Saturday, November 1, 2014

Cyber harassment is not a gender war.

By Abigail Clarke: Contributing Content Blogger

I don't want to harp on gender wars but I have to speak up over my frustrations. I read another article daring to compare cyberharassment against men as comparable to women.  I've no issue with men, I love them, but the prevailing notion keeps flopping about telling us men are targeted more often than women. Wait, what's this nonsense? It's an idea based on statistics claiming male celebrities receive more abuse overall on Twitter than their female counterparts. Straight off we're in trouble if we're using celebrities as our goal posts but beyond that this is a shallow study that takes the matter remissly out of context. Facts are, men are rarely targeted online for just being “men,” yet women tend to be harassed as a result of ingrained cultural beliefs that have been around since the beginning of time, that women are subordinate creatures needing to be put in their proper place.

For girls and women, being harassed online is not just about trivial unpleasantries or catcalls, as the media might have us believe, rather it is very often about men asserting dominance by intimidating women to silence and submission. Unlike men, women must endure threats of rape and other gender based violence that is simply not a factor for men.  It is common to see the sharing of gifs, images, and lewd jokes depicting gross violence against women as “humour.” Unfortunately the humour can spill over into the real world leading to mob behaviours or individual physical stalking and attacks.

Women are in the majority of those targeted for revenge porn aren't they? Only recently more than 100 female celebrities fell victim to their private photographs being maliciously posted online with the intent to humiliate. It wasn't men. These things can happen to anyone, but in reality they don’t so let's keep it real. Men are online victims but to say what they experience online is comparable to women is insulting and takes us away from where we should be in developing strategies to deal with cyber abuses on the large. Abuses that do yes happen to men, but happen overwhelmingly to women with the abusers overwhelmingly being men. Let's not make comparisons where there aren't any. This is a war against cyber hate and crimes not a battle of which sex has it the worst.