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Men harassed online more but like, seriously, it's not about them - Pew 2017

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Offline kat

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The Pew Research Center recently released its findings for "Online Harassment 2017". The key take-away from the survey results can be summed up with the following paragraphs;
More broadly, men and women differ sharply in their attitudes toward the relative importance of online harassment as an issue. For instance, women (63%) are much more likely than men (43%) to say people should be able to feel welcome and safe in online spaces, while men are much more likely than women to say that people should be able to speak their minds freely online (56% of men vs. 36% of women). Similarly, half of women say offensive content online is too often excused as not being a big deal, whereas 64% of men – and 73% of young men ages 18 to 29 – say that many people take offensive content online too seriously. Further, 70% of women – and 83% of young women ages 18 to 29 – view online harassment as a major problem, while 54% of men and 55% of young men share this concern.

Attitudes toward different policies to prevent online harassment also differ somewhat by gender. Men are more likely than women to believe that improved policies and tools from online companies are the most effective approach to addressing online harassment (39% vs. 31%). Meanwhile, women are more likely to say that stronger laws against online harassment are the most effective approach (36% vs. 24%), and they are also more likely to feel that law enforcement currently does not take online harassment incidents seriously enough (46% vs. 39%). [link] (emphasis added)

If its not clear from the above quote there are significant differences between the sexes in how they see and react to harassment; women (#notallwomen) being far more likely than men (#notallmen) to; impugn, make and take issue with the behaviour of others; perceive all forms of harassment equally; and crucially in this discussion, look to others for help, law-enforcement, the legal and political systems included[1]. What's not clear from the above, and born out by the data Pew pulled,  is that overall the research makes plain that men actually receive more harassment online, not women. But that's neither here nor there.

This difference, or more accurately, the consequences of it, that certain types of individual and groups are more prone to take offense, is the story of online harassment and cyber-bullying, intentionally and often ideologically misrepresented such that men (and boys) simply don't matter unless portrayed as perpetrators despite the facts.

Unfortunately for the Internet at large, freedom of expression (#freepresso) and freedom of speech (#freezepeach) in general, politicians, advocacy groups and ne'er-do-well's[2] understand this difference between the sexes only too well, specifically targeting women because of it, with assistive programs[3] and legislative promises that don't solve the problem on ground, often being little more than electoral, editorial or issue pandering and sensationalism, self-aggrandisement, or legislative power-grabs and/or over-sight over-reach advocated for through carefully crafted language meant to dominate public discourse, dangerous to oppose, of narratives that feed into and misappropriate the public's general desire for (social) justice.

But anyway, the bullet points from the report;
  • "Harassment is often focused on personal or physical characteristics; political views, gender, physical appearance and race are among the most common."
  • "62% consider [harassment] a major problem; online companies are seen as key actors in addressing online harassment."
  • "Americans are divided on the issues of free speech and political correctness that underlie the online harassment debate."
  • "Experiences and attitudes toward online harassment vary significantly by gender."
  • "Harassment exists on a spectrum of severity: Those who have experienced severe forms of online harassment differ sharply in their reactions and attitudes."
  • "Online harassment is often subjective – even to those experiencing the worst of it."
  • "Anonymity is seen as a facilitating factor in encouraging the spread of harassment online."
Additional Resources
- How to stop online harassment, bullying and abuse.
- "Nearly half of women who use social media say they have been sexually victimised".
- "Cyberbullying and adolescent well-being in England: a population-based cross-sectional study".

Further Reading
- Harassment of women now a "hate crime".
- 50% of women are misogynists.
- Freedom of speech ends where threats abound.
- Violence against males in games doesn't count... another study that 'proves' it.

[1] Contrary to the narrative
, Pew (and other) research persistently exposes women (#notallwomen) being only too willing to, for want of a better way of putting it, "damsel" themselves when they face harassment and abuse online, counting on others to come to their aid or fix the problem, that being "brave" and "strong" comes from encouraging victimisation (on social media in particular) instead of victory, succumbing to adversity rather than surmounting it. In other words this seemingly natural tendency does not negate the fact that people in general are more likely to publicise their vistimisation, how they are being harassed and abuse, rather than their victories, how they over-came and solved the problem themselves.

With this in mind the difference in outlook likely explains why men and women tend to see harassment differently, which then makes it difficult to prosecute as an criminal offense - the same event is more likely to make women feel victimised, whereas for men it won't. For example assault, theft, murder are ostensibly physical acts, someone is physically hindered, harmed, or had property taken etc., so there is an objective 'test' the Courts can perform to determined not just whether something has happened, but also the degree of severity. Contextually this makes online harassment and abuse is almost entirely subjective (caveat: where the persons involved know one another, harassment and abuse is easier to prosecute as if often forms part of on-going physical communications, intimidation and so on - they know where the other lives - a girl sending abuse, harassment, threats to the new partner of their ex, or to a fellow student, class or work mate).

[2] A number of self-proclaimed 'advocacy' and 'support' groups have popped up in recent years claiming to help those subject to online harassment and abuse (although evidence of this is anecdotal). Unfortunately it appears some of the more notorious groups use highly questionable tactics themselves as counter-measures, often employing similar/same/severe harassing, bullying, brigading (organising or otherwise encouraging a group of individuals to act in a particular way or towards an individual or target), (in)directly inflaming, inciting, instigating or siccing targeted cyber-mods (similar to 'brigading' but less directed, often relies of the viral nature of events to coalesce individuals towards a given goal or aim) in return ("would hate something to happen to [person]"), often unapologetically advocated through a network of prominent press and media familiars.

