The Social Media Backdrop During Women’s History Month
Another Women’s History Month is in the books. This month always gives us a powerful glimpse into many unsung female heroes in our history. And certainly, in 2022 social media plays an enormous role in helping distribute stories of women such as Sybil Ludington, who is credited with the same amazing accomplishments as Paul Revere; and Josephine Baker who served as an operative with the French Resistance.
However (sorry there always seems to be a “however”), we still manage to find ourselves in the regrettable position of once again of bearing witness to online abuse. In February, it was centered around Black History Month and March was a month that demonstrated that sexism and misogyny are indeed (and unfortunately) alive and well.
What we can only hope that the people who choose to celebrate the accomplishments of women throughout the world are the majority. But we would be gravely remiss if we didn’t also recognize that we, as a society, still have a long way to go in ridding social media (and the world) of misogyny and the abuse of women. This becomes abundantly clear when we look at what’s happening on many social media platforms.
Take for example, just a small sampling of social media comments that our team found posted (and subsequently hidden) on some of our client’s social media feeds:
“…that’s why I don’t want to have women commentate on sports, high pitch squealing in my effing ear…”
“…this is a man’s game, not a woman’s, let’s keep it that way…”
“…just survived willie o ree month and now we get this…” (presumably a reference to Black History Month)
Despicable yes, but existent, nonetheless.
Several months ago, advocacy group UltraViolet released a report card ranking social media platforms on issues like misinformation, hate speech, harassment and misogyny. On sexism alone, Instagram received an F, TikTok received a D+, and the highest mark, awarded to Reddit, was only a C. Shameful.
While the platforms claim vigilance about policing content that violates their policies, it seems that there are many forms of racism, sexism, homophobia and vulgarities that fall just below what the platforms consider a violation.
To make matters worse, we’re seeing not just an uptick in sexist comments on social media but the platforms and algorithms themselves continue to contain systemic biases. This has sometimes been referred to as algorithmic oppression.
While we as a society have made many, many strides over the past decades and century, elevating women and celebrating them, we still have distance to go. With the prevalence of digital mediums pervading every part of our lives, it’s critical that we continue to strive to rid sexism from every channel possible.
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