Rape Threats, Misogynist Slurs, Sexual Harassment and Doxing: How Online Abuse Is Used to Intimidate, Discredit and Silence

Eighty-five percent of women globally have witnessed online harassment and nearly 40 percent have experienced it directly.

Online abuse is made to feel targeted, personal, individual and organic—when in fact it’s often systemic, strategic and coordinated. Online abuse is one part of a broader spectrum of attacks—digital, physical, legal and psychological—intended to push women and nonbinary individuals offline, out of public discourse and out of their fields of expertise. Regardless of where they live and what they do, the goal is universal: to stop them from doing their jobs and shut them up.

(This article originally appears in the Winter 2024 issue of Ms. Join the Ms. community today and you’ll get issues delivered straight to your mailbox!)

An Open Letter to Women’s Magazine Editors: It’s Time to Save Reproductive Rights

Right-wing politicians like Ron DeSantis are ranting about the “woke” media, yet most women’s sites today stick to “traditional” female topics: beauty, shopping, fashion, shopping, relationship issues and more shopping.

Perusing the happy headlines featured on women’s media sites, their readers would have no idea that abortion bans have demolished the rights of women in 21 states, nor that the maternal mortality rate has spiked in those states. Are women’s digital media site editors living in a Barbieland bubble?

We Have to Stop Calling it ‘Revenge Porn’

Susanna Gibson’s losing bid for the Virginia House of Delegates has largely retreated from headlines, as newly elected legislators are sworn in at statehouses around the country. What most people will likely remember about her candidacy, if they remember it at all, is that Gibson was involved in a “sex tape” scandal. The reality is that Gibson was a victim of what is colloquially (and inaccurately) referred to as “revenge porn”—a term that is negatively influencing how this destructive criminal behavior against women is perceived and punished by society.

The term “revenge porn” gives the mistaken impression that the crime should be defined based on whether the perpetrator intended harm. No matter what a perpetrator’s reason for distributing the images, the person depicted is profoundly harmed by their release.

Keeping Score: Arizona Supreme Court Weighs 1864-Era Abortion Ban; Kate Cox Is Denied an Abortion; Women Call Out Toxic Workplaces

In every issue of Ms., we track research on our progress in the fight for equality, catalogue can’t-miss quotes from feminist voices and keep tabs on the feminist movement’s many milestones. We’re Keeping Score online, too—in this biweekly roundup.

This week: Texas Supreme Court blocks Kate Cox from receiving an abortion; judge prohibits Trump-era policy of separating families at the border; women call out toxic workplaces, from New Jersey police to banking regulator FDIC; President Biden appoints record number of women and people of color as federal judges; young Americans are excited to vote in 2024; guaranteed income programs may help maternal health outcomes; and more.

Weekend Reading on Women’s Representation: Sexual Harassment Is Pervasive in State Politics; Remembering Sandra Day O’Connor

Weekend Reading for Women’s Representation is a compilation of stories about women’s representation. 

This week: Although Latinas represent 20 percent of California’s population, their representation in elected office lags far behind that; sexual harassment by sitting state lawmakers over the last decade is pervasive and ongoing; the urgent need for creating space for disabled leaders within the political sphere; former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor; and more.

Stop Stereotyping Black Girls: Offer Inclusive Sex Education in Schools

As of this fall, GOP leaders and lawmakers in over a dozen states have passed bans on teaching human sexuality or stymied federal grants aimed at addressing sexual behaviors and lowering rates of teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

While this negatively affects all children, it is particularly harmful for Black girls. Black adolescent girls in the United States experience poor sexual and reproductive health outcomes due to bullying and stereotyping. These health concerns persist throughout their lives and a lack of sex education is a key factor.

Winter 2024 Sneak Peek: Inside a Violent Clinic Invasion

“On Oct. 22, 2020, a group of anti-abortion extremists forced their way into the Washington Surgi-Clinic, a facility that provides abortion care in Washington, D.C.” So begins investigative reporter Amanda Robb’s alarming account of a violent attack on an abortion clinic in the nation’s capital.

Here’s some of what else you’ll find within the pages of the upcoming Winter 2024 issue of Ms. magazine: how online abuse is used to intimidate, discredit and silence people; women activists in Afghanistan and Iran are calling on the international community to stop gender apartheid; and the top 10 most disappointing TV series cancellations of 2023.

Sophia Huang Xueqin Won Awards for Her #MeToo Reporting. Today, Her Fate Remains a Mystery.

Huang (Sophia) Xueqin’s reporting sparked a wave of #MeToo allegations against various high-ranking media personalities and professors in China. She described the censorship she faced as “severe.” The extreme backlash Huang faced for her reporting included an onslaught of threats, bullying on her personal pages, and intimidation from authorities—eventually leading to her arrest in September 2021.

As of this month, Huang has been jailed and almost entirely cut off from her friends, family and advocacy groups for over 750 days.

The Violence Against Women Act Turns 29. There’s More Work to Do.

Twenty-nine years ago, Congress passed the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), finally putting the full force of our federal government into efforts to stop domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking to help survivors. VAWA was transformative. In the years after it was enacted, domestic violence against adult women in the United States declined by more than 60 percent.

The pandemic set us back, and there’s much more work to do. We will keep working to improve VAWA, and to support the Biden administration’s National Plan to End Gender-Based Violence: Strategies for Action, a truly groundbreaking whole-of-government approach to addressing and preventing violence of all kinds. 

The Supreme Court’s Blindness to Gender Violence

If you thought the Supreme Court’s decision overturning Roe v. Wade was the end of the Court’s war on women, think again. Now gender violence laws are under attack. Case in point: last term’s decision in Counterman v. Colorado striking down a stalking conviction as unconstitutional. This upcoming term, the Court is poised to deal another blow to domestic violence laws, in a case about guns: United States v. Rahimi.

The only answer is for women to return to a newly vital project since Dobbs: the Equal Rights Amendment.

(This article originally appears in the Fall 2023 issue of Ms. Join the Ms. community today and you’ll get issues delivered straight to your mailbox!)