It’s no secret that the internet is a bit of a boys club, the reality is women are under represented in a technological standpoint. However, women have come along way from being under represented in computer science; under represented in decision making roles and harassed and abused – to becoming leading bloggers (or vloggers) tweeters and content creators. All this in a span of 16 years (1997 – 2013) yet there are still some problems with the online presence (not strictly restricted to women though). Most of this is due to one little word, Anonymity.
As my canine friend above points out, on the internet, no one knows who you truly are. You could go on the internet and say just about anything and as long as you have that shroud of anonymity no one can really do a thing. A strong point of being shielded by Anonymity is misogynistic trolling.
Jill Filipovic, a female blogger, discusses how she got harassed and name called on her blogs in her journal article Blogging While Female: How Internet Misogyny Parallels “real world” Harassment. She states that she received hateful comments from people who claim to have seen or know her through school. They were perfectly happy to make these comments online, safely behind a screen and a random username that would be difficult to be traced back to them, but they would never think of saying anything like this is real life.
Guardian UK’s article Women bloggers call for a stop to ‘hateful’ trolling by misogynist men by Vanessa Thorpe and Richard Rogers describes the concerning issue of sexist threats on the internet. The issue here is that women and men are getting different threats, if a man says something and a ‘troll’ (or even someone who angrily disagrees with the topic legitimately) comments, it is completely different to the kind of hate male received by females. Often sexual threats such as rape are made to females where as men would rarely receive this kind of response.
Although there is an obvious distinction between the social context of the internet and real life, Karalee Evans argues in her article Men call me things: it’s not as romantic as it sounds, that, “We wouldn’t tolerate this misogyny on the bus, or in a cafe, or at school or at work or in a pub or Church, so why are we allowing it to happen online?”. This is EXACTLY what anonymity produces, a sense of safety yet there is nothing to be done.
It is evident that online trolling (especially misogynistic trolling) is a common problem, but there is nothing that can be done. People post hateful things online because they can’t do it in public without being criticized. However, on the internet there is freedom and the right to say just about anything they want without fear of prosecution.
(P.S. Get it? The title? ‘Coz like, trolls? They live under bridges?)