Everyone uses social media in different ways. Our ethnicities and genders create a digital divide which will only become more prevalent as aspects of social media are integrated into the web. Have you ever been threatened online by someone you know or an anonymous person? In the article, ‘How the Web Became a Sexists’ Paradise’ by Jessica Valenti, she addresses the ways in which women have to fear for their lives because of sexism online. Valenti, while she doesn’t deny that men have definitely experienced abuse online, points out that women have also been enduring abuse that cannot just be ignored. “Extreme instances of stalking, death threats and hate speech are now prevalent, as well as all the everyday harassment that women have traditionally faced in the outside world – cat-calls, for instance, or being “rated” on our looks.” (Valenti 2007) When harassment occurs online it is easier to ignore it and most of the time other peoples comments can encourage it. Both men and women are subject to virtual harassment but women seem to endure this more. A study conducted at the University of Maryland pointed out, “A recent study showed that when the gender of an online username appears female, they are 25 times more likely to experience harassment.” (Valenti 2007) Women shouldn’t have to act a certain way online just to “play it safe” in case something were to happen to them.
The cause of sexism online might be that since it is not necessarily acceptable in public places (where we could get in serious trouble) people feel that doing it online gives them power and there will be no consequences to their actions. The role of genders in the real world and on the web is almost exact.
In the article, “It’s a N—r in here! Kill the N—r!”: User Generated Media Campaigns Against Racism, Sexism, and Homophobia in Games” by Lisa Nakamura, she explains an interesting feature that gamers have created in order to decrease the amount of harassment females endure while in video games. “A user-generated website was created called fatuglyorslutty.com, which was named from the most common names females are called in video games. The website encourages users to submit messages they have received from other users and to report it to the game moderators. The article also linked this website to a movement called Hollaback! which, “encourages women to take pictures of sexual harassers and catcallers with their cellphones and to share them on their website.” (Nakamura pg. 6)
There are plenty of websites and movements out there that attempt to decrease the amount of harassment women and men receive online every day. These websites/movements/online communities are safe places for those who have experienced any type of harassment or threatening messages. An article in TIME Magazine explains the ways in which women are harassed in a much different way than men are. In your experience with the internet, who do you personally think is harassed online more? Have you had any experiences yourself or know anyone that has? What other possibilities could lower the amount of harassment experiences online?