Analysis Abortion

Raped? Human Life Alliance Says Birthing Your Attacker’s Child is the Only Way to Heal

Robin Marty

The Human Life Alliance college ad campaign tells victims of rape and incest that carrying their attacker's/abuser's baby will "help them heal."

Few women have suffered like people who are victimized by sexual predators.  Be it stranger rape, acquaintance rape, date rape or incest, the person who has been sexually assaulted must deal not only with the physical effects of the attack, but the long-term emotional effects, as well. 

And for those girls and women who have not only been victimized but also impregnated by their attackers, the trauma of the attack goes well beyond its initial occurrence.

The Human Life Alliance dedicates a section of its ICARE advertising supplement into shaming women who are impregnated by their attackers into giving birth

“As traumatic as rape is,” the supplement advises, “abortion does not un-rape the mother.  In fact, studies show that most women who become pregnant through rape don’t want an abortion.” 

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The section then quotes a 1979 article that states that 85 percent of women who become pregnant via rape do not chose abortion, a statistic quoted widely in anti-abortion literature and websites.  However, the actual study was conducted on a mere 37 pregnant women who sought counseling from the study’s author.

Of those 37 women, 4 did not finish the study, 28 decided to continue the pregnancy and 5 decided to abort, resulting in the “85 percent of all women” statistic.  Although widely used in suggesting women who are raped should carry the child, it is by no means a scientific study.

The supplement goes even further to shame the victims of incest.  Joan Kemp, a rape crisis center counselor, said, “‘I am familiar with no case of incest-related abortion that did not make matters worse.'”

No case.  Not one.  Ever. 

The section then continues:

Studies also show that incest victims rarely ever voluntarily agree to abortion. Instead of viewing the pregnancy as unwanted, the incest victim is more likely to see the pregnancy as a way out of the incestuous relationship because the birth of her child will expose the sexual activity.

Yes, according to the Human Life Alliance, victims of incest (usually minors) should have babies if impregnated as a way to stop their own abuse.

Although the attribution is sloppy, the “studies” cited above appear to be based on a book written by David Reardon, a man who is known as the “Moses” of the post abortion movement.  Based on the 200 women interviewed for his book, Reardon was able to ascertain that:

“Abortion only adds to and accentuates the traumatic feelings associated with sexual assault,” and that “Pregnancy resulting from sexual assault is actually a contraindication for abortion.” 


According to Human Life Alliance, all of the “research” and “studies” in their rape and incest section (one self-selected 33 woman study from 1979, one book by a “post-abortion Moses” and one study done by the bastion of reliability, The Family Research Council) prove that “both the mother and child are helped by preserving life, not by perpetuating violence.”  Their emphasis on mother, and of course, “child” attempts to strong arm females in need of honest support and healing into a place with no choices but the one HLA approves of: coerced birth.

Analysis Politics

The DeVos Family: Promoting Conservative Religious Values Through Political Donations

Ally Boguhn

The DeVos family has thrown millions of dollars toward financing Senate races across the country involving vulnerable Republicans who support their issues; funding crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs) that lie to patients about pregnancy, abortion, and other health concerns; and lining up support for so-called religious liberties measures.

When you think about “money in politics,” the Kochs, the Mercers, the Coorses, or the Wilksesall of whom have made names for themselves funding conservative causes across the country—may come to mind.

You may be less likely to think about the DeVos family: religious conservatives in Michigan who for decades have helped funnel money into influential political battles, including local races, ballot measures, presidential elections, and key congressional contests in other states.

The DeVos family has thrown millions of dollars behind the causes and politicians they support. That means financing Senate races across the country involving vulnerable Republicans who support their issues; funding crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs) that lie to patients about abortion and other health concerns; fighting against marriage equality; and lining up support for so-called religious liberties measures.

In a January report highlighting donors “you’ve never heard of” who stand to make the biggest impact on this year’s upcoming election, the Hill’s Jonathan Swan and Harper Neidig featured the DeVoses’ almost unparalleled influence in conservative politics.

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“Over the course of 2015, no family in conservative politics donated more hard dollars to political campaigns than the DeVoses,” reported Swan and Neidig. Richard DeVos, the family’s billionaire patriarch, built his fortune as a co-founder of direct-selling franchise Amway; he is also the owner of the NBA’s Orlando Magic team. “An analysis by The Hill shows that members of the DeVos family donated $964,000 in hard dollars to Senate and House campaigns and to Republican Party committees at both the state and national level. This spending easily surpasses the $97,000 in hard dollars from the Koch family and $72,000 from the Coorses—two other major conservative donor families.”

