In this article, Herring discusses her research into both asynchronous communication via discussion list and synchronous communication via IRC in which women were subject to harassment and demeaning characterizations by men. In both instances, the result was that the affected women fell silent or complied with the male behavioral normatives. I think it is important to note the forums chosen, as there may have been some issues inherent to the discussion which should be considered above and beyond the linguistic patterns. The discussion list was Paglia-L, a group dedicated to discuss the writings of the cultural theorist Camille Paglia, who is often referred to as an "anti-feminist feminist" and who often generates polemical discussions among women as often as in mixed company. The IRC channel was #india which is primarily composed of expatriates from India living in English-speaking countries, and as such, specific Indian cultural patterns may have also influenced the speech found on that channel. What is most useful to me from this essay is how Herring defines harassment online, shows examples of its resistance and escalation, and finally shows how the female participants accommodate or conform to the degrading situation. If these examples can be extended across the internet, it would indicate that male-female communication suffers from similar breakdowns as those that can occur on the job or in any face-to-face situation where harassment may surface and as such, that we have a long way to go to address gender equality online.
In this essay, Frederick examines the question of whether computer-mediated communication is truly a democratic utopia where feminist values can flourish. By studying data from 2 newsgroups, alt.feminism and soc.feminism, she demonstrates that discrimination and exclusion/hostility can continue to occur, even in a supposedly inclusive and politically feminist context. She concentrates on the ethos of the newsgroups as the basis for constructing either a welcoming or distancing communication arena. My interest in this article stems from this notion of ethos because I think that it a highly influencing factor which combines with inherent linguistic features of women's speech to produce a speech community. I believe that any future discussions of the social structure of online communication must address ethos as well as linguistic differences in order to prevent factionalization or balkanization of men and women online, much as one might approach a dialog about multiculturalism and the internet.