In April,reflected on the double rape-murders in Cape Town of Sinoxolo Mafevuka and Franziska Blöchliger, and the online violence that often follows speaking out against gendered violence:
“The overt misogyny that women experience online has, ironically, a valuable function: it rips away the veil that hides or softens sexist, homophobic and transphobic abuse, which usually takes place in domestic and intimate spaces, and has historically been much less visible than say, racism. We can no longer pretend that the tsunami of sexually violent hatred washing across our screens is the work of a few sad sickos crouching in parental basements, their modems substitutes for lives. There’s just too much of it.
“I recently edited a thriller-romance about cyber-stalking (Now Following You, by Fiona Snyckers). It raised the questions: Should women police themselves online? Isn’t telling women how to behave on social media the same as telling them not to wear short skirts?
“I agreed with this feisty attitude. My online space was where I played and worked. I took sensible precautions, but I was damned if was going to censor my own cyber-existence. That was until a feminist friend came under fire from a bunch of men’s rights activists on Twitter. I made sympathetic noises. At which one of these princes hunted through my photos, found the only one that included two little girls, daughters of friends – and posted it to all his followers, with a message for me: “It took me 30 seconds to retweet these.” And, just like that, I lost my stomach for Twitter….”