Prof. Janina Steinert and Prof. Jürgen Pfeffer give expert interview on study on online-violence against Politicians of the European Parliament

In the Media |

The Austrian magazine Profil published a column by Ingrid Brodnig. She discussed the phenomenon of online hate and violence and how it is used against, especially, female Politicians. Amongst others the draws from a current study by Prof. Jürgen Pfeffer and Prof. Janina Steinert, which they conducted with 60 Members of the European Parliament.

It is shown that both male and female Members of the Parliament can be targeted by this form of violence but it differs which kind of comments and threats they receive. Women receive more threats of sexualised violence and more often become patronised or infantilised. 

The prevalence of death threats is a bit higher for male Members of the European Parliament (29%) compared to their female colleagues (24%).

But threatening Parliamentarians with rape or other forms of sexualised violence and intimidations was mentioned by about 20% of female participants, whereas none of the male participants reported this.

Furthermore, being patronised or infantilised was reported by 40% of female politicians but less than 20% of male counterparts.

Additionally, there are higher psychological consequences for female Members of the Parliament. They feel intimidated, stressed, and feel ashamed more than male Members of the Parliament reported. Structurally, this leads to the Silencing Effect: The aggressive comments make recipients show avoidance behaviour. 17% of female recipients described that they reduced their Social Media Postings after being threatened (only 6% of male recipients did so), and 14% of female Parliamentarians reduced their public events.

Prof. Steinert highlights that this poses a risk to weaken the representation of females in politics and by that democracy as a whole. The upcoming phases of the project will also highlight concernment and defense strategies applied by Politicians adds Prof. Pfeffer. 

You can find the entire article here.

These data are one of the first outputs of the research project "Understanding, Detecting, and Mitigating Online Misogyny against Politically Active Women" led by Prof. Jürgen Pfeffer, Prof. Janina Steinert (both TU München), and Prof. Sahana Udupa (LMU München). A detailed description of the project can be found on the project homepages of Prof. Janina Steinert and Prof. Jürgen Pfeffer.