Journalist Couple Speaks Out Against The Way Professional Women Are Harassed Online

"The women of this world are constantly fighting against a hatred that men do not see."

Recently, a Washington Post reporter shed valuable insight into how the harassment that women, particularly journalists, face on the Internet compares to that of their male counterparts. Chris Richards, who covers pop culture at the Post, tweeted about his experience versus his wife's, who is a features writer also at the Post

Both had stories on the same page that day, his on Beyoncé and Adele, hers on a young girl in Syria. Both received emails from readers chock-full of racist comments.

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But there was a stark difference between criticism of the two. His wife, Caitlin Gibson, was frequently called vulgar names, he tweeted. And he couldn't recall a single instance of a reader calling him a name. 

It's well established that women are more often targets of gendered online harassment, and more viciously so. The online abuse directed at women has been heavily researched and discussed, in spite of the dissenting cries from some people, mostly men. Opponents argue that men get just as much abuse as women do on the Internet, if not more. While a Pew study from 2014 backs up the claim that men are more frequently harassed online, the abuse that women face is often more gender-based. Simply put, women are attacked more simply because they are women — for men, not so much. (Young women ages 18-24 experience disproportionately high levels of internet abuse, particularly being stalked and sexually harassed.)

For journalists, that difference is all the more blatant. Recently, The Guardian parsed through some 70 million comments on its articles since 2006 and discovered that eight of its 10 most abused writers were women. The 10 writers who got the least abuse were men. 

Gibson praised her husband for calling out misogyny, but she also said she wished people paid more attention when it women do the same.

But Richards is right in saying that women are "constantly fighting against a hatred that men do not see." Just because one half of the population doesn't experience it doesn't mean it's not there. 

Cover image via Shutterstock.com

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