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The Shocking Ways that Women's Free Speech Is Under Attack

Women who are in the least bit outspoken are subject to threats of rape, racist and sexist epithets, and deeply offensive trolling. How did it get this bad?

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And indeed, the problem is bigger than the Heckler’s Veto. Protesters and hecklers might succeed in drowning out a speaker – as they did to Webb and Firestone at the New Left Counter-Inaugural and attempted to do to Meredith and Valles at the Glasgow Ancients – but coordinated campaigns of trolling, doxing and Ddos attacks are explicitly designed not only to silence you, but also to embarrass you, scare you, harass you, get government agencies to investigate you, vandalize your property, make you move, get you fired, ruin your life.

And then, when the organized cells of misogynists and racists are finished with you, they simply move on to the next victim. “The part that makes me the saddest,” says Richards, who’s no longer under active attack and is developing tools to protect people from this kind of abuse, “is … that it’s still happening to someone else. Whether it’s for race or gender or sexual orientation, it’s still happening.”


Kelly Diels is a writer and the founder of Cleavage, an online magazine about the lines that shape us. Like her on Facebook: