Censored on Jezebel: The Vicious Harassment of Women Online

On the weekend of May 10th, 2014, I posted an article to Jezebel's Powder Room interviewing a Russian woman who was the victim of sexual violence while traveling through Iran and Pakistan. It was immediately attacked by a widespread hate campaign that spread across Kinja and Twitter, and included a petition boasted by a sensational article composed by Kinja user Intheweeds. As a result of this brigade, the article "Steel Balls" (as it will be hereby referred to) was removed from the website and I was banned from authorship to Jezebel's Powder Room. Before it was removed, "Steel Balls" had been picked up and shared by four human rights websites for appreciation of the message it carried.

Typically I try to ignore the nay-sayers, because I believe everyone is entitled to their own voice. It is up to the readers to evaluate all of the information and form their own opinions on the topic at hand. That is, when the readers are actually reading. This time the situation got way out of hand, and has caused serious harm to my career and reputation. Realistically, I believe the incident was a symptom of a much greater threat posed to the entire online community.

Censored on Jezebel: The Vicious Harassment of Women Online

The first comment I ever received as a blogger was an anonymous threat to have me raped and beheaded. Now that my following has increased and I've been published on Jezebel, I've become the target of vicious online harassment. Death threats, rape threats, accusations of racism & homophobia, even threats for money both in public and in private. I did research in an attempt to decipher the source of so much negative attention, only to discover that I'm not alone. Amanda Hess of the Pacific Standard, an online magazine that studies the science of society, writes:

None of this makes me exceptional. It just makes me a woman with an Internet connection. Here's just a sampling of the noxious online commentary directed at other women in recent years. To Alyssa Royse, a sex and relationships blogger..."you are clearly retarded, I hope someone shoots then rapes you." To Kathy Sierra, a technology writer..."I hope someone slits your throat and cums down your gob." To Lindy West, a writer at the women's website Jezebel..."I just want to rape her with a traffic cone." To Rebecca Watson...for blogging about sexism in the skeptic community: "If I lived in Boston I'd put a bullet in your brain." To Catherine Mayer, a journalist at Time magazine..."A BOMB HAS BEEN PLACED OUTSIDE YOUR HOME. IT WILL GO OFF AT EXACTLY 10:47 PM ON A TIMER AND TRIGGER DESTROYING EVERYTHING"...Just appearing as a woman online, it seems, can be enough to inspire abuse (Hess: 2014).

According to Laura Hudson of Wired Magazine, "harassment on the Internet is ubiquitous, particularly for women" (Hudson: 2014). Perhaps the most famous example of online abuse directed towards women was the case of Anita Sarkeesian. This woman was bombarded by threats and harassment following the launch of her Kickstarter campaign to raise money for a documentary about female tropes in video games. Helen Lewis of the New Statesman writes:

A big swath of the internet wasn't prepared to live and let live in Sarkeesian's case, and began spamming her YouTube video comments with a pot-pourri of misogynist, racist and generally vile abuse. Each one individually was grim; together they constituted harassment (Lewis: 2012).

In my case, I found a hate article composed by Kinja user Intheweeds that was highly disturbing. In the title, the Russian woman and I are branded for "white supremacy". The article goes on to use sensationalism to twist my words out of context, claiming that because I call one victim of sexual assault brave, it automatically means I'm calling other ones cowards. Furthermore, it portrays the article as an attack on women and people of color; however, if you actually bother to read the article, you will realize there is absolutely no such material. The claims are false and in direct conflict with the evidence as seen in the article itself.

Censored on Jezebel: The Vicious Harassment of Women Online

Intheweed's post infers that NomadiKat ignores homophobia, which is untrue and as evident in my post about LGBT rights. This begs the question, how does Intheweeds know that I'm not a part of the LGBT community myself? Intheweeds and other cyber bullies labeled me with painful accusations of homophobia, sexism, and racism. I've also been called a "whore", and told to stop writing and cover my "tits".

Some of the criticisms made to "Steel Balls" were absolutely valid, and I made appropriate edits as seen in the current version on Wordpress. This version is as it was when the article was removed from Jezebel's Powder Room Saturday afternoon. Yet, I get the sense that a vast majority of users who hopped on the bandwagon hadn't actually taken the time to read the article. They simply played in on the sensationalism and rage.

