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.
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.