Academic journal article Pennsylvania Literary Journal

If You Are a Victim of Online Sexism: Don't Read This Book

Academic journal article Pennsylvania Literary Journal

If You Are a Victim of Online Sexism: Don't Read This Book

Article excerpt

If You Are a Victim of Online Sexism: Don't Read This Book Bailey Poland. Haters: Harassment, Abuse, and Violence Online. Lincoln: Potomac Books: University of Nebraska Press, November 2016. ISBN: 978-1-61234-766-0. Current & Political Affairs. 312pp. 6X9". $19.95.

While the title does not include the terms gender, sex or women, the back cover explains that this is primarily a book about the harassment women face when they enter the online world. Over the past year, I have received dozens of emails from random men that seem to be trolls in my Facebook account. They are not screened out as spam, as similar nonsensical content if it's sent to my Wordpress website. Instead the messages pop up as I'm trying to use Facebook. The first twenty times I answered the notes, which were greeting me with "hello, how are you doing?" or "hey beautiful," with explanations that this was my business Facebook account and that I was not interested in any "friendship" or "relationship" that they were proposing. In turn, they always disregarded these notes, and proceeded with their initial line of harassing "flirtations." The point, was not to attract interest from me, but rather to make me feel like a piece of meat, and helpless to block this onslaught of messages. There were linguistic similarities to the messages that suggested the same guy might have been sending many of these. I eventually stopped replying; this was against my natural instinct as I have a habit of replying to every meaningful email I receive, and I receive on average a hundred emails daily. I faced similar harassments when I was a teenager and first tried using IM to meet people in online chat rooms. There, I could not say a word without a dozen men starting private chats and attempting to sext me. Each of them was committing an offense against a minor, as I wasn't of age. I haven't visited a chat room since 1998 or so as a result. And now, these mentally challenged trolls are sexting random Facebook accounts without even waiting for women to enter their rooms online?

If women are not visiting these and other shady environments online, it is thanks to books like this one that have brought the problem of online sexual harassment of women into the mainstream media. "Hate mobs like those associated with Gamergate and individual abusers and stalkers have proliferated online in recent years, causing women to fear going online at all" (1). As we know all know, some women are led to suicide, depression, and other desperate acts by this culture of abuse. This book looks at several perspectives a girl who is being harassed is unlikely to consider during an incident. Poland examines the roots of misogyny online, its varied forms, its effects, and the "misogynist movements" that actually propagate for the other side.

Poland examines the psychology and structure of online sexist abuse. She explains the categories of strategies trolls, stalkers and others take to make women feel small and vulnerable online. Poland argues that instead of the common call to avoid feeding the trolls, women should acknowledge the harassment if it is bothering them to take back the power over the discussion. However, this discussion is frustrating because Poland goes on with the description of what women should not do rather than really offering practical advice on what they should be doing. …

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