Online harassment is an everyday occurrence for women and girls in countries all over the world. With the rise of social media, women are often finding themselves on the receiving end of it all.
While men might worry about identity theft or a virus, women – along with trans and non-binary users – are navigating a minefield of sexualized harassment, whether they’re on a dating site, gaming, or using social media. The sexual violence women are exposed to in the physical world translates to the online space. [April Froncek, Internet Society]
According to a study done by the PEW Research Center, men and women experience and view online harassment differently:
- While 41% of Americans have experienced online harassment, women experience sexualized harassment at much higher rates than men
- Women are also more likely to report that the emotional impact of the harassment is more damaging, and to view online harassment as a serious issue
- 70% of women said they though online harassment was a major problem, while only 54% of men said the same
Ways to support:
- Utilize the “Block” and “Report” features in social networks and major websites when you come across abusive or violent online behaviour. Most networks have a very low-tolerance policy when it comes to this and respond rapidly to any reports.
- Respect the discomfort of others. We may not always know why another person feels uncomfortable during a conversation, but something that is trivial to us may be of great significance, or a trigger for them. Respect their situation if they tell you they are feeling uncomfortable and move on to another topic.
- Encourage more women to come online: The greater number of women in public spaces, the safer those public spaces are. Work towards gender-quality by helping to create it.