When you consider that a woman is called a sl*t or a wh*re on Twitter every 10 seconds, the problem of tackling online abuse, particularly of the gendered variety, seems pretty overwhelming.
But a group of young women from Sydney are doing just that – and winning.
If you haven’t been following the story of “That Tinder Girl“, it goes something like this: In August last year Olivia Melville, 25, became the victim of violent abuse and threats online after a screenshot of her Tinder profile was posted to Facebook by someone she didn’t know.
Her profile featured a picture of her with friends and a fairly innocuous line from a popular Drake song (“Type of girl that will suck you dry and then eat some lunch with you.”), which the stranger saw as grounds to publicly shame her.
She was called a slut, mocked about her weight, threatened with rape; all while repeatedly being told it was her fault.
One man, 25-year-old Zane Alchin, was particularly relentless, which led Olivia’s friend Paloma Brierley Newton to step in.
Paloma Brierley Newton. Source: Facebook
Her response was two-fold.
First, she penned a blistering Facebook post calling out the unremitting abuse. Then, she went to the police station.
"I didn’t know it was illegal at the time but I knew it had to be," she told Mamamia.
"Instead of just writing something and being angry ... Not just be another person being angry on the Internet."
Paloma's original Facebook post:
Not satisfied with the response she received from the police (who had no training dealing with cyber-crime), Paloma went to the media, heading up a group of like-minded young women, Sexual Violence Won't Be Silenced.
After nearly a year of hard work, they got a result and, on Monday, Zane pleaded guilty to charges of a carriage service to menace, harass and cause offence.
It's being seen as a test case for cyber bullying and he will return to court for sentencing later this month.
Paloma spoke about her win on The Project (post continues after video):
"I want young women to understand that they don’t have to fend for themselves to stop other people being horrible to them," Paloma said.
"It’s not a victim’s responsibility to not be a victim. It’s a perpetrator’s responsibility to not be a jackass.
"I want them to know that, if they ever do feel unsafe and attacked, there’s somewhere to go and feel listened to because it’s legitimately not okay."
The Mamamia Out Loud team had a chat about the case this week (post continues afterwards):
As we increasingly live our lives online, Paloma believes law makers and enforcers are lagging behind.
Hence, she is calling on the Federal Government to fund a deterrence campaign against online violence and working with NSW Police to establish a training program for their officers.
"[The] thing about calling out online harassment is people ask you, 'don’t you think it’s more important to be dealing with issues in the real world?'"
The Sexual Violence Won't Be Silenced team. Source: The Ladies Network
"It’s calling out systematic behaviour. There’s no better or worse way to be abused. It’s not about how badly it’s happening it's that - if these values are there - we fight against them in every form.
"Until we change the attitude that young men have to women online, how can we begin to change it 'real life'?"