Social media is an electronic form of communication whereby users create and develop online communities for sharing ideas, personal messages, information, and other forms of electronic information, such as images and videos. Currently, there are numerous social media platforms; the most popular are Facebook, Twitter, Wikipedia, Linked In, Reddit, Pinterest, and Google+. As of late, there has been a growing interest in services such as WhatsApp and Instagram, amongst others. Social media in many ways encourages the spread of misogynistic points of view, as some users, primarily men, are misusing their primary purpose of socializing by showing hatred against women through Twitter, blogs, and many other social networking services. This research paper aims to address in much detail how social media services such as Twitter, Facebook, various blogs, and others encourage prejudices and hostility towards women.
Misogyny, in this case, refers to the aspect of developing hatred towards women as well as presenting prejudices towards them. The misogynistic behavior in online communication has been an increasing worry despite the efforts of numerous authors who have written articles and letters condemning such attitudes in social media. However, social media sites have not shown an active position regarding such accusations. According to authors such as Ellen Spertus, Pamela Turton-tuner, and Jill Filipovic online space has been generally unfriendly towards women. When the internet became ubiquitous in the 1990s, many believed it to be a platform for equality and free speech. However, it later proved to be a less egalitarian platform, prone to inequalities common in the real world (Bartlett 3).
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Many researchers have consistently revealed that women are subject to more abuse, bullying, threats, and foul language in social media as compared to men who, in most instances, are the active party in discrimination. For example, narrowing down on Twitter as one of the most popular social networking platforms has revealed how social media operates regarding prejudices against women. Twitter has been at the forefront of misogynistic language usage, such as that related to rape, in social media. The use of the word rape has been estimated to be two million times in the United Kingdom while the number of users who used the term rape was approximately one hundred thousand and thirty (Bartlett 9).
Other cases of misogynistic language that have been found prominent on Twitter are the words ‘slut’ and ‘whore.’ Usage of ‘whore’ and ‘slut’ on Twitter has been a daily routine in that a day cannot pass without several users uttering these words in their tweets. There is an estimate according to which the United Kingdom produces approximately 131,711 of the tweets with words ‘slut’ and ‘whore ’(Bartlett 12). Whereby 488,006 used the word only ‘whore’ and 85,204 had only ‘slut’ (Bartlett 12). In addition to this, there are driving forces that accelerate the usage of such misogynistic words and phrases, and these incorporate celebrities, rape news over the media, and conversations on Twitter platforms that include words such as ‘slut’ and ‘whore’ to a greater extent (Bartlett 12).
Apart from the use of tweets, misogynists turn to blogs, in that they write or update on articles that are talking more about the women either in a positive or negative light. However, in this case, these misogynistic bloggers write from a negative point of view to demonstrate hatred against women and entrench prejudice against them. The other way that social media encourages misogynistic behavior is through direct reputational damage of women, especially through Facebook. It is quite common to see cases of slut-shaming, circulating rape videos, and revenge porn on pages of Facebook. The most surprising issue is that not only men are responsible for it, but some women are involved as well and actively participate in these activities (Mantilla and Karla 568).
Through social media, Internet has channeled threats and intimidation aimed at women. For instance, some women bloggers and journalists have regularly received threats such as rape and death for their efforts of being politically outspoken. An example of such victims is the Australian feminist campaigner Caitlin Roper (Mantilla and Karla 565).
Another example of a journalist who got threatened is Amanda Hess. Being a journalist, Amanda Hess found tweets from a stranger named “headlessfemalepig” who sent her seven menacing tweets, but when she reported the incidents she was quite surprised by the response of the law enforcers who asked, “What is Twitter?” (Amanda 10). To great extent activities of misogynists are triggered by a lack of regulations or limits of social media as well as internet usage by various individuals. There is a slogan that has been found using “ignore the violent threats and harassing messages that lead to online confrontation every day.” This slogan does not cover the fact that threats and relentless messages contribute to assaults on women’s careers, freedom to be online and psychological tortures. And misogynists have acted on this advantage which has resulted in numerous attacks that have eventually resulted in rapes, deaths, and intimidation of women (Amanda 5).
