The Ugly Truth About Women & Online Harassment

Photographed by Ruby Yeh.
One of the unsavory elements of the recent Gamergate controversy is the threatening and harassment of female members of the gaming community. So, perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised at the results of a recently-released Pew report: Although many of us experience some degree of harassment online, it looks like young women get the worst of it, says Science of US.
Released yesterday, the report's results include responses from 2,849 web users. They show a couple of interesting findings: First, a whopping 73% of those polled had witnessed some form of harassment online. And, 40% said they had experienced Internet harassment personally. This included being called an offensive name, being physically threatened, and being stalked — among other decidedly unfriendly behaviors.
In young people ages 18-24, the gender split is pretty equal when we only look at offensive name-calling and purposeful embarrassment online. But, when we examine the more dangerous experiences, such as stalking and sexual harassment, young women are far more likely than young men to be the victims. For instance, 26% of young women reported being stalked while only 7% of young men said the same. And, although 25% of young women said they had been sexually harassed, the same could be said for only 13% of young men. Perhaps most telling is that 38% of harassed women said their most recent online attack was "extremely" or "very upsetting." But, only 17% of men reported the same.
While all harassment is destructive, not all forms of harassment are created equal. Unfortunately, it's women who are dealing with the severe attacks and, therefore, feeling the worst about those experiences. Until we accept that, addressing it will be impossible — and young women will remain the most at-risk.
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