Stop Cyberbullying Women: Leslie Jones Stops Twitter When Misogynists Attack

Stop Cyberbullying Women: Leslie Jones Stops Twitter When Misogynists Attack

by August 12, 2016

Spotlight

Stop cyberbullying women! Women are under attack in cyberspace, a kind of gender-based, unrestrained, virtual misogyny. Just recently, Leslie Jones, a co-star in the reboot of the film “Ghostbusters,” came under such a vicious online assault that she took a breather from Twitter while Twitter management decided to purge some of her worst attackers. What Leslie Jones has experienced, i.e., these vicious online assaults, is something that an increasing number of women that work in cyberspace and technology careers have been living through for years. Subterranean assaults carried out in the dark of night that make life miserable for their targets have become a current feature of our times. This has expanded so much so that it has even become part of popular culture, such as a plotline of one of the “Law & Order” franchises.

What is motivating these attacks? These attacks are acts of misogyny, pure and simple. They are being carried out, quite blatantly, by men who believe that there are certain fields that should be the exclusive territory of men. As a result, they want to carry out what can only be described as the “gender cleansing” of different fields, with technology being one of them. Yet, as is the case with Leslie Jones, these cyber assaults are not limited to women in that work in technology.

In the late 1990s, I noticed something which I coined “The Wizard of Oz Phenomenon.” In essence this took the form of people developing one personality when they were behind a keyboard and another in real life. I encountered people who were rude, arrogant and intolerant over the Internet, yet when you would meet them in person they would be nothing short of a cuddly teddy bear.

I believe that “The Wizard of Oz Phenomenon” has expanded and it has become the means through which some very mean-spirited, arrogant men have decided to conduct a war against women. Hiding behind the “curtain” of the Internet, they harass women to the point that some have decided to abandon their field of interest entirely, simply because they have concluded that the harassment is not worth it.

So, here is my proposal. There are some good hackers out there. I think that there is a need to develop a battalion of such hackers who are interested in bringing a halt to this online misogyny. Their assignment, should they choose to accept it, would be to search out, identify and publicize the existence of these harassers and, as they say, return the favor.

Any volunteers?

Bill Fletcher, Jr. is a talk show host, writer and activist. Follow him on Twitter, Facebook and at www.billfletcherjr.com.

 

What is Cyberbullying

Cyberbullying is bullying that takes place using electronic technology. Electronic technology includes devices and equipment such as cell phones, computers, and tablets as well as communication tools including social media sites, text messages, chat, and websites.

Examples of cyberbullying include mean text messages or emails, rumors sent by email or posted on social networking sites, and embarrassing pictures, videos, websites, or fake profiles.

Why Cyberbullying is Different

Kids who are being cyberbullied are often bullied in person as well. Additionally, kids who are cyberbullied have a harder time getting away from the behavior.

  • Cyberbullying can happen 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and reach a kid even when he or she is alone. It can happen any time of the day or night.
  • Cyberbullying messages and images can be posted anonymously and distributed quickly to a very wide audience. It can be difficult and sometimes impossible to trace the source.
  • Deleting inappropriate or harassing messages, texts, and pictures is extremely difficult after they have been posted or sent.

Effects of Cyberbullying

Illustration of two teens texting. Cell phones and computers themselves are not to blame for cyberbullying. Social media sites can be used for positive activities, like connecting kids with friends and family, helping students with school, and for entertainment. But these tools can also be used to hurt other people. Whether done in person or through technology, the effects of bullying are similar.

Kids who are cyberbullied are more likely to:

  • Use alcohol and drugs
  • Skip school
  • Experience in-person bullying
  • Be unwilling to attend school
  • Receive poor grades
  • Have lower self-esteem
  • Have more health problems

Frequency of Cyberbullying

The 2013-2014 School Crime Supplement (National Center for Education Statistics and Bureau of Justice Statistics) indicates that 7% of students in grades 6–12 experienced cyberbullying.

The 2013 Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance Survey finds that 15% of high school students (grades 9-12) were electronically bullied in the past year.

Research on cyberbullying is growing. However, because kids’ technology use changes rapidly, it is difficult to design surveys that accurately capture trends.

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