At times the attacks are deeply personal, in terms of criticising a feminist’s appearance or lack of femininity, a strategy that has been practised in print since the targetting of the suffragettes.
The possibilities for harassment enabled by social media can now support some particularly cruel punishments.
Of the 10 most abused writers, 8 were women and 2 were black men.
Penny observes that “how much anger you get to express without the threat of expulsion, arrest, or social exclusion” is “a sure test of social privilege”.
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In the past several years, her columns for Fairfax have attracted a huge social media following and prompted innumerable hateful comments and rape threats.
Ford has bravely confronted her attackers publicly, including a man who was fired from his job for calling her a “slut” and three Adelaide schoolboys who sent her offensive comments.In the past decade, the internet has buoyed the visibility of feminist debate in the popular media.Feminist writers including Clementine Ford, Laurie Penny, Lindy West and Jessica Valenti, are well known for their contributions to major newspapers, dedicated women’s sites such as Daily Life, Jezebel and Feministing, and radio and television interviews.Most of all, they express the challenges of being a woman in a world where it only takes a mere scratch of the surface to reveal hostility and deep discomfort about women’s ever-strengthening public voice.A consistent theme across feminist memoirs is the need to focus on the act of speaking up and overcoming the cultural forces that silence women.The renewed visibility of feminists in the popular media has supported a recent wave of memoirs.