Scientist, Educator & Speaker
Not my typical blog.
I want to draw your attention to an important article published on December 8, 2016 on Vox.com by Emily Crocket, titled “A husband and wife each published an article. It became a case study in harassment.”
Here is the article in its entirety:
Online harassment is a universal problem, but it definitely falls harder on some people than others. In a recent Guardian study of abusive comments on its own articles, eight of its top 10 most abused writers were women, and two were men of color.
Almost everyone experiences some online abuse, but not everyone experiences the same level or intensity of it. For some, online harassment is a nuisance that’s easily shrugged off. For others, it’s not so easy.
That’s why it’s important to step into someone else’s shoes every now and then, like Washington Post pop music critic Chris Richards did. When Richards and his wife each had articles published on the same page of the Post, what happened next was almost a perfect A/B test proving how disproportionate harassment works:
Chris _ _ Richards [tweets]
It’s easy for some to be skeptical that online harassment is that big a deal, or that it’s worse for people who aren’t white men. It’s easy to say something like, “It’s not because you’re a woman, it’s because they disagree with you,” or, “Whatever, it’s the internet, people are going to be jerks.”
And yes, people disagree and are jerks. But they also tend to be much bigger, nastier jerks to women, people of color, and folks in other marginalized groups.
Women and people of color can shrug off harassment too, of course, and often do. But they also tend to face more, and more vicious, attacks, including attacks that are specifically targeted at their gender or their race. All of that can wear down even those with the thickest skin, and its long-term harms can sneak up on you over time.
This is especially true of journalists and commentators with public platforms who write about controversial topics. And as Amanda Taub pointed out for Vox, this means online harassment can have real harms on journalism if it makes women and people of color reluctant to cover controversial issues.
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