Rosemary Goring: are internet trolls a new breed of woman hater?

Rosemary Goring, Literary editor ⁄ columnist ⁄ Monday 2 November 2015

On Saturday, at Linlithgow’s bijou book festival, Val McDermid could not tell her audience very much about her new novel, Splinter the Silence, for fear of giving away the plot.


What she did reveal, however, is that its subject is the rise of internet trolls, those offensive patrollers of the online world who make twitterers of thin skin and anxious disposition nervous to broadcast even the blandest remarks. If J K Rowling can be savaged for expressing delight at the Scottish rugby squad’s performance in the world cup quarter final, what is safe for someone to say without fear of cyber assault?

McDermid believes that women are far more often the butt of trolls than men, despite the fact she has rarely been targeted. Even when she appeared on Question Time, a programme where, with the exception of politicians, most women’s performance is routinely met by twitter abuse, she emerged unscathed. Perhaps, as her teenage son has helpfully suggested, this is because she looks “so scary”. Or because, as her fiction attests, she knows countless undetectable ways to kill people.

Read the full article on the Herald Scotland website…

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