'So You've Been Publicly Shamed' by Jon Ronson Delves Into "Internet Shaming," But Here Are 6 Women Who Would Write Smart Books About Online Hate
There's a new book making waves this week: Jon Ronson's So You've Been Publicly Shamed , a nonfiction title about people who have been on the receiving end of the Internet's ire and about the phenomenon of "Internet shaming" itself. The book examines cases such as Justine Sacco, Jonah Lehrer, and Lindsey Stone, all of whom lost jobs amid Internet furor over their misdeeds. But while it's certainly interesting to see a book written about an Internet phenomenon, especially one as potent and relatively recent as "Internet shaming," that isn't the only — or arguably even the most pressing — issue to delve into when it comes to the vitriol that regularly gets thrown around online.
While ordinary people being called out by the hundreds of thousands for something they posted online is a strange and fairly concerning phenomenon, the vast majority of negative online feedback takes a very different form: the harassment, trolling, doxing, death and rape threats, and physical stalking which are disproportionately leveled against women as well as LGBT people and people of color, prompted by nothing at all. If we're going to write books about online shaming, then it's important to also cover the experiences of the much more sizable population of Internet users who receive mountains of daily abuse for doing nothing but use social media.
Here are five feminists that would doubtlessly do a great job of rounding up the stories of that rampant harassment and writing such a book.
Media Critic and founder of Feminist Frequency, Anita Sarkeesian has personal experience with online harassment having been the victim of an Internet hate campaign. After she launched her project to provide feminist analysis of video games, and especially after she defended Zoe Quinn, the game developer targeted by #GamerGate. Over the years, she's dealt with everything from death threats to an online "game" that allows players to repeated punch an image of Sarkeesian while bruises appear on her face. As someone with personal experience on the subject and who's shown herself to be an articulate and hard-hitting feminist critic, Sarkeesian couldn't be more qualified to write a book about online harassment, and it would be awesome.
As much as I would love for Roxane Gay to devote herself solely to providing the world with more of her awesome fiction, I also would definitely not mind if she wanted her next book to be about online harassment. As someone who has been active (and delightful) on social media for a long time, Gay would doubtless have a book's worth of insight into online harassment and plenty of personal experience to share. And after her essay collection Bad Feminist , I think we all know we'd love to read it.
The very fact that online harassment of women is part of the national conversation at this point is thanks in part to an article by Amanda Hess about the abuse women face online. Published by Pacific Standard last year, the piece went viral, and for good reason. So imagine how great it would be if Hess had an entire book's worth of space to highlight women's stories and analyze the phenomenon that is online harassment.
Online harassment is a serious topic, obviously, but it might not be the worst thing in the world if a book about it was as funny as it was sharp and incisive. And when it comes to funny feminist analysis, Caitlin Moran is your woman. Though rape threats are clearly not the stuff of stand-up routines, Moran has shown herself masterful at using humor to highlight the injustice and absurdity of much of what women are subjected to in everyday life. If How to Be a Woman was any indication, her takedown of online shaming culture would be epic.
Franchesca Ramsey's blog posts and YouTube videos are always on point, and she's spoken out in the past about online harassment, including at a recent SXSW panel. And as a female YouTube star, she also undoubtedly has a different perspective than women who primarily use other platforms such as Twitter — there are relatively few women YouTubers, and the ones there are face a lot of harassment. So getting a take from one of the more popular women on the platform would be pretty cool.
Lindy West is a long-time feminist writer who's also active on social media and has written and spoken about her own experiences with online hate in the past. In fact, in a segment for This American Life, she interviewed one of her nastiest trolls, a man who created a fake Twitter profile for her recently deceased father in order to send her hate tweets. If she decided to apply that same kind of creative, insightful approach to a book about online harassment, I for one think it would be awesome.
These are just a few of the many, many women who would qualified to write a book looking into online harassment and the ways in which it functions, and many, many have already talked about it on blogs, in personal essays, in media outlets, and via their social media profiles. Really if any of them decided they wanted to write a book examining the phenomenon, it would be pretty awesome, and an important part of the cultural conversation.