And here’s the New Statesman on the subject.
Helen Lewis-Hasteley –
The sheer volume of sexist abuse thrown at female bloggers is the internet’s festering sore: if you talk to any woman who writes online, the chances are she will instantly be able to reel off a Greatest Hits of insults. But it’s very rarely spoken about, for both sound and unsound reasons. No one likes to look like a whiner — particularly a woman writing in male-dominated fields such as politics, economics or computer games.
Hmm…I don’t seem to have that problem. Maybe that’s because I don’t see talking about it as being a whiner at all; I see it as political. That’s because it is political. The misogyny is political and talking about it is political. Goebbels was political; Radio Mille Collines was political; why would misogynist campaigns not be political?
While I won’t deny that almost all bloggers attract some extremely inflammatory comments — and LGBT or non-white ones have their own special fan clubs too — there is something distinct, identifiable and near-universal about the misogynist hate directed at women online. As New Statesman blogger David Allen Green told me: “In three years of blogging and tweeting about highly controversial political topics I have never once had any of the gender-based abuse that, say, Cath Elliott, Penny Red, or Ellie Gellard routinely receives.”
Kate Smurthwaite –
I get abusive comments on my blog or under my videos. Some is straight up hate-speech: fat, ugly, desperate or a bitch who deserves to be slapped, hit or gang-raped. Other times it is in the form of unsolicited advice: subjects I “shouldn’t” cover or opinions I “shouldn’t” have. I’d say in a typical week I get 10-20 abusive comments though there are undoubtedly more that I don’t see on other sites.
The vast majority of the abuse is gender-related. There is a clear link to internet pornography. Much of the language used could have come straight from pornographic sites.
There is an underlying issue though — the people who post these comments reveal a deep-seated hatred towards women. I find that unsurprising in our culture. Violent extreme pornography is normal internet fare. Gang rape and prostitution are subjects for popular music. At least 95 per cent of actual rapists are still on the streets. That’s the real problem. We need to address that.
Eleanor O’Hagan –
On the whole I’ve managed to avoid the worst threats and misogyny that other women writers endure, but I don’t think that’s luck or because my opinions are more well-argued. I think it’s because, very early on, I became conscious of how my opinions would be received and began watering them down, or not expressing them at all. I noticed that making feminist arguments led to more abuse, and as a result, I rarely wrote about feminism at all. I was so nervous about the abuse I would receive when I wrote an article about cultural misogyny. It felt like I was exposing myself as a feminist.
Yikes! That’s a scary one. Not at all surprising, but scary.
Cath Elliot –
How am I supposed to know for instance whether “Let’s hope she doesn’t end up getting stabbed in the head or something” is a throwaway comment by a sad little man sat in his bedsit in his underpants, or whether it’s something slightly more sinister that means I need to keep looking over my shoulder whenever I leave the house? At what point does “a bit of online abuse” cross over into sexual harassment or hate speech? And how do you determine when a ‘nasty comment’ has crossed a line and become a genuine threat to kill?
That’s all I can stand to read for the moment. To be continued.