A feminist campaigner is sent death threats online at a rate of over fifty-per-hour. A woman who shares on social media her experience of rape, so that others might feel brave enough to speak out, is bombarded with abusive messages. More than a hundred female celebrities have their personal nude photographs stolen and published by hackers. The victims of these stories of trolling and internet crimes have just one thing in common: their gender.
Most of us use the internet every day, but we rarely stop and think about the way we are received there and whether the treatment of women online differs from the treatment of men. As a Buzzfeed journalist, Rossalyn Warren has first-hand experience of the sexism and misogyny targeted at women online – the insults about their appearance, the rape threats, and in some instances even stalking.
In Targeted and Trolled, Warren exposes the true extent of the global problem. Informative, empowering and inspiring, this book is both a shocking revelation of the scale of the problem and a message of hope about how men and women are working together to fight back against the trolls.
As a woman I have been very fortunate. I currently work in an environment (bookselling) that is possibly the most liberal workplace on the high street. At the end of 2015 we were lucky enough to have our giant shop refitted and I was one of the few booksellers on the building site to help stock my Children's floor.
During the refit we were overrun by builders, as you can imagine, who in the name of being Gentlemen felt they should ask me if I need help even if I was carrying a small cardboard box. hey found this hilariously funny. You might think Bookselling is a a delicate, intellectual job. Most of the time it is the complete opposite. I get grubby, injured and I carry boxes that are full of hardbacks and incredibly heavy. And even though I'm a woman and I'm small, I can do it. I don't need a man to move a paint can because he thinks being a lady I shouldn't have to. I don't see this as being a gentleman, it is being a d*ck.
This was my first proper incident of feeling targeted because of my gender.
I went into Targeted and Trolled with an ambivalent attitude towards Feminism. I've never really taken part in Twitter arguments or Facebook rows, I just don't care enough if it's isn't someone directly hindering my life. But I totally believe that it is someone else's right to speak their mind if they want to.
This short book made me realise just how one sided online arguments are. Women get rape threats - nasty, personal vile comments (mostly) from men who will never have to meet the person they're abusing. What is the worse thing you can say to a man who thinks they are so macho that they believe overpowering a woman is a fantastic way to win an argument? Call them gay? Not an insult. Tell them they are weak? Not really a physical or abusive threat. Think about it - what, as a woman, could you come back at a rape threat with?
As a society Targeted and Trolled calls for us to stop being d*cks. A war with words can be an intellectual argument. It doesn't have to flounder into debasement. We don't have to be so vile and graphic online. It isn't long, a bit like a pamphlet. I read it one night when I couldn't sleep, and then couldn't sleep because I was thinking about it.