— Sonia Lawrence (@OsgoodeIFLS) December 9, 2013
A few weeks ago I tweeted a link to Prof. Nancy Leong‘s (Denver Sturm Law – her SSRN page here) series about about harassment in cyberspace (at Feminist Law Professors, here), definitely worth a read. As part of her reflections on anonymity, identity, and how to understand the responsibility of thread starters, website administrators, etc, she describes her own experience:
Over the course of about fifteen months, this particular harasser commented about me approximately 70 times on at least five different websites, frequently remarking on my physical appearance. ….. Moreover, he wrote offensive profiles of a dozen other law professors who were–so far as I could tell, with one exception–all women or people of color or both. (from part 4, here)
The ABA site writes about the ethics complaint that Leong eventually filed, here, as does well known law blogger Brian Leiter here (and elsewhere). Leiter noted Leong’s Feminist Law Professors posts back in November, in this post, where he also references work by Law Prof Mary Anne Franks (Miami) on this subject, and a few days ago he noted that Amanda Hess has written an article in the Pacific Standard: The Next Civil Rights Issue: Why Women Aren’t Welcome on the Internet – which references work by Franks and Danielle Citron (Maryland).
The connection between the generalised misogyny of the internet, and the very specific targeting of particular women is interesting both in terms of understanding why and how they happen, and in terms of how both affect the behaviour of those who are neither harassers nor targets, but are in the same spaces as those who are filling those roles. I highly recommend a look at Leong’s Feminist Law Professors posts – both for those who are at home on the net and those still resisting. Leong’s work also has the advantage, in my view, of bringing an intersectional view to the question of harassment.
In Canada, I have seen a variety of work which looks at cyberbullying or related topics from law school scholars like Jane Bailey (Ottawa) (and the eGirls project researchers as a group, see the website for this SSRHC funded project here), Karen Eltis (Ottawa), A. Wayne MacKay (Dalhousie), and I’m sure many more – if anyone has an up to date bibliography on this issue I would be happy to post it.
If you want to read more by Leong, try this article, The Open Road and the Traffic Stop: Narratives and Counter-Narratives of the American Dream,64 Fla. L. Rev. 305 (2012) here
This review of that article, which takes on interesting questions about conceptual inquiry and its place in educating law students, and this, by Ruthann Robson pointing to another blog post by Stephen Diamond.