Censored on Jezebel: The Vicious Harassment of Women Online

The majority of comments that were made were NOT constructive criticism, nor did they even discuss the material contained within "Steel Balls". They were blatant attacks calling the Russian woman and I "white", "white supremacist", "colonialist", "racist", and other hateful remarks that featured no sources, no citations, no value whatsoever. Brittany Spornhaur of The Signal writes,

Reverse racism can be defined as a term that describes the outcome of a group of people that try to protect a minority group so aggressively that it actually leads to hypocrisy (Spornhauer: 2011).

Censored on Jezebel: The Vicious Harassment of Women Online

There were quotes going around supposedly written by me that I never wrote. Members of this angry mob did not bother to check the validity of their information. False quotations can impose misrepresentation. In response to this fallacy, one Facebook user commented, "the comment sections are where logic and understanding go to die."

Also, I was accused within the "Steel Balls" comment section (which were removed with the article) of creating burner accounts in order to give myself praise. The accusation of creating multiple online identities in order to skew an audience's opinion hints at the accuser's own psychological projection. I believe everyone is entitled to a voice – one voice – and the practice of creating multiple accounts for the purpose of flaming others is definitely a practice that should be taken into consideration. Hess refers to these individuals who do this as "silent 'hunters' who lurk behind the tweeting 'hollerers'" (Hess: 2014). In her article, "Why Women Aren't Welcome on the Internet", she goes on to explain the impact this behavior has on the women who are targeted.

Women who are harassed online are expected to either get over ourselves or feel flattered in response to the threats made against us. We have the choice to keep quiet or respond "gleefully." But no matter how hard we attempt to ignore it, this type of gendered harassment—and the sheer volume of it—has severe implications for women's status on the Internet. Threats of rape, death, and stalking can overpower our emotional bandwidth, take up our time, and cost us money through legal fees, online protection services, and missed wages...As the Internet becomes increasingly central to the human experience, the ability of women to live and work freely online will be shaped, and too often limited, by the technology companies that host these threats...and the popular commentators who dismiss them (Hess:2014).

According to other community monitors who have reviewed my case, the sheer volume of negative comments appearing at such a rapid rate should have served as a red flag that something was unbalanced. This cyber bullying scenario resembled what many moderators refer to as a "brigade", and I wonder what kind of moderation would allow this kind of abusive online behavior to escalate. In an article entitled "Cyber-Harassment: What the Internet Community can do to Stop the Trolls", Jade Walker of The Huffington Post proclaims:

Internet providers and Website administrators must be more proactive against threatening and defamatory speech...Hiring moderators, banning users who abuse others, blocking anonymous users (Walker: 2013).

Censored on Jezebel: The Vicious Harassment of Women Online

There is a word for written slander and defamation, and that word is libel. This term is defined by the dictionary as "a published false statement that is damaging to a person's reputation; a written defamation". Libel, by law, is entirely illegal. Walker of The Huffington Post advises:

Freedom of speech has its limits, and people need to learn what they are. You can't yell "fire" in a crowded theatre. You can't threaten violence with the intent of putting someone at risk for bodily harm or death. You do not have a constitutional right to tell lies that damage or defame the reputation of a person or organization (Walker: 2013).

What I did was present a story, and I'll be the first to admit my stories are often controversial. However, what I did was not illegal. What Intheweeds and other Kinja users did was criminal behavior. Why should "Steel Balls" be removed on account of the criminal behavior of others? Just how many signatures do I need on my petition to have the "White Supremacy" post removed and Intheweed's authorship banned? Hadley Freeman of The Guardian writes:

It doesn't matter if you think you are fighting the feminist cause by railing at newspaper columnists who you believe are insufficiently feminist, covertly racist, blatantly transphobic or anything else. Abusing people is not a good way to get anyone to consider your complaints seriously. As Helen Lewis wrote in the New Statesman, "Being a dick to people on Twitter is not activism" (Walker: 2013).

***IF ATTEMPTING TO SKIP TO THE BOTTOM OF THIS POST, PLEASE TAKE THE TIME TO READ THE FOLLOWING PARAGRAPH***

Before "Steel Balls" was removed by Jezebel's Powder Room, it was picked up and shared by a major human rights website, a blog raising money for relief in Pakistan, a website promoting feminism in Russia, and another blog for victims of domestic abuse. How is it that human rights professionals could find this material of value, while a horde of angry anonymous internet users could have the power to shut it down?

