There’s a banner headline article in this morning’s Dom Post magazine, “Taming the trolls: tackling the internet haters”. It’s advertised on the front page of the newspaper, and it’s the cover story in the magazine, this time as, “Slaying the trolls: hunting down the internet haters”.
It’s not on-line, so you will have to buy a copy if you want to read it. But I wouldn’t bother. The story is blinkered, and narrow, because the reporter doens’t bother to talk to any women.
Which New Zealand bloggers does the journalist talk to? David Farrar and Cameron Slater, of course. And the not-so-prominent Aaron Hape, who runs the Monarchy NZ Facebook page. His major complaint? Once some republicans deliberately posted comments against the monarchy. Wow – big time trolling there.
There’s no attempt to talk to any women bloggers about their experience of trolling. And what we know now is that the abuse handed out on-line to women who dare to blog is outrageous. Check what PZ Myers says about it.
Yeah, the guys get it, too. I thought it was ridiculous before — I had Conservapædia raving about how fat I was, whole blogs dedicated to how stupid I was, and of course, frequent accusations of being gay — but once I got associated with feminism, the hatred reached a whole new level of shrieking. I’ve basically been declared an honorary woman by a whole new category of people, online atheists, who turn out to be worse than creationists, Christians, and Muslims. There are even more rants about my appearance, my ‘irrationality’, my sanity, than ever before.
And the scary thing is that when I compare what I get to what women activists get, I’m getting off easy.
First up, there is something disturbingly misogynistic about online bullying. Yes: blokes, male columnists, undoubtedly get it too. But it feels as though there is something far more vicious, gender-related with respect to what women have to endure.
And then there’s the astonishing and horrid abuse handed out to Mary Beard, for daring to be a woman in public with expertise and opinions.
First, the misogyny here is truly gobsmacking. The whole site is pretty hateful (and what some of the comments say about Andrew Marr since he’s been ill are almost worse than anything).. but the whole “cunt” talk and the kind of stuff represented by the photo on right is more than a few steps into sadism. It would be quite enough to put many women off appearing in public, contributing to political debate, especially as all of this comes up on google..
There’s trolling on in the internet, deliberately posting perverse opinions in the hope of stirring up trouble, and then there’s vicious hatred. The Dom Post mentions the person who wished WhaleOil dead, and in one paragraph, it quotes a UK expert, talking about the hatred directed at women. But that’s it.
It’s a shame that the reporter didn’t think a little bit more broadly, and talk to some New Zealand women who are blogging. But perhaps that would have required him to do a little more than just hit the quick-dial on his telephone.