It could happen to anyone: one minute, your mom is spamming her Facebook friends with sparkly Garfield TGIF JPEGs she found via Google Image Search, and the next, she’s tweeted a photo of you insinuating that you believe women regularly lie about sexual assault.
Unfortunately for Navy veteran Pieter Hanson, 32, his card was pulled on Monday night. He unwittingly went viral, courtesy of a tweet from his mother (former handle: @MarlaReynoldsC3). She posted a photo of him in his dress uniform, posing like it was picture day for the cast of Newsies, and announced his support of #HimToo. The hashtag, originally used to bring awareness to male sexual assault survivors, had transformed over the past few weeks thanks to Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court confirmation hearings; now, many conservatives are using it to insist that falsely accused men are the real victims of sexual assault allegations.
“This is MY son,” @MarlaReynoldsC3 tweeted Saturday, the day the Senate officially confirmed Kavanaugh to the highest court in the land following multiple corroborated allegations of sexual assault and misconduct. “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”
Over the next two days, the absurd pairing of her proclamation with Hanson’s pose inspired memes. Oh boy, were there memes. (It probably did not help that “This is MY son” happens to dovetail quite perfectly with all the other son memes the internet has long since perfected.)
By Monday night, the tweet had gone viral enough that Hanson’s friends had alerted him about it; he asked his mother, through family members, to delete the tweet, The Washington Post reported early this morning. She ended up going one step further and deleting her entire account. Because screenshots are forever, though, several users captured and reposted the original tweet, with the reproductions going viral as well. Finally, Hanson’s brother Jon clarified: their mother had completely fabricated the “afraid to be alone with women” part of her son’s illustrious bio.
In what may have been the internet’s first-ever reverse milkshake-ducking, Pieter himself finally logged on a few hours later to clear his name once and for all, lovingly roasting his mom’s characterization in the process: “That was my Mom. Sometimes the people we love do things that hurt us without realizing it,” he tweeted. “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.”
Hanson, bless him, then proceeded to use his new powers for good by tweeting photos of his two beautiful cat children and links to several charities. “It doesn’t represent me at all,” he told the Post about his mom’s sentiments, adding that he and his brothers had always thought her politics were fairly progressive before now. “I love my mom to death, but boy … I’m still trying to wrap my head around all this.”
Fortunately for Hanson, his consolation prize is the 16,000+ Twitter followers he’s accumulated in the 12 hours since he created his account — and whatever donations he’s directed to Make-a-Wish and Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. He’s also single, so of course people are already hitting on him.
If the universe is just, it’ll let us have this and he won’t reverse the reverse milkshake duck. Like every other outlet in the country, The Verge has reached out to
the Kwisatz Haderach Hanson; we’ll update this post if we hear back.