Normally bloggers love getting comments on their pieces, it shows people are engaged with what you are posting. However, sometimes debate or disagreement can turn into downright nastiness, and it is frequently female bloggers who face the worse of the abuse.
People disagree with male bloggers all the time, but it always seems to be done in a less personal, and less aggressive manner. Comments on female bloggers’ posts inevitably go straight for the jugular. There is an assumption that a woman who deigns to put a view out forcefully is ‘screechy,’ and worthy of derision, and that putting your head above the parapet means you ‘deserve it’.
The other day I published a post on how the recent foreign crises had highlighted Ed Miliband’s lack of Prime Ministerial quality. Classic political fodder you might think? Not according to one commenter, who decided this was proof I needed to receive mental healthcare. They were even kind enough to leave the number for the charity Mind! This is not the first time either. Others have received much worse though. For example, The New Statesman’s Laurie Penny has received comments calling for her to be raped and killed.
By extension, would Ellie Gellard’s presence in the General Election campaign backing Brown after criticising him on her blog have been so newsworthy had she not had the glamorous, feminine image of the ‘Stilettoed Socialist’? I can’t help but think that a male blogger would not have made for such a strong front page.
Why is this the case though? Is it because men, and it is normally male commenters who cause this problem, don’t like women publicly expressing their opinions? I do think that often men find eloquent, passionate women intimidating. However, I also think that a lot of it is to do with the cover of anonymity that the internet can provide, as most people wouldn’t ever say to someone’s face what they put in a comment box.
For an egalitarian platform, blogging and the internet still gives women a tougher time.