Last week I wrote a little bit on women v men discussions on the internet and their contributions to online discussions on politics.
Research now seems to support this:
They discovered that chatroom participants with female usernames received 25 times more threatening and/or sexually explicit private messages than those with male or ambiguous usernames.
But I want to extend this further. In this article Heidi Schnakenberg writes:
The presence of female opinion journalists has remained virtually unchanged over the past 25 years, with only 10 percent to 20 percent of all op-eds in the country being written by women. Only about a quarter of nationally syndicated columnists are women and they tend to be white and right-wing.
In my case, I was attacked, and then retreated into self-censorship for a period of months and in that darkened room I found no mentors and little support from editors.
Rekha Basu is the civil liberties voice at the Des Moines Register in Iowa, and she is a woman, liberal and Indian. She’s been called a Hindu-worshipping slut, an Arab terrorist, a whore, a lesbian, a cunt, a skanky Muslim. Most insults are via e-mail and on Web sites, where attackers can remain relatively anonymous.
She’s been stalked and followed on the highway and told readers can’t wait to read her obituary in the newspaper. But nothing hurt like the time a reader said they hoped her husband, who has Lou Gehrig’s disease, would hurry up and die so she would leave the country.
That isn’t very different to the kind of rubbish that Polly Toynbee was sent. In fact it isn’t that different to the reception that Indy columnist Yasmin Alibhai-Brown gets. Not only is she a woman but a brown liberal! God forbid! That really pisses off the white and brown right-wingers.
Does this have any impact on their behaviour? Scribbles gave an example with her own behaviour:
I’ve always been quite a plain speaker and up for a good debate, without I hope any sense of aggression, but after so many years of university seminars, pub discussions, business meetings where I’ve managed to make people incredibly defensive and had to put-up with men and women telling me to “chill” or feeling they have to placate me, I had to learn to modify my behaviour. I am simply not allowed to talk with passion about anything; it makes people feel uncomfortable.
Back in 1995 when i used to sit around bulletin boards and irc channels, i used to use 2 nicknames – psychotic and neurotic. Everyone assumed by my username i was male and also by the things i said. apparently i was â€˜aggressiveâ€™ – this was mentioned when it somehow came out that i was female. when i was thought to be a man – there was no such comment.
So what does this mean? That it is primarily a right-wing thing to attack liberal women columnists, as Neil Harding suggests, or just a manifestation of sexism online? Do men still secretly want women to be quiet and submissive even if they don’t pretend so openly?
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Filed in: Media,Sex equality