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Madam Senator: Political Visibility and Gender-Based Attacks Online

Thu, August 30, 12:00 to 1:30pm, Marriott, Salon A


Resistance to women’s public voice and visibility via street harassment and workplace sexual harassment have long constrained women’s use of and comfort in physical public spaces; this gender-based resistance now extends into digital arenas. Women face extreme hostility in the form of digital sexism and racism in discussion rooms, comment sections, gaming communities, and on social media platforms. This is particularly true of women holding elected office. This paper mines @mentions on twitter to showcase the different responses faced by male and female leaders who enter digital publics, showing the remarkable patterned resistance women, particularly women of color, face when they hold positions of authority. In light of these findings, we argue that we must consider the democratic costs of gender-based harassment, in addition to the personal ones.