[3] Due to the global scope of the problem there isn't a comprehensive accounting of the number of groups and resources available to women versus men because keeping tabs in such a way can be seen (and often is by advocates) as an 'oppression'. Searching Google with "women's rights online" returns 21 million hits whereas "men's rights online" return approximately 10 million, but again, discussing the issue from the men as perpetrators perspective. The upshot of this disparity is that it effectively and completely poisons the well towards male orientated research and investigation as men and boys are only ever seen as perpetrators in public discourse, that when questioned is vociferously castigated by proponents of that narrative, opposition then seen as apologism for masculinity, maleness and associated behaviours (for good or bad).

[ --- ]

That men (and boys) tend to face more harassment online than women (and girls) is not news to anyone sufficiently interested in reading the actual data available on the subject[4]. Instead politicians, other government officials and authorities, advocacy groups and a vocal but aggressive social media cliquey minority, somehow manage to create a 'post-fact', 'post-truth' interpretation that's not quite an outright (big) lie, but not entirely objectively truthful either, a (mis)representation recycled to justify denying, ignoring, hand-waving, excusing or refusing to acknowledge the bare-faced facts, to the point of mendacious obfuscation or being outright obstructionist[5].

And all largely, it seems, because men (and boys) being the butt of everyone's animosity is just the natural consequence of their "privileged" position in society, their "unearned" roles within a system alleged to be made by them for them, entirely for their benefit. In this context men and boys simply have it coming, they are fair-game, their admonishment and shaming wholly justified. To speak up or speak out is apologism, (not even tacit) approval, being pro injustice.

This predicament does not make the News either, at least not unless it can be 'weaponised'[6] or 'commoditised'[7] in some way, used as a means to advocate specifically for an end to the harassment of [group] (usually women or minorities) rather than against the harassment of everyone generally. In such an environment, anti-male sentiment is emboldened and propagates, rationalised as pay-back for "male privilege". How then can the problem of online harassment as a thing that can happen to anyone be truly solved when only one side of the story is told or cared to be heard.

[4] Historical data tracking Internet use does exist i.e., who's using the Internet and for what, but not specifically for "online harassment" and "cyber-bullying", both of which appear to be relatively new issues, or more correctly, are modern (re)categorisations of 'online safety and security' concerns as relates to making sure banks, shopping, identity information and usage is 'secure' and 'safe' (e.g. from 2005, 2000). Where data and information does exist however, its typically highly (intentionally) skewed in favour of biased advocacy.

[5] Typically, and perhaps predictably, the response to that fact that men and boys tends to be harassed more is similar to "men may be harassed more but they don't get sexually harassed as much". Whilst this is true specifically with regards to types of harassment, focusing entirely on this sub-aspect of harassment more broadly, and perhaps ironically, marginalises and diminishes the abuse men and boy face online, creating a wholly misleading picture of harassment and abuse on the Internet; EVERYONE is potentially subject to it.

[6] The 'weaponisation' of harassment means its used as a tool of aggressive persuasion by gender advocates, politicians and authorities alike, because they all gain something from its wielding, perhaps authority (hard to establish), likely publicity (easy to establish), but more often money (incredibly lucrative) - public grants, private donations and other forms of remuneration (property, material, physical goods and services). Its also used by academia to establish what can only be described as a non-falsifiable, self-justifying narrative, e.g., for Jan-July 2017 (the time of writing) Google Scholar returns 10,700 results for papers and articles on "online harassment", 7,370 for "online harassment women" and 6,560 for "online harassment men". This last figure is wholly misleading however, an inconvenient truth, as the results of "online harassment men" isn't about 'the online harassment OF men', their being harassed (victims), but of 'online harassment BY men', their being harassers (perpetrators), a narrative so strong it completely overwhelms the research data and creates an overarching frame of reference in the broader discussion that its not really about harassment per se, but harassment BY men, that harassment is an expression or byproduct of maleness and masculinity.

[7] A number of online sources suggest that "women rights" advocacy, the broader category of advocacy under which online harassment falls (harassment is an infringement various 'freedoms' if not specifically 'right's), is considered to be underfunded compared to other initiatives. Figures vary from $100 million globally to tens of millions for individual charitable causes (e.g. link). On one hand then, dealing with online harassment would seem to be, comparatively, a poorly funded and understood avenue of advocacy, but on the other quite the opposite in the broader context of advocating for the rights of children (UK, Int'l), of global (women's) health initiatives (family planning et al), sanitation, food, the advancement of education, all of which typically centre around the matriarchal (female) aspect of the family (e.g. link). In other words whilst 'women's rights' might be argued separately to be underfunded by self-interested advocates, it falls within the much larger remit afforded of a multi-billion dollar 'industry', most of which is (allegedly) spent not where its truly needed, but instead in Westernised Nations largely as a reflection of the fact that a majority of charity work and advocacy is carried out in Western Countries, the UK, USA, Europe, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and so on, and by Western International Organisation and NGO's (e.g. World Bank, UN etc.).