La Cope, or Lía Copelli, is an internet personality and stand-up comedy actress who has amassed a huge following on social media, particularly on Facebook where she has over 450,000 followers.

Over the last couple of days, however, La Cope found herself embroiled in a major digital maelstrom that has resulted in her becoming the victim of some pretty horrific machismo and misogyny. Her Facebook page has been taken down – hopefully temporarily – as a result.

The comedian, who is known best for her funny cartoons, was attacked viciously after she posted several sketches in which the protagonist declared that her favorite kind of date was a “birrita en la vereda” (having a beer on the sidewalk).

Screen Shot 2016-12-06 at 13.36.23
The cartoon that started it all. “Listen to this ridiculous test. What’s your ideal date? A: Candle-lit dinner. B: Stroll along the beach. C: Romantic restaurant.” / “D: A beer on the sidewalk.”

The abuse started flooding in via social media, first in the form of memes that questioned the originality of the character and its author and then, before long, as raging threats.

However, instead of shying away from the cruelty that she had begun to receive, La Cope took to her official Facebook account to express her thoughts on the controversy. She spoke up about receiving a tonne of horrific messages from ‘internet trolls’, some of whom went as far as “hoping someone rapes here.”

“My inbox is full of these things” (It’s just not worth translating the message – it’s horrible)

For many, it’s hard to see how such an inoffensive-seeming post could possibly have prompted such reactions and the number of social media users coming out in support of the comedian is still growing. Many have questioned whether that the same response would have been generated had the artist been a man.

“They tell me that no one’s being misogynistic and today they’ve wished rape upon me three times??”

According to La Izquierda Diario, in one interview, the humorist said: “I work with absurd jokes that make me laugh, jokes that help you to accept yourself, to love yourself, to laugh at yourself and criticize yourself. I’m just one of many women who have stopped caring about mainstream media opinions and misogynistic discourses.” La Cope has also shown her support for marches and campaigns like Ni Una Menos in the past.

Talking about her experiences in the last couple of days, she gave an insightful take on why her character had been attacked: “I think they simply attacked her because she’s a woman and suggested a date where two people, whatever their gender, could be on equal terms: without a woman having to doll herself up in a dress, blatantly uncomfortable shoes or makeup. And you see, that bothers some people.”

The controversy has at least brought to light some shocking truths: a harmless joke made by a woman (particularly one who has the audacity to call herself a feminist – shock horror!) can trigger all kinds of misogynistic hatred, while “birra” advertisements that objectify women and comic strips in newspapers that further cement harmful gender stereotypes pass without comment.