The Dim-Post

July 20, 2016

Medium awful

Filed under: Uncategorized — danylmc @ 9:06 am

Via RNZ:

A parenting columnist says she’s been told she “should be raped” and sent photos of dead babies – and other women with an online presence say harassment has become a scary norm.

A new study led by security company Norton, in which 500 women took part, has found 72 percent of New Zealand women under 30 experience online harassment.

One in four women said they had received threats relating to death, rape and sexual assaults.

I am morbidly fascinated by this phenomenon. I watched the Tickled documentary recently and bizarre though it was, it seemed telling that the movie was about online harassment of men when the majority of the harassment is directed at women, but this seems to have become normalised so is not considered noteworthy. Who does this? Is it a tiny number of prolific offenders, like the villain in Tickled, or is the behavior very widespread? Is it ‘normal’, in the sense that a proportion of any group of men over history will send women anonymous threats, if given the technology, or is it happening now in response to wider changes in the culture? Why are some people so enraged by, of all things, parenting columnists that they feel compelled to threaten and abuse them? The article talks about the Harmful Digital Communication Act which National bought in last year: 38 people charged; 37 are men; according to the Police High Tech Unit their ages range from 15 to 61. The law does not seem to be acting as a deterrent.

23 Comments »

  1. Is it ‘normal’, in the sense that a proportion of any group of men over history will send women anonymous threats, if given the technology, or is it happening now in response to wider changes in the culture?

    I’d say “normal” and amplified by technology. All those isolated and angry men now have immediate access to huge amounts of material to reinforce their views and their response is immediate and within arms length. They’re no longer isolated even though they physically are. And some of them are forming communities of a sort.

    Lahouaiej-Bouhlel would be an extreme example.

    Comment by NeilM — July 20, 2016 @ 9:23 am

  2. ” Is it ‘normal’, in the sense that a proportion of any group of men over history will send women anonymous threats”

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/2016/05/26/women-are-responsible-for-half-of-online-abuse-study-finds/

    Comment by Ortvin Sarapuu — July 20, 2016 @ 9:29 am

  3. I used to roll my eyes a bit when women journalists claimed they copped more shit than us blokes.

    I don’t now.

    They were right.

    They do.

    I’ve seen a lot of them cop really nasty, personal, bitter and warped stuff from malignant cowards. I get the occasional bit but its seldom as personal, and certainly not as threatening, as the stuff I’ve seen sent to women colleagues.

    Comment by robhosking — July 20, 2016 @ 9:29 am

  4. Guys have been yelling at me from cars about how they want to rape me for about thirty years so I don’t think social media technology is the culprit here

    Comment by Donna — July 20, 2016 @ 9:58 am

  5. The web and social media just provide new and convenient ways to engage in horrible behaviour. Men didn’t start threatening and abusing women because of social media. It just made it easier. The only (very small) upside is that as Rob Hosking says, it is now impossible to respond with denial.

    People need to start going to prison for this stuff. That’s not the only answer, of course. But when even mainstream media sites have started turning off comments we have long passed the point where education is a sufficient answer

    Comment by Nick R — July 20, 2016 @ 10:33 am

  6. What I find interesting is if you go through the awful tweets sent to Leslie Jones, there’s people in there arguing that it’s just trolls, and she should ignore it and not block people because that’s “childish”. There seems to be this mindset that it doesn’t matter what they’re saying, it’s all just to get a rise out of the victim. Total lack of empathy.

    Comment by James — July 20, 2016 @ 11:00 am

  7. if you go through the awful tweets sent to Leslie Jones

    I missed this whole Ghostbusters backlash thing, somehow. Good grief.

    Comment by danylmc — July 20, 2016 @ 11:19 am

  8. “Lahouaiej-Bouhlel would be an extreme example.”
    No. This guy was a murderer inspired by religious dogma. It does not fit into an identity politics narrative. Jihadists are not victims of society’s changes. Please do not minimise the evil effects of literal and fundamental interpretations of theology.