The DeVoses’ commitment to the Republican Party runs deep. Among their numerous political ties, Richard DeVos acted as the finance chair of the Republican National Committee (RNC) in the 1980s; Betsy DeVos, who is married to Richard’s son Dick DeVos, was the chair of the Michigan Republican Party and finance chair of the National Republican Senatorial Committee; and her husband Dick took on a self-funded failed gubernatorial bid in Michigan in 2006 that cost the family more than $35 million.

In a phone interview with Rewire, Denise Roth Barber, managing director of the nonpartisan National Institute on Money in State Politics, explained that for families like the DeVoses, donations are often made to foster eventual relationships with politicians. “In general we all understand that contributions are made as an investment and that they’re hoping at the very least to have access to the candidates once they win so that they can discuss policies,” Roth Barber explained.

A search of the National Institute on Money in State Politics’ database, FollowTheMoney.org, reveals that the DeVos family has given $52.5 million to candidates and committees across the country since 2000, according to state data. However, Roth Barber noted that the family’s influence could extend beyond these reported direct donations. “There are so many other ways to influence and to … spend money politically besides direct donations to ballot measures, campaigns, and party committees …. So when we are looking at this we know that this is just one portion of their money. It’s not everything.”

In her book Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right, Jane Mayer explained that one of the ways the DeVoses have pushed their political influence beyond direct donations has been by putting hundreds of millions of dollars behind building a conservative movement.

“Starting in 1970, they began to direct at least $200 million into virtually every branch of the New Right’s infrastructure, from think tanks like the Heritage Foundation to academic organizations such as the Intercollegiate Studies Institute, which funded conservative publications on college campuses,” Mayer wrote.  

In a 1997 guest column for Capitol Hill publication Roll Call denouncing campaign finance regulations, Betsy DeVos admitted outright that she and her family used their money in order to buy influence.

“I know a little something about soft money, as my family is the largest single contributor of soft money to the national Republican Party,” wrote DeVos, according to Mayer. “I have decided, however, to stop taking offense at the suggestion that we are buying influence. Now I simply concede the point. They are right. We do expect some things in return. We expect to foster a conservative governing philosophy consisting of limited government and respect for traditional American values.”

Much of the DeVos family’s donations have gone toward helping to fund the politicians and the conservative organizations behind anti-choice and other conservative measures in their home state of Michigan. “With donations to state legislators and Gov. Rick Snyder, the DeVos family—via the Michigan Family Forum and Michigan Right to Life, which they help to fund—were able to pass Michigan’s ‘rape insurance’ law, requiring women to buy a separate insurance rider for abortion to be covered, even in cases of rape and incest,” explained NARAL Pro-Choice America in a 2015 memo, referring to the 2013 Abortion Insurance Opt-Out Act.

The family did indeed play a role in helping to elect Michigan Gov. Snyder, who has signed additional pieces of anti-abortion legislation, such as a 2012 anti-choice “super-bill” banning telemedicine abortion in the state and enacting what advocates called “coercion screenings” on those seeking the procedure. Snyder, more recently, has come under fire for mishandling the water crisis in Flint. Snyder was re-elected after “significant national involvement in the Michigan gubernatorial campaign” from the Republican Governors Association (RGA), according to the Michigan Campaign Finance Network, which also found that the DeVos family was among Michigan’s top donors to the RGA during the 2014 election cycle. The DeVoses gave another $122,430 directly to Rick Snyder for Governor.

Their donations have also helped other local anti-choice politicians get elected, including state Sen. Tom Casperson (R-Escanaba), who has sponsored measures such as “Choose Life” license plate legislation to help fund CPCs and who introduced a ban on a common abortion procedure this January, and state Sen. Darwin Booher (R-Evart), who has co-sponsored laws targeting Michigan abortion providers.

Although in recent years they seem to have largely flown under the radar outside of their home state, the DeVoses’ penchant for funding ultra-conservative causes and politicians hasn’t gone completely unnoticed. In 2012, members of the LGBTQ community called for a boycott of the family’s Amway company and its affiliates after news broke that the DeVoses had donated $500,000 to anti-marriage equality organization National Organization for Marriage (NOM).

