Data Collection

Eighteen years of Rapeglish

The Input Data for these generators have been drawn from an overlapping and ongoing series of research projects. It is not an exhaustive list of the material I have archived, but a representative sample. My research in this area has been dedicated to mapping and studying the history, manifestations, nature, prevalence, etiology, and consequences of gendered cyberhate (for more details see The Random Rape Threat Generator Origin Story and The Cyberhate Project pages). While I did not commence formal academic research into gendered cyberhate until 2011, I have been engaged in informal and journalistic research into the topic, and have been archiving reports, self-reports, and examples of online hostility involving death or rape threats, and/or particularly sexually explicit rhetoric since 1998. My archives have been assembled using screen shots and web captures, and deploying methodological approaches from internet historiography (Brügger, 2010; 2012). Input data has also been gleaned from: The Cyberhate Project’s qualitative interview component (see below); scholarly literature and trade publications; legislative and court documents; press releases; web sites (including those dedicated to circulating cyberhate as well as those formed to archive, expose, and/or combat it); self-reports of cyberhate on various fora; and ongoing accounts of cyberhate in the media.

– Emma A. Jane

Hermeneutic and historiography

My hermeneutic is interdisciplinary and works across: feminist, gender, and queer theory; political philosophy, moral philosophy, philosophy of law, and philosophy of technology; and cultural and media studies. I also draw on literature from critical race theory, literary studies, and legal studies. Methodologically, I am influenced by standpoint theory (see: Harding, 2004; Sprague, 2005) in that I research from the position of a feminist who has herself been a target for cyberhate, and because my work is intended to contribute to the broad feminist project of advancing gender equity and the rights of women and girls.

The section of my work concerned with mapping the history of misogyny online makes use of Michel Foucault’s genealogical approaches to writing history. Given that Foucauldian genealogy requires moving beyond the ahistorical unearthing and examination of artefacts (Foucault, 1976; 1980; 1984), I study not only manifestations of gendered cyberhate, but the conditions of possibility for the prevalence of such discourse. This has required scrutinising the various interpretative apparatus used to frame and make sense of negative affect and hostility online. In particular, I have explored the potential connections between these sense-making frameworks and the documented failures of various institutions and authorities – such as police, policy makers, and platform operators – to respond to harmful gendered cyberhate in a manner which supports targets, brings perpetrators to account, and assists in addressing the larger problem (see: Jane, 2015; 2017).

– Emma A. Jane

Qualitative interviews

As described on The Cyberhate Project page, my research into the impact of cyberhate on the way women use the internet has received funding from the Australian Federal government. This is in the form of an Australian Research Council (ARC) Discovery Early Career Researcher Award (DECRA Project ID: 150100670) which is funding a three-year study called ‘Cyberhate: the new digital divide?’ – aka The Cyberhate Project – running from January 2014 to December 2017. (The University of New South Wales [UNSW] Research Ethics Committee reference for this project is: HC15012.) A key element of this project has involved in-depth, semi-structured, qualitative interviews with 51 Australian women who have been targeted for gendered cyberhate. Two groups of interviewees were recruited via a number of methods. These methods included: direct personal approaches; hard copy flyers distributed at various Sydney locations; invitations to participate posted on the project’s UNSW website; posts on Twitter, Facebook, and other social media platforms; and chain referral sampling. While my recruitment techniques were not designed to obtain a representative population sample, I did ensure that the interview cohort included women of colour, queer women, and Muslim women, as well as women from a range of age groups and socio-economic circumstances. I interviewed these women – aged between 19 to 52 – over the course of 2015 and 2016. Interviews were conducted in person or via Skype, with some follow-up interviews involving phone conversations and email.

The first group of interviewees (n=32) comprised women with public profiles who had experienced hostility or threats online, and had previously discussed this in public fora. These women had the option of being interviewed in an identifiable way using their real names, and most made use of this option. The sampling strategy for this group was purposive, aiming to target women from various demographics, locations, and socioeconomic (SES) groups who were regular users of the fora under inquiry and who had spoken about their previous cyberhate experiences in the media and/or in public domains. The rationale was that this group of subjects could potentially provide broad insights into the experience of receiving gendered cyberhate, as well as the ramifications of having spoken publically about being a cyberhate target. The second group of interviewees (n=19) comprised women who were not (at the time I interviewed them) in public life, and who had experienced hostility or threats online but had not (at the time I interviewed them) spoken about these experiences in public fora. These interviewees all used pseudonyms and all identifying details were removed from their transcripts. Potential members of this group were excluded if they had spoken previously about their experiences of gendered cyberhate publically or in the media. This was to enable the examination of episodes of gendered cyberhate that had not previously been reported by media outlets. In addition to providing a rich source of new data, this approach enabled the comparison of previously untold stories with those accounts currently circulating in the public domain.

– Emma A. Jane