Video: John Oliver explains why online harassment of women is a problem

Video: John Oliver explains why online harassment of women is a problem

John Oliver in his video discusses how women in the US have faced death threats on Twitter

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John Oliver talks about the Internet and harassment of women. (Source: Screenshot)

John Oliver’s videos have gained a steady following on the Internet, given how he tackles serious issues with nuance and a strong dose of comedy. His interview with Edward Snowden, for instance, went viral as Oliver pointed out the issue of online privacy in a hard-hitting way.

In the latest video, Oliver talks about the issue of online harassment when it comes to women. From rape, death threats to gamers who are women to revenge porn from disgruntled ex-boyfriends, the Internet is not the greatest place if you’re a woman.

Oliver, in his video, discusses how women in the US have faced death threats on Twitter. For example, one gamer was told by a man that he had already been in jail for 12 for “manslaughter” and that he would come to her house and rape her and remove her head.

Watch video below: (App users click here)

Disclaimer: The video contains some strong language

As some of the women in the video point out, even going to police does not help because the authorities are unsure of how to deal with the crime, given that Twitter affords anonymity to its users.


With revenge porn, the lack of clear laws in the US means that women once again do not have a legal solution. Of course the argument that is bandied about is that don’t take nude pictures.

But as the nude pictures hacking of Hollywood stars like Jennifer Lawrence, Kate Upton, Kaley Cuoco, Kirsten Dunst, revealed the issue is not whether one takes nude pictures or not; rather it is privacy. The fact that hackers targeted the private iCloud accounts of these actresses to leak these pictures, (the leaks were also accompanied with threats that more such photos were coming) and got away with it, shows that there is really no legal recourse for women. And these were major celebrities, so for ordinary woman it is doubly harder to fight for justice.

In India too, online harassment of women, especially women journalists remains a major problem. Death threats, allegations about their personal lives, are often tweeted out on the social media site without any consequences. More recently Zee News journalist Swati Chaturvedi recently filed an FIR against Twitter handle Lutyens Insider for tweeting out slanderous stuff against which included calling her ‘nymphomania.’

She pointed out in a piece for DailyO that “Journalists especially women are hunted for sport, abused, slandered and hounded by trolls who hunt in hyena-like packs.” Even Twitter’s former CEO Dick Costolo acknowledged that the site has a troll problem.

The Internet is a wonderful thing, which lets us connect with people, pretty much order anything we want, but if you’re a woman with an opinion, it’s an entirely different game. From comments on websites to tweets, for women navigating the Internet without face encountering abuse is an impossible task.