Sometimes, naivety is a virtue. Trolling has been around as long as social media. But I was astounded and appalled at the number of people who attack women – especially female journalists – in the form of comments on social media, forums, articles and nearly every other medium where they are able to voice their opinions. But what appalled me the most was the type of comments in which these cowards were leaving.
While negative, hateful comments are sadly all too common, it is the ‘[anonymity which] allows people to indulge their worst tendencies, not only towards individuals but entire social groups’ (Stafford, 2012). The sexually explicit and grotesque comments aimed at women who speak up about respect are often dubbed as ‘feminazis’. These ‘feminazis’ – who include both men and women- are constantly subjected to the entire spectrum of barbaric names. As Virginia Triolli said, “I am called a bitch, a slag, a slut” and constantly told to “go die.” She also went on to add, “I’ve also been abused in the most disgusting and personal terms, but that just goes with the territory these days.”
Take for example, the Channel Ten 7pm Project interview with former Sex Pistols front man John Lyndon. It begins as any other interview but it is at 2:40 that the interview takes a very interesting turn – for the worse (view here).
Another common sexist view is one that someone wrote stating that women “should get back into the kitchen” as well as many other stupid jokes and remarks about why women are smaller than men – these people obviously took cavemen’s lifestyles too seriously. These deeply entrenched sexist views that are disseminated worldwide have caused a historic misogyny debate in Australian Parliament between Prime Minister, Julia Gillard and leader of the Opposition, Tony Abbott:
On a lighter note, there are many blogs who are speaking up about these issues – such as the AntiBogan who aim to name and shame those who are misogynist, coward trollers. As well as Twitter which has a hashtag (#mencallmethings) which also aims to name and shame as well as illuminating that there is a real issue with how females are treated within the media. This movement is about “empowering women to respond to their abusers with the same functionality the trolls take for granted – a platform to call out, name and shame.”
As the internet becomes more a part of our lives, we need to seriously look at these trolling issues and encourage naming and shaming – there should be some element of accountability as it is a low, cowardly and pathetic act.