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The internet, for all its merits, is a cesspool of targeted hate and harassment. Women meet as much vitriol online as they meet offline and maybe even more so because of the ease of access that the internet grants. Women who are vocal and unabashedly confident are bullied consistently online and almost nothing is done about it. Every day, we see countless cases of bullying that can be likened to modern-day witch-hunting; a woman has a dissenting view contrary to public opinion and people feel the need to punish and humiliate her for it.
Incels and misogynists populate the internet and, the anti-harassment measures put in place by social media apps are next to non-existent and where they exist, lacklustre at best. Reporting a hateful or vile tweet en masse does not guarantee that it will be taken down and, even when it is, it is left up for too long beforehand. We know they *can* put measures in place to look into complaints and permanently bar repeated offenders but just choose not to or don’t until much later.
Remember the proposed Twitter boycott? Women banded together and chose a day to boycott Twitter in protest of the lax response to the incessant bullying and harassment women face online. How did men on the internet respond? With additional doses of bullying. It’s easy to mock a cause that does not centre you but, it’s also selfish and cruel.
Women on the internet are slut-shamed, bullied for the pictures they post, for making wishlists, for vocally expressing their opinions and so on. Feminists are bullied for speaking, for their activism and even when feminists are silent, their silence offends. We constantly see “feminists won’t talk about this now” even on issues that do not concern feminism at all.
The goal of these attacks is to silence women and it is particularly disappointing to see that women actively partake in these practices too. Pick-me’s constantly throw other women under the bus for male validation and approval.
Digital GBV is as harmful as other forms of gender-based violence and in the presence of affirmative action borne out of a recognition of the severity of the problem, it can probably be dealt with more easily than other forms.