Sample headlines: “Pew: Women Suffering Online Harassment Worse Than Men.” “For Women, the Internet Can Be a Scary Place.” “Everyone’s a Jerk to Everyone Online, But Young Women Have It the Worst.” Some commentators even expressed frustration and disbelief that so few Netizens saw online life as a hostile environment for women.
The women-as-victims angle focused mainly on the survey’s youngest respondents, ages 18 to 24.
However, an important caveat was overlooked: these figures are far less reliable than the study’s general results.
While the survey had an overall margin of error of 2.4 percentage points, it was almost 11 percent for the under-25 sample of just 137 women and 126 men.
Given that slightly older women, 25 to 29, were far less likely to report online stalking or sexual harassment, dramatic conclusions seem premature.
Women of all ages were more frequently upset by Internet harassment: 38 percent of women who had experienced it described the most recent such incident as “extremely” or “very” upsetting, while 17 percent of the men did.
The harassment of women online has emerged as a major subject of concern recently—even, perhaps, “tomorrow’s civil rights agenda,” according to feminist commentator Amanda Hess who brought this issue into the spotlight with a long article in magazine last January.