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news and views Gendertroiling: MisogynyAdapts toNew Media Karla Mantilla The advent of online communities has enabled new forms of vir ulent sexism that beg greater analysis. While aggressive online behav ior—trolling—is present across internet cultures, it is worth naming specifically misogynist variants as "gendertrolling." Gendertrolling, I argue, has several components that make it distinctive from other more generic forms of online trolling. The following essay is an attempt to identify the distinct features of gendertrolling and bring attention to recent examples from a range of internet communities. The term "trolling," according to internet studies scholar Whit ney Phillips, arose in the 1990s and is defined by her as "disrupting] a conversation or entire community by posting incendiary statements or stupid questions onto a discussion board... for [the troll's] own amuse ment, or because he or she was a genuinely quarrelsome, abrasive personality." Trolls engage in their behavior to amass "lulz" (derived phonetically from LOL, meaning laugh out loud), which Phillips describes as "an aggressive form of laughter derived from eliciting strong emotional reactions from the chosen target(s). In order to amass the greatest number of lulz possible, trolls engage in the most outra geous and offensive behaviors possible." Phillips also notes that "the majority of trolls on the English-speaking web are... white, male and somewhat privileged."1 FeministStudies39, no. 2. © 2013 by Feminist Studies, Inc. 563 564 Karla Mantilla Gendertrolling is a relatively new kind of virulent, more threat ening online phenomenon than the generic trolling described by Phillips. Crucially, it is not done only for the lulz — to simply upset the targets of the trolling—but it also often expresses sincere beliefs held by the trolls. While traditional trolls can certainly represent depraved values and behavior (the worst examples of which can be found on such sites as 4chan),2 and they certainly embody the worst of racist, ahleist, and homophobic behavior,3 what makes gender trolling distinct and, I argue, specifically and dramatically more destructive to its victims, are the following features: The participation, often coordinated, of numerous people. Gen dertrolling tends to involve a concerted or coordinated effort on the part of many trolls, often in the dozens or even hundreds, who overwhelm the victim with the sheer quantity of attacks, some times numbering hundreds per hour for a sustained period.4 Gender-based insults. Gendertrolling involves specifically gen der-based insults, including the widespread use of pejorative terms that are leveled particularly at women—"cunt," "whore," "slut" — and comments designed to insult and humiliate women, especially in regard to their weight and physical appearance. Vicious language. Gendertrolling involves particularly vicious and vile language and intent that can best be described as "hate," includ ing descriptions of vile and violent acts that the troll claims he — gendertrolls are nearly always men—would like to do to the target. Credible threats. Gendertrolling involves a significant and credi ble component of threat: rape threats, death threats, threats of tor ture, "doxxing" (revealing the offline identity of a person's online presence), or posting targets' home or work addresses and encourag ing others to menace or threaten them with loss of their job or their physical safety. Trolls have ordered packages, or sometimes pizzas, to be delivered to a victim's home in order to let the target know, in a chilling way, that those issuing the threats know where that person lives.5 Karla Mantilla 565 Unusual intensity, scope, and longevity of attacks. Gender trolling tends to persist over a long time span; several women have been trolled or attacked for years at a time. While generic trolling can certainly be viciously cruel, the attacks tend to remain limited to insults or attacks on one or two websites or social media locations. Gendertrolls, on the other hand, proactively and relentlessly pursue their targets across various online sites and even into actual life, and they also often pursue victims' supporters and friends for additional targeting. Another malicious technique that gendertrolls use is to instigate denial-of-service (DoS) attacks on victims' websites, or dis tributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks against the victims' web site host providers. This takes considerable time and effort on behalf...

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