Heroes and Terrorists, Again

[Content Note: Racism; rape culture; terrorism.]

Last night, via Josh Marshall, I read that Zerlina Maxwell, whose work appears at Feministing, among other places, had done a segment on Fox News with Sean Hannity in which she identified herself as a survivor of sexual violence and made the eminently reasonable point, in response to the assertion that women should carry guns for rape prevention:
I think that the entire conversation is wrong. I don't want anybody to be telling women anything. I don't want men to be telling me what to wear and how to act, not to drink. And I don't, honestly, want you to tell me that I needed a gun in order to prevent my rape. In my case, don't tell me if I'd only had a gun, I wouldn't have been raped. Don't put it on me to prevent the rape.
What followed was an onslaught of racist tweets and comments hoping Zerlina would be raped and/or killed. Josh has examples provided by Zerlina at the link.

I don't know what I can say about this contemptible garbage that I haven't already said a million times, but here are a couple of observations:

1. Zerlina Maxwell is a brave and effective anti-rape advocate. I am a survivor, and she spoke for me in this segment. I stand in solidarity with her.

2. I have, since first reading about the attacks on her, seen some shock/surprise at the vitriolic response to basic anti-rape advocacy. To be shocked/surprised by this kind of response, whether it's racism directed at a woman of color doing public advocacy and/or violent threats directed at an anti-rape advocate, is a luxury of privilege. This happens all the time. This is a regular part of my job. I certainly do not want to speak for Zerlina, but I imagine this is not the first time she has been on the receiving end of a metric fuckton of hateful shit simply for standing on that line in between survivors and rapists. We all need to be aware that this is a thing that happens all the time, because it's a silencing strategy that is used to protect the rape culture.

3. This isn't "just how the internet is." We know that is not the case. Better spaces can be built. We also know that the internet is not separate from but a reflection of culture, and to imagine that racism does not happen to women of color and/or violent threats don't happen to anti-rape advocates offline is also a luxury of privilege.

4. The people harassing Zerlina are not doing this because they're "crazy." They are maliciously indecent people who consciously choose to terrorize someone as a response to her having said something they don't like.

5. I hate with the fiery passion of ten thousand suns that Zerlina, or anyone, is ever subjected to the violent disgorgements of these human nightmares. I can't even convey the depth of my gratitude to anyone who stands on that line, knowing this is a likelihood.

If you would like to tweet your support at Zerlina, she's on Twitter at @ZerlinaMaxwell.

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