An analysis released in February 2015 by Common Cause, a nonpartisan watchdog organization, named the DeVos family as one of the “major funders of the Religious Right,” finding that since 1998, the family gave more than $6.7 million to Focus on the Family (FoF)​—the same group that spent nearly $3 million in 2010 to fund an anti-abortion ad featuring football player and known conservative poster boy Tim Tebow during the Super Bowl​—through two of their family foundations. FoF spends millions each year to promote its anti-choice and anti-LGBTQ extremism, including promoting the passage of religious freedom restoration acts (RFRA).

NARAL similarly featured the DeVoses in its memo outlining the families that fund the “March for Life” and the larger anti-choice movement. NARAL’s research found that the DeVoses have spent millions of dollars funding right-wing organizations through direct donations as well as donations to “pass-through organizations” that help funnel money to conservative groups, think tanks, and other organizations, largely without the oversight of the Federal Election Commission (FEC)​. The DeVoses’ family charity gave $6.5 million total in 2009, 2010, and 2012 to DonorsTrust, one of these “pass-through” organizations that in turn has donated to FoF and other conservative groups such as Americans United for Life, which provides model anti-choice legislation for states looking to restrict access to reproductive health care.

In 2011, the DeVos family gave $3 million to the Americans for Prosperity Foundation, the nonprofit arm of the Koch-backed organization, through an unrestricted grant. As Adele Stan reported for Rewire, the Americans for Prosperity advocacy arm spent millions of dollars in the 2012 elections—and nearly all of that money was spent supporting anti-choice candidates.

Further analysis of the family’s giving shows that their opposition to abortion also prompted the DeVoses to give millions to conservative causes such as CPCs and other anti-choice organizations through their family foundations.

Between 1998 and 2013, two of the family’s charitable organizations—the Dick and Betsy DeVos Foundation and the DeVos Urban Leadership Initiative (formerly the Richard and Helen DeVos Foundation)—have given more than $1.1 million in unrestricted grants to a single CPC in Grand Rapids, Michigan, the Pregnancy Resource Center, which bills itself as a “life-affirming” clinic.

In these same years, the organizations donated heavily to the Right to Life Michigan Educational Fund, giving the group over $1.6 million in unrestricted grants. Another $15,000 was given to Baptists for Life.

The family is also a big supporter of the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank home to the Richard and Helen DeVos Center on Religion and Civil Society, established in 2004 after a $1.8 million grant from the DeVoses. The center was created “as a way to improve public discourse on these issues and to integrate serious reflection on the role of family, religion, and civil society across policy areas,” according to Heritage’s website. Its analysts have taken hardline stances advocating for Planned Parenthood to be defunded, opposing marriage equality, and arguing in favor of RFRA-related protections.

Perhaps just as significant have been the family’s donations during elections, particularly in recent years. During the 2012 election alone, 15 members of the family donated to primarily conservative political candidates, totaling over $1.4 million in funding. The family’s Amway company and its parent company, Alticor Inc., contributed another $1.07 million in that election cycle to candidates, PACs, committees, and outside spending groups.

The next year, after their home state of Michigan instated a new law doubling campaign contribution limits, nine members of the family gave a total of $700,000 to the state house and senate Republican caucuses in just two days. Between January 1, 2013 and December 31, 2014, the DeVos family gave $2.3 million to the Michigan Republican Party.

Analysis of the DeVoses’ spending in the 2016 campaign cycle conducted by Rewire using Center for Responsive Politics’ OpenSecrets.org database found that many members of the family have already donated the maximum amounts allowable by law under the FEC’s contribution limits, the majority going to vulnerable candidates across the country whose Senate seats are key to maintaining a Republican majority.

The FEC allows individual contribution limits of no more than $2,700 per person per election, and at least eight members of the DeVos family contributed the maximum allowable amount to Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH), Sen. Richard Burr (R-SC), Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA), and Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL).

For many of these vulnerable incumbents, their anti-choice positions are a key point in their conservative platforms. In December 2015 the Associated Press predicted that abortion would play a major role in Senate races in many of the same states the DeVoses are funding conservative candidates, including New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Ohio.

This comes as no surprise, given that several of these same Republicans have a long history of pushing their extreme anti-choice views. Sen. Portman, who is running for re-election in Ohio, for example, touts on his campaign website his 100 percent rating from anti-choice group National Right to Life, his 77-0 voting record in favor of anti-choice measures, and his record co-sponsoring medically unsubstantiated fetal pain legislation in the Senate.

