As I sat down to write this blog I was plagued with feelings of disappointment and being left deflated. Have you ever heard of the saying below saying by Mark Twain? I whole heartedly agree with this saying as I have experienced this before in my personal life (and I am sure most of us have), but have had the experience orally as opposed to digitally via social media.
I often wonder though, if more women (cis and trans) feel this way than men? This is NOT to say that men are “stupid people” at all – please do not take my statement that way. It’s just that I wonder if women feel that they can never “win” or is it that they realize early on in a disagreement (orally or social media) that they do not need to infuse their energy into the argument because their point will clearly not be taken as intended? Or that their gender identity already defines how they will be regarded online?
These thoughts began to percolate as I read Matt Rosa’s article on Gamer Gate and the silencing of Felicia Day in regards to her love of gaming and finding an inclusive arena (social media) to voice her opinions and experiences. Inclusion – isn’t that what social media, the internet are all about? In schools, we often employ social media and the internet as a means of inclusion of all individuals within our classroom. How many of us have used social media to reach out to other educators when needing help with an assignment or activity that is inclusive? I would hazard to guess that most of us have.
But since learning of Felicia Day and Amanda Hess’ experiences with online bigotry and their feelings of unwelcomeness of women on line, I began to feel deflated in the way women are viewed. I thought we were making “waves” in the world, women have the right to vote in North America, women are respected in higher level positions – U of R has a female president and Vice-Chancellor, Dr. Vianne Timmons, the USA has a female running for president! Then why is it that women whom have a voice on social media are undergoing unacceptable attacks by trolls? And why is it that online harassment of women is becoming the ‘established norm‘?
The findings (Australian study) Suggested that women believed that online abuse was a growing problem and felt powerless to act over it.
Seventy per cent of women said online harassment was a serious problem in 2016 and 60% said that it was getting worse. More than half the women surveyed felt the police needed to start taking victims seriously.
A Pew study on online harassment,completed in 2014 with the following findings:
60% of internet users said they had witnessed someone being called offensive names
53% had seen efforts to purposefully embarrass someone
25% had seen someone being physically threatened
24% witnessed someone being harassed for a sustained period of time
19% said they witnessed someone being sexually harassed
18% said they had seen someone be stalked
Those who have personally experienced online harassment said they were the target of at least one of the following online:
27% of internet users have been called offensive names
22% have had someone try to purposefully embarrass them
8% have been physically threatened
8% have been stalked
7% have been harassed for a sustained period
6% have been sexually harassed
Reading the article written by the Huffington Post, “Harassment of Women Comes from Evolution – And Men’s Insecurities” raises points from a study done by the University of New South Wales and Miami University:
The study’s results supported an “evolutionary argument for why low-status, low-performing males are hostile towards female competitors.”
“Dominance is tightly linked to fitness through offspring number and resource availability,” the authors wrote. “As men often rely on aggression to maintain their dominant social status, the increase in hostility towards a woman by lower-status males may be an attempt to disregard a female’s performance and suppress her disturbance on the hierarchy to retain their social rank.”
They went on to say that high status women pose a “secondary threat” to lower status men, adding that, “as women are attracted to dominance, a high-status female is less likely to find lower-status males attractive.”
Being hostile toward a woman is meant to reduce her self-worth and confidence, the authors said, while at the same time lifting their attackers’ perceptions of their own dominance.
“Higher-skilled (i.e. more dominant) males do not behave in this manner as there is no need for them to reinforce their dominance to maintain their attractiveness,” they wrote.
I wanted to do a bit of research myself and sent out a Twitter poll, here are my results:
— Carla Cooper (@carlacoop) March 27, 2016
And received some insight:
— Carla Cooper (@carlacoop) March 27, 2016
— Paula Morrison (@Paula_E_M) March 28, 2016
— Heather Matichuk (@mrsmatichuk) March 28, 2016
This leads me back to the saying by Mark Twain, how many people read his quote in a different light now? So is it, I wonder, that women are just easier prey online or that outspoken, powerful women (Katia 🙂 ) are so threatening to some men, in a sense emasculating, that these men feel the right to put said women in her place?