Study: 50% of Twitter misogyny posted by women. UK MPs launch “Reclaim the Internet” campaign.

The title says it all. Both the BBC and the Daily Wire report that think tank Demos undertook a three-week study and found that half of apparently misogynist posts were posted by women.

From the original report:

  • Women are as almost as likely as men to use the terms ‘slut’ and
    ‘whore’ on Twitter. Not only are women using these words, they are
    directing them at each other, both casually and offensively; women
    are increasingly more inclined to engage in discourses using the
    same language that has been, and continues to be, used as
    derogatory against them.
  • There was a high proportion of ‘casual’ misogyny. Approximately
    29 per cent of the ‘rape’ tweets appeared to use the term in a casual
    or metaphorical way; while approximately 35 per cent of the ‘slut’
    and ‘whore’ tweets appeared to use the term in a casual or
    metaphorical way.

In the same article, the BBC reported that a “2014 study from cosmetics firm Dove found that over five million negative tweets were posted about beauty and body image. Four out of five were sent by women.” It should be noted that Dove’s corporate policy is to use models of all shapes and sizes and have a generally more constructive attitude toward what constitutes ‘beauty’ than many cosmetics companies do, therefore ‘negative’ may not necessarily mean ‘abusive’ in that particular context.

Co-incidentally, or perhaps in response, British MPs Yvette Cooper, Maria Miller, Stella Creasy, Jo Swinson and Jess Philips (she who ridiculed MP Philip Davies’ suggestion of holding a Parliamentary debate on men’s issues to mark International Men’s Day, just as Parliament regularly does women’s issues on International Women’s Day) launched their Reclaim the Internet Campaign.

They set up a forum in which to discuss how to combat hate speech. So, let’s have a look. Logo: the radical feminist power fist inside the outline of a computer monitor in lieu of the symbol of Venus. Not a good start, prompting one to ask why. (No satisfactory answer is given, but at least the post remains. For now. In case it gets taken down, here is an archive of it.)

Their intro page states:

This is a place to discuss the big ideas on how we ‘Reclaim the Internet’ for everyone.

Here you’ll find questions, discussion, personal testimony and ideas on how we can take a stand against online abuse, whether that’s misogyny and sexism, racism, homophobia or violent intimidation.

The internet must be a forum for freedom of speech. But that means that every voice should matter – and that includes on this forum.

Debate is encouraged, but it must always be respectful. This must be a safe space where people can share ideas and personal experienced without fear of abuse.

Our community works on the basis of trust – so the most engaged community members can assist in the governance of their community.

But it’s not up to users alone. We will remove content, disable accounts and we won’t hesitate to refer something to the police if violent threats are made or hate crime is committed.

If you want to know more – here’s what the designers of this platform say

Sigh.

Okay, ladies, let me introduce you to the Greater Internet Fuckwad Theory [see history of same] Originally published on web comic Penny Arcade which states:

Normal Person + Anonymity + Audience = Total Fuckwad

Simply put, Internet anonymity is impossible to squelch as the Internet is currently designed (although, in fact, it’s a lot harder to remain truly anonymous on the Internet than many people commonly suppose), and the above is merely an observation of human psychology that no amount of legislation (especially with selective enforcement) will change.

Furthermore, one person’s “hate speech” is another person’s legitimate and constructive criticism.

Cooper asked the BBC, “What more should social media platforms be doing?” The BBC reports that the campaign was an opportunity for the public to “put forward their proposals and demands for the changes we want to see.”

Nothing, Ms. Cooper. The solution — to the extent there is one — is very simple: don’t go to the parts of the Internet that offend you, make liberal use of the block button on social media platforms and don’t abuse their report button. Doing so just adds to their work and makes it less likely that legitimately hateful speech goes unattended or, worse, requires automatic suspension mechanisms that make a mockery of the values that liberals such as you once stood for.

The BBC itself asks the same question: “The bigger question is what can be done about it?”

Nothing, short of completely re-architecting the whole Internet to require cryptographically authenticated access certified by a trusted authority much in the way SSL certificates work before traffic is even routed (which is a much harder proposition than many may think), because the alternative, including initiatives like SocialAutopsy along with whatever foolery “Reclaim the Internet” might procure, can only do more harm than good.

The Internet is not, and never should be, a “safe space” (for who gets to define ‘safe’?) Time to put on your big-girl and big-boy panties and take responsibility for your own safety online.

Recommended Content

Skip to toolbar