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review 2016-11-22 22:07
Haters: Harassment, Abuse, and Violence Online
Haters: Harassment, Abuse, and Violence Online - Bailey Poland

[I received a copy of this book through NetGalley.]

I don't read non-fiction that often, so when I do, I always want those books to be good, to teach me something, and/or to make me think. I guess this one was all three? I pretty much "enjoyed" reading it—from an academic point of view, because let's be honest, the problems it describes aren't so savoury, and it's such a shame they're still here in 2016. Interesting, too, was how I could discuss it with a couple of friends, and they hadn't necessarily realised either all that online harrassment involves: not just the insulting posts/tweets/interactions, but how all those get dismissed so easily, and by basically everybody and their dog, under the umbrella of "don't feed the trolls" and "if you don't like it, just turn off your computer".

Because not feeding offenders doesn't mean they'll stop: what they want is not always attention, but the feeling that they've "won" by driving you away.

Because "just turn the computer off" is not a solution, especially not in our age where every potential recruiter and employer looks you up on the web, and if you don't maintain some kind of online presence, you're not good enough, but if what they find are blogs and profiles defaced by abusers, it's even worse.

Because, sadly but unsurprisingly, it still all ties into the "blame the victim" culture; into victims being the ones who must waste time and make efforts to get rid of the abuse; into (yes, once again) the fact that women and minorities get a lot more abuse than ye olde middle-class white guy—and that it's about abusers demanding that their victims waste their time on them, as if it was the most natural thing in the world.

I've been lucky so far in terms of abuse, but I've lived in bad places offline and I know what it is to get cat-called by shady guys in the street, who then proceed to insult you when you don't drop everything you're doing to turn all your attention to them. So, yeah, when we have to contend with that shite online as well? Not good.

Sadly here as well, people who'd benefit most from reading such a book (in order to realise why it's not okay—or that we've called their BS long ago and the only ones they're fooling is themselves) won't read it, won't care, will probably abuse the author, whatever. Nevertheless, I think this would be food for thought for many, many other people: it's amazing (and worrying) how easy it is to internalise that culture of abuse, to react ourselves with mild aphorisms like "just block them", as if ignoring what's happening will make it vanish by magic. Tiny little details that we continuously feed into our own daily narratives, poisoning ourselves, even when we're obviously against abuse and behave in civil ways otherwise.

The author provides quite a few examples of abuse situations or larger events like the Gamergate, showing how abusers behave, and what kind of dangers this can all lead to, ranging from personal and professional issues to physical wounds and worse (revealing information like Social Security numbers and addresses, for the targets to be abused offline as well).

The one thing I found a little difficult at times was the academic style, which was dry in places, and sometimes seemed to repeat itself (possibly in attempts to keep it to a more generic kind of language, I'd say, and prevent it from immediately being labelled as "see you're writing about abusers but you do that in an offending way"—also note the irony of, once again, having to keep ourselves in check so that the real abusers won't be able to bounce on it). On the other hand, the book as a whole is accessible and not "hard" to read and understand.

Conclusion: Important matter, dealt with in understandable ways, and deserving of being read by a wide range of people.

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review 2016-05-16 17:11
Out Nov
Haters: Harassment, Abuse, and Violence Online - Bailey Poland

Disclaimer: Arc via Netgalley

 

                Taylor Swift tells us that since “haters gonna hate, hate” we should just “shake it off”.   Considering how much shit, Ms Swift has taken because of her love life, she might be on to something.   (And no, I am not a Swift fan.  I just do not understand why a woman who dates is considered a slut, but a man who does it considered just human.  Actually, I do understand, and it makes me want to strangle people).               

 

Bailey Poland would disagree.

 

                And I think she’s right.

 

                Here’s the thing.  There is some truth to the argument that a public figure must learn to take criticism and that criticism of a person’s work (say a song, a book) is different than criticism of a person.  Too often many people blur that line (and for the record, it is fine if an author is cursing their computer screen while reading a review, but it can be a problem if the author goes public).  Yet, in today’s modern world where many people have some type of online presence, everyone is criticizing for everything.

 

                Well, almost everyone. 

 

                For instance, if a male gamer had talked about tropes in video games, would other gamers have created an app that allows a person digitally punch his face?  Donald Trump has said some hateful things, but he really hasn’t called off speaking engagements because of safety concerns?   What is it about women speaking their mind that drives some people insane?