Who are they to say what the public should and shouldn't read? Furthermore, while my previous article on child abuse in India was criticized by these same anonymous internet users for being insensitive to Indians, it was picked up and shared by an Indian cultural website on Sikhism to a positive reception. This proves the value of my articles to those who are directly involved with the issues, and the need for these articles to be left uncensored. Note: I am not providing the links to these human rights websites lest it lead to the spread of criminal behavior directed at proactive causes.

Censored on Jezebel: The Vicious Harassment of Women Online

It's shocking that a forum associated with Jezebel, the foremost source of feminist news on the internet, would cave to a hate campaign and criminal behavior to silence the voices of women. Do not all human beings deserve a voice? Is it assumed that Caucasian women don't need voices because, since they're "white", they've already been spoken for?

Duvia offered an inspiring and empowering tale. I still attest to her bravery for speaking out about her experiences. What good does it do to shame the victims of sexual violence by relating the idea that their stories don't count because they are of a certain race? "Steel Balls" wasn't my story – it was Duvia's. Can you imagine how hurtful this must be for her? Duvia was fearful of telling her story at first, but she believed it would help others to share her voice. It makes me sick that her biggest fears have come true.

Censored on Jezebel: The Vicious Harassment of Women Online

What you fail to understand is that the use of hate speech, threats and bullying to terrify and intimidate people into silence or away from certain topics is a far bigger threat to free speech than any legal sanction. Imagine this is not the internet but a public square. One woman stands on a soapbox and expresses an idea. She is instantly surrounded by an army of 5,000 angry people yelling the worst kind of abuse at her in an attempt to shut her up. Yes, there's a free speech issue there. But not the one you think (Lewis: 2012).

Unwittingly silencing Duvia, the hate campaigners will never silence me. They have tried everything to censor me, even tried to tie "Steel Balls" to a completely unrelated, satirical humor blog. The comedy article was posted to a different forum because my friend's video was well produced, hilarious, and something that I wanted to share. The comedy blog was exactly that – COMEDY. It made fun of me and people of my own race in way that was entirely humorous and satirical. There was absolutely NOTHING in it that put down people of color or other races, and if you actually watch the video, I guarantee that you'll laugh at one point or another.

Censored on Jezebel: The Vicious Harassment of Women Online

In fact, I have never once referred to individuals of other races using any kind of hateful derogatory terms in my writing. Not ever. Once again, I think this is a case of users not reading and reviewing the actual material, and just skipping to the comment sections to vent on their preconceived notions.

When push comes to shove, this tie-in only demonstrates more sexism as reflected by the fact that comedy is another arena where women are prone to discrimination. For the John Hopkins University Press, Author Kristen Anderson Wagner writes:

In 1901 Harper's Bazaar asked the question, "Have Women a Sense of Humor?" (Coquelin 67). More than one hundred years later, Vanity Fair published an article explaining "Why Women Aren't Funny" (Hitchens 54). These articles are part of a larger debate about women's capacity to engage in and appreciate humor that has existed for many years and represent traces of a long-standing prejudice in American culture against women performing comedy, a prejudice that has affected women's comic expression in every form and forum...Countless writers and critics have argued that femininity and a sense of humor are mutually exclusive and that women's "natural" inclination toward emotion and sensitivity has left them incapable of possessing a quality—humor...Women, the argument goes, are far too refined and delicate to be funny. The True Woman...was known for her morality, passivity, and spirituality, not for her ability to tell a joke (Wagner: 2011).

Jezebel's own Lindy West found herself the target of a hate campaign after she posted an article about misogyny in comedy. The incident showed characteristics of cyber bullying. Instead of offering appropriate insights and healthy perspectives, a flood of comments shunned Lindy West for expressing herself in an online forum. Rose Surnow ponders this circumstance in the women's magazine Cosmopolitan:

The comedy world, and let's just say it, the world at large, is still strongly anti-woman. All you have to do is defend rape victims to get a tiny flavor of how hostile men [can be] to empowered women. Why do people call Hillary Clinton a ball-buster and a b*tch? Why was Sarah Jessica Parker voted "The Unsexiest Woman in the World" by Maxim Magazine? Why do people rip into Lena Dunham for not looking like a starved giraffe? A woman who doesn't act the way she's supposed to—quiet, subservient, agreeable—is considered an enemy (Surnow: 2014).

As my story went, I took the comedy blog down. While it was supposed to be funny, it didn't quite fit with the NomadiKat brand, which focuses on travel and cultural experiences abroad. I'm not ashamed of it, and support other artists in their creative ventures. Thereby, I'm reposting this music video.