New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte, meanwhile, has championed so-called religious liberties at the expense of reproductive health care, seemingly a pet issue of the DeVoses given that Amway/Alticor has lobbied for related measures. Ayotte lauded the Supreme Court’s decision in Hobby Lobby allowing some employers to deny their staff insurance coverage for contraceptives with which they disagree on religious grounds, writing in a statement that “Americans shouldn’t be forced to comply with government mandates that violate core principles of their faith.” Ayotte also co-sponsored the Blunt Amendment, which would have limited the Affordable Care Act’s contraception mandate by allowing employers and insurers to deny contraceptive coverage and other care they disagreed with for “moral reasons.” 

At least nine members of the family have also given $10,000 (the largest an individual is allowed to donate to to a state or local party committee) directly to the Republican Party of Michigan this election cycle. The RNC is another major recipient of DeVos dollars, receiving over $1.1 million from the family in 2015 and maxing out contributions for many of the family members. The Republican Senatorial Committee received maximum donations of $33,400 from nine members of the family, totaling over $300,000.

Thus far, the family seems to be hedging its bets on which presidential candidate to back, and donations of various sizes have been made toward several Republicans who have already dropped out of the race, including Carly Fiorina, Marco Rubio, and Jeb Bush. John Kasich has also received a handful of direct donations.

With hundreds of thousands of dollars already directly invested in conservative politicians nationwide, the DeVoses’ financial contributions in 2016 mean the family could be buying up access to elected officials across the country. Given their stringent devotion to the causes pushed by the religious right, that influence could be a cause for concern.

Culture & Conversation Media

Online Harassment Isn’t Only About Misogyny, Regardless of What ‘Gendertrolling’ Implies

Katherine Cross

Our society has long needed a comprehensive and up-to-the-nanosecond book-length treatment of online harassment as both a civil rights issue and a sociological phenomenon. Unfortunately, Gendertrolling: How Misogyny Went Viral, by scholar Karla Mantilla, is not quite that book—but for the moment, it will have to do.

Online harassment has been front-page news multiple times over the last several years, with particularly egregious and vile instances of it bubbling forth to the mainstream media from a terrifying daily mire of abuse, threats, and mobbing that has often specifically targeted women and racial and sexual minorities.

Our society has long needed a comprehensive and up-to-the-nanosecond book-length treatment of online harassment as both a civil rights issue and a sociological phenomenon, particularly to explain it and outline potential solutions, uniting disparate areas of awareness, experience, and fact into a landmark study. Unfortunately, Gendertrolling: How Misogyny Went Viral, by scholar Karla Mantilla and published by Praeger, is not quite that book—but for the moment, it will have to do.

The book provides an excellent introduction to the subject for those who may still be overwhelmed by its novelty and virtual origin; Mantilla ably defines a large number of terms that may confuse the technically challenged, and she summarizes a number of signal cases that have gained some media attention. But it is also not a terribly deep book, and, on its own, could leave readers with unhelpful and unchallenged preconceptions about the roots of online harassment. Mantilla’s goal was to shed light on online harassment, tell women’s stories, and propose solutions to this growing problem; she does well enough, but the book is often terribly lacking in a genuinely intersectional perspective and fails to get at the truly inky depths of this issue.

It is extensively researched and well-organized in parts, providing a much-needed 101-level introduction to this still widely-misunderstood subject. She provides a glossary for terms like “concern trolling” and “flaming” that will help neophyte readers navigate the often treacherous terrain of online society, doing so in a useful introduction that grounds the reader in her subject.

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She also uses this taxonomy to situate and justify her title, Gendertrolling, in order to distinguish it from the historical phenomenon of trolling, full-stop. Trolling online, as she describes it, is an aggressive rhetorical provocation issued by someone who “may not actually believe in anything he writes.” Using the example of an anti-recycling troll, she says, “He may even be an avid recycler IRL [in real life] … His intention was only to get a rise out of you—and he did. You’ve been trolled.” This is more or less accurate; trolling, in the classical sense, is about upsetting people for laughs, often through hyperbolically insincere speech.

“Gendertrolling,” Mantilla argues, is different, aimed at women and defined by its ideological sincerity and genuine wish to hurt the target. They “are not doing it for the lulz,” she argues, and “believe ardently, even obsessively, in the stances they take and act against their targets out of their sincerely held convictions.”

This is a serviceable distinction to make; online abuse is indeed often of a sincere variety. If it is hyperbolic, then that is merely a side effect of the depth of the abuser’s conviction. But there is something left wanting here that is not fully explored by the rest of the book: Namely, how this shift happened and, perhaps more importantly, a critical take on how even classic trolling has been perverted by the growth of online abuse.

