Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Cyber Harassment Knows No Gender

By David Simms, Senior Contributor

There is a misconception that women are recipients of more cyber harassment than men.  In actuality, men receive more abuse as a whole through the internet than women do. The nastiness and hateful language directed toward men is regarded in most cultures as something that can be shrugged off and dealt with by the stronger sex. Many feminists would disagree, arguing that sexual slurs and other abusive communications toward women make up the majority of online harassment. Although women are targeted much of the time through sexual slurs or condescending feminine remarks, men are targets of the same kinds of attacks such as being threatened with rape and sexual violence. They are also commonly attacked about their physical appearance and lacking of intelligence among other common abuse normally attributed toward women. 

In fairness, there are countries however where there is a disproportionate amount of online abuse directed at women. Middle Eastern and some Asian cultures traditionally hold women in a lower social class.  They are not allowed the same privileges as men and are dealt with swiftly and harshly if they break customs. Women in India for example, are easy targets for cyber harassment because of prevailing views in the region.  Men are regarded as more trustworthy, honorable, and entitled. There have been several cases where women are persecuted by the system even though they were targeted by known male cyber villains.

It is easy to view cyber harassment as more of a women’s problem, after all studies have shown that the majority of perpetrators of cyber bullying tend to be female, but this doesn’t preclude men from being their targets as well as females.  There are many suggested reasons for this including the ability to remain anonymous and are therefore protected from physical confrontation.  Women routinely partake in attacking men online. Male celebrities and politicians are some of the most attacked groups. Traditionally in the physical world, women are victims of gender violence more than men and it is assumed this carries over to the internet – not the case.