For women who work or spend time online, the idea that online misogyny is dangerous seems like basic common sense. Female journalists, politicians, celebrities and other women with work-related internet presences often face daily harassment, hacking or doxxing--the release of their private information, including phone numbers and home addresses. The hostility is often only loosely, if at all, tied to a woman's specific work or actions; rather, the mere act of occupying public space seems to be the crime. That level of harassment is increased many times over for women of color.
Whether because of the anonymity, or the nature of internet echo chambers--where people's thoughts are parroted back to them with no opposition--bigots of all stripes have felt emboldened to share their hate not just within but also outside the "manosphere"--that too-flippantly-named area of the internet designated for those who want to mourn and seethe over what they see as the theft of their masculinity.
So it surprised me that it's taken this long for the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) to issue a report officially condemning misogyny in the same way it has other forms of violent hate speech. Until now, the ADL's "Women's Equity" category was limited to gender bias, pay inequality and fighting gender stereotypes. It's about time somebody highlighted the genuinely hazardous aspects of extreme misogyny.
The new report pulls together research establishing a direct connection between misogyny and white supremacy, anti-Semitism and other forms of violent terrorism and says misogyny should be considered "a dangerous and underestimated component of extremism." It explores the ways misogyny is expressed, both in person and online, and offers a useful taxonomy: There are the men's rights activists (MRAs), who believe feminism has resulted in discrimination against men; the self-proclaimed "involuntary celibates" or "incels"; and the self-described "pickup artists," who believe, as the report puts it, that date rape is "not only defensible, but is a skill that can and should be taught." All of these types of men express ideas stemming from a core set of beliefs: that men are entitled to women's attention, both emotional and (especially) sexual, and that feminism is a specific evil designed to deny them that right.
The ADL says it intends to continue investigating "the ways in which people in the white supremacist, incel and MRA orbits feed and inform one another's poisonous...