With all the recent news about the unfortunate suicide of Amanda Todd and the recent Predditors tumblr calling out all the online CreepShot dudes, I wanted to take a moment to talk to y’all about online sexual harassment.
(I realize that I am poking the trolls here. Of course, I am also female and a feminist online, so poking the trolls is something I do just by existing.)
Firstly, I personally think attaching “cyber” as a prefix is misleading. It perpetuates the idea that things that happen on the Internet are completely separate from what happens IRL. This is absolutely not true.
You aren’t a different person online. You might emphasize different aspects of yourself online, but you’re still the same person. To say you aren’t is like saying that a your public persona is completely different from your at-home persona. So when someone excuses their sexist online behaviour as, ‘just trolling,’ it doesn’t mean that they’re only obnoxious online; it just means they are obnoxious.
The bigger problem with this idea, however, is that it automatically lessens the perceived effect of things like sexual harassment over the Internet. The truth is that sexual harassment over the Internet does the same thing street harassment does: it objectifies women and makes them feel that harassment is the price you pay for being female and playing online video games.
Or being female and on Reddit.
Or being female and on Youtube.
Or just being female online.
This is not true. This isn’t true if you enter male-dominated websites, or if you take nude pictures of yourself, or if you have a very loud opinion. If you can access the Internet, you are allowed to be on the Internet without being harassed.
Now, of course, some people are able to take Internet hate and harassment, and it doesn’t bother them. That’s great! Some people are also able to take IRL bullying and street harassment in their stride as well. The only different between the two is their medium.
I like the Predditors tumblr because it doesn’t brush off the creepy behaviour of these dudes as something you can ignore because it’s just the Internet. When a convicted sexual predator moves into a neighbourhood, you and everyone else in the neighbourhood have to a right to know who he is. If someone is taking creepy, non-consensual pictures of you or people in your area, you have a right to know who he is because an online sexual predator is the same as an offline sexual predator.
I like being on the Internet. I would like to know that I don’t have to hide that I’m female just to avoid some dickhead telling me “tits or gtfo.” This is only going to happen if we stop letting this nonsense slide.