Not only am I traveler and a human rights activist, but I'm a total sucker for comedy. A patron of Chicago's Second City, I'm involved with my city's local improv scene. I'm a big fan of "offensive" comedians Dave Chappelle, Sasha Baron Cohen, Sarah Silverman (a woman, oh my!), and of course the comedic almighty known as George Carlin. Not everyone is a fan of these comedians, but with the myriad of personalities on this planet, not everyone is expected to enjoy the same humor. As the late George Carlin once said,

I think it's the duty of the comedian to find out where the line is drawn and cross it deliberately (Carlin: ND).

Censored on Jezebel: The Vicious Harassment of Women Online

A lot of this comedic influence emerges in my writing (and gifs), and I've been told that what my fans love most about it - that and the fact that I don't sugarcoat real issues. I enjoy satirically controversial television shows like The Simpsons and South Park. If you don't like watching South Park, then turn off the television. Don't petition to have it removed from the station (pretty sure I recall this actually happening).

This is called censorship, and it's a huge step backwards in a progressive society. I've witnessed censorship in action through Indonesia's anti-pornography laws, which only end up providing loopholes for misogyny and are hugely detrimental to women's liberation. If a user doesn't like the content of my articles, they simply shouldn't click on the links. I'll say it again: if you don't like my stuff, then don't fucking read it. It's not acceptable to deny information to those who are able to appreciate the messages as they were originally intended.

Censored on Jezebel: The Vicious Harassment of Women Online

I stand behind every word I have written, and support my ideas with research and citations. It is this pride that gives me the confidence to sign my actual real-life name at the bottom of every article. It's a passion for literature and expression shared by many journalists, including Jill Filipovic, who was also a target of online harassment. Filipovic's case included an entire University message board thread dedicated to graphic methods of raping her.

We want to believe that the Internet is different from "real life," that "virtual reality" is a separate sphere from reality-reality. But increasingly, virtual space is just as "real" as life off of the computer...If we're writers, we research, publish and promote our work online. My office is a corner of my apartment, and my laptop is my portal into my professional world (Filipovic: 2014).

Professionals take responsibility for their work. They don't hide behind the anonymity of internet handles so that they can participate in criminal behavior without fear of prosecution. Anonymous sources can lack credibility. As explained by University of Maryland social media sociologist Nathan Jurgenson: http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2014/...

Abusers tend to operate anonymously, or under pseudonyms. But the women they target often write on professional platforms, under their given names, and in the context of their real lives...When it comes to online threats, "one person is feeling the reality of the Internet very viscerally...It's a lot easier for the person who made the threat" (Hess: 2014).

I don't believe this is a battle of men vs. women, because women can dish out abuse just as well. The aspect of anonymity makes it difficult to pin point the sources of hate that are increasingly present in the online sphere. It allows the culprits to hide their identities, thus avoiding responsibility for their words and actions. This is how internet harassment differs from that which occurs in real life scenarios, while there have been countless reports of antagonists crossing digital partitions. The internet gives criminals a running head start, the immoral high ground, and serves as a real disadvantage to those who stand as themselves or professionals.

Censored on Jezebel: The Vicious Harassment of Women Online

I'm sorry for whoever hurt these users so badly that it would make them instantly hate individuals of my gender and race, driving them to lash out with abusive behavior. I sympathize with whatever discrimination they've endured. Yet, I will NOT take responsibility the malicious actions of others; I won't be responsible for what I did not do. I am a woman. I do know the meaning of discrimination, perhaps not on the same scale, but I believe it is futile to fight racism with more racism. Just like why, as a feminist, I rather refer to myself as a humanist. I don't think the answer to the objectification of women is to objectify men, and I don't think the answer to the discrimination of some races is to discriminate against others based on hate and distrust. As one Redditor commented, "an accusation of racism is a weapon we use to shame and censor people with views we dislike" (Nebris: 2014).

Censored on Jezebel: The Vicious Harassment of Women Online

The article written by Intheweeds stated that NomadiKat's "whole existence says feminism doesn't care about POC's problems" without proper citation to support my association with this claim. As far as the feminist movement goes, I understand there is a history where women of color have felt excluded. I have not contributed to this part of history, but I do believe this history can be part of the past. We can create a better future by reaching out to one another and uniting in the present. It is crucial that we all stand together – women and men of all ethnic backgrounds – for the sake of equal human rights for every individual in all global societies.

