Friday 20 July 2018

Women - keep off the internet

Carol Hunt asks why women are increasingly being bullied off social media sites

Mary Beard
Mary Beard
Carol Hunt

Carol Hunt

A piece of advice? If you'd like to engage with the world of social media without suffering harassment, abuse or threats of physical or sexual violence then don't out yourself as a . . . what? A racist with a fetish for women's clothes? A Tea Party supporter? A member of the Golden Dawn or the KKK? A Unitarian or a Jew? Nope, none of the above. If you don't want to receive bullying abuse online then don't let anyone know that you're a . . . woman.

Yes, women are seen as justifiable targets on social media sites purely because of their gender. Of all the harassment incidents reported to the organisation Working to Halt Online Abuse between 2000 and 2012, 75.2pc were from females. And this isn't because we just can't take a bit of criticism, or a "joke" or that we run to complain if anyone says boo to us.

It's because, as women, we often face persistent misogyny and mob criticism if we dare to voice opinions online. And it's not what we say that matters, it's the fact that we are women saying it. Some years ago researchers at the University of Maryland set up a number of fake online accounts and found that those with feminine user-names incurred an average of 100 sexually explicit or threatening messages a day. Male names received 3.7.

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