News about cyber-misogyny has steadily increased during the past year, since the publication of Amanda Hess, but many people challenge the notion that women s online harassment is a matter of specific and particular concern. For example, a in the Daily Beast last week argued that men are harassed more often than women online. It s a. This was a relatively narrow and unrepresentative study. There are many others documented in Danielle Citron s new book,, that illustrate pronounced abusive sexism online. In addition to the difficulty of comparing data sets of varying size and depth, however, comparing male versus female online harassment is problematic for many reasons. First, as Young points out, women s harassment is more likely to be gender-based and that has rooted in our history. The study pointed out that the harassment targeted at men is not because they are men, as is clearly more frequently the case with women.
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It s defining because a lot of harassment is an effort to put women, because they are women, back in their place. Second, online comparisons like this decontextualize the problem of harassment, as though a connection to what happens offline is trivial or inconsequential. Third, the binary frame camouflages the degree to which harassment of people, often men, is frequently aimed at people who defy rigid gender and sexuality rules. LGBT youth experience online bullying at three times the rate of their straight peers. For girls and women, harassment is not just about un-pleasantries.
It s often about men asserting dominance, silencing, and frequently, scaring and punishing them. Online harassment is a key weapon in intensified, for example. Intimate partners create impersonator content online, sometimes with. This type of harassment also includes rape and death threats, such as those at the heart of an Supreme Court case. Rape and death threats made by strangers are also common, however.
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They coexist online with violent commentary on Twitter, YouTube and Facebook and the sharing of gifs, images, jokes and memes depicting gross violence against women as humor. The humor can sometimes spill over into aggressive cyber mob attacks, which, as Citron explains in her book, disproportionately target women and people of color. These mobs include hundreds, sometimes thousands of people, systematically harassing their targets. #Slanegirl, a trending global public shaming of a teenage girl filmed performing fellatio is one example. Attacks on public figures like or can take on surreal qualities whose effects can t be underestimated either on the individual attacked or on the environment.
Women are also the majority of people experiencing, the distribution of non-consensual photography, often involving nudity and sex. Last month s theft and distribution of the private photographs of more than 655 celebrities, almost all female, was a case in point. Rape videos also harass women. In, including, boys and men are recording and sharing their raping of girls and women. Some cases, such as the most recent, #Jadapose, explode into social media consciousness, but there are far more cases that most people never hear about.
Videos like this are of a philosophical cloth with the common sexual surveillance of women in public spaces, from public bathrooms and changing rooms to rental apartments and subway platforms. These images are then used to populate online spaces created for sharing them, whose sole purpose is to deprive people of dignity by humiliating, and harassing them. And then there s the matter of human trafficking online. Social media is used by traffickers to sell people whose photographs they share, without their consent, often including photographs of their abuse of women as an example to others. Of trafficked persons are girls and women and the Internet is now a major sales platform.
In theory, these things can happen to anyone but they don t. They happen overwhelming to women and the abusers are overwhelmingly men.