Feminist internet laws

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The sexism encountered by many women in Internet culture has given rise to several feminist internet laws that outline general patterns of behaviour experienced by women online.

Godwin's Feminist Corollary[edit]

Godwin's Law states that as an internet discussion grows, the probability that someone will compare that poster to Hitler or the Nazis approaches one.

Godwin's Law is very popular and has inspired many variations, usually about specific groups, such as the Feminist Corollary, which states:

As an online discussion about sexism continues, the probability of a woman who speaks out being called a feminazi approaches 1.

Matthews' Law of Internet Misogyny[edit]

See the main article on this topic: Misogyny

Matthews' Law is an extension to Godwin's Feminist Corollary that exists due to the thinking of political spokesman, electrical engineer, and forensic scientist Richard Matthews[1] after his 2015 article discussing the abject nature of the Lena imageWikipedia and its usage in Computer Science.[2]

The longer a conversation regarding sexism, misogyny or the persecution of women grows the probability a male will accuse a woman of false rape — that is a woman who accuses a male of raping her when the event did not occur — approaches one.

While this law is attributed to Dr. Matthews, it is only named because he wrote the above-mentioned article. The case in question originates from the ineffective moderation of the comments on the article feed that caused the law to originate. The origin is based on the comments of two readers (Jena Zelezny and Lydia Isokangas) who debated the existence of a young Maddie Zug being offended by the Lena image being used in her computer science class. While the conversation started off professional and respectful, it was not long before it disintegrated into personal attacks and resulted in comments being locked on the article prematurely (well before the 72-hour deadline).[2]

Moff's Law[edit]

Moff's Law has a long and a short version, both were made on posts at io9[3] and identified on Racialicious.[4] The long version is:

Of all the varieties of irritating comment out there, the absolute most annoying has to be “Why can't you just watch the movie for what it is??? Why can’t you just enjoy it? Why do you have to analyze it???”

If you have posted such a comment, or if you are about to post such a comment, here or anywhere else, let me just advise you: Shut up. Shut the fuck up. Shut your goddamn fucking mouth. SHUT. UP.

The easiest response to this is "Why even have movie critics, then?"

The law itself can be phrased — paralleling Godwin's Law — as follows:

As comments continue in a feminist [social justice] discussion of pop culture, the probability of someone saying 'why do you have to analyze it? it's just a movie/cartoon/book/video game!' approaches 1.[5]

The Unicorn Law[edit]

The Unicorn Law states:

If you are a woman in open source, you will eventually give a talk about being a woman in open source.[6]

Basically, women in open source programming are still considered unusual enough that they're tokenized, and then asked to talk about being a token minority as if all that matters is their gender. This applies to pretty much any industry where programming, computing, or other technology is involved.[6]

Lewis' Law[edit]

Lewis' Law is named after journalist Helen Lewis, based on a tweet she made in August 2012, though the notion itself probably predates the 2010s:

Comments on any article about feminism justify feminism[7]

Since apparently some people have problems understanding what she meant, here is a clear explanation in her own words: "As the comment section of any article about feminism grows, the probability of someone saying something utterly vile, stupid and/or ignorant about women – something that justifies the existence of feminism – approaches one." It's an observation about the quality of comments (and by extension, the mindsets that produce them), not some kind of cause-and-effect logical rule.

Anita's Irony[edit]

Anita's Irony is an internet law that exists because of the work of Anita Sarkeesian, who spends a lot of time talking about the way women are portrayed in popular media. It states:

Online discussion of sexism or misogyny quickly results in disproportionate displays of sexism and misogyny.[8]

This exists because Sarkeesian is a feminist who usually focuses on how women are either not shown as advancing plot on their own, not shown at all, or shown in highly stereotypical ways. And, unsurprisingly, the responses to her were often incredibly over the top, including threats of violence.

Mukherjee’s Law[edit]

Named after Rohan Mukherjee, the discoverer of the law, Mukherjee’s Law states that if you dare to mention feminism even once or even vaguely admit to being a feminist during a conversation with an antifeminist, said antifeminist will almost instantly forget everything you said prior, ignore whatever you have to say afterwards (even if feminism isn't the main thing that's being discussed), and instead go on and on about how evil and misandristic feminism supposedly is, and how it possesses the fictional ability to somehow oppress and subjugate an entire gender by just existing. Rohan was first inspired to derive this law when he was having a conversation with some of his friends, when he mentioned the 8-letter f-word when discussing all the things that Conservapedia hates, and… well, you get the picture.

Application outside of feminism[edit]

Most of these laws are written with the focus being on women or feminism, but many of these work just as well with other social justice issues, such as online discussions about racism quickly result in disproportionate displays of racism, and people of color who are open source programmers will inevitably be asked to give a lecture on being a person of color who is an open source programmer, and comments on any article on gay rights justify the need for laws to protect gay rights, for example.