Women And Internet Harassment

Internet aggression toward women. What’s it about? How do we fix it? Plus, a media firestorm around tweeting through cancer.

Ray Smith / Flickr / Creative Commons)" href="//">A woman uses a personal computer. (Ray Smith / Flickr / Creative Commons)

A woman uses a personal computer. (Ray Smith / Flickr / Creative Commons)

Amanda Hess writes for Slate, Wired, The Los Angeles Times, ESPN The Magazine and more.  These days, that means Amanda Hess is online, by name, a lot.  With opinions.  Exposure.  And what’s come back at her online, from angry men, is fairly-well horrifying.  Death threats.  Rape threats.  Sexual taunting.  Threats of dismemberment, beheading.  Horror.  Now Amanda Hess and others are saying “enough.”  What is up with the ugly tide of sexual menace and violent threats toward women on the web?  This hour On Point:  women and sexual menace on the Internet.

— Tom Ashbrook


Amanda Hess, freelance writer. Author of “Why Women Aren’t Welcome On the Internet.” (@AmandaHess)

Anna Holmes,  founding editor of, the online women’s news and culture magazine. Author of “The Book of Jezebel: An Illustrated Encyclopedia of Lady Things” and “Hell Hath No Fury: Women’s Letters From The End of the Affair.” Columnist at the New York Times Book Review. (@AnnaHolmes)

Danielle Citron, professor of law the University of Maryland, Balitmore. Author of “Hate Crimes in Cyberspace.” (@DANIELLECITRON)

From Tom’s Reading List

Pacific Standard: Why Women Aren’t Welcome on the Internet — “A woman doesn’t even need to occupy a professional writing perch at a prominent platform to become a target. According to a 2005 report by the Pew Research Center, which has been tracking the online lives of Americans for more than a decade, women and men have been logging on in equal numbers since 2000, but the vilest communications are still disproportionately lobbed at women. We are more likely to report being stalked and harassed on the Internet—of the 3,787 people who reported harassing incidents from 2000 to 2012 to the volunteer organization Working to Halt Online Abuse, 72.5 percent were female. ”

New York Times: The War on Women — “I don’t think either the left or the right quite understands this worldview: feminists tend to see it simply as a species of reaction, social conservatives as the dark fruit of sexual liberation, when it’s really a combination of the two. And because it channels some legitimate male anxieties alongside its chauvinism and resentment, it probably can’t be shamed or driven underground — or not, at least, without making its side effects for women that much more toxic.”

The Wire: Welcome to the Twisted Age of the Twitter Death Threat — “Enter the age of the online death threat. It’s scary, yeah, because it’s a death threat. Humans rarely like being threatened with an end to their basic essence, no matter the delivery method for that announcement. And yet, on Twitter, this becomes such a weird, surreal concept: It’s deeply impersonal (these people don’t even know each other and probably never will; NONE of them know each other, likely), fueled by a false kind of rage spawned by the way the Internet works (one side gets self-righteously mad, another side self-righteously madder, and repeat). Fortunately, in most cases, the threat is also incredibly unlikely to be fulfilled. ”

The Media-Firestorm Around Tweeting Through Cancer

Lisa Belkin, senior columnist for The Huffington Post. Author of “Life’s Work: Confessions of an Unbalanced Mom,” Show Me A Hero,” and “First, Do No Harm:The Dramatic Story of Real Doctors and Patients Making Impossible Choices at a Big-City Hospital.”  (@LisaBelkin)

The Huffington Post: Lisa Bonchek Adams And The Problem With Criticizing A Woman Who Documents Her Cancer Treatment Online  — “True we need a national conversation about ‘how much is too much.’ But the reason the lines are blurred in the first place — i.e. the very reason we need that conversation — is because what is one patient’s torture is another’s reassurance that they have done everything they could. Emma’s father was 79 when he died two years ago, with multiple health problems. Lisa Adams was 37 when she was diagnosed seven years ago, with three young children. Yes, her years of treatment have been agonizing at times, and I would not presume to tell any patient that they must choose that painful, possibly fruitless, path. I also would never dream of telling them that they shouldn’t. What Bill sees as extra years of ‘frantic medical trench warfare,’ Adams sees more simply as extra years.”

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