Dangerous Neighborhoods: Cyber abuse, harassment and threats: Women online.

BY Emma Rosenthal

A constant work in progress, new material to be added until the abuse stops. 

Most people when abused, cyber stalked, harassed and bullied, quietly go away. This makes it easier to start over. There is no trail of them making a fuss. Fewer people will know about the abuse. Because abuse attracts more abuse. Once you are marked as a target there is a popular notion that you brought it on yourself, that there must be some truth to the accusations, that you are an easy mark.
I am not a good victim. I go down screaming. I leave nail marks in the wall. I spin the wheel of the car to escape. I write about it. I will tell the story. I want my victimization to be known. I want those who read this language to be warned. I leave a map so others will know where it is safe to tread. I do not give my abuser the luxury of moving on, not that easy.
I am disappointed in many people who run away. Who do not talk down the abuse, who pretend it is not their comrade or their community. Who participate in the illusion that it is ever about the victim or their reaction, or that this is at all personal.
There are models of community accountability. Public ostracism, threats and character assassination is never acceptable. We must start to understand too, that when one person is targeted, none of us is safe. Bullies will choose the most vulnerable, but that doesn’t make the online abuse any less a community issue. Supporting the victim is a collective responsibility. Failure to do so is a collective failure.
Abusers that go unchallenged will continue to abuse, will gain power each time they are allowed to get away with the abuse.
 Those committing character assassination must hurl accusations they know are not true. If they were true, one could rebut, respond, make amends, demonstrate accountability. This would not serve the assassin. For the assassin it is important to destroy the opponent, not change them. A series of false accusations, to which the accused can’t honestly confess is much more powerful in providing the illusion that the person under attack is not willing to dialogue, not willing to take responsibility. But one cannot be responsible for the false accusations hurled at them, like stones at a stoning. It is the fault of the one who throws.
In our on line lives, proof is so much easier than in our analog world. Before believing an abusive tirade or an underhanded compliment demand proof. Don’t go along for the ride. Accountability requires evidence. Make them show receipts.


  • “These ruthless attacks and harassment go beyond personal disagreements. The language used in these attacks are often deliberately chosen from the pool of women-focused, racial, or gender-identity based slurs. This affects not only the person targeted but also the bystanders, creating a chilling effect for women thinking of participating in public life. In an article on Mother Jones, Jaclyn Friedman, the executive director for Women, Action and the Media, says “The idea that a social-media network should be entirely neutral is a myth, [n]eutral platforms are only neutral for straight white dudes. These companies need to make a decision: Do I want to be making a money off of a platform where abusers and harassers feel more comfortable than the abused and harassed?”The irony is that while those flinging these insults or participating in harassment cry free speech as a justification, they limit others in their ability to speak freely.” http://www.policymic.com/articles/6… 6 Insidious Ways Social Media Can Be Used to Silence Women
  • https://vimeo.com/44544403 Ill Doctrine: Why I Will Feed The Trolls If I Damn Well Want
  • No To Nuclear Power https://www.facebook.com/NowThisNews/videos/1050620138361443/ Watch men read the hateful tweets that female sportwriters deal with everyday -Moderators have the obligation to forbid this abusive behavior, delete it, and ban and block the abusers. This is not free speech, this is abuse and harassment. Free speech is their right to create their own venue for this crap. This includes activists in our own spaces, groups, pages and walls. NO ABUSE.
  • Hilde Kate Lysiak, a 9-year-old reporter who wrote about a suspected murder in her small Pennsylvania town, has defended herself after some locals said a young girl should be “playing with dolls” and not covering serious crime: “If you want me to stop covering news, then you get off your computer and do something about the news. There, is that cute enough for you?” http://www.theguardian.com/media/20…
  • Mother Says Cyber-Bullying Drove 14-Yr-Old Daughter To Suicide. Watch and read more on what led to the loss of this sweet child. “She had been getting bullied for a long time, to the point where the happy, bubbly girl that I knew changed,” she said. “They hacked into her email and they created a Facebook page and they massacred her.” http://thegrio.com/2015/03/06/mother-bullying-online-teen-suicide/
  • U.N. Says Cyber Violence Is Equivalent to Physical Violence Against Women 73% of women have experienced cyber violence, according to a new report “Cyber violence is just as damaging to women as physical violence, according to a new U.N. report, which warns women are growing even more vulnerable to cyber violence as more and more regions gain internet access.” http://time.com/4049106/un-cyber-violence-physical-violence/ http://www.unwomen.org/~/media/headquarters/attachments/sections/library/publications/2015/cyber_violence_gender%20report.pdf
  • Amanda Hess: “Why Women Aren’t Welcome on the Internet” http://www.motherjones.com/mixed-media/2014/01/amanda-hess-why-women-arent-welcome-internet “Ignore the barrage of violent threats and harassing messages that confront you online every day.” That’s what women are told. But these relentless messages are an assault on women’s careers, their psychological bandwidth, and their freedom to live online. We have been thinking about Internet harassment all wrong….None of this makes me exceptional. It just makes me a woman with an Internet connection. Here’s just a sampling of the noxious online commentary directed at other women in recent years. To Alyssa Royse, a sex and relationships blogger, for saying that she hated The Dark Knight: “you are clearly retarded, i hope someone shoots then rapes you.” To Kathy Sierra, a technology writer, for blogging about software, coding, and design: “i hope someone slits your throat and cums down your gob.” To Lindy West, a writer at the women’s website Jezebel, for critiquing a comedian’s rape joke: “I just want to rape her with a traffic cone.” To Rebecca Watson, an atheist commentator, for blogging about sexism in the skeptic community: “If I lived in Boston I’d put a bullet in your brain.” To Catherine Mayer, a journalist at Time magazine, for no particular reason: “A BOMB HAS BEEN PLACED OUTSIDE YOUR HOME. IT WILL GO OFF AT EXACTLY 10:47 PM ON A TIMER AND TRIGGER DESTROYING EVERYTHING.””
  • Flaming Women: Personal Attacks on Listserves and the Penis Proletariat https://cafeintifada.wordpress.com/2008/08/08/flaming-women-personal-attacks-on-listserves-and-the-penis-proletariat/
  • Cybertrolls increasingly target women http://www.cbsnews.com/news/cyberbullying-cybertrolling-increasingly-target-women-monica-lewinsky-ashley-judd/ “”Anyone who is suffering from shame and public humiliation needs to know one thing: you can survive it,” Lewsinsky said. She said her role in a presidential sex scandal turned her into “patient zero” for online bullying, and that she was branded “a tramp, tart, slut, whore, bimbo, and, of course, ‘that woman.'”

One response to “Dangerous Neighborhoods: Cyber abuse, harassment and threats: Women online.

  1. Pingback: Continuing the thread on blacklisting: Two articles. | ¡Cafe Intifada! -Uniting Art With Critical Consciousness

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