Women constitute a minority in the community of the World Wide Web and although human equality has been a major issue throughout history, women are still subject to discrimination and misogyny online. The introduction of the Internet has heavily impacted the standing of women in society by creating and increasing communication, community, cooperation, and relationships as well as opportunities. The progression of women online (according to Dale Spender) from 1997 to 2012 has been profound however limitations still exist. Lack of representation, harassment, and risk assessment were the primary restrictions facing women in 1997, and even though online media including blogs, twitter, publishing, and active participation online has eliminated some obstructions, the substantial gender gap (only one in ten people online are women) along with ‘brogrammer’ ideas have promoted misogyny online.
This is not to say that both men and women alike are not fighting back, but due to the disproportionate influence of the genders online it becomes a much harder job to get the issue noticed. Some attempts to highlight abuse and threats received by women online are blogs (Shakesville), the ABC website, and the trending topic #mencallmethings which encompass bloggers, columnists, journalists, and other well known figures reposting the sexual and violence threats they have received in a ‘name and shame campaign.’
Although this issue did not begin and is not restricted to online media the effect of anonymous misogyny means that it is difficult if not impossible to monitor and prevent such forms of abuse. Trolling has also greatly impacted the way people (especially minorities) interact online. The ‘chilling effect’, generated by the intentional provoking of an intense reaction, has polarized prolific debates and caused users to less inclined to participate creating anonymity in the online community.