[Chronique d’Odile Tremblay] Stuck in the Digital Web


The other morning, I was listening to a political columnist on the radio say that online, during an election period, women journalists receive increased rains of insults, often of a sexual nature. On social media, the insult unfolds stronger during hot moments, pandemic crisis or race for power. In full waves explode the cries of frustrated citizens, mingled with calls for the return of the patriarchy to gratinate the soufflé. The ” proudboys do not all live on the other side of the border.

No, it’s not just ladies who get poisoned arrows. Also gays, marginalized people, visible minorities, politicians, journalists, artists. The fact remains that women with a platform, those who hold positions of power, simple students or prominent professionals remain the main targets of anonymous outbursts on the Web. Where people express themselves endlessly. Where the words “whore” and “bitch” are coupled with serious threats: “I will kill you, rape you, break all your teeth. Sign of troubled times, this misogyny stuck to the violence of the day.

Sexist individuals want to shut down women, even if they are as brilliant as Canadian Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland, harassed in Alberta by a thug this week. Politics is a minefield. In Quebec, the Liberal MP marwah Rizqy was threatened with death online by a madman. He found himself in the dock, but the politician is asking for increased protection for the candidates. Liberal MP Enrico Ciccone saw his office vandalized and robbed. The safety of politicians has become the hot topic. In the bad ambient climate, acerbic voices also want to send the housewives back. The XXIe century sometimes takes on the air of the 19the.

In this vein, the documentary I salute you bitch by Léa Clermont-Dion and Guylaine Maroist (in theaters September 9) is a timely one. It takes us into an atmosphere of yet real dystopia. By dint of living in the midst of a dystopia in many political, social, health, ecological and sexist respects, we have become accustomed to being close to the abyss. Big mistake! It also takes the boost of a film to wake up the spirits.

The work of the two filmmakers comes to the aid of women in particular. Certainly, many will scream (wrongly) at female victimization. But this rant, which addresses the impunity of those who pour their gall on social media, calls for an even broader reflection.

Women from North America and Europe denounce their daily hell, while one or more aggressors pursue them hatefully online or in the street. Laura Boldrini, former president of the Italian Parliament, evokes her atrocious way of the cross, accompanied by incredible threats, some from a mayor, and calls for rape. Kiah Morris, former Democratic representative in Vermont, African-American, had to change states for fear of losing her skin there. Quebec students, harassed online by one of their colleagues who even sent their photos to the Dark Web, say they are defenseless. Not raw, not protected. Analysts are trying to understand the phenomenon.

In I salute you bitch, nagging questions are being asked: what if young people become desensitized to misogyny growing up in this digital age? If we had not taken the full measure of the social price that will have to be paid?

In fact, the omnipresence of porn sites hardly invites you to cultivate loving tenderness. The insults heaped on women on social media do not command collective respect either. And many of them will back down before entering politics. Online sexual harassment is the daily life of many young girls. Some commit suicide. So many news items leave us speechless. Many aggressors remain offshore, hardly less today than yesterday. In general, on the planet, the field is so poorly regulated.

Everything is going so fast that we can’t predict and counter the perverse effects of the digital revolution. To the misogyny stemming from the memory of the centuries, modern tools have been offered whose effects are still poorly elucidated. The film screams it: “Platforms don’t take responsibility. Women are alone in fighting their battles against the crimes of the new era. By dint of being violently intimidated, what if their rights regress? »

At least, this documentary, launched in the middle of the electoral campaign, contributes to shaking the plum tree. How to extricate the victims from this cobweb woven with hatred? Asking the question is already moving forward.

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