Jezebel’s Rape Gifs are a Problem (and Why Internet Trolls are the Worst)

Cute trolls, not Internet trolls

Internet trolls are terrible. The. Absolute. Worst. While, typically, trolls use words to get under unsuspecting readers’ skin, recently, over at Jezebel, these Internet scum spreaders upped their game with rape gifs.

According to Jezebel staff, a person, (or possibly multiple people), has been posting violent rape gifs on the site’s comment section for the past few months. (The problem is due to a Kinja feature. Kinja is Jezebel’s site’s publishing platform.) Jezebel writers and editors reported the problem multiple times, asking the “big brass” at its parent website, Gawker, to stop the harassment, but for the most part, complaints were ignored.

According to the site, when the issue was brought up in a staff meeting, Jezebel was told that no major plans were in the works to make the problem go away.

On August 11, Jezebel made a bold move and posted an open letter on its website addressed to Gawker Media. Luckily, within a few days, the post got Gawker’s’ attention. The company is now working on a real solution that should eliminate the problem once and for all.

This story is intriguing for a few reasons: First, it shows that a seemingly forward-thinking media company had to be publicly called out before it took Jezebel staffers’ requests seriously.

Second, the images that were appearing in Jezebel’s comment section weren’t annoying – they were disgusting and would disturb most any reader — male or female. Many Jezebel readers, such as myself, go to the site to get light and funny dish on feminist news and issues. We also visit Jezebel to be part of a community that rallies against companies and people who ignore tragic acts, such as rape and assault.

It’s downright shameful that Gawker didn’t initially take care of Jezebel’s “rape gifs problem.” And, as Jezebel’s open letter points out, if this type of thing happened at any other work place, the site’s writers would have posted about the issue: We’d “cite it as another example of employers failing to take the safety of its female employees seriously.”

Finally, this story also shows that women, and in this case, all people, really, are subjected to horrible types of harassment in various forms every day. Most women have to deal with street harassment when they walk outside. And many women are subjected to other types of harassment while out at a bar, or at work, even at home. Now, sadly, women have to deal with Internet trolls telling them how ugly they are, or that their opinions are worthless. What’s worse is how that harassment has spilled over to a website that strives to support women and feminism.

Luckily, Jezebel’s staff’s letter worked and no one at the company got fired for airing Gawker’s dirty laundry. But this wouldn’t be the case at every company. And that’s why we can’t stop having this conversation. The only way to stop the harassment is to listen to and read stories, such as Jezebel’s story, and to continue having conversations about harassment.

Related on EcoSalon

20 Ways to ‘Talk Back’ to Street Harassment

The 5 Worst Companies for Women to Work At

American Abhorrent: WTF is Up with Dov Charney?

Image: Cali4beach

Abbie Stutzer

Writer, editor, and owner of Ginchy!, a freelance writing and editing company, and home funeral hub. Adores smart sex ed, sustainable ag, spooky history, women's health, feminism, horror, wine, and sci-fi.