The Life Of Tiziana Cantone Sadly Shows How Misogyny Is Deadly — Even On The Internet
Tiziana Cantone, a woman from Naples, Italy, went viral on the Internet in 2015. An explicit video she had sent to an ex-boyfriend was uploaded to the Internet, prompting significant online abuse. The video, in which Cantone performed a sexual act on another man, quickly turned into an online joke and a meme for peoples' entertainment. After experiencing online abuse over the video, she took her own life on Sept. 13, 2016, and Cantone's suicide exemplifies how deadly misogyny can be.
The 31-year-old had allegedly sent the video to various people whom she trusted but the clips were almost immediately circulating across social media platforms and porn sites, according to the Independent. BuzzFeed reports that after the video was uploaded to the Internet, Cantone became a meme, and a quote from her video, "Mi stai facendo il video? Bravo," which translates to "You’re making the video? Good," became a joke that both average social media users circulated, as did even Italian companies.
Cantone recently won a legal battle that would force Facebook to remove the abusive posts, the Independent notes. Her mother, Maria Teresa, told La Repubblica, "She suffered from everything she saw and heard, and in particular from the lawsuit, because she believed justice had not been done." Cantone's story is an important example of Internet misogyny and the gender-based violence that women face online. It's also a case that specifically challenges the sexual objectification and violence against women that is prevalent with "revenge porn," the act of sharing explicit or intimate images or videos of an individual online without their consent. Most often, victims of revenge porn are women.
The Internet has become an increasingly privatized space — one that mimics the non-digital world's misogynistic and patriarchal structures. A seemingly public space becomes one that is no longer accessible to women due to the serious level of harassment women face online. According to a recent Australian study, online harassment of women is becoming a normalized experience. Harassment might vary from trolling and cyberbullying, to death and rape threats, and "sextortion," according to the Guardian. In fact, nearly one in 10 women under age 30 has experienced revenge porn, the study found. This is a serious problem facing women, because not only does it make certain facets of the world inaccessible to us for safety reasons, it is also a manifestation of misogynistic violence through different platforms.
"It's not okay to just say, 'Switch off,'" Tara Moss, a women's rights advocate and UNICEF ambassador told CNET. She added, "It's also not okay to say, 'It's just online, it doesn't count.' It does count, and it's having a real impact on women's lives." Cantone was driven to take her own life after experiencing online violence from friends, strangers, corporate entities, and sports players. Misogyny can be deadly. It's what drives domestic and physical violence against women. It's also to blame for sexual violence against women, whether it's physical assault or via the Internet. The same culture that drives the prevalence of high sexual assault rates is to blame for the anti-women rhetoric and violence circulating the Internet.
It is not enough to say we should just disconnect from social media, or that our Internet experiences exist outside of the "real world," away from the misogynistic structures that are normalized within our society. We literally cannot escape the prominent sexually violent culture that we have to navigate because of the particular bodies we inhabit. Women should not be blamed for the harassment we experience ever — whether it's in the street, at work, or on the Internet, and we should not be the ones having to remove ourselves from different settings to keep ourselves alive.