Women’s Responses to Online Harassment

Kalyani Chadha, Linda Steiner, Jessica Vitak, Zahra Ashktorab


Given the ubiquity of social media platforms, the online harassment of women is deservedly drawing significant attention from the media, academics, and the platforms themselves. This study uses data from in-depth interviews with 23 women university students, who were harassed/cyberbullied, to explore how young women respond to negative experiences online. Findings suggest women deploy various defensive strategies while navigating online spaces, from normalizing harassment—and taking it for granted—to self-censorship and withdrawal. Interpreting these responses through a feminist lens clarifies the implications for women’s willingness and ability to participate in public spaces and highlights an increased urgency for social media platforms to address and mitigate harassment.


online harassment, misogyny, social media, feminism, self-censorship

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