Being a Woman, Online

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Amanda Hessfreelance writer and contributor to Slate was on vacation when she found out about a Twitter account created for the sole purpose of sending her threatening messages.

They were bad enough that she was compelled to call the police. The officer who came to her door looked her in the eye and said, “What is Twitter?”

As a writer who covers issues of sex and feminism, this is just one of many instances where Hess has received online rape and murder threats. But she says about this type of unwanted attention: “None of this makes me exceptional, it just makes me a woman with an Internet connection”

As we learned from our listeners who called in to the show, you don’t have to be a professional writer to be harassed online. The problem is what to do about it once it happens.

“Harrassers and people who threaten women," she says, "will try to harass women in a way they think they can get away with by either making their profile anonymous or by talking around the letter of the law to manage to harass someone without making it a criminal threat. And I think the cumulative effect of harassment like that is very real. Women have to deal with a bunch of vile material just in the course of doing their jobs, and there’s not a lot of legal frameworks to remedy that or to discourage it among anonymous trolls.”

She also blames the lack of females working in the tech world for a lack of understanding on the issue. When asked what it would change if there were more women in the field, Hess responded: “I think it would change the world.” Read her piece in the Pacific Standard"Why Women Aren't Welcome on the Internet."