How Women Cope With Opposing Haters
Hate is widely recognized as a destructive and negative emotion that can lead to a variety of harmful behavior. Hate is also one of the most common emotions and it occurs across a wide range of topics, from discrimination and hate speech to terrorism and hate crime. However, in spite of its pervasiveness and serious consequences, it is still a very under-researched topic, especially within psychology. Research in a number of disciplines such as sociology, political science and communication studies, has been providing interesting new empirical data on hate and it is encouraging to see that this subject is also starting to attract more interest from researchers in the field of psychology.
According to several interviewees, hate speech is especially hard to deal with if it is directed at one’s personal life. This is because it seems to amplify self-doubts, especially when accumulated over a period of time (Twitterstorm). Women interviewed also reported that hate speech was hard to handle at the beginning of their careers as they often feared for their lives.
For these reasons, many interviewees found it helpful to seek support from other women. This support was often from female friends who had experienced similar situations or conducted research on the matter. In addition, interviewees consulted with professionals to obtain advice and help.
Some of the strategies employed to combat hateful messages included deleting them and publicly confronting the perpetrators. Three interviewees also answered the comments they received in a bid to try and change their haters’ perspectives. In some cases, these responses were even successful.
Another important strategy was to try and prevent the perpetrators from accessing their personal information. This could be done by deactivating the notification feature on Twitter or blocking specific users. For a few of the interviewees, talking to the police was an option, but they did not find this approach particularly effective. This was mainly because they were afraid the police would downplay their experiences or not take the issue seriously.
In America, people are now more likely to hate those from the opposing party than they are to love them. This increase in political sectarianism has disrupting implications for the country’s politics. Behaviorally, it leads to more polarized views and the perception that opposing partisans are less competent, and may motivate people to engage in discriminatory behaviors such as paying an opposing partisan less than a copartisan for equivalent job performance or recommending that they be denied a scholarship. Researchers have suggested various interventions to mitigate this trend, including correcting misperceptions of the opposition, fostering cross-party interactions and reforming campaign finance and partisan gerrymandering.