Sometimes when I post links, they’re simply interesting things I’ve run across. These, though, are essential reads:
Why the Trolls Will Always Win, by Kathy Sierra, Wired
A detailed post by Java expert and game developer Sierra describing the harassment and vilification she’s faced for the crime of, well, basically for being a woman in the tech world. While long and a bit rambling in spots, this is an important piece that, among other things, describes how harassers can sometimes transform slanderous assertions about their targets into “conventional wisdom,” details the damage that “trolls” can have on a person’s reputation (and their life generally), and offers some sobering reflections on the culture of harassment and how difficult it can be to fight.
She offers these thoughts on the ways in which Twitter can serve as an enabler of this kind of harassment:
Twitter, for all its good, is a hate amplifier. Twitter boosts signal power with head-snapping speed and strength. Today, Twitter (and this isn’t a complaint about Twitter, it’s about what Twitter enables) is the troll’s best weapon for attacking you. …
It begins with simple threats. You know, rape, dismemberment, the usual. It’s a good place to start, those threats, because you might simply vanish once those threats include your family. Mission accomplished. But today, many women online — you women who are far braver than I am — you stick around. And now, since you stuck around through the first wave of threats, you are now a much BIGGER problem.
And she takes on the “troll logic” of those who insist that unless there’s legal action no “real” harassment has happened:
You’re probably more likely to win the lottery than to get any law enforcement agency in the United States to take action when you are harassed online, no matter how viciously and explicitly. Local agencies lack the resources, federal agencies won’t bother. (Unless you’re a huge important celebrity. But the rules are always different for them. But trolls are quite happy to attack people who lack the resources to do anything about it. Troll code totally supports punching DOWN.)
There IS no “the authorities” that will help us.
We are on our own.
And if we don’t take care of one another, nobody else will.
We are all we’ve got.
Much of Sierra’s piece focuses on one of her biggest enemy in all of this, “hacktivist” Andrew Auernheimer, better known as weev. He’s posted a response to Sierra’s piece. It’s pretty appalling; weev is a hateful misogynist and white supremacist. Here’s a sampling:
Kathy Sierra is the epitome of what is wrong with my community. She had something coming to her and by the standards set by her own peers in the social justice community, there was nothing wrong with what she got.
I do not hate women. My colleagues include quite a few (cis and trans) women. I support women making tech. However, it is high time for the “women in tech” to get the fuck out.
The other essential bit of reading?
Telling My Story, by Adria Richards, Storify.
Developer and tech evangelist Richards, you may recall, ignited the fury of the Great Internet Lady Harassment Machine by tweeting about sexist jokes she overheard at a tech conference. At the time, she largely kept silent about the harassment she was getting. But now she’s speaking up and sharing the details.
In a series of Tweets yesterday, Richards posted screenshots documenting some of the worst harassment she’s gotten; this Storify collection pulls these together in one place.
Make the effort to enlarge and read the screenshots; they’re horrifying. And Richards promises to post more.
If there is one thing I have learned in the last year when being harassed online it is: DON'T BE QUIET ABOUT IT!
— Adria Richards (@adriarichards) October 9, 2014
While I’m posting links, here’s one that’s hardly essential but that’s pretty funny:
Local Chicago Man Would Like Women to Smile, Accept His Advances, by Kara Brown.
No, this last one isn’t from The Onion. It’s REALLLL.