Do you remember this post? Where I basically said that anything you put on the internet can come back to haunt you?
Maybe some of you have misunderstood.
Let me be blunt: I'm not talking about a woman who sexts her boyfriend only to find the picture disseminated. If the roles were reveresed, he would not face a bucketload of harassment or diminished job prospects. She's not doing something malicious or unkind.
No, I am talking about guys who harass women on Twitter by sending rape threats. (See: what happened with Curt Schilling's 17-year-old daughter. Though I am frankly side-eyeing his assertion that you can't understand this if you're a man unless you have a daughter. Dude, I am a woman and have no sons and I figured out a long time ago that men and boys are human. If you can't figure out that girls and women are human beings unless you have one of your own, I don't even know what to say to you. Also side-eyeing the idea that it's internet anonymity behind this, since men have said stuff like that to me face-to-face, and people Tweet stuff like this under their own names all the time.)
I am talking about recruiters who send women who have publicly talked about sexual harassment weird emails, basically rationalizing the harassment. How gross do you have to be? This jacknape apparently thought that he'd somehow upset her into being his buddy? You are a recruiter. You work with people. If you can't figure out that this is unprofessional and frankly creepy, you need to get into another line of work. One that is preferably done in a cave on the moon.
(Also, what he said was monumentally obtuse. I work with men in my field and they manage to not talk about how they want to grope me. Weird, I know.)
Guess what? The internet is forever.
Yes, your target may not have the power to do too much to you right now. Not everyone has Curt Schilling for a father or a large Twitter following. And it wasn't until last year--thanks to this trainwreck of a harassment campaign that disguised itself as a movement (a ridiculous movement)--that online harassment of women was even acknowledged, let alone acknowledged as a problem. (I used to run a political blog and I promise you, this has been a thing for years.)
Your target may not have a lot of power. But your target can and just might make your email public. Your target might point her friends to your threatening Tweets or Facebook posts and those friends might take screenshots. Your target might figure out where you work, or who your wife is, and clue them in about how you've been spending your time. The police don't take online threats or harassment that seriously (yet) but other people do and you will get blowback.
In short, this is going to come back to bite you. And I will not feel at all sorry for someone who loses their job, finds the need to couch surf while his wife decides if she wants to stay married to a threatening creeper, or has to explain themselves to people in the future.
You know why? Because I and other women have had to deal with the business end of harassment for all of our lives. And it's not okay.