It can be hard to get people to take online harassment seriously. Law enforcement sometimes doesn't understand Twitter. Others just don't understand why it's not as simple as logging off of social media for a while, or why you can't "just ignore" death and rape threats even if they're probably nothing.
But with its #MoreThanMean campaign, the Just Not Sports podcast is trying to make people understand that online harassment is very real, and very harmful.
This powerful PSA video features male volunteers reading hateful tweets (which they didn't write) that have been sent to two Chicago-area women sports personalities, Sarah Spain, a columnist and radio host with ESPN, and Julie DiCaro, an update anchor for WSCR-AM 670 The Score and writer at the Cauldron.
The women had seen all the tweets before, but the men — who thought they were being recruited for a much more light-hearted, Jimmy Kimmel-style "mean Tweets" segment — had no idea what was coming.
The tweets start off offensive, but laughable. Somebody says he wants to start a petition to ban DiCaro's writing. Somebody calls Spain a "scrub muffin."
Then the upbeat music halts as one man reads to DiCaro: "One of the players should beat you to death with their hockey stick like the whore you are."
Then: "Sarah Spain is a self-important, know-it-all cunt."
Later, to DiCaro: "I hope you get raped again." DiCaro once wrote about her own "astoundingly typical rape" for the Huffington Post after the news that Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston wouldn't be charged with sexual assault.
The men's faces fall, horrified and embarrassed. They stumble and struggle to continue. Most of them do, eventually, reluctantly, without looking the women in the eyes, because this is what they agreed to do for the video. A few of them just have to stop.
They apologize — for themselves, to their mothers, on behalf of the entire male gender.
The video concludes with the caption: "We wouldn't say it to their faces. So let's not type it."
But sometimes all a woman has to do to invite torrents of online hate is to remind people that she's a woman — either by writing specifically about "women's issues," or by writing about topics, like sports, that some people don't seem to think women should have opinions about.
The video is tough to watch. Which makes it a little easier to imagine how tough it is to read these kinds of messages every day.