Attention! Misogyny as Seen on Social Media

Misogynistic Vintage Magazine Ad

Misogynistic Vintage Magazine Ad

Social Media seems today the perfect place to insult and threaten a person. The anonymity and the shortage or non-existence of a law which protects people from these behaviors lead many users on Facebook and Twitter, amongst others, to the wrong thought that nothing is going to happen, as it looks like people who commit offences like the above mentioned get no sanctions at all in most cases.

The most affected ones, again, are the women. And, in this case, it is very worrying some users’ lack of respect, which many times leads to sexist insults and even to sexual abuse or death threats. The reasons which some of these users give to explain their actions (to have a different opinion on a subject, to dress in a specific way, etc.) are simply not good enough to excuse the harm this conduct is doing to our society, and, in particular, to the acceptance of the women as equal individuals to men.

I would like to give some symptomatic examples to illustrate this phenomenon. I could choose the case of the insults that Emma Watson received after her speech at UN (United Nations) some weeks ago, but as a Spanish citizen I would like to comment a case which is closer to me: the one of the Spanish journalist Ana Pastor García. She is a well respected professional in Spain, not only by many colleagues but also by many Spanish citizens, mostly, those who are more open-minded. Some of her interviews have become famous and viral, such as the one she did to the former President of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, in 2011, or the one she had with the actual President of Ecuador, Rafael Correa, in 2012. She’s a smart woman, she has studied in University and she has a respectable job. Also, as a journalist, she has a mission to society as well, that is to serve as an intermediary between government and citizens, and to keep the last ones well informed.

Even though, she gets insulted every other day on Twitter. For instance, the first tweet she has received yesterday, October 9th, reads as follows: “Hola @_anapastor_ llevo mucho tiempo sin recordarte lo puta que eres. De nada”. Which in English would be translated as: “Hi @_anapastor_ It’s been a long time since I don’t remind you that you are a whore. You’re welcome”. Other insults she has received are “Roja” (red, communist), “Facha” (rightist, fascist), “Puta” (bitch), “Cállate, puta” (Shut up, bitch) or even “Solicito permiso para meterte en un campo de concentración en el ala de violadores inmigrantes” (I request for permission to put you in the immigrant rapers wing of a concentration camp (!) ), as we can read in an article she wrote for the diary El Periódico, to denounce it and to raise awareness on this matter.

Another example which doesn’t involve insults but lack of respect and violence against women on the online world is the recent case of the hacked pictures of naked celebrities like Jennifer Lawrence, Kim Kardashian or Rihanna. Even if they shouldn’t have taken themselves those pictures and they shouldn’t have uploaded them on the cloud for the sake of prudence, the act of stealing those naked selfies is an offence and an attack to women.

Unfortunately, there is a widely extended sexist and rape culture on the Internet, which is the same as saying the web is a highly misogynistic place. This behavior doesn’t limit itself to insulting and threatening women with no particular reason, but also to display images with offensive content and sentences as “Don’t rap it and wrap it. Tape her and rape her”, “Date rape: Win her over… with chloroform” or “This bitch didn’t know when to shut up. Do you?”, promoting violence to women. As a woman myself, I can’t help but wonder: are we safe against those threats?

Why Ana Pastor is getting those words from users? Why other male colleagues of hers don’t get death or rape threats? Why are female celebrities’ naked photos are being hacked? And why not males’? Personally, I believe this matter should be taken seriously if we want to live in a world where women and men can live equally in peace. It’s not just a feminism case, but a respect one. Governments must create laws which protect social media users from other users’ attacks and which sanction the offences committed, especially to women, but also to men. The Internet is a reality which is getting bigger every day, so, what they are waiting for, then?

Nevertheless, we can’t forget the web is formed by all of us, so, if governments are doing nothing at the moment to protect citizens, we should start ourselves making the online world a better place to be, treating others as we would like to be treated. It makes sense, doesn’t it?