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#PissForEquality: The cruel online hoax that backfired spectacularly.

The latest trolling hoax didn’t prove feminists are dumb. It proved misogynists are cruel.

This month, a hoax by a group of internet trolls encouraged feminists to wet their pants.

The cruel prank, dreamed up by a group of anonymous commenters on online forum 4Chan, called on feminists to share photos of their soiled clothing using the hashtag #PissForEquality.

One of the images circulating online alongside the hashtag #PissForEquality.

The campaign claimed that the pant-soiling was a way of showing solidarity with rape survivors who wet themselves while being attacked.

“Left unconscious and unaware that their lives would change forever, rape victims not only suffer from the pain of unwanted abuse, but the humiliation of having soiled themselves,” the campaign claimed in a series of online memes.

“Let’s come together and do the same, to prove to these strong women that they are never alone.”

One of at least three memes used to promote the #PissForEquality hashtag. (Image: Twitter)

The prank was promoted on Tumblr, Twitter and Facebook — and within days of the hashtag’s creation, a number of social media users got on board.

Users from across the world began posting images of themselves posing in urine-soaked clothing.

They captioned their photos with calls to action, making comments like “having to wash a pair of jeans is nothing compared to rape” and “please join this cause, it means a lot to me and others who’ve suffered”.

A Tumblr post using the hashtag #PissForEquality.

The hashtag had taken off. The hoax had succeeded. Or at least, that’s what it seemed like.

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Men’s rights activists and sexist Twitter users were delighted at the result, immediately applauding the trolls for a “hilarious” prank. Some pointed out how “pathetic” and “completely stupid” feminists must be for falling for the joke.

Alex Jones’ Infowars.com even dedicated an entire article to criticising feminists for their “gullibility”.

At first glance, it might seem that the misogynist trolls got exactly what they wanted: the public humiliation of feminists, the undermining of rape victims’ survival stories, and instant, viral fame.

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Except that the hoax didn’t actually seem to work.

Because on closer investigation, it’s not clear whether any actual women fell for the prank at all.

As Lauren O’Neil commented on Twitter, pretty much all the accounts posting pictures of women #pissingforequality were fakes. Which makes sense, because part of the trolls’ original plan was to create a bunch of fake accounts to spread the hoax.

A quick Twitter search reveals that at least four of the main users tweeting their support for the hashtag — Stephanie Miller, Gemma Collins, Janis Fletler, Casey Green and Doris Hart — were created in early October, just as the prank was dreamed up.

Those accounts almost exclusively tweeted about the #PissForEquality hashtag (not exactly normal Twitter behaviour, is it?)

Many real, live feminists immediately twigged that the #pissforequality hashtag was a piss-take (pun intended) — making clear that, despite what men’s rights activists might claim, feminists are not so gullible after all.

As one feminist Facebook group pointed out, what the hoax’s creators really proved is merely “that the only way anti-feminists can make feminists look bad is by faking shit”.

Even if a couple of real-life women did post their soiled selfies online under the #PissForEquality banner they still came off looking a heck of a lot better than the trolls who spent hours photoshopping images of women, creating fake accounts, and then patting themselves on the back for their efforts.

So: nice try, trolls.

But who are the only ones left looking “pathetic” by this prank? The guys who spent all that time and energy trying to make #PissForEquality happen.