Online threats and harassment of women are out of control. Countless articles have been written over the past few years on this issue. But most people may not realize how terrible it is. Serious threats of rape and other violence, murder, job loss for publicizing issues online are realities for women. These are violent and gender-specific assaults.
Soraly Chemaly wrote about what happened to one female developer in as a result of a tweet she sent out at a tech conference in “Online Threats Against Women Aren’t Trivial and Don’t Happen in a Vacuum.”
In March of 2013, “developer Adria Richards tweeted a photo of two men sitting behind her joking about forking and “big dongles” at a tech conference. You know, in a shared public space. The man’s employer wasn’t too keen about it either and fired him. Then Anonymous, Reddit, and 4Chan got involved in his defense and… she was fired after her company’s servers were attacked. And then, like clockwork, the online harassment, including death and rape threats from total strangers began, thereby proving her point about who feels comfortable doing what in public space. Now, just to be clear, she didn’t just get messages saying, “Shut up and go away!” She received messages like this, documented in The Daily Dot: “a photo (blurred but still NSFW) of a bloody, beheaded woman, bound and stripped, with the caption ‘when Im done.’ Next to it was a home address and phone number, ostensibly Richards’s.”
Chemaly continues, “threats like this are not harmless expressions of free speech. They’re akin to hate speech and are maliciously intended to intimidate and silence. Messages like this don’t make women feel safe. And that’s the point, isn’t it — to make sure our gendered safety gap stays constant.”
Certainly the harassment and intimidation of women online is well-documented. This recent article is from July 21, 2015, “Study Finds Men Who Harass Women Online Are, Quite Literally, Losers”, at http://www.buzzfeed.com/alexlee/not-all-men-just-losers. It’s about a study that found that “female gamers are more likely to be abused online by male players with more deaths and fewer kills.” The actual study is at http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0131613
Here are a few more articles about online threats to women, but there are many many more available.
Have you been harassed online? Or have you read a particularly good article about someone else being harassed? Feel free to comment with your story or with a link to the article.