Men are often blamed for most of the harassment women face online, but a new study shows that women themselves are responsible for half of the misogynistic comments made on social media.
U.K. think tank Demos spent three weeks monitoring tweets that used the words “slut” and “whore,” using an algorithm to weed out tweets that used the words in conversational tone or to discuss issues surrounding misogyny.
Researchers found that 6,500 unique users in the U.K. were targeted with 10,000 misogynistic or aggressive tweets. Internationally, over 200,000 aggressive tweets using the same terms were sent to 80,000 people.
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But here’s the twist – the study found 50 per cent of those aggressive tweets were sent by female users.
“This study provides a bird’s-eye snapshot of what is ultimately a very personal and often traumatic experience for women,” said Alex Krasodomski-Jones, one of the researchers on the project.
The fact that women often face abuse online is nothing new – an Australian report published in March found that nearly half of women have experienced harassment online; a Pew Research study found that number to be even higher at 73 per cent.
But a lot of the stories surrounding that abuse have focused on men harassing women.
Take for example “Gamergate” – the 2014 movement surrounding sexism and the harassment female gamers face from their male counterparts.
Or last month’s viral video that showed real men reading hateful, explicit and abusive comments sent to two female sports reporters – including lines like, “I hope your boyfriend beats you,” and “Like the whore that you are.”
However, this study suggests that the “Mean Girls” club is very much alive online.