Countering Hatred on the Internet

Let’s face it: hatred on the internet is big. Hatred of all varieties including sexism, racism and homophobia (etc.) are found everywhere online, and some sites in particular are known as a breeding ground for offensive and insulting users (yes YouTube, I’m looking at you… )

Recently I was fortunate enough to stumble upon the Feminist Frequency YouTube channel. For those of you who aren’t familiar it, Feminist Frequency is a YouTube-based video series run by Anita Sarkeesian, who creates intelligent, thought-provoking videos on the rampant sexism in the pop culture of contemporary society. I very much enjoy watching all of Anita’s great videos, and was happy to find that on each there was an intellectual exchange of ideas, praise, and even debating – that’s reasonable debating- going on in the comments section. It was great to feel involved in a feminist-friendly community, but I couldn’t help but wonder how Anita achieved this. After some research, I found out that she moderates her video comments, and has to read a ton of sexist comments each time she does so. In an interview she stated that she “gets a lot of harassment…you might be surprised at the amount of times that I get comments that say ‘get back in the kitchen’ or ‘go make me a sandwich’. It’s nearly on a daily basis.”

As I began to research more feminist-related videos and vloggers on YouTube, the sheer amount of users who post sexist, stereotypical comments astounded me; there are the faceless commenters who cower behind their computer screen and type slurs of abuse because they can, (and I understand it is cowardice that drives them to do this), but more importantly, I saw a lot of videos, some even by women, who claim that feminism is unnecessary, man-hating and even literally evil. Seeing women who have become so misled and misinformed about what feminism is to the extent that they are actively talking trash about a movement which aims to give them rights and equality was seriously upsetting for me. Personally, after seeing the anti-feminist videos and comments myself, I felt as though I should just avoid searching for feminist vloggers at all. But after further reflection, I feel it’s best if we all adopt a similar technique in dealing with hateful/sexist users on YouTube. Here I present my guidelines on how to deal with internet haters:

1) YouTube nowadays is synonymous with hate. It goes without saying that if people can find a way to talk down to people/celebrities and their fans/subcultures/races/LGBT community/etc. without direct consequences, then they will. Be warned ye who enter here! 2) Ignorance can be bliss. Sometimes. Try not to click on videos that you know are going to upset you. We’re all guilty of it, but if you can tell it’s a ticket to haterville, the best thing to do is avoid it. You probably won’t win a war against an anti-feminist vlogger and their YouTube subscribers. No matter how intelligent your argument, they always have ‘get back in the kitchen’ to counter comment you, attempting to dismiss your relevant points. Generally, such ignorance/stupidity is not worth a counter comment. 3) Learn to distinguish the internet from reality. No really, don’t roll your eyes! It’s not likely that these people would act so obnoxiously sexist in real life- they’re hiding behind the internet. Many users who post stupid slurs such as ‘make me a sandwich’ are anonymous lurkers, who on closer inspection have a blank profile with no personal information. In remaining anonymous, these individuals intend to spout whatever rubbish they so desire. There’s little ammunition for a counter-comment as no one knows who they are. Some call these people trolls, but coward, lowlife, scum, parasite…they’re all good. 4) Surround yourself with likeminded individuals! Using feminist-friendly sites and participating in discussions with fellow feminists is a great way to ensure you feel part of a community who hold similar beliefs and values as you do yourself. Not only is this a way to meet new people, it’s reassuring to use these sites. Also, chatting with friends whenever internet hate has got you losing faith in the human race is always helpful.

I hope these tips help all who wish to connect with other feminists and think internet hate is a burden. I also hope in the future we begin to see a rise in the number of wonderful YouTubers such as Anita, who work to create a hate-free space that’s comfortable for feminists to use without the risk of pointless haters looking for trouble.

More articles in WMC FBomb by Category: Feminism, Media, Misogyny, Online harassment, Science and tech
More articles in WMC FBomb by Tag: Activism and advocacy, Sexism, Discrimination, Social media, News



Gina S
Sign up for our Newsletter

Learn more about topics like these by signing up for Women’s Media Center’s newsletter.