The bullies aren’t always the others, it’s us too

Cases of sexist harassment on French-speaking social networks are repeated. The reactions of surprise or support do not change either. But the harassers are not always the others. Sometimes it’s us too, remembers journalist Lucie Ronfaut in Numerama’s #Rule30 newsletter.

Honestly, I don’t know what else to write about cyberbullying. Each week brings its share of cases that are both terribly violent and terribly similar to the others. In this case, the last few days have been busy in this area:

– Internet users have called for censorship due to the (voluntary) deactivation of an account targeting Sandrine Rousseau, playing on the confusion between the MP’s true words and often vulgar and offensive content. This is a technique called ” FemSpoofing“, which generally consists of pretending to be a feminist person with extreme remarks in order to make fun of it, or even deceive other Internet users. On average, the account sent 400 tweets per month.

– French streamers have revealed (a little) the constant harassment they face on Twitch. One of them, Ava Mind, shared a particularly shocking excerpt of a voice message sent by a stranger insulting him and suggesting he make pornographic content instead of ” pretend to be a geek for the sexually destitute“.

– Léna Situations, famous French influencer who has already left Twitter in the past because of the harassment she regularly faces there, has been the victim of another wave of online hate. This time, these attacks were motivated by the upcoming opening of a restaurant bearing the image of his brand and offering vegan food.

Of course, these three situations alone do not sum up the concept of cyberbullying, which is a complex and protean phenomenon. It can affect public figures as well as ordinary individuals, and it does not only affect women, although the fact of belonging to a vulnerable category increases the risk and determines the type of attack (a man will more often be threatened with life than from rape, for example). But they demonstrate our helplessness in the face of online violence, and also our incomprehension in front of their mechanics, even today.

Valérie Rey-Robert is a writer (she refers to an excerpt from a 1987 TV program in which cyclist Jeannie Longo was subjected to misogynistic criticism from colleagues)

Because it is not only cyberbullying that is making a comeback. There are also our reactions, which are often the same. We « hallucinating “in view of this violence (as if they could still surprise us), we send” huge followers (it is well-intentioned, but it sounds a little hollow in the face of such a huge and structural phenomenon) and above all we are tempted to point the finger at a certain category of people. It’s the trolls, the incels and its fault” frustrated virgins“, to bored teenagers, etc. In short, we create a boundary between the people who are harassing and ourselves. I don’t know if this argument is very comforting to a victim of cyberbullying. What I do know, however, is that this limit doesn’t really exist.

This article is excerpted from our weekly newsletter Rule30, published by Numerama. This is the edition of 13. July 2022. To subscribe for free, click here.

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Overcome your own stereotypes about online violence

I regularly return to this study by the IPSOS institute, published at the beginning of the year with the association Féministes contre le cyberharassement, which helped me overcome my own clichés about online violence. For example, we learn that 31% of the French say they have already experienced a situation of cyber violence (23% if we exclude people who admit to searching their spouse’s phone without their permission). This proportion is much higher among those under 35: 69% of young men surveyed admit to having already committed online violence, and 61% of young women. Even more interestingly, we learn that among the victims of repeated cyberbullying, 69% have also been the cause of this type of situation.

Is it because we are more aware of the violence we are exposed to than the violence we perpetrate? Or because we have become accustomed to hating as part of our online experiences? I think about this a lot lately when I see that anonymous question apps are back in vogue, that Instagram wants to turn us all into videographers doped up with algorithms (inspired by TikTok, itself a platform plagued by violence between internet users), and that I imagine that in my next newsletter several new cases will have been published. Of course, cyberbullying cannot be taken out of its political, sexist, racist or economic context. But we also cannot act as if this phenomenon did not concern us and that we were only distant witnesses to it. The bullies are not always other people. Sometimes it’s us too.

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Press coverage of the week

Disinfo

Last week, YouTube (owned by Google/Alphabet) announced that it would now remove videos that spread information ” misleading or erroneous about abortion. This decision comes in connection with the withdrawal of the right to abortion in the United States. However, according to the platform, this is a simple extension of its policy of combating disinformation on the topic of health, especially in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. More information from Numerama.

Racism in manga

The Pixel section i World looked at an interesting topic: black people in manga and the evolution of these representations. Not surprisingly, these two topics are closely related to Japan’s history and its relationship with immigration. But what you may not know is that this racism is indirectly linked to the influence of the West. If you are interested in the subject, you can read the article here.

Say my name, say my name

The partial ban on abortion in the United States has brought about an avalanche of content of more or less good taste. This article from Atlantic Ocean focuses on a rather strange trend: Internet users suggesting that they are ready to accommodate people who want to get an illegal abortion… but without ever saying the word ” abortion“, for fear of censorship on social networks, or more simply to give themselves a militant image at a lower price. You can read it (in English) here.

Strip

On TikTok and YouTube, many videos feature strippers talking about their work without taboos. But because of wanting to go beyond the clichés about their activities, some end up creating others by idealizing their profession, without mentioning the uncertainties and dangers. This is the subject of this study, which can be read at Input Mag (in English).

Something to read/watch/listen to/play

Horimiya

Hori is a popular and studious high school student in class, despite the virtual absence of her parents, which forces her to take care of her little brother alone. Miyamura is one of his classmates, shy and secretly addicted to piercings and tattoos, which he is forced to hide in high school. So far, it sounds like an Avril Lavigne song; except that i Horimiya, things end well and quickly. Despite their differences, Hori and Miyamura grow closer and date.

The story is a priori pretty much agree. What does the charm of Horimiya, and the success of this manga series (itself adapted from a popular webcomic in the early 2010s) is precisely that it assumes its banality. Instead of going through a slightly artificial tension, we very quickly get what we were promised (an adorable and quite realistic love story) and we enjoy the sequel: the everyday life of a young couple and their friends. who love, argue and support each other at a crucial time in their lives. Horimiya is not an original story. But it’s a good summer read if you fancy a bit of levity.

Horimiya, by Daisuke Hagiwara and Hero, Nobi Nobi Editions (5 vols, current series)

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