By Taylor Solomon
Recently, I turned on an episode of Dr. Phil to find a story that was all too familiar. A young girl had gone to a party where she became intoxicated and took part in some sexual act with a boy at the party. Unbeknownst to the girl, the couple was photographed and later documented online through various social media websites. With the rise of the Internet and social media, cyber bullying is a new struggle for users of such sites. Cyber bullying is harassment of a person, male or female, through messages or posts on social media websites.
But this particular case is something more specific. Cyber misogyny is when women are harassed online based on their gender. Often, women are too intimidated or scared to respond, thus losing their voice when it comes to what can be such incredible tools of communication.
One of the most publicized cases of cyber misogyny took place in August, 2010 in Steubenville, Ohio. An intoxicated girl was undressed, photographed, and raped by boys at a party. Though two boys were convicted of the rape of a minor, the young girl still had to live with people having seen these pictures and videos, not to mention many comments regarding the boys as heroes and saying that she was to blame for the incident. This instance started a national conversation about rape and rape culture, but the problem was in no way solved.
Two years later, Canadian high school student Amanda Todd found herself the victim of similar cyber misogyny. Amanda’s family moved frequently and Amanda would talk to people in chat rooms as a way to meet people. One night, she exposed her breasts on a webcam after a man she was talking to requested she do so. When she wouldn’t show him more, the man started to blackmail Amanda with pictures he had secretly taken of her topless on the webcam. The man went as far as to make a Facebook profile with the picture of Amanda, sending friend requests and messages to Amanda’s peers and classmates from the account. In September of 2012, Amanda posted a video using flashcards to tell her story of bullying, depression, and self-harm. That October, Amanda committed suicide. Her video went viral, with 1,600,000 views three days after her death.
It is so important that in this day and age that we work to keep the Internet a helpful tool where we can learn and start conversations. Use Facebook and Twitter to share links to informative articles and engage others in a discussion. Start a blog about what interests you.
As a very visual learner, I enjoy the aesthetic appeal of Instagram. I recently began following @floral.feminist, whose bio reads: "Don’t spread hate; educate." I love seeing this account's body positive and feminist posts mixed in with what I call the "three Fs of Instagram" - Fashion, Food, and Felines.
A recent trend that I would love to see grow is the Facebook compliment page. Some schools have started anonymous compliment pages where you can message a compliment to the administrator of the group and then they post it, tagging the person it is about so they will see.
You can always make a change by starting your own campaign. If you think people need to be informed about an issue you find important, follow in the footsteps of our own Emily Lindin and use your Internet powers for good! The web can be a magnificent tool, we just need more people willing to use it in a positive way. You may not realize it, but you will find people concerned about the same issues who are more than happy to help. Let's use these tools to speak our minds, without letting others scare us into losing our voices.