She’s just a small town girl, living in an online world.
I am a female and I like to blog. Take a look at the BCM112 cohort and you’ll find that I’m not the only female who likes to maintain an online presence. In fact, there’s quite an equal representation between males and females – apparently not in the online world.
Tanja Dreher, Communications Lecturer (2014), sees this as the dark side of online participatory culture. Looking at identity-based discrimination online, we listed the most influential people on the net. Henry Jenkins was mentioned alongside Mark Zuckerburg and Malcolm Turnbull #turnbulllogic (and a few women of course), but surprise, surprise the list was dominantly male. So we looked at the top 10 influential women in our online environment. The first name called being Jenna Marbles.
We did good kids.
Her point was made. Our top 10 influential people online were mostly men. Take a look at the 50 most important people on the web for example; men were well represented with only 1 in 10 being women.
But at what point do we get what Dreher (2014) refers to as, “An imbalance from the dynamic university classroom to the real world?” The answer could lie in gender based trolling.
Misogynist Trolling 101
Karalee Evans (2011) sums up misogynist trolling as the “horrid abuse towards women who have an opinion and dare to share it online,” or ‘violent hate-speech’, if you like, and it appears it’s on the rise. In her attempt to conduct an interview with News.com.au, Evans was subjected to days of online abuse and comment threads while consistently being referred to as ‘love’.
And she is not alone, check out #mencallmethings.
Men of course have their fair share of online attacks, but it seems women are subjected to a unique level of abuse based on their sexuality. Thorpe (2011) calls this the “unstinting ridicule” that comes along business in the world of website news commentary, forcing some of the best women online to hesitate before publishing their opinions.
Filipovic (2008) suggests that these efforts to intimidate women out of public opinion are due to the threat of the masculinity, and the “empowered safety of their anonymity” (Evans, 2011). Author and Feminist writer, Natasha Walter (2011), says it how it is.
“Under the cloak of anonymity people feel they can express anything, but I didn’t realise there were so many people reading my journalism who felt so strongly and personally antagonistic towards feminism and female writers.”
And the continual representation of women as ‘just beauties’ (Orbach, 2011) doesn’t help either. #SistersAreDoingItForThemselves
Dreher, T (2014) Identity and Difference Online, Lecture, BCM112 Convergent Media Practices, University of Wollongong, delivered Tuesday 13 May.
Orbach, S (2011) as cited by Thorpe, Vanessa (2011) ‘Women bloggers call for a stop to ‘hateful’ trolling by misogynist men’, The Guardian, Sunday 6 November, viewed May 14, 2014.