By now I'm sure many of you have heard about the scandal at the Yale Law School. As the Yale Daily News and the Washington Post have reported, three female students at Yale Law School have claimed to be the victims of slanderous comments on an online discussion, AutoAdmit, which allows posts by undergraduate students about schools, job offerings, etc. One of the three students believes that the offensive posts damaged her career chances, since the discussions are among the first hits of a Google search.
I read through some of the comments, and I was shocked. The posts are lewd, aggressive, even violent; there are speculations about her sexual health and threats of rape. I know that some will say that these threats are not to be taken seriously, but it's truly horrifying to think that people can voice such thoughts on a public forum anonymously and not fear legal action. Similar phenomena have occurred elsewhere online: recently, a female blogger became so frightened by gruesome death threats that she canceled speaking engagements (read more about this story here).
I am also thinking back to last year when Della and Sabrina received a barrage of hateful comments in which the words "bitch" featured prominently. Is it easier to hate women electronically? It seems that this kind of hate speech is tolerated online in a way it would not be in a print forum or in everyday conversation. Perhaps the anonymity of message boards eliminate the filter between thought and speech . . . or perhaps I just don't notice the expression of these sentiments in other arenas. I realize that posters can attack a wide variety of people in vicious ways, but it is particularly disturbing that women are often the victims of these attacks and that the slander is of a sexual nature. For all of those people who claim that sexism is gone and that feminism is unnecessary, these disgusting posts prove otherwise.