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Saturday, September 12, 2009

These attacks were hardly taking place in a vacuum. They came only months after violent, gendered threats on technology writer Kathy Sierra made international headlines when they blossomed unchecked on popular and respected tech blogs, even going so far as to include her personal address and phone number, and ultimately causing her to withdraw from public speaking and shut down her blog. They came less than a year after the law-school website AutoAdmit was sued for supporting a culture in which female law students were systematically harassed and threatened in discussion threads that invited commenters to vote on the relative hotness of nonconsenting women, discussed some women’s daily routines in terrifying detail, and threatened to “hatefuck” them when the women dared to object.

Female bloggers writing on not-explicitly-feminist sites, even progressive ones, knew that no matter what topic they were addressing, comments would inevitably devolve either into discussions of their fuckability, or of their extreme status as “feminazis.” And, according to a 2006 University of Maryland School of Engineering study, female-named chat-room users got more threatening and/or sexually explicit messages than male-named users—25 times more, in fact. The phrase “blogging while female” had already entered the cultural lexicon, and every feminist blogger knew it.
When Trolls Attack, in Bitch Magazine.