Linnéa Claeson, one of Sweden's top handball players, has been grabbing headlines after speaking candidly about some of the online sexual abuse and graphic 'dick pic' images she regularly receives.
Two years ago she decided it was time to start fighting back and launched the Instagram account 'Assholes Online', where now more than 140,000 people follow her screenshots of some of the worst messages.
“I felt that we ought to be talking so much more about a problem so widespread as sexual harassment online. I wanted to show what women are exposed to online and at the same time have a forum where I could express my thoughts on feminism, courage, equality, anti-racism, LGBTQ issues, gender and humanity,” Claeson explained to The Local.
Click here to read some of the screenshots. The content is so graphic that we are unable to reproduce some of the worst messages here, but most of them follow a similar pattern: someone sends her an unsolicited, often sexually explicit message, then quickly moves on to death or rape threats when she turns them down.
Linnéa Claeson. Photo: Private
Claeson also posts screenshots of conversations forwarded by some of her followers, and many of her own and their replies to the men have gone viral in Sweden because of their humourous, unafraid touch. Sometimes she contacts the men's, or boys', friends and families to send them proof of their behaviour.
“I have had both positive and negative reactions. The positive consist of people feeling that I'm standing up for them, putting into words what they have long known, am a role model for their children, teachers and parents asking me for advice, young people feeling that I'm giving them the confidence to be themselves and stand up for what they believe in.”
“Some have called me a feminist icon, and that makes me so happy I want to run around in the streets, naked, smeared in blueberry jam and yell A WOMAN'S PLACE IS IN THE REVOLUTION!!!” she added in an e-mail to The Local.
But amid the praise there has also been a strong backlash.
“The negative reactions consist of hate and threats. Dick pics, rape movies and sexual abuse threats, death threats and similar. Also a lot of victim blaming and slutshaming.”
Sweden may be known as one of the most gender equal nations in the world, but Claeson believes that there still exists a culture of objectification of women, violent pornography and dominant male behaviour being romanticized in for example Hollywood movies.
“Moreover there's the macho culture and 'boys will be boys' attitude that tells young guys that they have the right to violate a girl's integrity if they feel like it. That a six-year-old boy can touch a girl his age on the bottom without any consequences, because all adults say that it is just because he likes you, teaches girls and boys that these actions are okay,” she added.
Below are some of the screenshots. Worse ones, most of which are in Swedish, can be seen here.
Men va fan verkligen, den här jävla snubben! #assholesonline Här kommer en hälsning till den som anmäler mina bilder. Det här kontot är för att medvetandegöra ett problem, kunna få distans till det och skratta lite och stötta personer som varit med om samma sak. Och absolut det är även lite halvtaskigt blurrade kukbilder här och var vilka jag valt att ta med för jag tycker det är viktigt att visa hur vekligheten ser ut. Eftersom de flesta följare jag har är vuxna människor anser jag att bilderna bör och kommer vara kvar, vill man inte se dessa är man fri att avfölja såklart. Det vore därmed trevligt om du skulle kunna tänka dig sluta anmäla mina bilder för jag anser att de gör nytta att visa dem. Mvh Assholesonline