FOR THE PAST FOUR YEARS, I have taught sophisticated university students about changes afoot with the internet culture that wraps around their lives. And in each successive year, the web itself reinforces the idea that it's alright to humiliate people online.
Except for women it's worse because revenge porn is an art form now. If you're jilted by a lover, you just photoshop her face onto another's nude body then pass the creation around Reddit or 4Chan and notch up thousands of views and downloads. Or if you're really talented, put the Shop Job on eBay and auction the clip (complete with full personal details, including home address and phone number).
Last week, Utah State University had to cancel a talk by pop culture critic Anita Sarkeesian. The university received an anonymous threat to murder everyone who attended the talk. "I have at my disposal a semi-automatic rifle, multiple pistols and a collection of pipe bombs," the anonymous e-mail said. 
"We live in a nation of emasculated cowards too afraid to challenge the vile, misandrist harpies who seek to destroy them," read one threat directed at Anita Sarkeesian on Tuesday. "Feminism has taken over every facet of our society, and women like Sarkeesian want to punish us for even fantasizing about being men. This is why I’ve chosen to target her."
It is not hard finding diatribe just like the vitriol directed at Sarkeesian. The trolls have rounded on me for pointing out the sexism inherent in many mainstream games. When Sarkeesian suggested that gamers might benefit from a small dose of feminism, the same anonymous person who threatened Sarkeesian said he would “write [a] manifesto in her spilled blood.”
Continue reading "Watching the Casual Destruction of Women" »