Books
Laurie Penny

Cybersexism

'The Internet was supposed to be for everyone… Millions found their voices in this brave new online world; it gave unheard masses the space to speak to each other without limits, across borders, both physical and social. It was supposed to liberate us from gender. But as more and more of our daily lives migrated on line, it seemed it did matter if you were a boy or a girl.' It's a tough time to be a woman on the internet. Over the past two generations, the political map of human relations has been redrawn by feminism and by changes in technology. Together they pose questions about the nature and organisation of society that are deeply challenging to those in power, and in both cases, the backlash is on. In this brave new world, old-style sexism is making itself felt in new and frightening ways. In Cybersexism, Laurie Penny goes to the dark heart of the matter and asks why threats of rape and violence are being used to try to silence female voices, analyses the structure of online misogyny, and makes a case for real freedom of speech ? for everyone. Laurie Penny's forthcoming book, Unspeakable Things: Sex, Lies and Revolution, will be published in 2014.
56 printed pages

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Quotes

    dannynicolinihas quoted2 years ago
    The Internet is a real place. It’s where we live and work and fight and fuck and make friends. Harassment, intimidation and silencing online are more than ‘just words’, and not just because they are sometimes, in my experience, photos of your head pasted on porn, cartoons of you being beaten up, or phone calls whispering about your sexual history. Whoever cooked up the idiot axiom about sticks and stones breaking bones but words being essentially harmless never knew a teenager bullied to suicide by online taunting.
    dannynicolinihas quoted2 years ago
    Fine quotes many of the world’s most respected psychiatrists and neuroscientists, such as Professor Simon Baron-Cohen, peddling such codswallop as: ‘The female brain is predominantly hard-wired for empathy. The male brain is predominantly hard-wired for understanding and building systems.’
    This, in fact, is the most persistent delusional artefact of what is known as evolutionary psychology. Women are good at feeling and men are good at thinking. Women have more ‘social’ intelligence, are better able to ‘multitask’, whereas men are better at things that require the sort of focus that can only be achieved when your wife or girlfriend is sorting out dinner.
    Women can be almost as smart as men, but we’re smarter at different things, things like nurturing, listening, taking care of other people, managing social systems, throwing parties, publicising events and inventions men are in charge of, organising the diaries and offices of men that they might better concentrate on the important work, and, of course, raising children. Men, in other words, are good at doing, making and building things; women are good at making life easier for men. We’re not less smart, we’re just different smart. Smart at things that don’t involve being listened to or making an impact on the world. You know, different smart.
    It’s a eugenics of gender that would be seen for the throat-closingly vile propaganda it is were the tests being done on people of different races, ethnicities or sexual preferences. And yet these myths persist because they are soothing, comforting, because they provide a halfway rational basis for the prejudices that poison our society.
    Otherwise rational individuals cling to bad science to justify the ongoing dismissal of women in exactly the same way people once clung to religion to provide that same justification: once, women didn’t go into research and engineering because God had designed them to be full-time mothers; today, women don’t go into research and engineering because evolution designed them to be bad at maths and better at babies. This is, apart from anything else, a terrible misuse of a respected theory.
    dannynicolinihas quoted2 years ago
    It hasn’t occurred to Wong, and to every other angry man in front of his laptop, that not all ‘women’ have this power, because the category ‘women’ does not, in fact, include only ‘women David Wong wants to have sex with’.
    Moreover, perhaps even the women who do have this kind of power don’t actually want it. Perhaps we consider it a raw deal that the power to turn men on is the only sort of power we’re allowed, and that we’re punished and resented and attacked and bullied, brutalised and killed for having it. Guys, listen up: we’re not conspiring with your boners against you. Women are people, not walking bags of pheromones and interestingly arranged body fat, and we like to be treated as such.

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