There are several ways of how people have interacted with misogyny to create public acceptance of it. They include trolling, usage of internet language, and online comments. A troll is someone who posts extraneous, inflammatory comments, or a topic that was not a part of the conversation, chat room, forum, or blog. Their primary intention is to provoke people to make an emotional response or to intend to disrupt a healthy discussion that was going on in the forum. Just as an image of a mythological troll, who is an ugly, angry and dirty creature that lives underneath dark cages and bridges waiting to catch for a quick meal anything that appears or passes by, an internet troll acts in the same way (Amanda 7).
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Trolling has become a big part of YouTube. Notably, trolling had found much application in YouTube comments, blog comments, forums, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Reddit. In the case of YouTube comments, there are numerous cases of trolling especially if a video has gained popularity. There are different types of trolls on the internet one of which is an insulting troll. Insult troll takes a position of pure hate; he/she is straightforward and dull. These trolls have no reason why they should hate or insult other people. In most cases, these types of trolls pick on anyone and start calling them names, making false accusations, and doing anything that would lead to an emotional response from others just because they are capable of doing that (Mantilla and Karla 567).
The second type of trolling is the persistent debate troll. This kind of troll can take into consideration a researched piece of content and narrow it down from all dimensional angles to challenge its content. They believe and have confidence that they are right, and everyone else is wrong. These people are determined by their arguments in that they will stand their ground up to the moment the other commentators feel like they should give up. The third type of troll is the forever angry troll, for instance when controversial topics get into a discussion they are determined to offend someone. They are experts on taking humorous pieces and turning them into very compelling arguments by playing victims, and this makes the real victims upset.
Another type of troll popular in social media is the profanity and all-caps troll. Unlike other types, the profanity and all-caps trolls have offered nothing of value to the discussion. They are looking for something to do without much effort and thought. The one-word-only type of troll also describes numerous instances of internet trolling. A one-word troll uses only one word within any discussion, forum, or Facebook post such as “LOL” or “what”.
In dealing with internet trolls, it is advised not to pay them much attention but rather ignore them as much as possible. They are not worthy of someone’s emotional distress or time and always try not to make things personal (Jodi and Biber 33).
Regarding internet language, many people have termed it as a matter of free speech expression, but it has turned out to be rather unexpected. Of course, there are numerous languages and slang that people can use on the Internet. For multiple internet languages, the aspect of diversity becomes important. However, as discussed above, the aspect of internet language has turned to become a part of misogynistic threats and slurs, effectively doing the opposite of encouraging free speech expression. Internet language has often proved to be oppressive and used for threatening other users. It has also been branded a sexist language where people choose to use slang terms that are not appropriate (Jodi and Biber 40).
Additionally, some individuals have used the internet to harass other people as much as they understand that they are not well conversant with the language they are using. Harassment, in this case, is not just offensive but is threatening too in that it causes great fear, especially to women. Therefore, there should be some considerations regarding the limits of internet usage to achieve a better interaction between web users (Jodi and Biber 42).
Online comments also stand to be one of the places for creating a misogynistic public acceptance. Several observations get always channeled on blogs that are especially narrowing on the aspects of conversations with words such as ‘whore’ and ‘slut’. Men are usually the ones contributing to such discussions that provoke the emotions of various victims. For instance, fake accounts, whereby an individual uses an account that has no relation to his or her real name, to insult or abuse another human in an ongoing conversation (Mantilla and Karla 568).
The effects of such phenomena are numerous, and this paper discusses only some of them, such as the provocation of personal feelings. Provoking an individual is mainly an activity of trolls. Even though there are different types most of them have one thing in common – they are offending. Their main objective is to provoke and obtain what the other party will say to their trolling. The victims of these challenges are usually women who are oppressed by stereotypes regarding their gender, shape, weight, and even skin color. Social media, especially platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube, need to have stricter control of those who create and share misogynistic content and discussions. Therefore, they should restrict the terms and conditions of use to an extent of blocking such users from accessing social media (Mantilla and Karla 568).
In conclusion, what is taking place in modern social media is of much concern to human nature. We need to have a world that has freedom of expression, speech, and interaction. And to achieve these ideals, both women and men need to be free and respect each other. This paper discussed some of the concerns that must be taken into account regarding the popularity of misogyny on social media. Therefore, web users need to be alerted about these aspects of misogynistic vies in social media so they can ignore or eliminate such issues.