Monday, June 15, 2015

The Shit Women Have to Put Up with Online (and Lots of Other Places): My Reflections

In a Vox article yesterday about why Twitter hasn't taken off in the same way Facebook has, Timothy Lee notes that many women find Twitter (and Reddit), both of which are hardly moderated in any way at all, hostile conversation spaces. Women have to put up with a lot of shit online, don't they?

We hardly need Lee's article to remind us of that. The reminders are everywhere online, and it takes only a little bit of googling to find the large body of rapidly accumulating research demonstrating that women bear the brunt of overt, naked male hostility at one Internet conversation site after another. Men treat women online the same way they treat women in the workplace and the culture at large — but with more impunity and brutality online, in many cases, since online communication is not face-to-face and often allows people to hide their identities:

1. They talk down to women.

2. They refuse to listen to women, even when the topic under discussion is women's experience.

3. Men refuse to listen to highly educated women with years of experience discuss topics like rape, an issue that affects women far and away more than it affects men, given that it's lamentably predictable that those who are raped are usually women and those doing the rape are men.

4. Men tell women to shut up and listen as they 'splain things to women.

5. Men condescend to women, pooh-pooh what women have to say even when they are highly educated and grounded in years of solid experience, because many men regard women as lightweight, "unscientific" thinkers troubled by emotion and incapable of higher-level reasoning.

This goes on and will continue to go on online until those using various online forums, and the moderators of those forums, stop allowing it to happen. Though I myself am a very dunderheaded male who is probably guilty of all the lapses I list above, I commit myself at this site to continue the hard work of moderating and challenging these abusive dynamics.

Because I am committed to the liberation of women as a facet of my own liberation as a human being, and, quite specifically, as a gay man who is often talked down to by more "normal" men in precisely the same way those same little lords of the universe talk down to women.

The graphic is from Libby Watson's report at Media Matters about a recent Washington Post poll showing the alarming rates of sexual violence against women on U.S. college campuses.

No comments: