John Oliver drops major truth about online harassment for women

John Oliver, brilliant joker of jokes and speaker of truths, dedicated a portion of Sunday’s episode of Last Week Tonight to the Internet. More specifically, how the Internet is still a scary place for women. “The Internet is integral to modern life, but unfortunately it’s also become a haven for harassment,” Oliver says, bringing up the sexual harassment female video gamers face on the regular, and blogger Amanda Hess’ experience dealing with a Twitter user who threatened to rape and kill her. And the problem with online harassment, Oliver says, isn’t just the harassment itself. It’s that law enforcement is still figuring out how to deal with this new underbelly of the Internet.

“Look, I’m well-aware that asking law enforcement to police speech is a dicey proposition…But if a woman turns up to a police station saying someone threatened her life on Twitter, the answer ‘What’s Twitter?’ is woefully inadequate,” Oliver says.

And the way the media covers revenge porn is equally frightening, since, as Oliver points out, victim-blaming is “hard-wired into mainstream culture.” It’s far too common to hear the stock answer, “Well, if you don’t want naked pictures of yourself online, don’t send them,” and not common enough to blame the person who leaked the photos —which is intensely problematic.

Oliver challenges victim-blaming by explaining just how illogical it is.

“For a start, not taking pictures doesn’t always work, sometimes these photos come from hacked webcams, but regardless of that it doesn’t matter how it happens! Because here’s a fun game: Insert any other crime into those same sentences. Listen guys! If you don’t want to get burgled, don’t live in a house! If you’re a parent, how are you going explain that break-in to your kids?”

Despite our outdated laws that fail to protect women online, companies are taking initiative to make the Internet a safer place. Twitter, Reddit, and most recently, Google, are removing revenge porn from their data bases and search engines. And that’s at least a great step toward making the web safe for women.

The bottom line, though? It’s really up to us to “fundamentally change how we think of the Internet.” We need to shift our attitude about how much power the Internet yields (a lot), and how it can be easily abused. But that the abusers need to face a legal consequence that can be implemented across the board —not just in 23 states. As the Internet grows more and more advanced, it’s really about time the government also got a (much-needed) system update.

Take it from Oliver, he speaks the truth. 

Watch the entire clip below:

(Image via YouTube)

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