Women’s Online Voices

“Everyone wants a strong woman until she actually stands up, flexes her muscles, projects her voice… Suddenly, she is too much. She has forgotten her place. YOu love those women as ideas, fantasies… Not as breathing, living humans threatening to be even better than you could ever be.” – Ari Eastman

attractive-1869761_1920Women’s freedom of expression is too often torn by online trolls. (Yes, it happens to men too, especially if you aren’t strait and white.) The majority of women have been on the receiving end of online violence ranging from sexist annoyance to sexual and criminal harassment. Unfortunately, it seems to escalate quickly from one annoying comment to “I hope you get raped or/and killed.”

When women speak up about the abuse, they actually open themselves up to additional abuse from numerous people who view this as normal behaviour that women should just learn to put up with.

“Women are all the same. Do not doubt or make a remark, it will be used against you. Everyone must think like them.” – Male, White, Retired, French Canadian

If you feel that your right to expression is being taken away from you because women are speaking up about sexual violence and death threats they receive, you may want to take a good look in the mirror and realise that that you are mad because you aren’t allowed to be the criminal you want to be.

Comments like these shouldn’t be acceptable to anyone:

  • “Someone should beat you to death with a hockey stick.”
  • “I hope you get raped again.”

It’s not okay to talk to anyone like that.

These trolls can be men who address women condescendingly on issues that concern women or on issues that they assume women can’t truly understand. They explain things to women whether or not they know what they are talking about.

“Still poor victims. Snif, Snif, snif. So you want a Kleenex my favourite little adorable criers?” – Male, Spanish Canadian, Single.

aircraft-428894_1920Telling women they are being too emotional is also a method to reduce and silence their voice. This is a method (also called gas-lighting) often used by abusers to dismiss any complaints. It makes the person question their sensitivity, keep quiet, and keep taking the abuse until they believe they deserve it.

Too often these online comments turn violent. These behaviours can take many forms, ranging from harassment and public humiliation. We live in a world where someone’s response to a woman’s statement about any subject under the sky is that they hope she gets raped repeatedly and violently.

Violence is one way to silence people, to deny their voice and their credibility, to assert your right to control over their right to exist.

Too many people no longer reflect, they act instinctively as animals now, social networks brings out this little side and the instinct in some reveals a lot. I would be ashamed.

“So create yourselves a safe space where you will be able to discuss quietly between you without those cursed men who want to impose their patriarchal discourse.” – White Male, French Canadian, Religious, Single

healthy-1804955_1920Telling women to leave the public place is contributing to silencing women. You might think yourself an ally, but this isn’t the way to be helping. Telling women that they should be discussing among themselves quietly and leave the Internet to the patriarchal society or suck it up and accept the abuse is hoping for a return of the Victorian times (and worse).

Harassment and intimidation should be a normal part of life. It would be easy for administrators to take the IP address of the trolls and banish them for life, which would prevent them from re-creating an account under a different name, but there is a serious lack of will. We close our eyes to the issue.

“Trolls also have the right to freedom of expression” – Male, Spanish Canadian, in a relationship. 

There is a limit to freedom of expression. Threatening someone else’s well-being is a crime. Attacking someone due to gender, race or sexual orientation is not freedom of expression, it’s a crime.


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