Conor Friedersdorf has a pretty good post up about how violent, hyper-sexualized hate mail and commentary can dissuade women and gay men from participating in journalism and the marketplace of ideas:
I began to ask female friends if they experienced this same phenomenon. And not only were they close to unanimous in avowing that they did—many also cited a weariness at gendered online abuse to explain why they either shuttered their personal blogs and stopped writing for the public, or shifted their journalistic efforts to a traditional format rather than the more personalized blog format. This is the very time that people like Matt Yglesias and Ezra Klein were building the personal blogs from which they would become successful national pundits. One wonders how many equally talented women we missed out on reading due to misogynists hurling vile invective at rising female journalists.
My awareness of this loss only increased when I became a commissioning editor for a web magazine called Culture11. On several occasions, I pitched article ideas to women—some were journalists; others were professionals with insight into a particular subject—who’d have killed the assignments. But they’d turn me down, citing an understandable reluctance to subject themselves to the vitriol that too often accompanies being a woman who writes publicly, especially on certain subjects.