All the things that made the Internet a perfect forum for female blogger voices to flourish, also provided the same opportunities for a backlash of nasty, hateful, sexist commentary. This week, New York's Emily Nussbaum details all the ways the World Wide Web created a feminist conversation that just wasn't happening before. "Lacking editors (whose intolerance for insanity tends to sand off pointy edges), lacking balance (as any self-publishing platform tends to), laced with humor and fury (emotions intensified by the web’s spontaneity)," writes Nussbaum. "The blogosphere has transformed feminist conversation," she continues. But all this talk from uppity women brought the haters out, who conveniently had that same open Internet forum to air their sexist grievances.
In the same week as Nussbaum applauded how much the Web has done for feminism, The New Statesman brings us the ugly truth with 10 stories of lady bloggers who have experienced sexual harassment and abuse as a result of writing online. "The sheer volume of sexist abuse thrown at female bloggers is the internet's festering sore: if you talk to any woman who writes online, the chances are she will instantly be able to reel off a Greatest Hits of insults," writes The New Statesman's Helen Lewis Hasteley. To give you an idea of the kind of stuff we're talking about, Kate Smurthwaite who writes for Cruellablog pulls an example from just this week. "IF THIS TRASH TALKING K*NT HAD HER F*CKNG, TONGUE RIPPED OUT OF HER SUCK-HOLE...," a commenter wrote. And sometimes things get more personal. A commenter once told Caroline Farrow, who blogs on her personal site about Catholic things, that she "deserve to die at the rusty scissors of a backstreet abortionist" while she was pregnant.