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The "Betty Big Butt" Incident

An example of men mocking women to silence them....

      In March of 2006 one Peter J. Perry of Washington, DC thusly mocked the body and (sometimes fabricated) statements of a feminist (me!) with whom he disagreed on substantive issues, including "diversity of tactics," which had meant support for property destruction and fighting with cops at rallies, though by 2007 some were trying to redefine to mean nothing very specific at all! 
       Pete publishes the Inside the Belly of the Beltway Beast Blog which boasts it is the "Washington, D.C. area's true left wing blog." 
       Pete Perry "Betty Big Butt" posts - and his post confessing to being "Betty Big Butt" -- are in red.  To their credit, DAWN-Discuss-DC moderators moderated "Betty Big Butt" after the second message.   Carol Moore, DC

Date: Sun, 26 Mar 2006 22:07:34 -0800 (PST)

From: Betty BigButt <>


Subject: Re: [dawn-discuss-dc]  Enough Male Suppression Controlling DAWN

All of you men are always trying to drown out us women. I authorize myself to speak for 75% of all women and people of color and hereby proclaim that they agree with me even though they haven't said so (See today's list serve).

I'm a very assertive female, and I find it highly disempowering, actually, when anyone but me speaks. I alone am the true _expression of SOUL FORCE. If you disagree with me and you are a manly man and a sexist pig. 

Anyone who disagrees with me has been duped by the patriarchy and the black bloc. My allegiance is with the police state and its enforcers both in and out of uniform. As representatives of the fundamental patriarchal institution charged with protecting life, liberty, and the pursuit of property (as long as it belongs to rich white people), terrorizing people of color, and suppressing all serious dissent, the police are our allies ....Wait, I've confused myself. Never mind.


Anyway, even though I never show up at most actions anyway, and sometimes even forget to show up at meetings, I protest the weekly action group because I am not in charge. Also, the women in the group are clearly not capable of thinking for themselves because they dare to disagree with me.

If you do not share my complete support of capitalism (except the Israel Lobby which rules the world), and all its repressive structures, this is yet another _expression of macho posturing on your part. I dream of the day and will cheer mightily when you and your ilk provoke the police to stomp your asses into the pavement and cart what's left of you off to serve long prison terms. By the way, if they can't find you I will tell them where you are hiding. 


The Peace Marshall

Date: Mon, 27 Mar 2006 12:22:06 -0500

From: Carol Moore in DC <>

To: "DC Anti-War Network (DAWN) discussion list" <>

Subject: Re: [dawn-discuss-dc] Freeper Trolll?? Enough Male Suppression Controlling


Sounds like we've got a FREEPER troll on this list. Moderators please pay attention.

Betty BigButt wrote:

(Then Quoted Pete Perry material above)

Date: Tue, 28 Mar 2006 07:37:40 -0500

From: Carol Moore in DC <>

To: "DC Anti-War Network (DAWN) discussion list" <>

Subject: Re: [dawn-discuss-dc] FREEPER MESSAGE # 2...Proposal on DAWN meetings

In case anyone missed it... [NOTE: Original message not kept.]

Betty BigButt wrote:

> I also propose that we ban men from facilitating any meeting for at

> least two months, as it will give us womyn more time to openly express

> ourselves. DAWN must be guided by the loving and nurturing nature of

> feminity.


> Down with masculine oppression! This whole WAG thing is wigging me out!


> I would also like to propose that every single DAWN event must first

> recieve a permit from law enforcement. And Carol and I can be the lead

> negotiators, if not informants, for the police.


> Satyagraha sisters (unless you are a zionist),

> Betty BigButt

Date: Wed, 28 Jun 2006 11:55:32 -0400

From: "Pete Perry" <>

Subject: [dawn-discuss-dc] Points of Unity

Reply-To: "DC Anti-War Network (DAWN) discussion list"

I think the new proposed version looks very repetitive... Can we just add gender and sexual orientation to the ones we have now? I think something fairly streamlined looks really nice. Otherwise, we look verbose and sort of exclusive. Keep it strong but simple.

