November Newsmaker : Internet trolls

A documentary exposes the vile threats and abuse public women have to suffer

The culture of online sexism has been making headlines lately following the airing of DR’s three-part documentary programme Ti stille kvinde (Keep quiet woman). In the programme, notable women who participate in the public debate reveal the shocking and hateful messages they have received through emails and social media.

In the first episode MP Johanne Schmidt-Nielsen shared a multitude of messages she has received. One message was the casually chauvenistic, “you don’t know what you are talking about little darling”, left by an aspiring member of the Konservative party.

A more sinister message was left on her official Facebook page by a Kenni Jensen who wrote: “bite the pillow baby, I’m coming in dry”.

Jensen agreed to be interviewed for the programme and when asked about the reasons for writing the thinly veiled rape metaphor, he simply replied “it was just for fun”.

211Most of the sexist trolls that agreed to participate in the programme expressed a similar view, claiming that their comments were ‘just a joke’, and that they had never imagined that they would be taken seriously.

MPs Zenia Stampe (main photo) and Özlem Cekic also shared their similar experiences. One particularly grotesque message to Stampe (left) claimed that the tragic death of her daughter was “karma” for her support of immigration.

In the aftermath of the programme the issues of sexism and the culture of online debating have been widely discussed, with the hashtag #tistillekvinde becoming very prominent on Twitter.

Reaction to the programme has mostly been shock and surprise at the extent of abuse that women in the public sphere have to endure. More women have since come forward, however, reinforcing the reality of an online world where speaking in ugly tongues is not only expected, it’s accepted. M


By Elias Thorsson

Managing editor. @Eliasthorsson

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