There’s a direct correlation between young women who express their opinions online and the amount of cyber hate they receive. As young women take to the web to promote their activism and opinions, the response from online communities is rarely supportive. Hateful comments, threats of rape and misogynistic language permeate Tumblrs, Facebook updates and YouTube comments where the remarks often turn personal due to the availability of information posted on profiles.
(WARNING: the following images contain profanities and are included to illustrate the severity of the problem.)
If you create any sort of feminist content, you’re accustom to receiving comments like these in your inbox:
In the wake of increased cyber bullying and hate in both feminist and LGBTQ online spaces, the Women’s Media Center & I developed a webinar for young women and their adult mentors to raise awareness of the issue and develop on-the-ground tactics to combat the problem. Using stories and statistics from these online communities, the goal was to raise awareness of cyber hate in feminist and LGBTQ spaces and delve lop a best practices for responding to it so that young woman can continue to amplify their voices and tell their stories when expressing themselves on and off-line.
As a result of the webinar, we found that most young women received cyberhate once they uploaded video content, created a blog post or started a Tumblr, which matched the national statistic: 58% of young women reported having mean or cruel things said to them online. This percentage decreases slightly as the age range increases, however what remains the same is that girls are more likely than boys to be the target of cyberbullying and there is a direct correlation between the amount of time girls spend online and the likelihood that they will be bullied in this way.
Because social networks do very little to combat the problem of misogynistic and hateful comments against female and feminist social media users, it’s often up to harassed users to create a critical mass if any action were to be taken. If we’re trying to amplify the voices of women in the media, I think it’s vital for young women to be thought leaders in this space as cyberhate is what keeps so many women from using their voice online. As a result of the suggestions, tips and stories shared in the webinar, I’ve begun to compile a best practices for combating online bullying & misogynistic hate in feminist and LGBTQ spaces.
How do you combat cyber misogyny? Let’s create an invaluable resource for the 95% of internet users who say they witness this psychologically harmful activity and the millions of women who combat it each day.