“online harassment affects men too”

http://time.com/3546044/online-harassment-affects-men-too/ , by Cathy Young

I’m having a hard time figuring out what to think about this article. The argument being made seems to be that men are “harassed” as much, if not more, than women are on the Internet, and attempts to expose the “double standard” wherein harassment of women provokes cultural outrage while harassment of men gets “little attention.”

Okay, sure, men might for some definition of harassed be harassed as much as women on the Internet. Young seems to be spending a lot of effort criticizing the pro-women outrage against online misogyny while admitting that yes, it is a problem, but men get harassed too, don’t forget about the men, and really we should deal with how the Internet is a cruel place for everybody instead of making this about the women. Her conclusion: “The women-in-jeopardy narrative not only encourages women to be more fearful but promotes gender polarization, which is the way to a more hostile climate for everyone.” The implicit message here is “man up, women–you’re not the only ones being bullied.”

So sure. Maybe the Internet is just inherently assholes. But feminists are the ones speaking up, exposing it and bringing it into the mainstream media, and trying to stop it. Can we stop pointing to the radical extremes of the movement (Young links to harassment of an Uber driver accused of rape) and feeding into the well-loved story of feminists as man-hating, nonrational, and overly emotional? Yes, okay, don’t forget about the men–but I think it’s safe to say that women are predominantly targeted by men, while male victims of harassment and bullying are probably also predominantly targeted by other men. It’s impossible to forget–in fact, imperative to remember–that online harassment is an inherently gendered problem. And if the Internet is inherently assholes to everyone, maybe we can admit that it’d be better if the Internet is less assholes, which is all women are asking for.

Some clips from the article:

The Pew online harassment study, based on a survey of nearly 3,000 Internet users last June, found that 44 percent of men and 37 percent of women had experienced some form of online abuse, from name-calling to physical threats and stalking. The biggest gender gap was in the fairly mild category of being called offensive names, experienced by nearly a third of men on the Internet but only 22 percent of female users. However, more men—10 percent, compared to 6 percent of women—also reported being physically threatened. Women were more likely than men to say they had been sexually harassed (9 percent versus 6 percent) and stalked (10 percent versus 7 percent); sustained harassment was reported by 8 percent of men and 7 percent of women. Interestingly, the survey also found that people perceived most online spaces to be female-friendly; 18 percent even said that the social media were more “welcoming” to women than to men, while only five percent agreed with the reverse.

Thus, in a post arguing that the virulent backlash against feminist media analyst Anita Sarkeesian’s critiques of sexism in videogames is driven by misogynistic rage, progressive blogger Ally Fogg asks why gamers are picking on Sarkeesian and not “evangelical Christians like Jack Thompson,” a crusader against violent games. But this “gotcha” question is comically wrong. When Thompson was in the spotlight seven or eight years ago, diatribes against him on gamingwebsitesand forumsincluded references to emasculation and rape. While aninteractive game inviting players to beat up a likeness of Sarkeesian two years ago was deplored and quickly removed, there was no such outrage over four games in 2006 making Thompson a target of virtual violence and even murder. The game blog Kotaku, which now takes a strong stand against the harassment of women in gaming culture, fought a successful legal battle against Thompson’s demand to remove threats against him from its comments threads.

Such double standards are common. When Jennifer Lawrence and other female celebrities were victims of a nude photo leak, it wasseen as an indictment of cultural misogyny; yet no one seemed too upset when NBA player Trey Burke and former Disney star Dylan Sprouse apologized after having their nude selfies posted online by vindictive ex-girlfriends. Threats and harassment targeting conservative male bloggers have gotten little attention while similar actions toward feminist bloggers, chronicled by Hess and others, have been treated as a war on women.

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