By the way, Carol, there's a difference between humor and outright oppression. In fact I think the two are pretty much diametrically opposed.

I was Betty BigButt. It was humor. Granted, it didn't go over very well. But it's intent was pure humor. Now let's get past this.



Pete Perry


"Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing

it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned."


Internet Hatred Towards Women
 If they don't ignore you, they attack you...

In 2005
lawyer, professor, author, political operative, feminist advocate, former Dukakis campaign manager and commentator for Fox News Susan Estrich wrote a series of emails and mass mailings lobbying to get more women columnists in the Los Angeles Times. She started a debate on the lack of women's voices in major media. (See this news article and Estrich's comments for the Columbia Journalism review.) And this Washington Monthly Discussion.

Another 2005 article surely was inspired by this controversy.  In a Nation article called Invisible Women Katha Pollit notes that male bloggers tend not to link to women bloggers, speculating:  Perhaps they sense it might interfere with the circle jerk in cyberspace--the endless mutual self-infatuation that is one of the less attractive aspects of the blogging phenom. Or maybe, like so many op-ed editors, they just don't see women, even when the women are right in front of them.

However, as bad or worse than being ignored is some of the vicious attacks to which women who opine online, including in blogs, are subjected.  And so-called politically correct left wing males, those who foam at the mouth at the least suggestion of racist or homophobic bigotry, can be as or more vicious to women than right wing ones.  Ask Cindy Sheehan who temporarily resigned from the peace movement after vicious attacks as an "attention whore" by leftist Democratic Party males on the Democratic Underground site.  (See complaints on a blog entry Male Liberal Bloggers Hating Conservative Women Bloggers .)  I myself have had absurd email and web page attacks by males who went ballistic when I expressed some opinion they didn't like - or argued my opinion against theirs.

In 2007 Kathy Sierra, a well-known technology blogger, had to cancell a talk because of graphic death threats posted on her blog, motivating a host of articles on the topic.  See
 Uploading Hatred Of Women - Death Threats Against Prominent Female Blogger Spark Debate About Prevalence Of Sexism Online;  Men who hate women on the Web; Online Communities, Women, and Misogyny
; Hating Hate Speech: Safety for Kathy Sierra and all women online

For other stories about attacks on women see: Hate Speech Towards Women Increases On Primetime TV; Why Do So Many Men Hate Women?; How the web became a sexists' paradise 

May 24, 2006


Female Pundits Could Use Help With Hate Mail

By Heidi Schnakenberg - WeNews commentator

As a young woman, I stepped out into the treacherous

waters of opinion journalism, and was amazed by the lack of civil

discourse and the intensity of personal attacks that I received via

e-mail, letters to the editor and on Web postings.

Subjects such as women's issues, racism, anti-war politics,

environmental matters and virtually any topic deemed "liberal" inspired

some vitriolic comments from readers that I will mention here.

I was called everything from "bitch" to "whore" and was often addressed

as "sweetie" or "honey" before a launch of expletives. Most attackers

took the position that I was just a cute, dumb college student (even

though I was in my late 20s) in an effort to discredit me and I was most

reliably attacked by a collection of right-wing Web sites and right-wing

men who sent me letters.

Needless to say, I ran out of the gates, trail-blazing, and came back a

wounded animal.

The experience solidified my "attack and retreat" explanation of the low

numbers of women in opinion journalism.

The presence of female opinion journalists has remained virtually

unchanged over the past 25 years, with only 10 percent to 20 percent of

all op-eds in the country being written by women. Only about a quarter

of nationally syndicated columnists are women and they tend to be white

and right-wing.

While numerous professions--science, medicine and even journalism--have

seen a sharp rise in female participants, opinion journalism doesn't

seem to budge.

In my case, I was attacked, and then retreated into self-censorship for

a period of months and in that darkened room I found no mentors and

little support from editors.

Fear of Appearing Vulnerable

The psychic impact of hate mail is something female writers don't often

talk about in fear of appearing vulnerable in the male world of opinion

writing. I believe women can take the heat of opinion journalism as well

as any man; the problem is that the heat we take and the reasons why are

very different.

