It's called the World Wide Web, not the World Wide Men's Club. So why do some commenters on articles, blog posts, and forums feel the need to harass women online? That exactly what the popular community website Fark.com considered when it added "misogyny" to its moderator guidelines.
The new rules were put in place to remind users "that we don't want to be the He Man Woman Hater's Club," Fark.com founder and admin Drew Curtis wrote. "This represents enough of a departure from pretty much how every other large Internet community operates that I figure an announcement is necessary."
Because "it's impossible to know the difference between a person with hateful views and a person lampooning hateful views to make a point," Curtis posted, Fark.com moderators will delete any comments that include rape jokes, refer to women as "whores" or "sluts" or similar insults, or suggest that a woman who suffered a crime was somehow "asking for it."
Before assuming that most people would consider it common sense not to insult women online, consider that it wasn't that long ago that popular blogger Ariel Waldman was harassed using gender-specific terminology on Twitter and says the site did nothing to stop the abuse. And Jennifer Hepler, a managing editor for BioWare, was harassed after an interview discussing, among other things, making gaming more accessible for women.
Earlier this year, a female gaming veteran was harassed by a male reporter on Facebook. The woman interviewed for the article was so afraid of more harassment she didn't want to be publicly identified.
But Fark.com, which has been a thriving online community for sharing interesting, bizarre, and amusing news stories since 1999, hopes to set an example for other sites.
"We're trying to make the Fark community a better place," Curtis wrote, "and hopefully this will be a few steps in the right direction."