A tweet today got me irrationally, stupidly, Peter Cohen-levels of angry. Namely, this tweet by Quartz writer Emma-Kate Symons.
Now, I've seen and personally experienced the wrath that comes from angry jerks with Opinions on the Internet, so I can't necessarily prove that Symons wasn't getting gendered attacks the likes of "Stop writing this drivel and go back to the kitchen."
But it's the way she promotes it like a newspaper headline that infuriates me.
"Look, Internet! I was right! The Mac fanboys ARE a cult, and they're after me! Read my piece quickly before they figure out some hacking magic to tear me down."
Symons doesn't link to abusive tweets or post horrible email screenshots in that tweet. She doesn't treat her harassment as serious, or concerning. Instead, she tells Twitter of her harassment the way she's promoted any other number of stories on her feed: With an inciting exclamation point and inflammatory words.
No, I can't say that Symons wasn't harassed for her piss-poor article comparing the new book Becoming Steve Jobs with the ever-popular "Apple is a cult religion" tag line. I'd believe it if she said she was, because people say some real shit to women in this line of work if they disagree with them.
But based on the publicly available tweets I've seen, including Gruber's 6:43PM question over her reading of the Jobs book that seems to have set her timeline off, the only thing Symons was being harassed over was her inflammatory click-bait writing.
It's entirely possible that she was being sent email after email of insulting, disgusting remarks on her personal life, and that, not Gruber's question and the subsequent outpouring, was what prompted her 9PM tweet complaining about "male Apple worshippers." She has every right to be infuriated over personally-insulting emails.
If that tweet was based entirely around Symons trying to stir up further controversy for her article by promoting it as something the "Cult of Mac" was attacking her for, however — that really gets my goat.
There are women whose lives are being threatened for speaking their minds on tech topics. There are women who every day get unspeakably disgusting emails and Tweets about their bodies, their lives, their children, and their spouses. There are women who have left this field because the harassment is too much to bear.
For a woman in technology to instead use those events as an inspirational buzzword to get her more clicks for a terrible piece of writing? That, to me, is almost as despicable as the jerks who send women terrible emails in the first place.
I could be totally off-base in reading Symons's tweet. But the fact that I can't tell whether or not this is true harassment or a publicity stunt — that's what hurts the most. It makes it that much harder to separate the wolf cries from the true emergencies. And in an age when we're fighting like hell to validate the struggles that women do have in the tech industry, muddled messages like these hold us back.