    Comment by Upton Sinclair — July 20, 2016 @ 11:36 am

  9. It’s awful.

    I don’t have a daughter but I think for people who do, it must be very difficult to know what to tell them, about how to deal with the harassment and misogyny they will face if they go on the Internet.

    A.

    Comment by Antoine — July 20, 2016 @ 12:31 pm

  10. I don’t have a daughter but I think for people who do, it must be very difficult to know what to tell them, about how to deal with the harassment and misogyny they will face if they go on the Internet.

    I think about this quite a bit.
    Admittedly, I have some time to form my position as my daughter is still young but I am erring on the “no un-monitored social media” end of the spectrum, at least until she has developed the tools / mental resilience to deal with the inevitable.

    Danyl – re your initial comments relating to deterrent, I think this is the crux of the issue.
    There will be a proportion of these people that aren’t that tech savvy and who will be easily identifiable. Naturally, these are the ones being charged.
    It’s the (presumably) vast majority that operate with complete anonymity that is the problem; they will never be deterred because they are not easily identifiable. Address that and you address the issue. Of course, that raises a whole other set of issues.

    Comment by Gregor W — July 20, 2016 @ 12:54 pm

  11. > Admittedly, I have some time to form my position as my daughter is still young but I am erring on the “no un-monitored social media” end of the spectrum, at least until she has developed the tools / mental resilience to deal with the inevitable.

    Sounds very sensible.

    Sort of feels like there are two approaches:
    (a) let them be innocent and keep them away from the Internet, or
    (b) raise ’em to be tough and not give a d**n what anybody says.

    A.

    Comment by Antoine — July 20, 2016 @ 1:01 pm

  12. Controlling kids’ internet usage possible with fixed devices (PCs) – not phones.

    Comment by MeToo — July 20, 2016 @ 2:43 pm

  13. Controlling kids’ internet usage possible with fixed devices (PCs) – not phones.

    Yeah it is. You just need to know how to do it.
    It’s not 100% effective but what is; the simplest bypass being of course, get another phone.

    Comment by Gregor W — July 20, 2016 @ 3:02 pm

  14. I don’t have a daughter but I think for people who do, it must be very difficult to know what to tell them, about how to deal with the harassment and misogyny they will face if they go on the Internet.
    Comment by Antoine

    Do you think it is somehow magically less difficult explaining misogyny on the Internet to boys?

    Comment by Robert Singers — July 20, 2016 @ 3:40 pm

  15. “Controlling kids’ internet usage possible with fixed devices (PCs) – not phones.

    Yeah it is. You just need to know how to do it.
    It’s not 100% effective but what is; the simplest bypass being of course, get another phone.”

    Sure, for younger kids maybe but I can’t get my 16 year old to let me anywhere near his devices. Am I supposed to have a stand-off and demand he hand them over? They’re password locked. When they were bought some years ago we put R13 restrictions on them but he can still access lots of stuff around that.

    Comment by MeToo — July 20, 2016 @ 4:35 pm

  16. “Am I supposed to have a stand-off and demand he hand them over?”

    It’s a conundrum for sure.
    I guess it depends on who’s paying for it. That’s the ultimate lever I would think.

    Comment by Gregor W — July 20, 2016 @ 4:41 pm

  17. If it helps, there are groups like Sticks n Stones, which are led by students for addressing online bullying.

    SnS advice for parents: http://www.sticksnstones.co.nz/parents/ (hint — removing or restricting technology from someone who lives their life through it isn’t necessarily the best approach, and can just create more problems).
    Interview with Kathryn Ryan a few months ago: http://www.radionz.co.nz/national/programmes/ninetonoon/audio/201798702/youth-led-group-tackles-online-bullying

    Comment by izogi — July 20, 2016 @ 4:45 pm

  18. Kelly Knight from the police’s National High Tech Crime Group said 38 charges had been laid and 45 warnings had been issued so far under the Act.

