The accidental #HimToo poster boy is why parents shouldn’t be on Twitter
This weekend, 32-year-old Pieter Hanson experienced everyone’s worst nightmare when a parent joins social media: An awkward tweet from his mother led to his being fully and thoroughly meme-ified. The tweet also put his face on a fringe-y political movement he had nothing to do with and actively disagrees with.
The marketing student and Navy vet—who hadn’t even been a Twitter user prior to going viral—was shot into the spotlight thanks to a now-deleted tweet by his mother that made him an unwilling poster boy for the right-wing #HimToo movement, which has coalesced around the Brett Kavanaugh Supreme Court confirmation hearings. The hashtag has emerged as a way to express solidarity with men accused of sexual assault, as Kavanaugh was by multiple women.
“This is MY son,” Hanson’s mother wrote under a photo of him, posing and looking rather dapper in his Navy uniform. “He graduated #1 in boot camp. He was awarded the USO award. He was #1 in A school. He is a gentleman who respects women. He won’t go on solo dates due to the current climate of false sexual accusations by radical feminists with an axe to grind. I VOTE. #HimToo.”
If you are seeing the #himtoo hashtag and are utterly confused as to why so many people are posting photos of men who are clearly NOT their sons with the same text copy/pasted, this is what started it.
@MarlaReynoldsC3 has since deleted her account. pic.twitter.com/Q5XPj2I9Fe
— Holly Fιɢυeroα O'Reιlly (@AynRandPaulRyan) October 8, 2018
It didn’t take long for the parodies to start rolling in:
This is my son. He’s a large adult holding an enormous gun. Sometimes he kills elephants for fun. Is he even divorced yet? He thinks he’s the future of the Republican Party. He once dmed with Julian Assange. #HimToo pic.twitter.com/7Lt3EyDyI4
— Molly JongFast (@MollyJongFast) October 9, 2018
This is MY son. He graduated second to last in flying camp. He successfully swallowed salmon today. He is a gentleman who respects – nay, deserves women. He wont go on solo dates due to the current climate of false sexual accusations, and also bc hes emotionally stunted #HimToo pic.twitter.com/TDLweUjpHJ
— Emlyn Crenshaw (@emlyncrenshaw) October 8, 2018
This is MY son. He singlehandedly runs a small hotel. He's a homeowner. He knows a boy's best friend is his mother. He goes a little mad sometimes. He won't go on solo dates due to the current climate of false accusations by radical anti-shower-stabbing feminists. I VOTE. #HimToo pic.twitter.com/qSYY7Cy46E
— Night of the Living Marble (@living_marble) October 8, 2018
This is my son. He is a gentleman who treats ladies with respect. He’s afraid to date right now because of the current climate. Seriously, because of the actual climate his future kids won’t be able to survive. I vote. #HimToo pic.twitter.com/pxefN68aNZ
— Luna Malbroux (@LunaisAmerica) October 9, 2018
For his part, Hanson told the Washington Post (paywall) that he was mortified by the situation, “It doesn’t represent me at all,” he said, “I love my mom to death, but boy… I’m still trying to wrap my head around all this.”
Indeed, Hanson’s plight is an extreme version of something nearly everyone has experienced to some degree since the rise of social media. Where once gullible parents were confined to the privacy of email to share the latest conspiracy theory or diet tip they picked up on the internet, now their most embarrassing proclamations are on view for everyone to see on Twitter or Facebook.
Hanson’s mother reportedly deleted her Twitter account after her tweet went spectacularly wrong. But rather than going dark, Hanson took to Twitter himself, under the handle @Thatwasmymom:
That was my Mom. Sometimes the people we love do things that hurt us without realizing it. Let’s turn this around. I respect and #BelieveWomen . I never have and never will support #HimToo . I’m a proud Navy vet, Cat Dad and Ally. Also, Twitter, your meme game is on point. pic.twitter.com/yZFkEjyB6L
— Pieter Hanson (@Thatwasmymom) October 9, 2018
In addition to clarifying his ideological stance, he’s been using his newfound social media fame to urge his now +14K follower base to donate to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and Make a Wish foundation, noting that his younger brother is a child survivor of Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Hanson also shared dozens of photos of his pet cats.
Meanwhile, Hanson’s brother had been playing spokesperson throughout the entire ordeal, gently chastising his mother’s “ridiculous tweet.” He said she has since claimed that her account was hacked, but nobody in her family believes her:
— Jon Hanson (@DancinJonHanson) October 9, 2018
I could make a twitter account of her crazy stories and no one would believe me. Her tweet didn’t even phase me at first because that’s just par for the course for some of her crazy shit.
— Jon Hanson (@DancinJonHanson) October 9, 2018
Pieter Hansen himself seems to have come out of the ordeal unscathed. He told the BBC that he goes on plenty of solo dates, which is good news now that he looks well on his way to becoming America’s most eligible and woke bachelor. As for his mother’s tweet, he said: “I was dumbfounded when I saw it, but at the end of the day we all have crazy parents.”