Online-Attacken: Schluss mit dem feministischen Opfer-Abo!
Derzeit ist in feministischen Kreisen die Strategie beliebt, sich als Hauptopfer besonders bösartiger Online-Attacken zu präsentieren. So plant beispielsweise die SPD-nahe Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung derzeit eine eigene Veranstaltung, um an diesem Mythos zu stricken. Die liberale, männerfreundliche Feministin Cathy Young hingegen setzt sich mit diesem neuen Opfer-Abo kritisch auseinander:
Internet harassment of women, especially feminists, has emerged as a major cause for concern in the past year. Last month, Brooklyn-based writer Michelle Goldberg published an op-ed at washingtonpost.com whose headline speaks for itself: "Feminist writers are so besieged by online abuse that some have begun to retire." But is this a genuine issue that disproportionately affects feminist women, or a plea for special sympathy and privilege?
(...) Plenty of male writers across the political spectrum have harrowing war stories. Charles Johnson, a blogger who started out on the right and then moved left, received so many threats that he decided to move to a gated community. Milo Yiannopoulous, a writer for the conservative website Breitbart.com, not only had his home address posted online last year, but received a padded envelope in the mail containing a syringe. Some male bloggers have been targeted by phony emergency calls that resulted in police SWAT teams being dispatched to their homes.
Female writers who are critical of modern feminism, such as Christina Hoff Sommers, have also been on the receiving end of both personal abuse and occasional threats.
Arguably, law enforcement should do more to tackle severe Internet harassment, as long as this does not abridge legitimate speech. But feminist complaints about online abuse often seem to conflate stalking and threats with general nastiness, or even harsh criticism.
This is especially ironic given that the same feminists often engage in online behavior that qualifies as verbally abusive. Jessica Valenti, a journalist who spoke to Goldberg of the toll exacted by online abuse, has used such terms as "rape apologist" to refer to women and men who show concern with fairness to men accused of rape. Men who disagree with feminist opinions on the Internet are routinely accused of everything from "mansplaining" to misogyny and called every name in the book. If the climate in online discussions of gender issues is particularly toxic, feminists are no less responsible for this than the men's rights activists Goldberg singles out.
Threatening behavior on the Internet is an issue that needs to be addressed -- regardless of gender or ideology. As for making cyberspace less abusive, it's a task for all netizens -- and all of us, including feminists, can start by looking in the mirror.