Put differently, classic trolling “to get a rise out of someone” and its more violent descendant now have much more in common than Mantilla seems to credit. Even trolls not specifically affiliated with misogynist movements were trying to get trans women to kill themselves recently. Another “operation” of trolls from the infamous 4chan message board sought to sow confusion among online feminists by impersonating women of color and saying particularly outlandish things, such as “white people can’t be raped.” Yet this whole mess is entirely elided in Mantilla’s book, despite its serious implications for both the study of trolling and its gendered dimensions. You cannot understand the abuse of women online without understanding what sociologist Jesse Daniels calls “cyber racism,” for instance. Even if one claims to be narrowly focusing on the online harassment of women, that research agenda is poorly served by emphasizing the axis of gender at the expense of all else.

Although Mantilla correctly points out that most victims of online harassment are women, she seems regrettably determined to treat this as a woman-specific problem denuded of race, class, sexuality, and most anything else. Online abuse does, after all, draw extensively on any characteristic that can be exploited to cause maximum harm; harassment often takes on specifically racist, homophobic, and transphobic terms.

Even as she cites people like Mikki Kendall talking about the extensive and shocking abuse she has faced online for being a politically minded Black woman, little effort is spared attempting to either elaborate on or explain the racial dimensions of that abuse, nor the fact that white women are often perpetrating it. Kendall and I spoke together on a panel at Queens College in New York about online harassment, where this was a point she emphasized again and again; it matters, and it is a non-trivial piece of the puzzle to discuss these dynamics as well.

Meanwhile, when trans women are brought into the discussion, in the person of British activist Jane Fae, it is only to use Fae’s quote about how the abuse she got when perceived as a man versus as a woman was different, with the latter being qualitatively worse. Once again, discussion of the unique textures of abuse faced by trans women—and the fact that cis women, as well as cis men, perpetrate that abuse—is absent and unexplained.

The racism and transphobia of abuse directed at these women is not mere flavoring of the abuse, but rather its very content, and that remains thoroughly unanalyzed. It is not so easy, after all, to say where abuse of a Black trans woman becomes specifically “gendertrolling” as opposed to “racetrolling” or “transtrolling.” They’re inseparable, and that’s rather the point, from the perspective of the abuser: Every part of you is available to them for attack.

The book is rich with qualitative data on the subject that establishes quite clearly how damaging online harassment can be to people’s lives. Mantilla ably catalogs the unique ways in which women are treated—sexualized harassment, graphic rape threats often paired with violent fantasies, and threats of mutilation or murder—and quotes woman after woman who describes both the breadth and impact of the abuse. Some people stop using the Internet altogether, quitting jobs that require them to be online; others vary their paths home or move altogether; still others have had to defend against violent threats made to their children. Mantilla quotes Kendall’s public writings, for example, where Kendall details how she was harassed by people who looked up where her kids went to school and repeatedly threatened them online. In short, this abuse is real in every sense of the term and bleeds into our everyday lives, whether we ignore it or not. If nothing else, the uncountable sources for Mantilla’s book testify to this.

But Mantilla still seems to rely on the false distinction between online and offline life, the examination of which is vital to understanding online harassment. She recites the definition of IRL—”in real life”—uncritically, not truly exploring how our reliance on that conceit makes harassment easier. If you believe the online world isn’t real, that words don’t do anything other than express ideas, then it becomes easier to use the Internet in destructive ways or to dismiss people being harmed by others’ online actions. The division she makes between online threats and abuse, and “real-life” acts like stalking and swatting (calling in a fake police report that causes a SWAT team to descend on the target’s home), misses a crucial continuum between the two. One leads to and sustains the other, and both are “real.” The terror they inspire is real; the way it can cause you to change your life is real.

I have, thankfully, never been the victim of online abuse that bled into another human being physically attacking me, but the online abuse I received had tactile effects nevertheless. It was so pervasive and fear-inspiring that I had to take Xanax just to be able to eat properly and stop shaking, and for the first time in my life I had to take an SSRI (the family of drugs that includes Prozac). Put another way, my body chemistry literally changed due to online abuse, no SWAT teams required.

I have no doubt that Mantilla would have sympathy for this, and indeed her book makes the point again and again that online mobbing and harassment routinely does that sort of foul work. She also, eventually, cites feminist writer Soraya Chemaly, who actually does argue that “the Internet is real life.” However, the mention is brief, and does not delve too deeply into the subject. Mantilla may have been trying to introduce new readers slowly to the revelation, but it doesn’t quite stick.