    I don’t know why you say the “law does not seem to be acting as a deterrent.” What do you base that on? Besides, the law isn’t necessarily mean to act as a deterrent. The main function of the law in this case is to apprehend and punish offenders and, most importantly, to ensure the offending content doesn’t cause additional or prolonged harm.

    Comment by Ross — July 20, 2016 @ 6:16 pm

  19. The case of Rehtaeh Parsons illustrates the devastating effect that cyber bullying can have on victims. Parsons was allegedly gang raped. Photos of her during the rape were distributed on social media. Parsons’ father was later the subject of vile abuse.

    “In August 2013, Nova Scotia enacted a law allowing victims of cyberbullying to seek protection, including help in identifying anonymous perpetrators, and to sue the individuals or the parents in the case of minors. The law was passed in response to Parsons’ suicide.”

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Suicide_of_Rehtaeh_Parsons

    Comment by Ross — July 20, 2016 @ 6:33 pm

  20. “It’s a conundrum for sure.
    I guess it depends on who’s paying for it. That’s the ultimate lever I would think.

    It’s also about respect and privacy and allowing him to have his own life where his interactions are not patrolled and monitored by parents. And I like to think he has been raised to be decent and has good friendships … but I also know I have no idea what really goes on!

    Comment by MeToo — July 21, 2016 @ 7:24 am

  21. On any given day there are lots of insane people walking the streets. Their heads full of worms.

    The Internet allows them to global with the illness and dysfunction. It’s been that way since I started using the Net in 1990.

    Ideally, we would identity these people and prevent them from using the Internet. Unfortunately such a function would be advised by tyrants everywhere…..so we don’t.

    With freedom come trolls and the insane. But I repeat myself.

    Comment by truthseekernz — July 21, 2016 @ 1:03 pm

  22. Dahyl, I’d be interested in discussing this further with you. Currently been doing a lot of thinking around trolling (of all descriptions) while working on a moderation policy for GPANZ.

    Fwiw, as both a feminist writer who resorted to avatar blogging to repell the trolls (after one incident where a commenter on Kiwiblog suggested that someone be sent to my home to “sort me out” for being unashamedly feminist on campus, and asked for my address to be posted for that purpose, which lead to the thread devolving into a bunch of escalating threats – which Farrar pruned asap once they were brought to his attention, but which I viewed before they were removed – and made me very much more careful about both personal security & Internet security) and a divorced mother of (at that time) three school-aged kids, two of whom were teenage girls, I have done a lot of troll-managing.

    At one point when writing for Salient, comments were routinely closed by my editor, due to the massive trolling by those who knew I was a GPANZ volunteer – it was misogynist, ad hominem, totally-off-topic trolling, textbook astroturfing with unsubtle threats to my personal well-being and slurs about my writing, my sources, and my integrity as a (female) human being.

    What did I teach my kids? Solid Internet security protocols, based on what my ex-husband (IT security geek) & I had agreed upon, by teaching the fundamentals of how the internet works & how to prevent tracking of one’s offline self/location during online chat.

    That all fell over when FB arrived, and smartphones with 3/4G roaming.
    Now, everyone surveils themselves, and puts their location online all the time, a dataminers dream.

    Teach your children to have respect for diversity, to know that life is variable in multitudinous ways, & that social circumstances can change in the blink of an automobile accident, so don’t look down on the disabled, the less educated (read: less privileged), or those of a different ethnicity, because you know neither their pathway to get here (wherever here is, today), nor what they might achieve in future.

    Actually, I teach that stuff to adults too. Lifeskills for all. Having respect for diversity protects us from extremism.

    (Ok, I have not much respect for extremists, whether they are white spremacists or patriarchal misogynists, or doctrinally rigid Christian bigots, but I don’t advocate mass murder as a solution, which I guess makes me moderate. Anti-war, anti-violence.)

    Comment by anarkaytie — July 22, 2016 @ 6:09 am

  23. Re Leslie Jones, wikileaks is banned from twitter now too http://imgur.com/1gdEr5l

    Comment by Cliff Clavin — July 22, 2016 @ 7:08 pm


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