last week after a particularly annoying run-in with a drunk guy who demanded she smile, Purmort tweeted a selfie with “FUCK YOU IF YOU TELL A WOMAN TO SMILE” overlaid. Almost immediately the post landed her in the crosshairs of Twitter’s misogynist army, which began slinging rape threats and insults her way. So she did what a lot of women did when faced with online harassment: She made her Twitter account private, and went into hiding.
Purmort wrote eloquently about the experience on Medium:
This exchange, in the big scheme of things, is nothing. Really, these people are nothing to me and I could just keep ignoring it and pretend it never happened and hope that they let me slide out of their part of the internet and stay on the sunny side. I’ve watched my husband die in my arms so on the scale of Shit That Matters a few tweets … don’t.
But it does matter because this happens to every single woman you know. Every. Single. Woman. We all have a story like this. From real life and from online. A story where we are made to be scared and shut up because we said something or did something that a man didn’t like.
But what they represent is colossal: the vile, brewing hatred in anonymous corners of the internet. Because these aren’t just names on a screen. These are people we share the earth with, who hate us, immediately, for daring to have an opinion on how we are treated. Whose default response to a woman saying she doesn’t want to be told what to do by a drunk ass stranger is swift and violent and meant to get me to shut the hell up.
Purmort did not shut the hell up. Neither should you.