The dictionary definition of the term human rights is "the basic rights and freedoms to which all humans are entitled, often held to include the right to life and liberty, freedom of thought and expression, and equality before the law" (Farlex: 2014). The organization known as United for Human Rights states:

Human rights are based on the principle of respect for the individual. Their fundamental assumption is that each person is a moral and rational being who deserves to be treated with dignity...Human rights are the rights to which everyone is entitled—no matter who they are or where they live—simply because they are alive...They mean choice and opportunity. They mean the freedom to obtain a job, adopt a career, select a partner of one's choice and raise children. They include the right to travel widely and the right to work gainfully without harassment, abuse and threat (United for Human Rights: 2014).

Thereby, when anonymous internet abusers harass and threaten other individuals online, there's no need to specify the recipient's race, faith, or gender. Based on United for Human Right's definition, it can all be interpreted as perpetuating world wide violations of human rights. Women, and all individuals, deserve respect. All violations, from minor to severe, should be taken seriously in the path towards global progress. Perhaps there is a solution to discrimination in sight.

IN A 2009 PAPER in the Boston University Law Review...argued that online abuse constitutes "discrimination in women's employment opportunities"...Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which outlawed discrimination based on race, religion, or gender, was swiftly applied to members of the Ku Klux Klan, who hid behind hoods to harass and intimidate black Louisianans from voting and pursuing work. Anonymous online harassment...similarly discourages women from "writing and earning a living online...It interferes with their professional lives...It brands them as incompetent workers and inferior sexual objects" (Hess: 2013).

In an article published by Forbes Magazine, author Tom Watson reports on the trend in abusive Internet behavior directed at women (and this behavior is definitely trending - note many of these sources were published recently). Watson describes how the increasing attacks on the voices and professionalism of women online threatens the future of society as a whole.

Gender bashing, vicious attacks on female voices, efforts to stifle women's intellectual and social agency. Rank sexism. Misogyny...I've been considering its ramifications more recently in the context of social enterprise...the rise of the open Internet – and the digital public commons – has paralleled the explosion in social enterprise...a very large percentage of young people pursuing social change careers are women. Yet time and again, they face a well poisoned by sexism or worse: threats of sexual violence, stalking, hate speech... The entire social sector – dominated as it is by female workers – should be deeply concerned about harassment...The extension of that misogyny into a space where so many professional lives are now based can indeed have a chilling effect on full participation...This cannot stand. Too much is at stake. Participation free of harassment and the threat of sexual violence is crucial to integrated social change movements in which women feel they can participate – and lead (Watson: 2014).

Listen to "Women and Internet Harassment" - NPR's On Point with Tom Ashbrook

It's crucial to assess a diversity of opinions, while being wary of criticism that's neither constructive nor credible. Take the time to review multiple sources and decide for yourself before passing judgement. I implore readers to consider all information in order form to their own educated opinions. According to Malaysian born Richard Lee, who wrote an article entitled "When Yelling 'Racist' Actually Means 'Shut Up Heretic!'",

When my opponent attaches a label to me to accuse me of some form of discrimination, my argument is immediately invalid. "Racist", "sexist", or "denier", they actually mean "shut-up, I win because you are an evil heretic." It is fallacious and ad-hominem...My opponent doesn't actually have to listen to or refute my argument; they can mishear and caricature my argument and points...Rather than using facts, reason and mutual respect to prove difference, anyone who disagrees is an enemy who must be destroyed...They are not interested in knowledge, but zealots on a crusade against their enemies....They are the enemies of compromise, and of reason. They do not have to implement their policies so they can proselytize theory from the sidelines (Lee: 2014).

Censored on Jezebel: The Vicious Harassment of Women Online

I could care less about those who don't do the reading or find it too hard to think for themselves. I care even less about those who misuse and abuse the internet, threatening the sanctity of free speech and global communication. They're not my target audience. I write about travel and cultural observations, and I encourage others to do the same. Consider the impact of the new travelers inspired and the awareness that's generated for human rights. Polish sociologist Zygmunt Bauman describes how the internet shares many of the same prejudices as travel.

Bauman draws a distinction between "tourists" and "vagabonds" in the modern economy. Privileged tourists move about the world "on purpose," to seek "new experience" as "the joys of the familiar wear off." Disempowered vagabonds relocate because they have to, pushed and pulled through mean streets where they could never hope to settle down. On the Internet, men are tourists and women are vagabonds (Hess: 2014).