And for all her extensive reporting on and recitation of the experiences of others, Mantilla does not weave that data into a theory that could properly explain the origins and motivations of harassment. Some chapters are a series of block quotes with minimal substantive writing from the scholar herself, for instance. It is unfortunate because it feels like this is precisely why she does not more fully interrogate our received ideas about the Internet, like the online/IRL dyad; she instead defers to others, and in doing so forgoes a theoretical sophistication that could make more meaning of the terrible stories she recounts again and again.

This has another regrettable side effect that is, ironically, rather gendered. In this book, women are usually articulators of their own individual experience, while most of the cited men get to be quoted as theorists with access to the “big picture” on online harassment. Mantilla extensively quotes writers like Arthur Chu on explaining GamerGate and the culture of sites like 4chan, but women who’ve had a lot to say on such things are generally reduced, with a few exceptions, to merely describing how they’ve been hurt, even if they have theorized more widely. This may seem nitpicky, but it speaks to a larger, oft-underregarded issue with online abuse against women: We are treated as experts only on our experience, our own terror, and not on the larger sociological issue at hand.

 Artist and writer Liz Ryerson, for instance, is mentioned talking about the anxiety she experiences in watching other women get harassed, but her extensive theoretical writing on the subject, while cited once, is used in a very limited fashion to describe the misogynist nature of the mob abuse heaped on game developer Zoe Quinn. The very essay Mantilla draws from, “On Right-Wing Videogame Extremism,” brings the kind of theoretical heft to explaining the underlying psychology of online harassment in gaming that Mantilla’s book lacks. For instance, in one of the sections Mantilla did not cite, Ryerson writes:

[Online harassers] employ the same logic that you see applied against LGBT and marginalized people that leaders in power in places like Iran or Russia do — social justice is a realm of Western entitlement and indulgences that are actively destroying the ways of lives of average, common people. [They] continually assert that these social justice issues don’t matter compared to large political or global conflicts, and use it to justify their behavior. [Because] social justice is the not a “real” realm, but one of the entitled babies who don’t care about global issues, their bullying is justified and will come to no real consequence in the end. [The] internet is, then, a playground for them to angrily act out their own paranoia and insecurities onto.

Ryerson usefully engages with the way all targets of online abuse are dehumanized by being rendered as fictive virtual entities, and how the online world is seen as an unreal playground where no one will really get hurt.

Mantilla, to her credit, does an excellent job of debunking much of the nonsense that garlands and sustains harassment: victim blaming, giving “both sides” equal moral weight, claiming the victim is feigning victimhood, claiming that the harasser is oppressed by scrutiny, and so on.

She also makes an excellent argument in the final chapter against the over-reliance on “intent” when legally reviewing cases of online harassment. “The standard of intent,” she argues, “applied to the determination of credible threats adds a layer of difficulty at a time when it needs to be easier rather than harder to enforce the law against credible threats.” This ignores the impact of abusive language, how it sows fear and hatred, and how speech often exceeds the intentions of the speaker in any case, to say nothing of the fact that short of an admission from the harasser, they can lie about their intent into perpetuity. These insights make Gendertrolling worth a look.

Yet, another failing of the book emerges in this section as well: uncritically treating anonymity as a cause of harassment. Anonymity is a valuable tool for women and minorities to not only shield ourselves, but reinvent ourselves as well—to say nothing of how it protects sex workers (another group Mantilla does not discuss), trans people, stalking victims, people escaping from abusive relationships, and so on. Yes, sites like 4chan are quite infamously anonymous, but that is hardly the whole story.

Ultimately, “Gendertrolling,” as a concept in and of itself, is faulty: The phenomenon we are dealing with is neither trolling, nor is it always about gender in the straightforward way Mantilla describes. We are all capable of being seduced by the conceit of virtual unreality into being abusive online, and though women are most often the victims of that abuse, we need to understand its racial and trans dimensions as well. We need to understand that women can perpetrate the kinds of abuse Mantilla describes. Even if the overwhelming majority of forces like GamerGate are men, similarly structured online hate movements like that of trans-exclusionary radical feminists (TERFs) are almost exclusively women. This begs explanation.

The book remains a useful introductory resource to this issue nevertheless and provides material, such as its copious glossaries, that should be added to any library. Just make sure it sits beside Danielle Keats Citron’s Hate Crimes in Cyberspace, Laurie Penny’s Unspeakable Things, and Sarah Jeong’s The Internet of Garbage to provide needed perspective.