07 Sep 2015 19:12 IST

Fight online sexism with humour

Recently held “Festival of Dangerous Ideas” tackled the issue on cyberhate against women

The World Wide Web is a wonderful thing. You come across interesting articles; you can network with celebs; post the pictures of your happening life; hell, spend time watching videos of cats! But the Internet has dark sides as well — and one of them is online sexism.

An article on Mashable documents the recently held Festival of Dangerous Ideas, in Sydney. Writers Emma Jane, Clementine Ford and Laurie Penny, came together to discuss this menace that is rampantly spreading — and how to best tackle it.

When it began

The article says Jane’s instance of “cyberabuse” began in 1998, when she gave away her email address in her newspaper columns. “The messages started pouring in, criticising her feminist articles and using language she now calls "rapeglish" — graphic, sexualised vitriol,” the article said.

Now, this occurrence is all too common, since there are more outlets such as Facebook, Reddit, Twitter; you name it.

How to deal with it

Both Penny and Ford too faced sexism online at different points. So how do they deal with it?

The panel dished out a number of responses. But personally, Penny goes in for “spite”. Jane described a “toolkit of approaches” that she found during her study of “gendered cyberhate”.

Ford tried to tackle it with humour. “What I’ve found has worked has been a combination of exposure and laughing at them,” she explained. “It comes back to that Margaret Atwood quote: ‘Men are afraid women will laugh at them, and women are afraid men will kill them’.”

To read the entire story, click here .