9gag turned 6 years old this April on the 23rd. I personally can’t pin point when exactly it is that I first heard of or discovered 9gag, but I do remember it more or less always being popular, and largely populated by men.
Most of the time I spent on the website, I spent metaphorically invisible, I never looked at the comment section and therefore never participated in any conversation, I rarely ever “liked” or “upvoted” posts, my use mostly consisted of saving onto my phone pictures of cute cats and memes I deemed particularly funny which I could later on use on my facebook, text to friends, or look back at in the middle of the night with an actual cat laying onto my chest. Nearly all posts that weren’t of a sexual nature, which then would just be a picture of a half naked lady, revolved around men and their hobbies, showcasing skills or sharing how awesome their PC set up was. Recently last year, there was a shift.
9gag and the posts on it, as well as the people, became growingly misogynistic. Memes, jokes, all sorts of posts about the friendzone and the bitches that won’t fuck the nice guys for being nice. I must admit not being surprised, or even phased at first. Being a woman, you get used to hearing sexists “jokes” and comments such as these, but I never developed a taste for that kind of humor, if it is humor to joke about rape, or domestic violence, or to call a group of people crazy when they have been treated as second class citizens all of their lives for not being male and medically treated and classified as mentally insane for expression emotion.
I do remember one day deciding to look at the comment section of a particular post—I truly wish I could remember what lead me to do that, what kind of post it was, and what went through my mind that made me curious enough to want to see what people on the internet were saying right where I was looking. The comments were terrible, telling girls who posted pictures of their hobbies, or showcasing skills or abilities, just like men had been doing since the creation of the site, that they were “attention whores” “sluts” “looking for attention” “desperate” or the very common, simple and angering comment that basically tell women that nobody cares about women their lives on the internet. For a while I stopped visiting the site, it had lost most of its appeal, but mostly, to me it was an issue of feeling like I wanted to stay away from a community that so clearly and so aggressively hated women.
Nearly all of the very few positive experiences and interactions I’ve had on 9gag were with other women who either simply shared my feelings, for who I stood up for, or who stood up for me when I would take the decision to speak out against some of the comments.
A lot of people will disagree with me, I’m sure, by thinking that things shouldn’t be taken so seriously on the internet, and that there are all kinds of people that will say all kinds of things just to get something out of you – That that is the price of anonymity.
I disagree with that mentality.
Freedom of speech and freedom of expression does not mean that we are free from the consequences of our actions or that we can or should get away with anything. We live in a time where people have grow incredibly apathetic, we’ve stopped caring about how the people around us, strangers or not, are affected by the things that we say or do. We’ve assumed that if we personally don’t hurt, other people’s pain and experiences don’t matter, and they should be voiceless because silence is now valued over truth.
I am slowly giving background and circumstances, as well as all sort of information, in order to open up a conversation about the death threats I received, which contained personal information about where I live, who I am, and where I work, which were shared online, as a response to a comic strip about a male gamer demanding a female gamer to prove her status as a part of the gaming community. This experience took me by surprise as we always assume that these sorts of things happen to others, and not to us, because WE are careful, and WE don’t “ask for it”. The police was of no help for me, and the person in question got away with making me feel feelings nobody has any rights to make you feel simply because you’re a woman on the internet.