Women Call Out Online Abusers by Name to End Cyber Violence
From blocking users to responding to hateful comments to making donations for every nasty message—prominent women across the world have tried it all to stem the endless flood of misogyny hurled their way through social media and email. Now, a group of women in Australia have decided that even if they can’t stop the deluge of threats, they should take a stand against cyber violence by outing their abusers.
More than 1,000 women have posted about online attacks using the hashtag #EndViolenceAgainstWomen. The campaign comes from Australian columnist Kerri Sackville, who gathered Australian journalists to tweet out the names of the sources of some of the most offensive vitriol spewed at a prominent feminist writer, Clementine Ford.
Ford posted a screenshot of a man who called her a slut on Facebook and linked to his employer. He was soon fired from his position at a local hotel chain. Ford’s holding the man responsible for his words only fueled more angry comments directed toward her, ranging from comparisons to Hitler to threatening to show up at her home with a gun, recommending self-harm.
“I wanted to stand up and say that this is not OK,” Sackville wrote of the campaign on her website. “That this kind of abuse will be noticed. That there are consequences. That we will stand together and support each other. That when you attack one of us, you attack us all.”
Sackville posted names of Ford’s abusers with links to their comments, while others rewteeted with screenshots.
The hashtag quickly gained speed, with Australian women posting about other online abuses and voicing their support for the movement.
If you send disgusting messages to women, they have the right to share with your boss & family. Consequences. #endviolenceagainstwomen— Dr Benjamin T. Jones (@BenjaminTJones1) December 4, 2015
A man published my home address and told me he was en route to rape me because of my feminist writing. #endviolenceagainstwomen— Eliza Cussen (@ElizaCussen) December 3, 2015
Hate speech damages on impact but it also desensitises us to violence in the offline world. We won't accept that. #endviolenceagainstwomen— Karen Pickering (@ThatPickering) December 4, 2015
Nearly 75 percent of women online have experienced some form of cyberbullying, according to a September report from the United Nations Broadband Commission. The report recommends global action to combat bullying, as harassment could hinder women from using the Internet or intimidate them into silence.
Along with support and solidarity, the hashtag has, unsurprisingly, spurred hateful comments. Some have called the women too sensitive or even hypocritical, saying that by listing the names of bullies, they’re encouraging others to abuse them.
“We are simply naming them as being the authors of abusive tweets,” Sackville wrote. “Their messages stand for themselves.”