9 Awful Things Women Deal With On The Internet That Men Don’t

In case you missed it, Leslie Jones was the target of a lot of racist and sexist Twitter hate this week simply for being a black woman in the Ghostbusters movie. If you don’t follow her on Twitter, she retweeted some of the hate she got so we all could see that it was not fake, she was not exaggerating, and that yes, she was receiving threats. No one should have to go through that, but if you are a woman on the internet, chances are, you’ve received some form of online harassment. Women have to deal with an entirely different set of internet vitriol that men do not. This isn’t new either. A few years ago, Laci Green had to move due to weirdly specific death threats. Last year, Anita Sarkeesian was sent death threats and rape threats just for saying that she wanted to examine female representation in video games. She hadn’t even done it yet, but apparently, that was enough to warrant violence.

Honestly, I am hard-pressed to find a YouTube video from a female YouTuber that doesn’t have some sort of hateful comment posted at the bottom that specifically comes from the fact that she’s a woman. Bullying is wrong, across the board, and when it comes to making real life or death threats or getting very specific about what you will do to a person if they don’t… I don’t know – stop being a woman who uses the internet – the hate targeted at women is severe and laden in sexism. Of course, this only gets worse and more specific in the threat once you compound it with race, ability, gender expression, and sexual orientation. The internet is amazing. I literally don’t know what I would do today or what my life would look like without being able to access the internet. However, because it’s so free and open, anyone can say whatever awful shit they want and there’s little actions you can do to protect yourself. These are nine awful things that women have to deal with on the internet that men simply don’t.


People Thinking You're An Attention Whore For Existing

If you're a woman who puts anything on the internet, you're an attention whore. Selfie? Stop being so conceited. Write a thoughtful Facebook post? You're just trying to start a fight. Publish some articles? You clearly just doing it for attention (happened to me). Clearly, the only reason a woman does anything is for male attention, or attention in general, because that's how we all measure validation, right? It's insulting to say that about women on the internet. There is plenty of thoughtful conversations, dank memes, and all the good that happens in between being contributed by - GASP - women!

Source: iStock

Anonymous Troll Harassment

There's nothing like someone on Twitter with an egg-image avatar who also knows your address (HOW?!) threatening to kill you. That's an extreme example, but it doesn't mean that doesn't happen to women on the internet fairly regularly. On the smaller scale, women frequently block problematic users to protect themselves. That doesn't stop those people from creating new accounts for the sheer purpose of trolling and harassing their target. It's very hard to police and monitor where it's all coming from when so much of the internet hate comes from anonymous users.

Source: iStock

Blatant Sexual Harassment

I think we all can agree that catcalling sucks. Now, imagine someone putting those words below a picture of you and your little cousin. Now, imagine you not being able to control or stop it. It happens to normal girls every day, but if you need proof, you can look at any celebrity's Instagram. Click the comments and really scroll down and read all the random sexually graphic threats they get. Overt sexual harassment is definitely a problem that is out of control and hard to stop or protect yourself against.

Source: iStock

Nice Guys Saving The Day

When a woman is being harassed on the internet, who's there to save the day? The Nice Guy! Sweeping in because a woman can't help herself, this man defends you against one evil only to turn around and ask for romantic or sexual attention in return for being Just That Nice. Please. They always know what's best for women and what they Really Want. The nice guy always makes problems worse by getting involved. Don't get me wrong, it's necessary for people to use their privilege for good, not for evil, but the acting entitled to love in return for being a decent human sucks. I honestly can't decide what's worse.

Source: iStock

Catastrophic Catfishing

This man in Wyoming posed as his fiance on Craigslist and solicited a stranger to come to their home and enact a rape fantasy that she didn't ask for (because she really didn't want to get raped). Cat fishing is bad, across the board. There's a whole show dedicated to it. But, creating anonymous profiles or fake profiles on the internet can lead to catastrophic results. Remember the Craigslist killer? It's not just a movie on Lifetime, it had real tragic results. It's dangerous to be a woman on the internet.

Source: iStock

Misogynist Humor Memes

Sexism. Isn't. Funny. Any joke wherein women are made to be docile and fragile dolls is not cool. Men aren't inehrently one thing and women aren't inherently the opposite. Frequent offenders of posting these memes are older male relatives, your do-nothing cousin, and basics on Pinterest pinning shit like "act like a lady, think like a man," like that means anything specific or real. You can block or ignore people all you want, but if your feed is like mine, it's hard to avoid being triggered by this random awfulness any time you get on there and scroll for too long. It's still funny to some people--not sure why.

Source: iStock

Having To Be Polite And Courteous In The Face Of Hate

The things I would have said if I didn't have to protect my SEO, you guys. When women encounter hate on the internet, we have to restrain ourselves from being equally lewd and inappropriate right back because when you Google your name--yep, that's you calling someone a douche canoe on Twitter. Would your employer like to see that? It's sad to say, but men are generally given more of an allowance when it comes to aggressive behavior, even when it's not triggered. It doesn't matter that you were giving a valid repsonse to a real threat, women are conditioned and expected to behave in a certain way and when we step outside of that box, we're frequently punished for it.

Source: iStock

Needing A Defensive System Of Blocks And Privacy Settings

No one has a more detailed, multi-layered list of blocked users on the internet than a woman. No one can protect themselves against all internet hate or trolls, and yet we still try to stop our selfies from being reblogged to fetish Tumblrs. Much in the same way we need to have a defensive strategy for walking down the street just existing as a woman, we all have defensive online practices and privacy blocks to ensure us a certain level of safety against random people who might want to threaten us accessing a certain level of information. This is my why my Instagram is private! The internet is a big place and there's no way to control what information someone gets or doesn't have available to them other than to put up some blocks, which always have their loop holes. Ugh.

Source: iStock

Being Targeted Specifically For Being A Woman

Huge disclaimer: this piece is not to say that men do not get harassed on the internet. They absolutely do. However, when men are harassed, it's frequently for their point of view, something they said or did, or as a result of something they made. When women are harassed on the internet, it's frequently unrelated to any of those things and the people who are targeting her just go straight to attacking her gender, making graphic sexual threats, or mocking her on the grounds of simply being a woman who exists. Frequently on sites like Imgur and Reddit, users are reluctant to reveal their gender for fear that they'll be silenced or shunned.

Source: iStock

Have you been harassed on the internet? What happened? What did you do afterwards? How did you make it stop? Let us know in the comments!

You can follow the author, Aliee Chan, on Twitter.


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