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Fighting online violence against women with social media
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Fighting online violence against women with social media

After columnist Clementine Ford was recently attacked online, over 1000 women in media have today taken a stand on Twitter to end online violence against women.

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Freelance writer and public commentator, Clementine Ford, is no stranger to online trolls.

The Daily Life columnist brands herself as a feminist however, it would be more accurate to call her a humanist. She is unafraid to stand up for what she believes in and she believes in equal rights for women, the disabled, the marginalised, the LGBT community and everything in between.

Her staunch opinions have garnered considerable vitriol over the years, including online bullying, which for the most part she says “tends to be more of a constant drip than a deluge.”

Australia is just beginning to take a stronger stance on violence against women in the home, but online bullying in social media is still largely unnoticed. Many women in media receive backlash for their opinions, and intelligent and constructive debate is often welcomed, but online violence and bullying against women is a scourge that is running rampant.

A recent incident saw Clementine the recipient of an outpouring of threats of violence and sexual brutality, and now over 1000 women in media have decided to take a stand the best way they know how; social media.

Today, on Twitter, everyone who perpetrated online violence against Clementine is being named, alongside the hashtag #endviolenceagainstwomen. Attackers are being publicly held accountable for their role in this terrible attack in a movement spurred by author, columnist and social commentator, Kerri Sackville.

“I read the torrent of abuse on Clem's post and was filled with despair. These are the men who are raising the next generation of women,” tells Kerri.

“There are so little consequences online; we are targeting violence against women in the home but this violence perpetrated in social media is going unchecked. I felt we had to do something to hold these men (and they are primarily men) accountable. Banding together. Using our voices. Supporting each other.”

The post in question came after Clementine spoke out against online misogyny on her Facebook page and she received an insult from a man which included the word “slut.” Unlike every other time where Clem has just deleted the comment and blocked the user, this time she decided enough was enough and she looked into the man in question.

The man, Michael Nolan, had his employer listed on his Facebook page, so Clem contacted Meriton Apartments and told them their supervisor was perpetrating misogynistic bullying online.

“I reported a man for directing an abusive comment to me to the employer he had listed on his Facebook account (which also included an assortment of vile racism). The man's employer elected to investigate and made the decision to terminate his contract. They asked me to share this news with my followers, which I did,” wrote Clementine on her blog.

“Perhaps Michael will think twice next time before using his social media account to call a woman 'slut' when she speaks out against online misogyny. These men have rarely ever faced consequences for their actions, but that's starting to change,” wrote Clem on Facebook.

But that was just the beginning.

Hundreds of trolls came out of their fetid dungeons and attacked Clementine for she had “cost an innocent man his job” because she was unable to adhere to the old sticks and stones adage.

“Ugly whore”, “dumb slut”, “fat bitch” were among the more polite of the insults she weathered, while threats of violence, rape and death were among the most vicious. The foul deluge rained upon her and still she would not be silenced.

“To anyone who suggests I have caused a man to lose his job, I'd like to say this: No. He is responsible for his actions. He is responsible for the things he writes and the attitudes he holds,” Clementine wrote on Facebook.

She wrote about it on Daily Life, and then she wrote about it on her blog and this time she screen shot the vile comments to accompany her post.

Today’s stance on Twitter by 1000 or so women in media may only be a drop in the ocean in the fight against violence against women but eventually all of the drops must add up to wave, and that will be the wave of change.

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