Misogyny thrives online

The hope that the Internet would be a discrimination-free space is officially dead. Hate on the web is particularly vicious towards women, and there are no effective ways to stop it.

Christine Tragler
Christine Tragler Der Standard, Austria
Source: Der Standard
Misogyny thrives online - NewsMavens

Why this story matters:

The technology optimism of the 1990s is over -- racism, sexism and hate speech on the Internet have become rampant. Platforms such as 4chan and Reddit are fueling hate against women and are rallying tools for masculinist circles like pickup artists and "MGTOW" (Men Going Their Own Way), which propagate misogynistic statements. For example, pickup artist Roosh V claims that rape should be legal.

The German-speaking world is no exception. Media scientist Julia Fleischhack of the University of Göttingen links online attacks such as rape threats or stalking with a diminishing female presence on the Internet.

"This type of gender discrimination has serious implications for the status of women online."

The trend is cleary visible, but despite a widespread awareness of the issue, experts have little to offer when it comes to practical solutions. Sadly, the fight against hate speech on the Internet seems to be stuck in infancy.

Details from the story:

  • In 1997, a commercial by the US Internet provider MCI spoke of a network where there’s "no race, no genders, no age".
  • In 2016, media scientist Sarah Banet-Weiser claimed the opposite: "We are in a new era of gender wars".
  • Studies show that online hate causes women to withdraw from the Internet or practice self-censorship.
  • Women who express feminist views are most likely to be the victims of online hate.
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