Monday, April 02, 2007

Women online: coping with abuse, threats and cyberstalking

There's been a lot of discussion of the threats made against Kathy Sierra online over the last week.

Many other women online know how it feels to be objectified and have your arguments trivialised or mocked because of your gender, and a substantial number also know about graphic threats of sexualised violence and brutal death. So what to do about it? There is no one answer that is right for every woman who feels threatened, but there are some general guidelines.

BlogHer have a couple of excellent posts: Today is Stop Cyberbullying Day and a post from last year: What do you do when you're cyberstalked, taunted or abused online?.

The Kathy Sierra threat situation is one of the top stories on Technorati, so chances that your favourite blogger has written something about it are fairly high. I myself have written a long piece about Sierra's experience in the light of other cyberharassment incidents, and what it means for enforcing commenting standards in online forums, that I've posted at both my own blog Hoyden About Town and Aussie political group blog Larvatus Prodeo.

In general I agree with the advice from BlogHer that the best response is to ignore them online, deleting their comments from discussions, while saving all their comments and emails in case they are needed for demonstrating a pattern of escalating harassment to law enforcement at a later date. Ensuring that your own site has a clearly laid out comments policy that is strictly adhered to ensures that anarchic escalations at least don't dominate your own online space. What advice do others have?

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