I read this post last week, it’s by Helen Lewis on the New Statesman blog. In it Helen gets some quite horrifying stories from other female bloggers about the sexist comments and trolling they get – and many are deeply, deeply offensive.
As a male blogger, with very few readers, writing mainly about swimming I don’t tend to get much trolling, especially not sexist trolling. So I can’t really comment about how it must feel to get these kind comments, but I can comment about how it feels to read that there are people (almost exclusively men) making them.
It’s wrong, pathetic, cowardly, weak, childish and it damages us all.
Firstly, it reduces open, sensible debate on the internet. One of the best features of the web is that gives anyone a voice. Anyone (with a computer and internet connection) can set up a blog and speak their mind. This is good. This increases our knowledge, our awareness of other people and their views, feelings and outlook and in an ideal world would allow us all to better understand each other and maybe even live together better. But if women are made too scared to comment then we limit half of that and that weakens us all.
Secondly, it makes men look like dicks.
The article asks the women interviewed if they think that anything can be done – and they nearly all seem to shrug and say “not really.” But why not? This kind of abuse would be illegal (I hope) if it was said in a pub, or on the street, so why is it not illegal when said on the internet? I suspect that any woman that is abused to this extent on her blog is unlikely to want to file criminal charges, but does she have to? Why can’t we? Why can I not be offended by this and contact the police? Or if it’s not a criminal law that is broken why can’t we take a civil action?
If Stephen Fry was offering money to help out the Robin Hood Airport “bomber“, then why does he not help here? Or even better, why don’t we set up a Kickstarter campaign?
Actually, why don’t we? I’d happily start one if any lawyer can get in touch to let me know whether we’d have a case and what we’d need to do (in terms of actual money raised).
So, if you know any lawyers, please pass this on to them. And if you are a lawyer, please get in touch in the comments below.