Why so explicit?

This material is all very new and shocking to me.

Yes, some of it really is confronting. In fact, one man helping out with an early version of the coding for these generators felt so upset and assaulted by the input data, he was reluctant to continue working on them. Women connected with the project who have never been on the receiving end of cyberhate have also struggled with the violent and sexualised nature of the content. While it is not my intention to deliberately shock or distress anyone, I do feel it is important to help raise awareness about this type of online abuse by making uncensored examples of it publicly available. In my view, exposing people to this material and potentially causing shock, offence, or upset is the lesser evil to hiding it away.

What's the point of drawing further attention to these gross messages? Isn't it just feeding the trolls?

‘Don’t feed the trolls’ are the standard words of non-wisdom offered to those who are abused online. They are problematic for at least four reasons. Firstly, they don’t work. I, for example, did not respond to a single rapey email from readers of my journalism from 1998 to 2012, yet my response/lack-of-response had no observable impact on the arrival rate of such missives. The women I have interviewed report receiving a similarly steady stream of abuse regardless of whether they engage or ignore. Secondly, ‘feeding’ in this context often refers to talking about as well as talking to antagonists. While engaging directly with online attackers can backfire or exacerbate the situation, failing to talk about the gendered cyberhate problem in general renders it invisible as a problem. Thirdly, ‘don’t feed the trolls’ tends to be used in a circular fashion which ends up blaming targets (‘you asked for troll­ing because you fed the trolls’) while also putting the onus on targets to solve the problem (‘trolling will end when you stop all the troll feeding’). Fourthly, this is a framing which relieves antago­nists of all responsibility for their actions, leaving them free to Rapeglish away with impunity.

This material is extremely offensive. It is inappropriate for inclusion in a serious academic study.

I have heard variations on this reaction a lot from other scholars during the years I have been researching gendered cyberhate. For instance, an early article I submitted to a highly-ranked international journal in the field was rejected partly because an anonymous reviewer insisted that no-one could possibly take internet abuse seriously if it contained spelling and grammatical errors, or if its author was a poor writer (Jane, 2015: 72). On another, similar occasion, I was chastised about and instructed to remove unexpurgated examples of gendered cyberhate from a piece of academic writing. This was from a man who also questioned my overall argument about there being an internet misogyny problem on the grounds that he himself had not noticed any misogyny on the internet. It was frustrating – and I think indicative of a larger scholarly phenomenon – that this particular skeptic did not wish to be exposed to the very evidence that might have supported my thesis (Jane, 2017: 103).*

To adequately convey the nature and force of contemporary misogyny online, it is necessary not only to cite a multitude of examples in polite society, but to cite a multitude of unexpurgated examples. Generic descriptors such as ‘hostile’, ‘graphic’, and ‘in bad taste’ simply do not capture the toxic misogyny in play. Compare, for instance, the difference between the following:

(1) Women are receiving sexually explicit rape threats online.

(2) Women are receiving sexually explicit rape threats online such as, ‘I will fuck your ass to death you filthy fucking whore. Your only worth on this planet is as a warm hole to stick my cock in’ (cited in Doyle, 2011).

To fully grasp the nature and extent of the problem, we must bring it into the daylight and look at it directly, no matter how unsettling or unpleasant the experience might be (for further discussion, see: Jane, 2014; 2017: 14).

* While citing material from anonymous peer review processes raises ethical questions, my case is that the two examples described above provide critical insight into academic orientations which are usually concealed and which themselves have ethical implications. For me, therefore, citing them is the lesser evil.

I’ve had personal experience of sexual violence online and/or offline and find these generators triggering and upsetting. What on earth were you thinking?

I am truly sorry. My hope was that the warning on the first page of this site would give potential visitors a sufficient heads-up about the explicit and violent nature of its contents. If this warning was unclear or inadequate, you have my unreserved apologies. Please know that my intentions were good.