Other than women: exploring harassment and difference online

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Tactical Tech is interested in the problem of online harassment as a barrier to political participation in quantified societies, and in terms of the harm it causes those targeted. We have been working to customise tactics of resistance and support to communities/individuals who are working online and are exposed to, or are at risk of, harassment.

This Satellite Session at Rightscon is fashioned as an intervention into ongoing advocacy, research, and practical support efforts, and seeks to interrogate a wide range of possible framings of (as well as responses to) online harassment.

A growing body of evidence shows that in addition to gendered and sexualised harassment, Islamophobic, racist, trans- and homophobic harassment equally take place online. We observe, however, that the sexist, misogynist and anti-feminist harassment ciswomen (of relative privilege and visibility in their social contexts) face is noticeably more visible in public discourse, media, research, and advocacy than any other form of online harassment. We are interested in how our work as researchers and advocates may become more intersectional, may focus more fully on gender rather than conflating gender with women, and forge connections with and/or support marginalised groups working in specific contexts. We will take critical approaches to Islamophobia, ethnicity, and race as they intersect with gender and sexuality to help understand localised experiences of harassment.

We have a number of questions we would like to address through this newer line of work and these will inform the framing of the session:

  • What can and cannot be learned about online harassment through the approaches, tools, and responses we've developed globally in response to harassment faced by women?
  • What do we know about the contexts and shapes of harassment faced by different communities/groups of people marginalised because of their religion, ethnicity, gender identity or race?
  • Is it problematic to think about harassment along identity categories? What might it afford us, what in turn prevent?
  • What are the spaces and forms that identity-based harassment takes (f.ex. Reddit threads, Twitter abuse, images, memes, fanfiction)?
  • How is online hate speech and harassment directed at specific religious, ethnic, linguistic, or political communities experienced?
  • How might an intersectional lens affect our working definition of online harassment?
  • How does expanding our focus beyond women affect our thinking about responses to online harassment (f.ex. in terms of design, tools, policy, research methodologies, activism, etc.)?

We see this session as an opportunity for discussion and reflection, and to contribute to an agenda that is more specific and contextual with respect to responding to targeted online attacks. We invite people working on online harassment, advocates of freedom of expression and participation online, those working on human rights, as well as interested technologists, activists, and researchers to attend this session. We especially welcome civil society organisations based in Brussels.

This session will consist of an introductory presentation to frame the issues and the terms of the debate, a plenary brainstorming session to collaboratively identify further relevant topics/question around online harassment, breakout group discussions, and conclude with a plenary discussion to consolidate the outcomes of our work as a group.

Logistics and details

This event will be held in the Town Hall,Grand Place 1000, Bruxelles on March 28 from 11.30am to 4.30pm. Exact location details in the map below. Please note that lunch will be self-organised. Since the session is being held in a government building, we need to have a list of names of confirmed participants. So if you'd like to attend this session, please send an email with your full name with 'Rightscon' in the subject line, by March 27, 2017 to gt@tacticaltech.org