Travel, especially extreme travel, is an entirely different experience for women and minorities than it is for Caucasian males. We are treated differently and encounter unexpected obstacles. Yet, travel media is an industry largely dominated by men. While I enjoy many of the great male travel authors, this lack of diversity can leave minorities uninformed and even more vulnerable.

I began writing about travel after I noticed a lack of content as composed by female authors. It seemed like a woman's travel log just wasn't complete until she fell in love at the end of the story. The truth is that everyone can have incredible experiences abroad. Online media is similar to travel because it can be a threatening endeavor for women and minorities. Perhaps that's why "vagabonds" stray away from reporting.

No one appreciates being the target of criminal behavior and branded by mindsets they do not condone. Furthermore, I am disappointed that Jezebel's Powder Room would lack the moderation to suppress lawless behavior, at the expense of censoring women and shaming a victim of sexual assault. I urge Kinja users to reconsider the boundaries of censorship. I suggest they weigh the impact of what fostering a discussion on human rights gives to society over the backlash from those who practice hate and misogyny.

Kat ValleraNomadiKat Travel Media

Moving forward: For anyone who has ever worked in the service industry, we know that angry customers are never hesitant to complain about the smallest details. Those who enjoy themselves tend to leave silently, and so rarely do individuals leave positive feedback. Like Walker of The Huffington Post suggests,

If you notice that trolls are attacking someone else, don't ignore the problem. Stand up for the victim and make it clear that such cruelty is not acceptable under any circumstances...the Internet community must discuss this issue, and create clear and helpful guidelines for victims of online abuse (Walker: 2013).

Censored on Jezebel: The Vicious Harassment of Women Online

Now that you're finished, I recommend you watch South Park's "Mystery of the Urinal Deuce" to understand how sensationalism can lead to misinformation. Also, you better believe that I'm going to keep writing. The fact that haters are threatened means I'm making waves and it's fuel for the fire. This theory is evident in the case of Anita Sarkeesian, who ended up raising 25x her original goal. If you don't like it, don't click it. It's just that simple!

Ashbrook, Tom. "Women And Internet Harassment." On Point. WBUR. 90.9, Boston, Massachusettes, 15 Jan. 2014. Radio.

Carlin, George. "101 Greatest George Carlin Quotes."James Aquilone. Wordpress, n.d. Web. 13 May 2014. <http://jamesaquilone.com/101-greatest-g...

Chappelle, Dave. "The Player Haters Ball."Chappelle's Show. 19 Mar. 2003. Television.

Filipovic, Jill. "Let's Be Real: Online Harassment Isn't 'Virtual' For Women." Talking Points Memo. TPM Media LLC, 10 Jan. 2014. Web. 22 May 2014. <http://talkingpointsmemo.com/cafe/let-s-be-...>.

Hess, Amanda. "The Next Civil Rights Issue: Why Women Aren't Welcome on the Internet." Pacific Standard. 6 Jan. 2014. Web. 20 May 2014. <http://www.psmag.com/navigation/hea...

Hudson, Laura. "Curbing Online Abuse Isn't Impossible. Here's Where We Start | Game|Life | WIRED." Wired.com. Conde Nast Digital, 13 May 2014. Web. 21 May 2014. <http://www.wired.com/2014/05/fighti...

"Human+rights." The Free Dictionary. Farlex, n.d. Web. 20 May 2014. <http://www.thefreedictionary.com/human+rights>.

Lee, Richard. "When Yelling "Racist" Actually Means "Shut Up Heretic!""Controversial News Controversial Current Events Intentious. Intentious, 10 Apr. 2014. Web. 13 May 2014. < http://www.intentious.com/2014/04/10/yel...

Lewis, Helen. "New Statesman." New Statesman. 6 July 2012. Web. 20 May 2014. <http://www.newstatesman.com/blogs/internet...>.

Marks, Kathy. "Minister's Bid to Ban Miniskirts Using Anti-pornography Law Angers Indonesian Women | The National. "Minister's Bid to Ban Miniskirts Using Anti-pornography Law Angers Indonesian Women | The National. The National, 23 Apr. 2012. Web. 21 May 2014. <http://www.thenational.ae/news/world/asi...>.

"Nebris" "R/changemyview."Reddit. Reddit Inc., Feb. 2014. Web. 13 May 2014. <http://www.reddit.com/r/changemyview...

