Author of victim-blaming book targeted by misogynist trolls: 'Men told me I would die alone'
Dr Jessica Taylor’s book, Why Women are Blamed for Everything, examines the root cause of what leads people to place the blame on women when they have been abused, trafficked, or harassed by men.
But in the last week, Dr Taylor has been subjected to severe online harassment, receiving thousands of messages on her public Facebook page from alt-right trolls, many of whom align themselves with men’s rights activism and incel subcultures. Her personal computer was also hacked.
“We had three of us banning and blocking but it was impossible,” she tells The Independent.
“Sometimes it was up to a hundred comments every few minutes. The comments and messages were everything from telling me to die, kill myself, messages saying ‘I will rape you’, messages saying I am not a real psychologist, that I’m fat, ugly, disgusting, infertile, and that I will die alone.”
Such messages were also mixed in with this were overt sexual comments, such as people telling Dr Taylor to do porn.
“This went on solidly on every post about my book for five days,” Dr Taylor explains.
“When we started banning and blocking, they really ramped it up and it became violent and abusive.”
Dr Taylor and her partner Jaimi began reporting the users to Facebook and in total successfully blocked more than 2,000 users who had left abusive comments.
But after that, Dr Taylor’s personal computer was hacked — a police investigation regarding this is ongoing. “On Tuesday, I was working on my laptop when my screen was remotely accessed. They had totally control of my keyboard and mouse. I tried to stop them.
“I pressed Ctrl Alt Delete to get to task manager so I could see a programme name but they kept shutting it down. After about 30 seconds of this, I realised how serious it was and I shut my laptop down and ran inside to turn my Wifi off and shut all other devices down.”
Dr Taylor believes that the views expressed in the abusive messages she received are far more common than we realise.
“Misogyny has always existed, it just shifts and changes through the years, cultures, languages and religions,” she says.
“We like to think that our society is so much more developed and progressive than it is in reality.”
Unfortunately, the Internet has allowed such views to thrive in the darkest corners of the web, Dr Taylor adds.
“Whether this is racists, homophobes or misogynists — the Internet creates a platform for thousands of people who hate groups of other people to talk about and attack people in coordinated ways.”
These are issues Dr Taylor addresses in her book, given that they are a core part of what is fuelling victim-blaming of women and girls.
“The men who were attacking me were angry for many reasons: that I was writing a book, that I was vocal, that I was feminist, that I was lesbian, that I was educated, that I was being heard, that I had thousands of followers.”
On Sunday 26 April, Dr Taylor is launching a new campaign, #iwasblamed on Twitter and Facebook to raise awareness of how many millions of women and girls have been affected by victim-blaming.
“Women and girls who would like to take part can tweet #iwasblamed and then include what they were blamed for and why,” she explains.
“For example: ‘#iwasblamed for being raped because I didn’t report to the police fast enough’.
“Let’s use the power of social media to demonstrate the masses of reasons women and girls have been blamed for being subjected to male violence.”