The effect of misogyny in social media and how it affects people offline


Andrea Piacquadio \\ Pexels

Women on social media, no matter their age, face constant misogyny.

Tessa Galeazzi, Assistant Web Manager

Social media platforms like Twitter, Instagram and YouTube allow us to comment, post and share our opinions, and serve as outlets for online creativity. TikTok, an app that has most recently risen in popularity, allows users to create videos varying from dances and lip-syncing to comedy and skits. However, there’s something else that these platforms all have in common: misogyny.

It’s easy to get sucked into a rabbit hole, scrolling through these endless videos and photos, each one becoming more entertaining, but on an app where you can post and find videos about pretty much anything from any community of people, you’re bound to find misogynistic comments and content as well.

It’s no surprise to find hate online; it’s actually incredibly easy. There’s nothing wrong with sharing your opinion, but a line is drawn between criticism and hate when it can possibly harm someone else.

A surprising amount of this hate is directed towards underaged girls. Charlie D’Amelio, a 16-year-old dancer on TikTok, faced hate that spread across her social media. Even after she responded to the body-shaming she had faced on her Twitter, the responses she got continued to invalidate her with many excuses, varying from “it came with the job” to “did I ask?”.

It’s in situations like these where it’s blatant how easy it is for others to invalidate girls like D’Amelio with a platform online. It’s discouraging and can be harmful offline as well, especially to younger girls who face harassment. 

Many of us have heard the story of Amanda Todd, a fifteen-year-old who committed suicide in 2012 after she was repeatedly sexually harassed online. She was followed online for years by a man who had taken indecent pictures of her and spread them to her classmates. The hate that Todd faced didn’t only affect her online presence; it was brought into her personal life, where she was physically harmed and ostracised by her peers. 

In “Unwilling Avatars: Idealism and Discrimination in Cyberspace,” Mary Anne Franks writes, “Online harassment and abuse directed at women undermines the creative and liberating possibilities of cyberspace for women, amplifies the sexual stereotyping and gender inequality of the offline world, and generally compromises women’s ability to share cyberspace on equal terms with men. Cyberspace idealism has served to obscure the realities of online discrimination and must be called to account for its shortcomings.”

In this paper, Franks expresses that online spaces are where gender inequalities and discrimination are amplified the most. Many online practices are found to be harmful and users are unaware that online participation can bring up harmful stereotypes and discrimination once more.

The normalization of casual sexism in social media continues to create unsafe spaces online for women”

The report “Misogyny on Twitter” cited that “[r]esearch has consistently found that women are subjected to more bullying, abuse, hateful language and threats than men when online. According to the Pew Research Centre’s 2005 report “How Women and Men Use the Internet,” an 11% decline in women’s use of chat rooms stemmed from menacing comments. Meanwhile, researchers from the University of Maryland set up a host of fake online accounts and then sent these into chat rooms. Accounts with feminine usernames received an average of 100 sexually explicit or threatening messages per day, whereas masculine names received 3.7.”

According to the report, a majority of misogynistic comments that aren’t relevant to news stories are written in casual and metaphorical ways. The normalization of casual sexism in social media continues to create unsafe spaces online for women. Social media can become unsafe for women in more ways than just casual misogyny.