It can be devastating reading about women in the public sphere being subjected to massive online waves of misogynistic abuse. The abuse often includes threats of murder and sexual violence – threats that are intended to terrify, silence, and oppress all of us. Even if we are not famous, we can become targets of similar abuse on a smaller scale, on social media platforms. If we post publicly, the abusers might be people we have never met, but sometimes even when we post to our private pages, we can be targeted by people we know, love and trust. It is quite common for women to experience backlash at the very moment we proudly announce that we are about to step up in the world, or we might witness it happening to our female friends and family members. It can be frightening, and it can deter us from reaching our full potential in many different areas of our lives.
How can we overcome the anxiety and fear we might feel? One way is to read about other women’s experiences and to draw courage from women’s collective knowledge on the topic of misogyny and online abuse. We can tap into the strength and resilience of women who continue to make a stand against misogyny and we can learn to master their techniques of survival.
Here are a five of my favourite books that have helped build my courage and determination to maintain my online voice. Please tell us in the comments, about books and articles that have inspired you to stand against the tide of online hate.
Ginger Gorman dives deeply into the disturbing world of trolls and how our society allows them to flourish. She makes the connection between online hate and real-life atrocities and murders. A great read if you instinctively know that people are wrong when they tell you to simply ignore the trolls and move on with your life.
Ginger Gorman, Troll Hunting: Inside the World of Online Hate and its Human Fallout, Hardie Grant Books, 2019, ISBN-13: 978-1743794357
Carrie Goldberg works on the frontline in the courts, fighting for justice for the victims of online harassment, vilification, revenge porn and sexual privacy violations. A good read for those of us who like to imagine taking the perpetrators to court – maybe we can!
Carrie Goldberg, Nobody’s Victim: Fighting Psychos, Stalkers, Pervs and Trolls, Virago Press, 2019, ISBN-13: 978-0525533771
The authors cover the full spectrum of online shaming – from mass-shaming of high-profile people to small shaming tweets that can destroy an individual’s life, family relationships and career. A good read to inspire us to make our own small contribution towards spreading positivity and empathy online, to help reduce the destructive force of online hate and shaming.
Sue Scheff (Author), Melissa Schorr (Author), Monica Lewinsky (Foreword), Shame Nation: Choosing Kindness and Compassion in and Age of Cruelty and Trolling, Source Books, 2017, ISBN-13: 978-1492662013
In this book you can read about the uplifting online campaign, #CelebratingWomen started by Australian company director, Kirsten Ferguson, in response to the online abuse of women on social media. Everyone can play their small part in joining this extraordinary transformation of women’s experiences online and help build women’s collective courage.
Kirstin Ferguson, Catherine Fox. Women Kind: Unlocking the Power of Women Supporting Women, Murdoch Books, 2018 ISBN-13: 9781760634629
How to be Successful Without Hurting Men’s Feelings
Sarah Cooper’s excruciatingly sharp and humorous cartoons tear apart the typical victim-blaming advice women are given to not rock the boat or succeed at anything in their lives for fear of upsetting men. Through irony, she uncovers the mechanisms of misogyny that operate in our workplaces, and you can quickly see how the same tactics are employed by online trolls attempting to tear down successful women. A great read if you want to laugh while building up your anger and determination to break free and succeed in life. Cooper’s book is soon to become a CBS comedy series.
Sarah Cooper, How to be Successful Without Hurting Men’s Feelings: Non-threatening Leadership Strategies for Women, Random House, 2018, ISBN13: 9781910931202
It is quite common for women to experience backlash at the very moment we proudly announce that we are about to step up in the world. Always remember, you are never alone.
Researched & Written by: Catherine Sinclair
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The Online Hate Prevention Institute is a Registered Charity that tackles all forms of online hate. You can support our work by making a donation at https://ohpi.org.au/donate/. You can also join us on Facebook, or join our mailing list.
This article is part of our August 2020 campaign to Counter Online Trolling. We are now preparing for our September campaign to Tackle Racism & Xenophobia and welcome donations through the campaign fundraiser to increase its scope & impact. The full plan for our campaigns in 2020 can be seen here.