The ravages of online hostility

The ravages of online hostility


Online hostility is rotting debates in our society. However, an unprecedented study has just been published on this phenomenon, which fits more broadly into the “dark landscape of violence against women”, with “deep roots in the breeding ground of sexism and misogyny”.  

Most relevant and based on extensive research, this study by the Conseil du statut de la femme (CSF) examines this societal issue of online hostility, which remains poorly documented. < /p>

The whole thing was ordered by the Minister responsible for the Status of Women, Isabelle Charest, following the tabling of a motion by the National Assembly in 2019. It shows how much hostility online, which encompasses online violence, cyberbullying and cyberstalking, is taking its toll.

It affects men and women of all ages, but for women the path is different, through sexist and misogynistic comments that can have a major impact. To the point that some women choose to withdraw from public life or not to venture into it.

Public sphere 

The sketched portrait in the study “dispels the idea that online hostility towards women may be a marginal phenomenon, without major consequences and belonging to the private sphere”. 

In the political and media spheres, for example, many women testify that they are victims. I am, like almost all of my colleagues who expose their ideas in the media. Many testify to this regularly. 

This violence is mainly male, notes the report. This is also what I observe, especially when my work leads me to write on polarizing subjects such as vaccination, COVID, the tramway or the third link. Anti-tramway and pro-third link are particularly focused on this form of violence. This is sad.

Many experts argue, the study reports, that online hostility aimed at women is intended, consciously or unconsciously, to hinder their participation in the public sphere. and places traditionally reserved for men. the report.

Form of violence

The study shows that online hostility is indeed a form of violence. “It is more underground, it is sometimes also hidden, like other forms of violence”, observes Me Louise Cordeau, president of the CSF.

In all cases, there is a form of loneliness, note Me Cordeau. Victims will wonder what means to take to stop it, how to report and what resources we can have.

“These are all issues relating to violence,” she points out.

As Mélanie Julien, director of research and analysis, points out, “we have nevertheless made a lot of progress in Quebec in the social recognition of domestic violence […] and sexual assault, but it is as if all the path crossed in this matter, it must also be done for online hostility”. 

The phenomenon remains trivialized, so the study calls for mobilization so that this form of violence is in turn “recognized, denounced and combated”. 

The study evokes various avenues solutions, which are neither simple nor unique, evoke Mmes Cordeau and Julien. But the levers, whether legal or not, and the will to act, exist, notably through education.

We must now move on to action and implementation.

The ravages of online hostility