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When women are vocal about political and social issues, too-often they are attacked via social networking sites, comment sections, discussion boards, email, and direct message. Rather than targeting their ideas, the abuse targets their identities, pummeling them with rape threats, attacks on their appearance and presumed sexual behavior, and a cacophony of misogyny, racism, xenophobia, and homophobia. Online abuse is more than interpersonal bullying—it is a response to the threat of equality in digital conversations and arenas that men would prefer to control. Thus identity-based attacks are particularly severe for those women who are seen as most out of line, such as those from racial, ethnic, and religious minority groups or who work in domains dominated by men. Drawing on interviews with over fifty women who have been on the receiving end of identity-based abuse online, Sobieraj explains why all of us should be concerned about the hostile climate women navigate online.
Sarah Sobieraj; Professor of Sociology, Tufts University,
Faculty Associate, Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society, Harvard
Credible Threat: Attacks Against Women Online and the Future of Democracy.