Friday, January 17, 2014

Facebook User Issues Death Threat to Wendy Davis: Continuing Questions about Experience of Women Online

A tiny footnote to discussions her in recent days--especially the discussion this past weekend of Amanda Hess's recent magisterial essay on the bullying of women online. Hess notes that women are faced with a quandary online: on the one hand, more and more jobs require online work and online skills. But on the other hand, there's abundant evidence that women are uniquely susceptible to bullying behavior--to outright threats of violence--as they interact with others online, in a way that men are not susceptible.

How, I wonder, does this story fit into Hess's thesis (and our questions about the experience of women who visit Catholic blog sites and try to take part in discussions there): Leslie Salzillo has just reported for Daily Kos that a Facebook user calling himself Johnny Bones has felt free to issue a casual death threat against Wendy Davis at the Facebook site of Texas attorney general Greg Abbott.

I stress the word "casual": what strikes me as especially shocking about this death threat is the way Bones feels entitled to lob it very casually into a conversation. On Facebook

With apparent impunity, since, when I click on the link to Bones's Facebook page provided by Salzillo, I find it up and running today. 

What does all of this say about what women face online on a daily basis, I ask myself? And in their workplaces, homes, as they conduct their daily business?

And then I think about a pope who wants to defend human rights for everyone, and who asks us to look at things from the vantage point of those shoved to the margins, and I ask why the question of women's rights seems to be off-limits within the very church making those claims about human rights and the damage done to people when we shove them to the margins.

The CNN photo of Wendy Davis is from the Liberals Unite blog.

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