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The internet is a minefield. But the experience of having to navigate a minefield of hate speech is not the inevitable path of the internet. Systematic and coordinated efforts are required to turn virtual spaces into unbreathable spaces. In this sense, the dominant narrative is that women and LGBTIQ+ people have no place in public life and therefore must be excluded.

The internet today is a house on fire. All over the world we find an aggressiveness there that is shocking and calls for new ways to address the phenomenon. There is no denying that institutional violence and political harassment, among other forms of violence, are increasingly impacting women who are active and vocal in public life. But not just women, as LGBTIQ+ people who participate in politics are also especially targeted.

The weaponisation of the internet to attack certain groups, in particular women, is the focus of the study Engendering Hate: The contours of state-aligned gendered disinformation online, conducted by the UK-based organisation Demos and written by Ellen Judson, Asli Atay, Alex Krasodomski-Jones, Rose Lasko-Skinner and Josh Smith. The study looks at the different strategies and tactics employed by state-aligned actors (and some non-aligned actors) with the aim of systematically weaponising online spaces to exclude women leaders and undermine the role of women who participate in public life.

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