There's never been a better time for a pamphlet like this, when the British media is finally starting to pay some attention to the harassment women face simply for existing on the internet. But in a way, the issues discussed within are familiar ones. As Penny points out throughout the text, the internet's digital nature makes it no less real than "meatspace", and the excesses of online trolls are only notable compared to previous centuries of misogyny because of how visible our actions have become in the digital age.
Any attempt to comprehensively cover the points Penny hits on in her epigrammatic style- witty and wry, but burning with righteous fury- would result in direct quotes running to thousands of words. The short yet wide-ranging text finds room to discuss most of the recent headlines in the fight against sexism online: from Anita Sarkeesian's travails trying to explain that videogames might be a bit sexist, to Caroline Criado-Perez's refusal to accept abuse on Twitter. From how patriarchal society has made women more used to existing in a state of permanent surveillance, to the specific contours of online geek culture and misogyny, Penny weaves personal experience, media analysis and gender theory into a structural critique of how patriarchy operates through the internet. Yet it remains deeply personal throughout; rather than academic distance, Penny aims for inspiring polemic, and succeeds effortlessly.
I anticipate that there will be a contingent of men that will find it difficult to accept the text's skewering of male privilege, who might be tempted to dismiss all this as women needing to learn their place. But take it from another dude- what women tell you about their everyday lives is true. If you have any empathy for the women in your life, and you find yourself wondering how their online experience compares to your own, you owe it to yourself to read this book, and others like it.
4 people found this helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?