I’ve grown up to know no other world, than one with the internet. Throughout the continual advancements and improvements of technologies, software and the evolution of the internet – cyber bullying has always been a prevalent issue. Despite campaigns and education against cyber bullying, attacks only seem to have gotten worse – becoming more frequent, personal and sexualised.I believe social media is to blame for a great deal of this online bullying and trolling; it has opened a new window to unleash negative behaviour and online abuse.
The online abuse that women receive is particularly gendered, sexualised and threatening – even more so if the victim is believed to be a feminist. Women who work in a traditionally male field or women who work at all, are apparently exceptional targets. ‘Standard’ online abuse include sexually demeaning comments, threats of rape, violence, death and malicious damage to personal possessions and harassment such as, criticism of their physical appearance. Sexualised comments attempt to remind women of their secondary status whilst street harassment acts as “a reminder that they do not have the same right as men to move through the public space” (Filipovic 2007). Comparatively, men do not receive the same sexualised or gendered online abuse, as women do. Instead, men are generally attacked for their ideas or behaviour.
There’s a difference between criticism and slander that in most cases, seems to be understood when commenting on a man’s profession, persona or content creation – this understanding appears to be abandoned when talking about women. In order to enjoy the internet and all that it has to offer, we need to respect the views of others, and provide criticism and credit where it is due.