Online Hate Crimes Against Women (CYBER VAWG)

Online Hate Crimes Against Women (CYBER VAWG)

Tehmina Khan (RMIT University, Australia)
Copyright: © 2020 |Pages: 15
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-9715-5.ch040
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In this article, a review of Cyber VAWG is provided with its meaning, potential impacts, the state of legislation to address Cyber VAWG, and recommendations to improve processes and systems to tackle Cyber VAWG. A literature review of academic and nonacademic literature has been undertaken. It is found that legislation and enforcement are still in infancy and there are currently complexities and barriers that are discouraging the reporting of Cyber VAWG. The article serves as a starting point for further research which should address the actual implementation of legislative and system changes to avoid and punish (in cases where it does occur) Cyber VAWG.
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The increasing availability of internet and access to social media by the masses has resulted in the increasing occurrences of cyber violence against women and girls (cyber VAWG). The term cyber VAWG encompasses multiple forms of exhibitions of violence against females in the online environment ranging from hostility to threats, exploitation and sexual harassment. Cyber VAWG is an additional layer of misogynistic practices, undertaken in the online environment. Manne (2018) has critically described misogyny as a branch of a patriarchal order with the objective of exercising control, power and subjugation, while maintaining the governing ideology of hostility against females. Gender imbalance, gender inequality and gender segregation in the real world, in organisations and professions impact the content which is produced, commercialised and disseminated; misogynistic behaviours are now rapidly increasing online (Swaminathan, 2014).

According to Ging and Siapara (2018) certain types of females have become key targets for online shaming, or “digital pillory.” Hess and Waller (2014) have identified these females as social justice warriors (SJW), the “slut” (as labelled by misogynists)- women in tech and gaming who have dared to challenge entrenched norms of the IT industry which is still male dominated, or any woman who is perceived as publicly questioning or disrupting gendered power relations. The “slut” is a derogatory term used for a woman who promotes any aspect of feminism or women’s rights in the online medium.

The disciplining function of online discourses against these women as Alvares (2018) has identified, becomes a means of violent reinforcement of gendered power relations through online misogyny. Cole (2015) has captured the experiences of women who publicly promote women’s rights or any aspect related to feminism through the following quotes: Christina (2012), a blogger “get[s] this all the time. I get this so often, I’ve lost track. As has every other woman I know who speaks publicly about feminism.” Journalist and blogger Jessica Valenti (2014) has been quoted by Cole (2015) about projecting her views on Facebook: “I spen[t] the better part of the day fielding tweets and messages about what a slut I am. That I should be ‘jizzed on’ ... that I want to be gangbanged, that I’m worthless.” As identified by Cole (2015) and in various other published works on misogyny through social media, rape is the most frequently used threat in response to women online (Stanton, 2011). The threat of rape in a large portion of tweets is often accompanied by an emoticon or an acronym such as “LOL,” or a joke; humor is used in order to make the violence socially acceptable and remains as a part of the disciplining process (Cole, 2015). Doyle (2011) re-emphasizes the gendered nature of violent discourse committed online as “What matters is not which guys said it: What matters is that, when you put their statements side-by-side, they all sound like the exact same guy. And when you look at what they're saying, how similar these slurs and insults and threats we get actually are, they always sound like they're speaking to the exact same woman. When men are using the same insults and sentiments to shut down women … we know that it's not about us; it's about gender”. Regardless of which legislation is looked at, threat to commit rape is considered a sexual offence. Rape threats are not the only forms of cyber VAWG undertaken in the online environment. There are numerous other types of cyber VAWG. The objective of this Chapter is to consider cyber VAWG in detail based on a review of prior academic and non-academic literature. Numerous real-life examples of cyber VAWG and cyber misogyny are provided to highlight types of cyber VAWG and the extremely negative impacts of VAWG crimes.

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