A Culture of Hate

That social media creates a culture of hate is hardly news. Anyone who has ever seen Twitter can determine this right away. Not only has social media changed how fans watch football or "support" their teams, but we have seen how it directly affects the players themselves. How the players use social media has also created hate and had serious repercussions for them, as well. But even Twitter has standards. Discrimination based on race, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and more has consequences, albeit limited and not remotely proportional to the infractions. Kindness or even tolerance are being replaced by a culture of hate.

So much hate from such a tiny device

WARNING: The following post contains vulgarity. Please be advised.

For nearly 11 years now, I have written this blog and been on Twitter. I am fortunate enough to have millions of page views here, hundreds of thousands of listens on my podcast, and a healthy following on Twitter. Through analytics, I can see that people read and listen from all over the world, which has always been my purpose in creating Milan Obsession – to share my love of Milan with fans all over the world. I have also made many friends over the years and even met some people in person, and for all of these things, I count my blessings.

Unlike other accounts though, I have also faced an extensive amount of discrimination, hate, stalking, bullying, and even threats. I have written about this many times, including last year, when I wrote "Confessions of a Female Sports Fan." While I gave many tangible examples and even used tweets anonymously to demonstrate the bias aimed toward me, there are still many who say that I am a "victim" or worse, and that gender discrimination has nothing to do with the hate aimed toward me. 

Well this one is not about being the victim. Had I been a victim, why would I still be subjecting myself to  all of this? I'm not even a feminist, let alone a masochist. I realize that by putting this out there, I may receive more hate and abuse, but that is not new or different for me. My intention here is to share just a fraction of my experiences and demonstrate the wide variety of sources that they come from. For true misogynists, nothing will change. For those whose tweets I reveal, they will likely attack me more and attempt to rally the troops. But I hope that for some who read this they will finally see that I am not "too sensitive" or making this stuff up. So here are just a few of my personal stories and a few random tweets and experiences:

Seven years ago, I wrote about threats and gender bias shown me. Despite posting the tweets anonymously, Anthony Lopopolo publicly revealed that some of the tweets were his, saying that I was attacking him and that he didn't deserve to be associated with the tweets about rape threats. He rallied the troops of his club and everyone else to play the victim, and it worked. I got a lot of hate, even though I never mentioned his name at that time. First of all, his tweets were used because he reacted entirely differently toward me than he did to males who asked similar questions. Secondly, he and the person who made the rape threats were basically high-fiving each other on Twitter as he was playing the victim, and still follow one another and interact today. But Anthony blocked me from all of the accounts he had access to, including the AC Milan Club New York and Stereo Serie A accounts, though I had nothing to do with them. 

Yesterday on Twitter, amidst the loss to Liverpool, Martino Puccio publicly attacked me once again. He has been doing so for two years now, tweeting and subtweeting ever since he blocked me. I had originally invited him to be on my podcast and we were direct messaging, and he was flirting with me, asking me about my marital status, etc. I told him I was not at all interested in dating and shared a traumatic experience with him in an effort to let him know I was 100% not interested, and instead he kept messaging me and gave me his phone number two weeks later. I finally posted some of his messages yesterday in a thread on Twitter, for which some people have attacked him, which was definitely not my intention. I simply wanted him to stop. I had not spoken to him in two years:

However, now Martino is going around privately to anyone who will listen and messaging them trying to say that he was just being nice, and blocking the ones who don't believe him. But why would he publicly attack me for two years straight when I had not said anything during that time if he was just trying to be nice? Some will believe him, because, like Farinho, they have publicly attacked me, too. My crime with him, of course, quote tweeting him and challenging his opinion. His responses, of course, include gender-related insults. And other people joining in to bully, like always.

