Book Review by Rachel Dortin
Wayne State University

Haters: Harrassment, Abuse, and Violence Online
by Bailey Poland

Published by Potomac Books, imprint of the U. of Nebraska Press, in 2016.
301 pages.

Bailey Poland, a self-proclaimed writer, feminist, and activist, wrote
Haters: Harassment, Abuse, and Violence Online as a visceral call-to-action against cybersexism. Poland’s intent was three-fold: to initiate a discussion surrounding cybersexism, to increase the attention paid to the harassment women experience in the digital public sphere, and to encourage activism on behalf of both academic and non-academic participants in the digital public sphere that reduces cybersexism and its all too frequent occurrence. Throughout her monograph, Poland artfully intertwined personal accounts of her own cybersexist attacks with the stories of others to frame her research inquiry. Poland explicitly included the exact language and imagery used in these attacks (with an initial trigger warning) to show her audience the damaging intensity of cybersexist abuse. According to Poland, the nature of the internet allowed cybersexism to flourish; cybersexism was rampant online, including small and large attacks aimed predominantly at women in the digital world. Poland relayed the advice typically given to victims of cybersexist attacks and explained thoroughly why each of those suggestions failed to prevent attacks against women. Instead, this advice was aimed toward persuading women to ignore their attackers. Poland clearly described how victims of cybersexism suffered emotionally while also outlining the impact of this abuse in one’s physical world. Moving forward, Poland initiated a call to action, suggesting that both academics and active participants in digital discourse have the culpability to address and reduce cybersexism; she encouraged her reader find themselves as part of the solution to this constantly growing problem. Aside from exposing the harsh reality of cybersexism, Poland’s research was intensely personal and visceral, which made her message increasingly salient.

Defining and illustrating cybersexism