March 18, 2016

Yesterday President Obama spoke on the occasion of Women's History Month, and some of his comments focused on preventing harassment and abuse of women on the internet.

Transcript via The White House, starting at the 6:40 mark of the video above. Emphasis mine:

After all, the Internet is not something separate from our lives, it is completely interwoven in our lives. It’s how we connect with one another, and where we get our information, and how we create and break new ground, and where people work and earn their livelihoods. If you’re a teenager, I promise you, you are basically online all the time. (Laughter.) I know. I’ve got a couple of them. (Laughter.) The point is, the Internet is a public space where women have every right to exist freely and safely and without fear. (Applause.)

Obviously, this is not unique to the Internet. Women have been up against this kind of nonsense since the beginning of time. As long as women have dared to enter the public space -- whether they’re fighting for their rights or simply walking the streets, there have been times where they’ve been harassed by those who apparently see the mere presence of women as a threat.

But what’s also true is that women have been speaking up and fighting back for just as long. And we can’t let up now. And by the way, this is not just the role for women. It's about men speaking up and demanding better of themselves and their peers, their sons, their friends, their coworkers. (Applause.) Because we’re all in this together. (Applause.)

Then he addressed his right wing critics favorite bailiwick, that he is being 'divisive' any time he brings up race or gender.

Now, whenever I point out that women, or whenever I point out that any group of Americans face challenges that some of us don’t, I'm apparently being “divisive.” (Laughter.) There he goes again, being divisive -- by pointing out that women earn less than men, or that women are frequent targets of sexual harassment, online or offline, or that women face greater threats of sexual violence. Essentially, they’re arguing that by pointing out these challenges I'm dividing us.

I want to say to those critics, this shouldn’t divide us because you should care about it, too.

As most reader of C&L know, we have recently updated our terms of service, not only as a response to the Trump-led trend toward bullying in politics, but also in preparation for what promises to be a record-breaking year for women and minorities running for public office and taking action in other ways for social and economic justice. Everyone at C&L knows what the internet can be like. We at C&L choose to be a model for what the internet can be. We deeply appreciate our readers and commenters who stand up every day for what is right.

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