How women are systematically attacked on the internet.

A study by the BAG “Hate Online” analyzes misogynistic (anti-women) ideologies and practices, with a focus on Germany and insights from other European countries.

In the introduction of the study, it is stated, ‘When women participate in online discourse, they must expect harassment, which is why many avoid expressing themselves publicly.’ This results in the voices of women not being heard and the virtual space being left to those who employ misogynistic rhetoric. This development must be understood against the backdrop of a general anti-feminist movement in Western societies. Ultimately, online violence can also lead to physical violence, including murder.

The central findings of the study are summarized as follows:

  • Misogyny is widespread on the internet. With derogatory, uninhibited language and aggressive sexist expressions, women are objectified and specifically threatened.

  • Misogynistic communication has become more visible in recent years, also due to the large reach of misogynistic influencers like Andrew Tate and through coaching formats for young men.

  • Misogynistic online subcultures are gaining momentum. Their messages seep into the political mainstream through social media.

  • Language analyses reveal a significant portion of violent fantasies within the incel community through uninhibited language.

  • The peaks of misogynistic communication in social media develop similarly across language borders.

  • In the German-speaking region, the level of misogyny is similarly high as in other languages, although violent statements in the digital mainstream are less frequent.

What needs to be done?

A selection of recommendations in the study – the following is necessary:

  • Continuous monitoring of new developments in online misogyny and the establishment of corresponding analyses in research to be able to implement targeted interventions.

  • Expansion of international cooperation and intensified exchange at the level of research and justice.

  • Promotion of interdisciplinary collaboration: Insights from linguistics, social psychology, law, and political science are important for the analysis to adequately address the complexity of the issue.

  • Organizing effective knowledge transfer: Conveying knowledge about codes and jargon of online misogyny through training for educators and security personnel; educational and awareness-raising efforts for young people.

  • Effective protection for those affected through counseling and support. And finally, platforms must also be held more accountable to protect users from misogyny.

herVIEW - Natascha Hoffner

Posted by Natascha Hoffner, Founder & CEO of herCAREER, WiWo columnist, LinkedIn TOP Voice 2020, W&V 2019 – 100 Köpfe
published on LinkedIn on 01.05.2024