But these are the back stories on just a few incidents. People do everything from project emotions on me, gaslight, slide up into my DMs, send me inappropriate pictures, tell me what my opinion should be, to straight insults and more. Early on, I learned to screen cap, block and report insults and abuse, because that's what Twitter and the police told me to do. Here are a very small sampling of the thousands of tweets from various accounts over the years. (This does not include hate from any other platform, just the Twitter ones):

Milan Twitter and friends in particular were in their prime in 2017, and after a loss to Juventus, they were particularly active. There were over 120,000 impressions my TL in a 24 hour period (although I only had about 6,000 followers,) with hundreds of people tweeting at or about me. People pulled up five year-old tweets and claimed they were from that day and so much more. This turned into a movement of bullying that included a female journalist who they deemed "fat" because of a profile pic of her face, and photoshops and accusations of both of us being fat (amongst so many other things) became popular. Being blocked by me became a badge of honor, although it was just what Twitter required of me to try to get them to stop and keep me safe. All of the following tweets took place within five days, and are only a sampling of the hundreds of tweets during that time period:

Obviously, the tweets did not just magically stop then. Here are a few of the tweets since March of 2017:

If all of this was just about me, then why don't all of these people do this to all of the males who have differences of opinions? Don't any of these people care that these tweets are public and could cost them school and career opportunities? But if you think that any of this is forgotten or that none of this has impacted my reputation, my blog, podcast, or Twitter account, here is a fresh tweet from yesterday...

Last year, I was a "whore who blocks everyone, even reports Milan accounts lmao." Today, I "pull no punches" and "take no prisoners." Whether that is just a coincidence of two people with two different viewpoints, I don't know. But I hope that people finally recognize that I am done being accused of being a victim, and I will use my platform to expose anyone and everyone who continues to discriminate, abuse, or threaten me, especially based on gender. 

I have been keeping these secrets for too long. The narrative that men have created that all of this is just me or that I cannot accept someone else's opinion is just one component of the culture of misogyny and gaslighting that they have cultivated. Many people will not be surprised by certain accounts above, while some may be more surprising. But I think the time is long overdue that people see what I see, what I deal with on a regular basis, and not just me writing about it. And if you are a male and have endured more abuse than this for over 10 years, please let me know, I would love to know your story.

You may not be able to understand what it is like to have everyone automatically assume you are male, or how it feels to have your work ignored, undermined, and discounted because of something you cannot change. Or to have people only interested in having sex with you and not listening or valuing anything that you say. Or how it feels to live in fear because you don't know which of these people are common keyboard warriors and which are actually psychopaths who want to harm you and your children. Nor am I asking you to try to wrap your head around this, or asking for your pity.

But I do hope that this will inspire change in at least one person, to understand that gender discrimination in sports is real. That I am not a victim, I am simply not willing to bow down to a culture of hate. 

The following is based on reactions to the initial post...

EDIT: As I mentioned above, I knew this post would cause a reaction, so here are just a few of the reactions so far. First, from a Milan fan who claims to deplore misogyny, but as shown above, tweeted "was blocked on my old account because me and the guys I tagged trolled her hard" and "It's a joke not a dick. Don't take it too hard." It seems that he takes issue with a single tweet, as he doesn't understand how emphasizing a gender pronoun in a group of people who are bullying someone based on gender could possibly lead to more hate:

EDIT: If the tweet fits, wear it. There is this guy, a journalist who often trolls people. He has repeatedly accused me publicly of "she started it" to "stand by EVERY SINGLE statement" he made about me, apparently even the sexist ones. (People do understand what discrimination is, right? Treating someone differently because of something they cannot change, such as gender?) 

But in actuality, two years ago, all I did to quote tweet his football-related tweet. He attacked me immediately and kept going. Although he does claim to condemn what he calls sexual harassment and misconduct from everyone else, except he and Martino, of course. (Note that he is the one using the term sexual harassment, not me, and that others now have, too.) He and others have offered the following reactions to this post. As I add this, he is still tweeting about this with people as if it is a joke, so I may need to add more later. Here are the tweets from two years ago:

And then today, he claims that this is how the conversation went, but my "unprovoked" insult actually came after all of his insults above:

