The Internet is a Hostile Environment for Women (and it’s not getting better)

Surprise! Sexism and misogyny are still huge problems on the internet, even though women have a stronger voice and presence online than ever.

Case in point 1: stolen nude photos. Let’s just get this straight. Every adult is allowed to take nude photos of themselves and do whatever they like with them. There’s nothing illegal or immoral about nude self portraiture. Ok, sure, you might run into obscenity laws if staple them to phone poles or something. What’s illegal and immoral is stealing someone’s private photos and making them public. That’s not okay no matter how famous they are.

But of course half the internet wagged its fingers at these young women for having naked photos of themselves in the first place. As if it were their fault they were violated. Yeah, we all know that our stuff stored in the cloud may vulnerable, so be careful what you put there. But that’s true of any internet connected device. How much should we allow privacy risk to dictate how we behave?

Case in point 2: Death threats for talking about video games. Seriously. I’m not a gamer, but I love watching Feminist Frequency’s tropes versus women series. There is some serious sexist bullshit in some games, and some people get very very angry when this is pointed out. C’mon! Are we not a bit more evolved than that?

Anita Sarkeesian has tried to report the offenders when they started making death threats against her and her family, but law enforcement has no idea how to deal with anonymous online abuse. And she’s not nearly the first or only case of a vocal woman being threatened and terrorized online. There are a dozen or so that I know of… and I don’t know the whole internet.

Case in point 3: Zelda Williams. Shortly after her father died some Twitter trolls said some incredibly nasty things to her. Who would do that to a grieving person? Why? She quit Twitter, despite the love and support of so many others.

Case in point 4: Cee Lo Green getting defensive about his rape charge. The guy admitted to drugging her and taking her to bed. Regardless of what else occurred or didn’t occur, that is plenty bad. He should be apologetic. Or quiet.

Trolls of this type are hiding behind the anonymity of the internet to abuse people. It’s getting harder to be truly anonymous, and hopefully we’ll be able to kick some of these people off the internet. Hate speech and death threats are never ok. But even milder, insidious sexism is entrenched everywhere. It exists in real life, of course, but it’s so much easier to see on the internet where the misogynists think they are safe from reproach. The decent people of the internet should do everything in our power to get the trolls blocked.

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