Silencing the Female Voice

The cyber abuse of women on the internet

Authored by: Pamela Hill Nettleton

The Routledge Handbook of Developments in Digital Journalism Studies

Print publication date:  August  2018
Online publication date:  September  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138283053
eBook ISBN: 9781315270449
Adobe ISBN:


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For a woman journalist in 2017, working on Twitter entails opening oneself to attacks such as:

“I hope you get raped” (Just Not Sports, 2016).“You need to be hit in the head with a hockey puck and killed” (Just Not Sports, 2016).“You are clearly retarded, i hope someone shoots then rapes you”.

(Hess, 2014) The internet is touted as a democratic space in which nationality, class, race, gender, and sexuality are rendered neutral. However, receiving digital media threats of violence, rape, and murder are daily occurrences for female journalists. Internet harassment of women marginalizes their professional presence online, impinges on their freedom of communication, and, in an echo of outdated and retrograde domestic violence attitudes, is minimalized and dismissed by law enforcement and media publishers. Stalking, bullying, and intimidation that would not be tolerated in brick-and-mortar workplaces are commonplace in comments, emails, tweets, and social media related to the online work of female journalists. Studies in this emerging field point to an ugly truth: the anonymity and ubiquity of the internet works to shelter and protect harassers and to allow the cyber sexual harassment of women and marginalized groups, such as LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer/questioning) persons.

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