A couple of weeks ago I was setting up the outside patio to the bar I work at when I glanced over at the Metro. I usually look through them real quick just to check out the articles and bands and movies that are out. Honestly, I don’t really read through all or sometimes even any articles but this one caught my attention right away because it was about social media. When I reached to get it and brought it closer I realized that it was about the effects of social media on women. My first reaction was to get annoyed, even defensive. I thought “Great, another article telling me how horrible it is to be a girl and that we are all frail and vulnerable. But when I finally got to the article, it turned out to be about so much more.
Before I go into the article I would like to call attention to a post by Buzzfeed that shows and example of how the internet is being used to attack people, this one a 21 year old women. Lindsay Bottos is a “photography major and gender studies minor, runs a Tumblr page where she often uploads selfies as well as pictures of her work.” Because of her selfies, she started receiving a lot of hate mail ( a lot of which was uploaded by Anonymous accounts.) This is not a unique instance either. Amanda Hess reported in her article Why Women Aren’t Welcome on the Internet. “We are more likely to report being stalked and harassed on the Internet—of the 3,787 people who reported harassing incidents from 2000 to 2012 to the volunteer organization Working to Halt Online Abuse, 72.5 percent were female.”
What both the Buzzfeed and the Metro article have in common though is it shows examples of how women are using the internet as a tool to fight back. Lindsay Bottos started a feminist art project titled “Anonymous” where she screen caps the hate emails over her selfies, calling out her cowardly haters. Since posting this art project, she has started to receive a great deal of messages of support.
This quote by her touched me deeply when I first read it many months ago. Before reading this I thought of selfies in a whole different light but I have grown to agree with Bottos.
“The act of women taking selfies is inherently feminist, especially in a society that tries so hard to tell women that our bodies are projects to be worked on and a society that profits off of the insecurities that it perpetuates. Selfies are like a ‘fuck you’ to all of that, they declare that ‘hey I look awesome today and I want to share that with everyone’ and that’s pretty revolutionary.”
Now, on to the article that started this all. It starts out going into the ways that the media have portrayed women as victims in this internet hate-storm. Like I said, many articles have been written about this subject. And up until the middle of the article was when i realized this article was going a whole other way. I realized it when the author asked Why isn’t there as much research going into the way the internet is affecting 45 year old men? I know, this is a funny question. But it is still a good point. We live in a society where “Young women are historically condescended to, fetishized, and vulnerable to gendered violence or predation.” This is just another way that the media can call attention to this. Our society wants to protect girls all the time, but this is a fundamentally sexist thing to do. That is just the type of society we live in.
The article gets even better when it goes into how girls and women are finding ways to fight back and even get allies. One great example was from Julia Bluhm, a teenager who launched a Change.org petition requesting that Seventeen magazine stop retouching its models, who then gathered more than 84,000 signatures and received a concession from the magazine itself.
Overall, I was just happy to read an article that showed a different light on women and showed how social media could be used positively.