Hi there 🙂
On Wednesday the 8th, we celebrate International Women’s day. I wanted to do my part in showing the world the vital role that women play in society and strive towards equality for all. Last Wednesday I gave a talk to teachers in my school on Preparing Young Women for Misogyny on the Internet. In this week of empowerment for women, I wanted to share it with you all, in the hope that you too join the movement. In this talk, I tackle the abuse women face online from trolls, and what schools can do to prepare their young women for this type of hate.
PREPARING YOUNG WOMEN FOR MISOGYNY ON THE INTERNET – WEDNESDAY 1st MARCH
In life, there will always be hate, especially online, where people feel they are protected behind their computer screens, saying horrible, cruel things with the intention to hurt someone and knock them down.
There are four main reasons why trolls think that it’s ok to share these comments online. 1. They see other people doing it, and want to be part of the crowd/ get attention/ be popular 2. They see politicians and other influential leaders like Trump making sexist, racist, and homophobic comments and think its ok to do the same. 3. Young women or the victims of online abuse don’t stand up for their beliefs and confront these trolls for their actions. 4. Social Media channels, such as twitter, don’t do anything to stop this hate.
I believe that stopping trolls leaving spiteful comments on social media posts doesn’t come from blocking accounts or deleting your own, I think it is confronting these trolls, and the wider public, about their hateful views and showing others that it is NOT ok to post rude, harmful comments online. We must not, however, do this in hate towards those who leave nasty comments, instead, we must be constructive and considerate. This is what we must teach young women.
However, girls can’t be taught to stand up for themselves when they don’t believe in themselves in the first place. A fundamental reason why hate is not stopped is because of girls, or any victim of hate, has no self-confidence and self-worth. When someone doesn’t believe in themselves, it is easy for them to take abuse and pass it off as ‘the truth’ and that they deserve to receive such comments. One of my good friends once told me of an incident when she was in school and a boy started to make comments about her body, sexualising her and calling her names. In this situation, instead of reminding this boy that she was not an object, and instead someone of just as much value as him, she felt good that she was being given attention, and felt as if she was truly beautiful if someone was so confident as to admit it themselves. Perhaps, if she had received more love from her family, friends and school, she wouldn’t feel as if she had to seek attention from boys who don’t care about her feelings or her achievements, just her body and their ego.
We need to teach girls to love themselves, to take pride in what they do and to not be afraid to show off their wonderful achievements to others, instead of hiding them away because they believe they are not allowed to share their successes with others. One of my other good friends, constantly tells me how she looks up to me as someone who does well in school, does all their homework, goes to lots of extracurricular activities, and how she could never do the same because she’s ‘dumb’. She says she will never do well and she would never pick ‘boy’ subjects because she would be teased by everyone. This is exactly what happens when we don’t teach girls that they are important and valued and all individually incredible.
If someone was to ask me what it was that made me so resilient to hate online, I would say that it is self-confidence in myself and not being afraid to speak up when I disagree with the way that someone is being treated online, or when I see a rude, spiteful comment left on social media.
And it is proven that standing up for what you believe in really can make a difference. Take Trump’s Immigrant Ban as an example, after huge criticism and protests, the ban was frozen by a Seattle Judge. This proves that for fighting for what you believe in, you can achieve the desired results, and not let racist, awful men inflict their hate on others because they were never educated about love, equality and peace. Trump receives other criticism too from top celebrities and influencers over his sexualisation of women, sexist, homophobic and racist comments. For example, Meryl Streep in the Golden Globes, Jimmy Kimmel in the Oscars and marches and peaceful protests such as the Women’s March and the walk against Trump’s Muslim Ban. They criticise Trump’s hateful words and stand up for what they believe in.
I believe, that as a school we need to be teaching girls to love themselves and make sure that they know that they should have all the same ambitions, opportunities and experiences as their male peers. When we’ve taught them to appreciate themselves, it’s vital to show them how to teach others to appreciate them, standing up to trolls on social media and sharing their views with the world. When a young woman receives hate online, they should not feel so alone and intimidated that they need to delete their twitter, they should feel empowered to make a change and stand up against these people hiding behind the screens and unite with other young women to show trolls that they will not accept the misogyny directed at them. When the internet see that their actions are not acceptable and will not be tolerated, then, and only then will the abuse online stop.
Let’s work together to tackle online misogyny towards women. Do you have opinions on the subject? Share them!
– Jo xx