Parker, Trey. "Mystery of the Urinal Deuce."South Park. Comedy Central. 11 Oct. 2006. Television.

Spornhauer, Brittany. "Racism Is Absurd but Reverse Racism Is Ok?"The Signal. Georgia State University, 14 Nov. 2011. Web. 13 May 2014. <http://www.gsusignal.com/opinions/racis...

Surnow, Rose. "What a Female, Feminist Former Comic Makes of the Lindy West Rape Joke Controversy." Cosmopolitan. Hearst Communications. Web. 21 May 2014. <http://www.cosmopolitan.com/advice/work-mo...

Swartzwelder, John. "Itchy and Scratchy and Marge."The Simpsons. Twentieth Century Fox. 20 Dec. 1990. Television.

"What Are Human Rights?" What Are Human Rights? United for Human Rights, n.d. Web. 20 May 2014. <http://www.humanrights.com/what-are-human...>.

Wagner, Kristen A. ""Have Women a Sense of Humor?"" Project MUSE. John Hopkins University Press, Fall 2011. Web. 20 May 2014. <http://muse.jhu.edu/journals/the_v...>.

Walker, Jade. "Cyber-Harassment: What the Online Community Can Do to Stop the Trolls." The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, 15 Aug. 2013. Web. 20 May 2014. <http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jade-walker/cy...>.

Watson, Tom. "Stifling Women's Online Speech With Sexual Harassment: Why It Matters To Social Change Movements." Forbes. Forbes Magazine, 20 Jan. 2014. Web. 21 May 2014. <http://www.forbes.com/sites/tomwatso...

Whedon, Joss. "Hush."Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Warner Brothers. California, 14 Dec. 1999. Television.

Video courtesy Feminist Frequency

Video courtesy of Mike Parrish

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Update: I listen to and appreciate constructive criticism, which is helpful in improving the craft of writing. Appropriate revisions were made to "Steel Balls" the day of 5/10/2014, before it was removed from JPR. The Wordpress version is exactly how it was when it was removed (with the exception of a typo from one of the block quotes).

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Censored on Jezebel: The Vicious Harassment of Women Online

Update #2: More seasoned online moderators have encouraged me to "stop feeding the trolls" and remove some comments. According to Rail Casts, "comments can be removed if they provide no value to the conversation, are offensive, or are spam...remove the content and include a note saying it has been removed by a moderator." Unfortunately, Kinja doesn't let us leave notes like this, so I'm noting here that commenters who have used offensive, hateful, and vulgar language (there's been a LOT of this), or include inaccurate quotations are being banned. This article's comment section was turning into a death-threat-racial/gender-slur free for all. Based on other feminist forums' guidelines, I've also been urged to remove anonymous comments that don't contribute to the conversation because they are detrimental to valid discussion. I didn't want to do this, but I've been advised that comments shouldn't stand if they're false/vulgar/threatening/distracting. If you notice, the other authors in this article have done the same in banning/removing abusive feedback, while comments for Sarkeesian are completely disabled. I was researching these ethics and found an analogy:

The freedom of expression seems comparable to the freedom to travel. While a free nation allows its citizens to travel about within the nation as they wish (within limits) and I have no right to stop people from such travels (except under certain conditions-such as when they want to "travel" into my house), I have no obligation to give someone a ride just because he wants to go to California. It is up to him to get his way there. Likewise, while I have no right to try to censor or delete another person's blog (under normal conditions) I also have no obligation to allow them to use my blog as a vehicle of their communication. (Mike LaBossiere - Talking Philosophy)

It's perplexing that I had to moderate an article about censorship. Yet, like the article says, free speech doesn't cover abusive behavior. I apologize because doing this in effect removed 90% of the comments in threads that had relevant commentary, criticism, as well as those who stepped up to defend me (you rock!) I wish I could be more specific in only removing the vulgar comments, but I guess that's just how Kinja rolls.

(All future comments asking about this will be considered "spam" and deleted. I've already explained this four times - that's enough.)

FINAL UPDATE: This worked. Before I started blocking users, I was getting hundreds of offensive messages per hour. Now I'm only getting 1 or 2. Guess word goes around the trollvine when there's a woman with something to say to attack. That's sad, Internet...

One last word: I heard about the random woman who got harassed on Twitter because online abusers mistook her for me. I extend my sympathy to this woman and request that everyone CEASE HARASSMENT IMMEDIATELY.