For two years now, violinist extraordinaire Mia Matsumiya has been using social media to out the “creeps, weirdos, and fetishists” who have sent her over a thousand indecent messages.
The Los Angeles-based musician created her Instagram account, Perv_Magnet, in October of 2015 where she posts screenshots of pervy, sexist messages she’s received over the past ten years.
She also uploads submissions from women who shared their own creepy conversations by using the hashtag #pervmagnet.
The messages, which range from silly catcalls to downright assault, were so many it almost desensitized her at one point.
“Receiving these types of messages became such a regular occurrence that I accepted it as normal for a very long time,” Matsumiya told NBC in a 2015 interview.
“Looking at them individually, I saw and still can see the humor in them—minus the death and rape threats, of course. It’s hard to not laugh at a lot of them because the levels of depravity in some of them are just so, so absurd. You can’t do much but laugh and be horrified that someone actually sent that to another human being. It’s definitely a coping mechanism for the actual helplessness I feel for the human race when I read them.”
Instead of keeping silent, Matsumiya used her online influence to raise awareness and inspire others to speak out against online abuse towards women.
“Why were so many people treating me like this? I didn’t feel like I did anything to elicit such hatred and disrespect and I felt mad. No one deserves to receive these kinds of messages. I felt that something was very, very wrong with our society that we just accept this type of online behavior without doing much to stop it. Why do we so many of us accept this as normal?”
Reading through the messages would reveal that they were not just gender-based online harassment but also contain racial abuse.
“My race attracts fetishists and leads some people to objectify me and believe I’m submissive. I’m also 4’9″, which attracts another type of fetishist, and I probably appear physically vulnerable,” she was quoted as saying.
“Just these two physical factors alone, to some, make me look very defenseless, which is what a predator is always looking for. I know this happens to other Asian women in general. I’ve talked to so many about it, both offline and online. It’s a terrible mix of misogyny, fetishism, and racism. Throw in that I’m also a musical performer and I become the recipient of so much disgusting, unacceptable, predatory behavior.”
According to a UN report, 73% of women have faced some kind of online violence, and not much has been done to stop it. Many victims choose to stay silent.
“It’s important for us to speak out about it and let everyone know that we don’t condone this behavior and I hope you’ll join me,” Matsumiya said, urging others to also out their own harassers.
“To the men who send messages like this to a woman, this behavior needs to stop. Please consider that there’s a real human being on the other side and we don’t like being sent these types of lewd messages. They scare and disgust us.”