EDIT: I had one interaction with Jerry Mancini, a Lazio fan. He didn't know who I was, although we had both written for VAVEL Europe at the same time in the past. He blocked me because he "freaked out" that I knew this. There wasn't even an argument. A mutual friend even told me that he spoke with him about it to explain that we had, in fact written together. But he claims to know a lot more about me, at least when speaking publicly about me. Weird thing is, like all of the others, he doesn't act like this with the males who interact with him:

EDIT: All of these reactions simply solidify the premise of this post. The fact that some of these same people have now also made anti-Semitic attacks on Twitter should not surprise. Others, like Farinho, do not learn. If you publicly attack someone, then they call you out, maybe you should quit while you're ahead? Certainly one person had some similar advice for him today:

EDIT: As for Martino and Nima, they are publicly threatening to sue me for libel, and suggest others do as well. They continue to talk about me on Twitter, but without any evidence to support their claims. Meanwhile, this post has simply become a curation of their own (and others') tweets attacking me. Have they ever considered just stopping? Like I asked them to in the first place?


FRIDAY UPDATE: Nima continues to tweet about me, this time attacking a friend who offered support to both me and a mutual friend who was racially abused by some of the accounts above. The claims he continues to make regarding Martino in a conversation he was not privy to nor has no evidence of other than what is posted above are truly surprising. His concerns about accounts with "high-followers" do not include my account or the many others listed above. This post was written to demonstrate exactly this type of behavior, where men gossip, bully, and create a narrative that is untrue. Do they not see that in trying to play the victim, they have demonstrated their lack of innocence? All I ever asked was for this behavior to stop, and 36 hours later, it is still going. 

FRIDAY NIGHT: This post has been up for almost 48 hours now, and not only are they still attacking me, but they are now defaming and attacking anyone who supports me.

Note: Twitter found that Nima had violated their rules against hateful conduct. His account was locked, he had to delete the offensive tweets to be able to use his account again. This was not the first time, nor will it be the last, I'm sure, despite the fact that he uses this account for his professional work. 

I was never sued for libel, defamation, or any other made up crime, nor have I ever had my Twitter account locked for violating any rules. 

These men try to hide their discriminatory, attacking, and hateful tweets toward me and others in a fraternity of sports fans on Twitter. Many of them tweet frequently, because Twitter is a running narrative and these tweets get buried in the tsunami of words. But this blogpost is permanent. This collection of their own words allows others to see a pattern that is aimed at only one person, being singled out and treated differently than others for gender. Sometimes, it is so subtle that the gaslighting and telling themselves and everyone else that it is all about me could almost be believed. Yet with so much damning evidence, that narrative is proven false. The bullying and group attacks demonstrate a culture of misogyny that is finally beginning to be silenced in some parts of society, albeit very slowly. That is why I find it important, as a woman, to stand up and use my platform. 

I have built this platform in the face of all of this adversity, losing followers when these attacks occur because people say it's "too much drama." Despite working longer and harder than many of the male content producers I know, I get virtually no support from fellow content producers, and a small fraction of the recognition. These men whose tweets are above are so concerned with my "fake followers" and low numbers of interactions on Twitter, but gratefully, I can see the pageviews and listens, which helps to keep me going, and I am truly grateful. These are realities I knew and accepted when I started Milan Obsession.

Martino certainly was not the only person to flirt with me, and I'm sure he won't be the last, that was never the point. The point was a pattern I have seen where the men who do treat me differently than the males they interact with in a seemingly positive way all end up taking a simple conversation about football incredibly personally, blocking me, and then publicly attacking me. In most cases, this is very different from how they interact with the males who they converse with on Twitter. Martino's mistake is that he has never stopped talking, not even when the truth was made public. As you have seen above, a number of other men continue to do so as well. To stop talking about me is all I have ever asked. This is not okay. No means no.

This post inspired by the music of Lush's "Ladykillers"

Our next match is 
Serie A Week 17
Udinese vs. Milan
Saturday, December 11 • 20:45 CET (2:45pm EST)

A Culture of Hate A Culture of Hate Reviewed by Elaine on 11:00 PM Rating: 5
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