Women and Online Harassment

Dahlia Lithwick, one of my favorite Slate editors, wrote this article about online threats made to women in the blogosphere.

It’s probably the most balanced piece I’ve read thusfar on the subject. Ms. Lithwick not only talks about how online harassment can be very real, but also dispels the analogies comparing online harassment with workplace harassment with this example:

it seems to me that there are important differences between threats received over the Internet and sexual harassment at work. It starts, obviously, with a total lack of context. Women have accumulated at least some skills in figuring out when face-to-face sexual innuendo or threats are serious, joking, or pathological. True, we are sometimes tragically wrong. But for the most part, we can tell whether Jeff from accounting needs a restraining order or just a stern “no.” An anonymous sexual threat on a blog could come from anywhere, and it’s virtually impossible to determine whether or not the poster is serious. For the recipient, it’s a bit like walking blindfolded through what might be a construction site, a retirement home, or a pick-up basketball game between two teams of recovering rapists.

If you get a moment, definitely read the article. It’s worth it.