 

                You mean, it’s the women, speaking, minds part.            

 

                Poland’s book is really about cyber vixen, why it should not simply be shaken off (actually, why it can’t be) as well as suggests about how to deal with it.  This means that she covers Gamergate as well as the various attacks upon Anita Sarkeesian.  However, these are not the only examples that she uses.  Even if you are a woman who has not been subjected to some type of cyber sexism.  Whether it is a sexual comment while gaming, to being told you should be shot out of a canon for mentioning sexism to online mansplaining, most women have experienced some type of behavior that Poland is addressing. Usually women are told to shake it off. 

 

                Sometimes this doesn’t do anything.

 

                Don’t believe me?  Well, this is being posted on an online book community (more than one, actually), so you dear reader know about all those authors who target reviewers.  How many of those reviewer targets were men and how many were women?  While the reviewer issue isn’t something that Poland addresses directly (she does mention the whole puppy issue with the Hugos), you can quite easily apply many of her points.  You can see many of her points simply watching how Trump and his supporters deal with many of their female critics.

 

                In many aspects while Poland builds on the work of Laurie Penny, her work is more encompassing and somewhat less defined by gaming and geekdom  -though gaming does prove a chapter or two.  This is not surprising considering that Poland’s book is longer than Penny’s cyber seism essay.  She also draws on the work of other feminists both in terms of strict feminist theory as well as cybersexism theory (if that is the correct term).  In many ways, her books is timely because some of the issues and ideas that she mentions are the same ways that get used to explain the success of Trump’s political run.

 

                The closing section of the book covers methods to deal with cybersexism , and perhaps this is the most important because it can be difficult to deal with speech issues online, where tone can be largely absent. (And where is that line between speech and harassment in some cases).

 

                This book is a timely and important read.

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review 2015-10-27 20:16
Review: Targeted and Trolled by Rossalyn Warren
Targeted and Trolled: The Reality of Being a Woman Online (An original digital short) - Rossalyn Warren

 

Review from Let Me Be Fictional

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Follow the official blog tour: 

https://lemebefictional.wordpress.com/2015/10/27/blog-tour-targeted-and-trolled-rossalyn-warren/

 

A book about the reality and facts which women faces everyday in their lives. Targeted and Trolled is precisely written and portrays the true image of this gender oriented society.

The book highlighted some incidents which happened to some of the renowned women who are raising their voices against sexual harassment and supporting the victims. Abuse and shaming are the very common examples of online harassment which women faces more than men. Most of us would have witnessed these acts on many of the social networking sites.

Often men are not aware that women are sexually abused and shamed on internet. Mostly, online harassment is gender biased. Men are usually harassed and shamed for intellectual in abilities where as women are harassed and abused sexually for being an online user.

Minorities are also targeted often. Muslim women are mostly trolled for sharing their opinion online and they are usually sexually harassed and abused by male online users from other religions.

Being a Pakistani female citizen, I can totally understand the way society often blames the woman. In some rural areas women are not allowed to have social media profiles and to be an online user. The main cause of this mindset is the fear of being sexually harassed online. Due to media awareness and campaigns led by NGOs this mindset is changing.

Most of the times Pakistani women are not even aware of the term online harassment. As Rossalyn has stated in the book, that most of the times women think that online harassment is a part of the deal for being an online user.

"Do no harm, take no shit." -- Wilson
Wilson also put an emphasis on  women that owning their voice is a powerful tool which they must use online.

Kati Heng's way to spread out the word against harrasment: http://stopthecatcall.tumblr.com

 
"Rememeber this is your internet, this is your technology. This is your online space you need to reclaim."  -- Nighat Dad

Nighat's work against cyber bullying:  http://digitalrightsfoundation.pk

 

It good to know that women all around the globe are fighting in their own ways against online harassment and sexual harassment. Victims are raising their voices and spreading out the word through social media to spread awareness and to support each other.

 

 

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This is a must read book.

Rating: 5/5

  Disclaimer: I got a galley of this e-book via publisher and getting a review copy does not altered my opinion of this book.  

 

Source: lemebefictional.wordpress.com/2015/10/27/blog-tour-targeted-and-trolled-rossalyn-warren
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