September 29, 2015

MASS RAPES AND SEXUAL SLAVE-MARKETS IN THE MIDDLE EAST, BUT the United Nations has decided to devote its resources to studying “just how rough it is being a woman on the Internet in North America.”

There’s no doubt that internet harassment, threats and bullying are real and persistent problems. But online nastiness is a problem for both genders: While women may be subjected to particularly vile types of harassment, a Pew survey suggests that men are targeted just as much, if not more. And no matter how severe the problem is, it is absurd to suggest, as the report does, that online harassment of women in the West is comparable to the actual, physical brutality inflicted on women regularly in many parts of the world. (For example, the UN body that issued the report includes commissioners from China, where sex-selective abortion and female infanticide are notoriously widespread; from India, where the rape rate is rising so quickly that several countries have issued travel advisories for their citizens; and from the United Arab Emirates, where women who violate provisions of Sharia can be subjected to flogging or stoning).

The UN report, while surely well-meaning, represents a typical moral panic—a sense of crisis and fear blown far out of proportion. As with most propagators of panics, the authors of the report want to crack down on civil liberties.

The UN report is not “well-meaning.” It’s an effort to use the hysteria of privileged Western women to slip through global censorship in service of autocrats and oligarchs at home and abroad. The people pushing it are not good people who are going too far. They’re awful, horrible people exploiting useful idiots.

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