Marcela Kunova on online harassment at the Huffington Post UK:
Virtually every woman who publicly contributes to a political debate is subjected to virulent and largely anonymous online invective, or “trolling”. But it is far more than simply readers’ feedback. Trolling is intended to make women shut up – and to remind them their primary purpose is to be there for male sexual pleasure. Or not to be in public life at all.
It now seems to be an established fact: women who speak publicly get threatened with rape, physical violence, harming their relatives and murder. It is not just a bit of fun. Many are stalked and get their home addresses published. And it doesn’t really matter whether those threats will subsequently come true – they are already an act of violence.
Internet has offered women new ways to express themselves. But it has also enabled some misogynistic men to open the floodgates of hate and – cocooned in online anonymity – to bully women who have penetrated traditionally male-dominated public life.
The worst thing is that the strategy of harassing and intimidating female journalists, bloggers and other female public figures, was often sucessful. Some journalists, like Linda Grant, admits she stopped writing her regular column for the Guardian, because of violent threats. Some bloggers think twice before publishing a post.
Some bloggers refuse to second-guess themselves because of what a lot of abusive trolls say, but they also get tired of the abusive trolling.
But since 2011, when journalist Laurie Penny spoke out about the violent sexual threats she regularly receives, things are perhaps starting to change. Others joined her initiative and testimonies started to flow. More recently, American feminist Soraya Chemaly published a bone-chilling post about death threats she received via Facebook and Twitter.
Now thousands of women have joined their voices worldwide in online campaigns like #shoutingback, #silentnomore, and @EverydaySexism, to mention only a few.
It’s a start.