Saturday, April 21, 2018

Notes: Taking back the net - PEN 2018

The most shocking item about this panel? Yassmin Abdel-Magied was denied entry in the USA, the custom officials arguing that her visa was inadequate, a visa she had used in the past for similar purposes. She participated in the panel via Skype.

Yassmin is an activist and a writer, she defends islam, and women, and muslim women. She has met with a lot of hostility in Australia, where she grew up, and has had to leave for her own safety and sanity. She spoke about how to survive harassement.

Toll on mental state:
Harassment takes a toll on mental state. Victims need to choose their strategy (ignore, react, respond, etc). They need to self care. Get support from communities around, from other victims of harassment. They can protect themselves with barriers such as

+ staff that takes over social media
+ friends that offer support
+ spend more time in "real life", interacting with real people

Harassment also takes time and energy away from activists, writers, artists, undermining their activities and production.

Anita Sarkeesian was the target of a sexist hate campaign of unbelievable proportions, when she tackled the sexism in gaming.

"The gaming world still hasn't done much to improve their misogynistic representations of women in particular."

Typical hate posts: "she's a liar!", "she makes pots of money", death and rape threats.

Porochista Khakpour is a writer, journalist, editor of Iranian descent. She has been harassed both as a woman and a Muslim.

"Some writers have in their contract the number of people that have linked with their social media platforms, and they can't quit them if they fall victime to harassment."

She lives in Harlem within a community of Muslims. Some of them have become less vocal on social media because of the psychological toll that takes, including suicidal frames of mind.

Media and harassment:
The media covering the harassment is often inadequately prepared. They want to sell a good story at whatever cost. They want to represent both sides of the stories. But when a crime is involved, there are no two sides of the story, just one. PEN is issuing guidelines for the media to help them cover the issue.

It's very difficult to get the law to intervene effectively, to sue successfully.

Harassment has increased under the current government. Revolution Books in Harlem have suffered a huge increase of attacks.

Companies' attitude to harassment:
Facebook, twitter and instagram and other social media platforms were created by white American guys. They had little awareness about harassment, racism, sexism, and didn't think through the potential for harassment. Initially the companies did very little in terms of controlling hate. They're now doing a bit better. Twitter used to have a staff of 4 concerned with safety issues. Now they have a whole department, safety counsel, etc.

They do not have to give their users freedom of speech, as they're private companies. They can, and do now, set rules: such word can't be used, such behavior is inacceptable.

Contributed by  - -  Arabella Hutter von Arx

Anita Sarkeesian

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