According to a recent Pew Study, 1 in 4 women have experienced online stalking or sexual harassment. Labeled as “social justice warriors,” prominent journalists, media makers, and bloggers have been harassed and threatened for writing about economic inequality, education, and racism in popular culture. The culture of fear that is being created impacts not just professionals, but more perniciously, young women and men who are developing their habits and protocols for online life. From advanced professionals to adolescents, feminists and women are at risk.
Much of this violence has been perpetrated online, but threats like these can move into offline, “real” life. Many people, including women of color and trans people, have experienced threats, harassment, and the distribution of their location and contact information by people hoping to silence their voices. These violations of privacy and personal safety can morph into physical violence. Equally damaging but less visible are the many ways that violence is perpetrated against women of color in particular through media appropriations and theft of their intellectual and material labor.
To address these issues a team came together in 2015 (with support from a Digital Media and Learning grant) and has since launched the Center for Solutions to Online Violence. On our website you’ll find Mikki Kendall’s graphic story, Pathways, designed for youth education about online harassment. You’ll also find the Digital Alchemists’ Power and Control Wheels, which have been redesigned from their original usage to address the unique power dynamics at work in American online culture. Several resources are available for those experiencing online harassment, educators, and people who are self-educating about the harms of appropriation and harassment. Finally, a speaker’s bureau lists the expertise and contact information for our team.