Since March 8th was International Women’s Day, I am writing series on Great Swedish Women, past and present: women with strength and passion, women with a voice, women who create change. For seven days, I am writing about these women, one per day. I hope you want to join me in celebrating them.
Part 4 – handball player and social media warrior Linnéa Claesson.
When Linnéa Claesson was 12 years old, she was on-line chatting with a guy who she though was the same age as her. When she turned on her camera, she was greeted by an older man masturbating to her.
It is impossible to imagine what must have run through 12 year old Linnéa’s mind and it’s horrendous to think that she had to experience it. For Linnéa, it was the start of years of ongoing net abuse and social media hate. And one day she decided to not take it any more. She decided to fight back.
Linnéa Claesson is one of Sweden’s most accomplished handball players on elite level and has won, for example, gold in the handball World Championships. After matches, she typically gets unsolicited messages from men on social media which include sexual propositions, pornographic comments about her body, physical threats and penis photographs. Linnéa decided to retaliate, and set up an Instagram account called ‘assholesonline’ where she takes a screenshot of the comments and how she has answered them, often using humour as her weapon. Here’s an example:
‘My fantasy: Me, you and another girl licking you until you scream. Maybe a bubble bath. What’s your fantasy?
‘My fantasy: Me, you and another girl kicking you until you scream. Maybe a blood bath.’
In responding to the comments, Linnéa wants to take back the conversation and show those harrassing her, and other women, that she is not ashamed and that she is in control. The reaction she receives from the men is often angry and aggressive and not infrequently leads to threats on her life. In a recent interview, she said,
‘I have to do this, even if I’m scared. I have to be brave. Generations after me shouldn’t have to face the same thing.‘
Linnéa Claesson is not only a fighter on the playing field, she is a fighter in many other aspects. She fights against the sexual harrassment of women and in doing so she is trying to create a debate around this problem. The ultimate goal – to change society’s attitude and view of women and create a positive change. In her own words,
‘We should stand up for each other and when we see something wrong we should challenge it. I think that this is important.’
Here is Linnéa’s Instagram account assholesonline.