A Comics Creator Harassed Me On Twitter and I Don’t Want to Say His Name

A comics creator harassed me for months on Twitter and I don’t want to say his name.

It wasn’t even that bad, is what I’ve always told myself; more an endless stream of Well Actually and gaslighting than threats of harm. It wasn’t even that bad, is what I tell myself, wishing I hadn’t let it/him touch me.

This is how it was: I, a pseudonymous, female nobody, disagreed with his storied, much more experienced self, and I kept disagreeing long enough to raise his ire. I annoyed him, ignored him, publicly dismissed him and his opinion, and that was enough for him to search me out, day after day, for months. He was there, uninvited, for every joke, every grumpy morning, every late night goodbye. He was there, questioning me, my every observation, every opinion, every idea. “Well actually” “have you considered” “the so-called study” “ignores men” “and you call yourself a feminist?” “Do you even READ comics?”

I don’t even remember what started it.

This was back when I first got on Twitter, fresh off a stint of moderating a handful of pre-Tumblr, girl-oriented fan communities and blogs. When I came up in comics fandom, it was with women, mostly, but plenty of men too. Many of the girls and women in my communities were scared of the comics fandom of “out there,” dreading visitors from other sites and forums, and ignoring the whole of their discourse with extreme and justified prejudice. One community recruited moderators based on timezones, connectivity, and decisiveness — that’s what the daily deluge of rape jokes, misogynistic and racist harassment, and general fuckery demanded. Every other month there was a new raid or harassment campaign; members would gear up, and the community would go into lockdown. When we weren’t being actively harassed, a blogger or comics journalist, always always always a boy or man, was trying to incite something.

I have been told that I am trash, unfit for society, deluded, crazy, and a dumb cunt. I have had threatening GIFs jammed into my eyeballs until I became numb to them. I have had comics drawn of me in which I commit terrible crimes against men, and comics drawn of me in which I come to terrible harm at the hands of those same men. All for the privilege of expending volunteer labour on a clubhouse for my friends. But, you know, it wasn’t that bad. (It could have been worse.)

In the thick of it, I constantly underestimated the effect this all had on me. Underestimated it as my grades dropped and I spiralled back into a depression that I’d only just gotten out of. Underestimated it as I was reminded daily of the ex who stalked me both online and in person, cut me up emotionally because I didn’t need him enough, want him enough, and turned my back on him in the end. (What else threatens a man so well?) Underestimated it even as we, my colleagues, were harassed relentlessly, accused variously of harbouring violent hatred for men or just not caring about their every passing thought and emotion. (How could we?) Underestimated it as men in positions of power and authority called fire down on us and we could only lock arms and hold fast.

I slipped it into the middle of that paragraph: I have a history with stalking, or rather, stalking has a history with me. He couldn’t have known that, our unnamed comic creator, when he decided to make my Twitter life as miserable as his own pathetic heart. He couldn’t have known much about me, or what hurts me, besides the obvious things that hurt all of us. But equally, he couldn’t have known that I DIDN’T have a stalker, a past that, like so many women, includes abuse. He did know, you know, that I am human. That every. Last. Person. You interact with on the internet, is human too.

Here is the thing about it all, the thing that makes me squirm with shame: I don’t want to say his name; I’m not going to. Not out of fear of him. No, he’s not who makes my throat close up, my muscles clench till they cramp, my breath come up short. He just reminds me of him, the reason for so much of my silence.

Here is the other thing about it, the one that should make you worry: no one but me and my close friends told him to stop. Not when he was harassing me, not when he was harassing countless other women. He was just “talking” with some probably fake comics fans on the internet.

And here is the last thing, the one that satisfies me even as it makes me mad: not one of my harassers from back then knows who I am, and so very many of them, the ones with influence, treat me very differently these days. I am, named, established, with some power, worth being polite to, at the very least. (Except when we aren’t.) They don’t know my measure but I do know theirs.

Megan Purdy

Megan Purdy

Publisher of all this. Megan was born in Toronto. She's still there. Philosopher, space vampire, heart of a killer.

10 thoughts on “A Comics Creator Harassed Me On Twitter and I Don’t Want to Say His Name

  1. This is terrible, but you’re awesome, and awesome for sticking it out and staying in this industry, because it needs people like you.

  2. It’s not ok to cloak disregard and misogyny in the guise of “discourse” and “disagreement”

    It’s not ok to use harassment and cheap tricks to wear down someone’s energy and resolve

    It’s not ok to disregard the experiences of others just because you don’t share them and they make you uncomfortable

    It’s not ok to use social standing as a substitute for social awareness.

    It IS ok to have your own thoughts, your own successes, your own desires, your own goals, and your own life.
    … whether you are male, female, or identify anywhere in between or beyond.

    Thank you to all who stand up and speak out. Who continue to create, share and discuss. Who further the dialog and education and growth of our society. Thank you to the abused who speak up. To the former perpetrators who recognize and atone. To those born to privilege who acknowledge it, and those born without who refuse to be defined.

    We can grow. We will grow. Every moment we talk and accept more, hate and disregard less, is one more step away from the darkness.

    Cheers to you Megan. Thank you.

  3. I hate that this happened to you (to anyone). Thanks for speaking out, Megan. I’m inspired by your strength and your commitment to the industry. I admire that you’re actively creating a safe space online for those who have been through traumas similar to yours.

  4. I’m so sorry you went through all of this, Megan. This is an excellent article though. I’m glad you’re doing what you do here.

  5. Megan, thank you for writing this. Your bravery inspires me, and I wish none of this had ever happened to you.

  6. You should hold the bastard accountable. I know how it feels to be harassed by a ton of people, and I also have a lot of experience with outing the harassers. Sure, sometimes you get flak for it, but at the end of the day they usually learn a valuable lesson and cut that crap out, if their reputation’s at stake.

    I know tons of people in the comic book fandom are intolerant douchebags, but like I said, accountability is key. I hope you release this guy’s name soon, I’m almost tempted to “stalk” your Twitter just to find out who the jerk is. I don’t wanna accidentally be nice to someone so petty, or support their work. Just saying.

    1. I get where you’re coming from, and I want to shun this guy too, but do you really think it’s okay for you to tell this author what she “should” do, especially in the context of misogyny and especially in the context of violence? “Intolerant douchebags” doesn’t really cover the gamut of harassment that men in this industry have been known to perpetuate. What if she becomes the next Sarkeesian or Wu, unable to even stay in her own home because of the threats of violence leveled against her? Please do not “stalk” her twitter and out this guy in relation to her. She has the right to protect her health and career by not calling this guy out. I’m sure if she felt in any way that it would be safe to do, she would.

  7. I’m so sorry this guy did this to you and I’m so angry that you can’t say his name. I haven’t been harassed like this but I have had two famous men privately message me to tell me that my opinions about them are wrong. One of them was benign, though I found it really creepy that he privately messaged me to tell me he wasn’t sexist. The other was “benign” but really freaked me out, because he was insistent and because he is so overwhelmingly powerful in the field, and after three messages I blocked him. He is extremely popular with a lot of feminists. I know that if I disagree with him publicly I can have a lot of women jumping down my throat, which is the worst feeling, but mostly I’m scared of him sending me more private messages. There’s nothing you can do about private messages from famous dudes, because without a large following you can’t really “out” them.

    A third guy sent some trolls my way to tell me my art was ugly, because I said a project he was working on was racist. He’s famous but in an area that I’m not interested in working in, so it’s a little less intimidating; but it’s hard not to internalize that shit as “oh he must be right, I guess my opinions are wrong after all.” Which is infuriating, because if he was so right, why would he waste his time with criticism from a nobody like me?

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