We have come a long way in terms of equality among the sexes, but when it comes to women online it seems that inequality and misogyny is still a huge issue with high percentages of women, in particular high profile women particularly feminists, receiving sexually explicit misogynistic attacks and abuse by internet “trolls”. The disparity between over represented men and underrepresented women may have a correlation in the high percentage of women receiving harassment online.
A great example of a high profile woman who was trolled relentlessly online was our ex-prime minister Julia Gillard.
During her term as Australia’s first female prime minister she would daily receive derogatory abuse online about her looks, her relationship, her lifestyle choices, the fact she was female and sexually explicit comments with most having nothing to do with the way she was governing the country. These attacks are just one example of one woman being targeted online but the sheer reality is that most women are subject to online abuse with 72.5% of 3,787 people harassed online being women . So what is being done?
Ms Gillard being the subject for abuse on and offline became a voice for all women as she attempted to set the anti-misogyny online movement into motion. Gillard not only began publicly putting pressure on internet giants to take part in the new Australian guidelines for appropriate social media behaviour but also made her historical Misogyny speech which brought gained the attention and applause from women in not only Australia but across the world.
Gillard is not the only fighting this problem, groups such as EndMisogyny.Org a female activist group fighting against online misogyny who are “women on a mission to raise awareness of the prevalence of online misogyny”. Women are here able to gain support, create awareness and report abuse they have faced.
Maybe it’s just the fact that the internet creates anonymityor maybe we haven’t really progressed as a society at all, either way, it is evident that misogyny and sexism is still a major issue online today but withawareness and women like Gillard pushing for steps in the right direction we may one day in the near future see a change in the treatment of women online.