I am woman hear me roar!! Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.
I could write forever about the injustice of sexism, misogyny, the objectification of women in the media, trolling, cyberhate and bullying online. We all know it’s there, but are we going to do anything about it?
Only last week, a woman commented on an NRL Facebook post I was following. She was attacked for her team preference and her gender. So she did what any footy fan would, she fought back. It took another person to step in and say “seriously, you guys are fighting on facebook, no one wins”.
How right that person is – “no one wins”.
The internet can liberate. Liberate countries. Liberate groups of people. And liberate viewpoints. It provides a megaphone for opinions to be voiced. Not all opinions are useful though.
How is this conducive to an accepting society? It isn’t. It achieves nothing. This only amplifies that some people still hold views from ancient history. This is 2013, seriously, we’ve lived with each other for millions of years, why are we unable to accept each other? No one wins when opinions like this are posted for the world to see. The commenter may feel great about him/herself for a short amount of time, but when their self satisfaction wears off they’ll just move on to another victim. The people viewing this, liking this, agreeing with this discourage others with alternate opinions from speaking out against them. And we see the faults of society. I don’t want to stereotype, but every time I see barbaric views like this I think of an oily haired, overweight and dirty person living in some kind of hole in the ground (with an internet connection, obviously). But we don’t actually know who these people are. The anonymity of being online allows social media to become their playground.
There are always those that are dumb enough to use their real names though. Sexist Facebook Dudes on tumblr name and shame people who practice sexism and misogyny online. Users post names of people who post offensive, sexist and cruel comments about women on Facebook. Another group taking a stand and exposing sexism is Sexism! As Seen on Facebook.
From what happened to the woman who voiced her opinion on the NRL I am now apprehensive about giving my viewpoint online. That she was attacked for being female has discouraged me from commenting on Rugby League posts. This article outlines how witnesses can generalise if they see sexism. This is the case for many who experience or see hateful messages online.
How can this be addressed? We could delete hateful comments. We could name and shame. We could fight back. All of these are plausible, but what if deleting comments becomes so wonderful we start deleting opinions we disagree with? We’ll see less diversity of opinion. If we name and shame, there’s every possibility others will troll the commenter causing a cycle of hate. Fighting back will only escalate the problem.
In my opinion, the only way we can seriously address this issue in a way that will have lasting effects is to educate. Educate children from a young age to understand the concept of diversity of opinion and that attacking someone for their gender, sexual preference, colour or religion does not achieve anything.
How would you address these issues?