#OpenMinday @helenlewis @pennyred @belledejour_uk @red3blog

UPDATE My wife, having read my words below, is furious with me for not properly explaining the whole point here. #OpenMinday is about challenging what you think you know and feel, compelling you to consider what you think you actually think.

It’s a weekly project, one that I want to use to open minds on every Monday. This weekend has seen my mind opened on a subject I had not considered enough from a woman’s perspective. Because of the people above, I am now an activist, where I had once just scoffed in disbelief. I can now take responsibility for the power I have to do something. And that’s what I want for you, too.

#OpenMinday, the project, is a part of that power. I want to expose you to people on Twitter who you might otherwise never be exposed to, and in doing so prompt you to expose me and everyone else to the people who make you examine your thinking and consider new perspectives.

On Saturday, all of the above people broadened my mind. And, now I’m following them, they’ve improved the variety and scope – not to mention interest – of my Twitter timeline. I suggest that if you are a) a Man or b) a Woman, you follow them too.

#OpenMinday is something I wanted to start to bring more variety and breadth to my own Twitter feed, and hopefully to do the same for others. Last week I kicked off what I originally called #PolarMondays (later, #MondayModifiers) with @shepleygreen, economist and writer, to learn more actual facts about capitalism than I was getting in the echo chamber of my timeline.

I’d imagined it would open your eyes to things you thought you understood, or thought you didn’t need to know more about, and so help all of us gain a deeper understanding of everything we talk about every day – and, even better, hopefully a deeper understanding of what you actually thought about all that stuff after having been exposed to a contrasting viewpoint to your own.

On Saturday, though, #feministwishlist started trending and was quickly peppered with the idiot ‘jokes’ of boys seemingly desperate to chip-in with what they thought all feminists (ie, not ‘normal’ women) really needed. You can guess the level of philosophy these desperately socially conscious little boys were engaging in.

I was immediately prompted to come up with some sort of solution, following the fact that so many of the guys quickly lost their verve once I challenged them directly to their own social media identity, and that so many women were wishing for an end to the ceaseless, mindless ugliness which male commenters insist on spuffing across the internet.

Unable to sleep after all this shock and inspiration, and for the rushing urge to do something, I did what I do best – self-examined, thought a lot and then decided I’d come up with what might lie behind online misogyny.

When an ex girlfriend told me of the abuse she had received to her face in pubs for doing nothing more than politely rebuffing someone’s advances, I was in disbelief. When my own sister told me, casually and without pain, of the ‘joke advances’ she came under, I felt lost. But when I read about women online being threatened with rape, I’m so disgusted I want to vomit my own heart out.

It has to stop, and yet there are people who would argue against any response at all. But the people above are all writing brilliantly about aspects of misogyny, and if you read what they have to say, you’d be as inspired and better-informed as I am.

Meanwhile, if you’d like to fire me some ideas about how we can raise accountability online like I’ve suggested, I’m @zephyrtron. And if you can think of any better names than #killcomments (too needlessly aggressive) or #onlineaccountability (too dry) I’d appreciate it!

About Ben Catley-Richardson

Writer, reader, husband. Father!
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