Maureen Dowd of The New York Times discussed reactions to female opinion

in her column last year. "While a man writing a column taking on the

powerful may be seen as authoritative, a woman doing the same thing may

be seen as castrating." She went on to say she called Alan Dundes, a

renowned folklorist, to ask about it. "Women are supposed to take it,

not dish it out," Dundes told her.

Rekha Basu is the civil liberties voice at the Des Moines Register in

Iowa, and she is a woman, liberal and Indian. She's been called a

Hindu-worshipping slut, an Arab terrorist, a whore, a lesbian, a cunt, a

skanky Muslim. Most insults are via e-mail and on Web sites, where

attackers can remain relatively anonymous.

She's been stalked and followed on the highway and told readers can't

wait to read her obituary in the newspaper. But nothing hurt like the

time a reader said they hoped her husband, who has Lou Gehrig's disease,

would hurry up and die so she would leave the country.

Rekha used to be scared, and is still hurt by some of the more malicious

letters. But after a while she realized "I have the opportunity to

change lives. If I censor myself, what's the point?"

Do Men Get the Same?

Do men get the same? I asked David Yepsen, who is white, male, centrist

and also a columnist at the Register. He says he is called an asshole

from time to time and received a death threat once, but Yepsen felt

readers had paid their quarter and were entitled to an opinion. "I've

heard Rekha was called a Hindu-worshipping slut and things like that.

I've never gotten anything on par with that," he said.

Katherine Kersten is a conservative voice at the Minneapolis Star

Tribune, and gets a lot of grief from the liberal population. But it

doesn't seem the same over-the-top, bone-chilling stuff that Rekha

receives. Kersten said some readers harassed her for going against

women's interests and she was accused of being dishonest and greedy.

However, Kersten felt men and women received equal treatment from

readers, noting that Nick Coleman (a liberal voice at the Star Tribune),

gets as many attacks, if not more than she does.

Coleman thinks there is a gender gap in the hate mail. "My wife is also

a columnist at the St. Paul Pioneer, and there is a huge difference

between the types of abuse I get, and what she gets. It's much worse for

her," he said.

Michele Weldon, a contributor to Women's eNews who has also provided

columns to the Chicago Tribune, recalled the time a hostile reader of a

column read her memoir on the domestic abuse she experienced and wrote

to tell her she deserved everything she got.

Sasha Kemmet is a young, budding liberal writer for The Des Moines

Register's Young Adult Board. She has been stalked by critics who have

accused her of everything from racism to elitism. She describes her

detractors as deeply misogynist.

"I was surprised by the viciousness of the attacks and it was extremely

disappointing. My goal in writing was to initiate dialogue, not bring

about petty personal attacks." Kemmet thinks "society wants women to

have opinions as long as they don't speak them too loudly . . . as long

as this persists, women will believe it themselves."

Year-Old Debate

A year ago, the debate about female pundits was blazing.

In February of 2005, Susan Estrich ignited it by launching an e-mail

campaign that blasted the Los Angeles Times for hiring few women to

write columns.

A discussion of the situation then bounced around from Estrich to

Maureen Dowd to Katha Pollitt of The Nation and included scores of

columnists across the country.

I was emboldened by what Pollitt had to say on the topic last December.

"Women buy the crap about women being too shy-weak-polite to express

themselves," she wrote. She added that this is "not the fault of women

themselves . . . women are discriminated against, not groomed or mentored."

In Dowd's column on the topic, she said that after six months writing

op-eds, she retreated into submission and nearly walked away from the

job, just "wanting to be liked."

Young women, like Kemmet and me, tend to go into this profession with a

lot of hope and passion. But we sometimes retreat without an adequate

support network.

When new female writers are bolstered by the moral support needed to

survive the onslaught of anti-female sentiment flooding their inboxes,

more women's by-lines will show up on the opinion pages.

Heidi Schnakenberg is a part-time columnist for the Des Moines Register,

and her work has appeared in the Iowa City Press-Citizen, The Ghanaian

Times, the Algona Upper Des Moines and the San Diego Union-Tribune.

Heidi is also a published screenwriter for American Zoetrope.