Today in Slate‘s Future Tense blog, Ada Initiative Executive Director Valerie Aurora discusses the tech community’s reaction to Adria Richards tweeting a picture of two men making sexual jokes behind her at a computer conference:
Reasonable people can disagree about whether Richards should have called out the two jokesters publicly or who, if anyone, should have been fired as a result. But one thing we can agree on is that the massive onslaught of rape and death threats that followed was wrong. One threat sent to Richards on Twitter was a picture of a bloody, beheaded woman with the caption “When Im done.”[…]
What happened to Adria Richards is a wake-up call for our self-image as a society that strives for fairness and equality. Most of us believe that men and women should have equal access to opportunities, whether jobs, education, or simply using the Internet.[…] It’s up to us to change the culture of consequence-free online harassment. You can help by spreading the word about laws against online harassment, and directing victims to organizations like Working to Halt Online Abuse and Without My Consent. Companies can take responsibility for the culture on sites they run, and do a better job of stopping harassment using their services. Most importantly, when you talk about online harassment, you can focus on why what the harassers are doing is wrong, not how the victim could have responded better.