Social media is the natural habitat of many things – breaking news, strange rumours (anyone else remember when James Blunt ‘died’?), avocado pictures (avocado is still the new kale isn’t it?), and of course misogynists. In fact not only is it the natural habitat of misogynists it is also their breading ground and you can guarantee that when a feminist campaigner says anything about anything (but specifically about the inequality they have encountered) this sub-specie of human will pop up out of the woodwork and threaten to rape, kill, abuse the woman who dared to open her mouth and say / type anything. In fact threatening to kill a woman because of what she says on social media has become so common place that it’s in danger of sliding from ‘breaking the law’ to ‘normal behaviour’. How has that even happened? How is it possible that in 2015 threatening to kill someone is being excused and normalised?
When I had the chance to read Targeted and Trolled and ask Rossalyn Warren a few questions, I jumped at it. This isn’t something which should ever be swept under the rug and should never, ever be normalised. It is all under the cut – go forth and read.
What made you decide to write Targeted and Trolled?
I decided to write a book about the online abuse and harassment targeted at work because I was tired of seeing woman go through the same shit online day after day. I’d open up an internet page, and all I’d see was the same type of story: a woman trolled on Twitter for tweeting about feminism, a woman sharing a screen grab of the rape threat she’d been sent on Facebook, a woman whose ex-boyfriend had uploaded her private nude photos online. I’d read so many stories of women who felt helpless that their family life, jobs, and livelihood were put at risk or destroyed as a result of being targeted by online harassment.
It became so commonplace that most of us unintentionally began to overlook it, not realising that the problem wasn’t going away, and if anything, was getting worse. When I’d bring this up in conversation, it was easy for others to dismiss it as “less serious” than other issues concerning women – and of course, we do have a long list of problems facing us in the world. But I wanted to focus on an issue that I knew inside and out (largely as a result of my work and obsession with the internet) and one that I felt wasn’t being taken seriously. I also wanted to show people that it wasn’t just famous people in the the Us or UK who were targeted with online abuse, but in fact the problem was global.
Why do you think there needs to be a specific focus on the trolling of women, when men also face this issue?
In my book, I stress that both men and women are targeted with harassment and abuse online. But what I specifically focus on is how men are rarely attacked because they are men, but women are attacked because of their gender. Women receive sexualised and gendered harassment, for example rape threats, the type of abuse that makes it very clear the troll is targeting them in a way that zeroes in on their sex and uses that as a driving force to attack them.
Have you ever experienced this kind of harassment yourself?
I’ve been on the receiving end of abuse and harassment myself, yes. It’s common for female reporters or writers to be on the receiving end of abuse, especially those who often focus on women’s rights. I’ve received cruel and sexualised threats, people calling me a bitch and cunt, threats of rape, messages that have made me cry. A lot of the time, I’ve been able to brush it off, but as anyone who’s been on the receiving end of this type of harassment knows, the fear doesn’t just magically disappear.
Thank you so much Rossalyn for answering my questions.
All too often the reality of being a woman online is really, really bad and books like this highlight how much work there still needs to be done. The good thing is that it is being done – women and men are standing up to trolls and bullies and abusers, and people are starting to realise that it isn’t funny to threaten to rape someone because they disagree with you.
I urge you all to read this book. It’s informative, empowering, and inspiring and gives me hope that life for women online won’t always be like this.
Targeted and Trolled by Rossalyn Warren is published today and can be bought as an ebook from all good and evil ebook retailers. Go forth and buy! I am part of the Targeted and Trolled blog tour – have a look at everyone else involved and make sure you stop by their sites.
I was given this book for free as part of the blog tour. My review is definitely my own and neither it nor my opinions haven’t been swayed by the free book swag.