The misogynist trolls attacking 1st black hole image photographer Katie Bouman are the tip of the trashpile

The Guardian – By Jill Filipovic – April 17, 2019

Trolls latched on to Bouman’s achievement of the first black hole image with a vitriol that, in a saner world, would be shocking – but is par for the course for women.

The researcher Dr Katie Bouman played a leading role in taking the first photograph of a black hole. A photo of the 29-year-old Bouman taken the moment the photo was processed shows her with her hands clasped in front of her mouth, looking at the camera with a mix of shock and excitement. It went viral – both a testament to the groundbreaking work itself and a moment of victory for women in the sciences, whose contributions have long been ignored, downplayed and erased.

The giddiness didn’t last long.

Anti-feminist trolls latched on to the story and attacked Bouman with a vitriol that, in a saner world, would be shocking, but in this one looked a lot like the reaction to a Ghostbusters movie remake with a female cast – that is, sad, angry men yelling at women on the internet. Trolls created fake social media accounts impersonating Bouman. They questioned her contribution to the project. When she said that she was part of a team who all worked hard to make the photo happen, they dug in deeper, suggesting she was only getting public attention because she was a woman, when men did all the real work.

Unfortunately, this is par for the course for women on the internet. Or women in politics. Or women on television. Or women who become prominent in any way, even if they are, like Katie Bouman, private citizens who did something truly amazing.

Highlighting these attacks is crucial, if only to show the depth and degree of virulent misogyny. Too many women who have come into the public eye for any reason – or even women who are not in the public eye but spend time in online social spaces – know the feeling of being harassed, belittled, threatened and demeaned. Too many women have, as a result, piped down, shut up or bowed out. Untold numbers more never jump into the ring in the first place, keeping their voices down, their work quiet and their successes private.

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Posted by Teri Perticone


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