Harassment. The New Norm?!

The topic this week was a little bit frustrating and really seemed to get to me. Why did I feel this way? Most likely because I am a woman. I have to admit that am not a big feminist. Maybe it’s because I have never felt that my gender has prevented me from doing anything and I have never felt like I have been treated differently because of my gender. I grew up playing hockey with the boys. Up until physical barriers like size, weight and muscular build became a problem I was able to compete with the boys. I was never told I wasn’t good enough or couldn’t play with the boys. I made the choice to stop playing with them when it was clear to me that my size would be a factor (which I think is understandable). I have always felt that I am equal to men/boys even though research shows that I am actually wrong as Amy discussed. Perhaps I have been blind to it or just avoid thinking about it but it has never been a big issue for me. And maybe it should be.

After completing the readings and videos for this week I felt extremely angry. Research finds that 76% of women my age have experienced online harassment. You may find it hard to believe, but I am in the few percent that hasn’t experienced online harassment in any way. Maybe it’s because I don’t have a large public presence online. I have only recently started blogging and using Twitter which have created a more public presence for me. Or maybe it’s because I don’t tend to write blogs that are controversial or Tweet things that may be considered controversial. Why don’t I post anything that might be controversial? Maybe it’s to avoid all the trolls and negative reactions I might get. Maybe it’s because when people do post about social justice or other issues that they can be at the receiving end of some extremely rude comments.  That’s not to say that it happens to everyone who posts something that others disagree with. It is highly likely that if you are a male posting something that may be considered controversial that you won’t receive the same remarks that a female would if she posted the same article (which was the exact case with Katia and her troll army).

My concern here is that women are being treated differently online on top of being treated differently offline. Women are being harassed in comments, on Twitter and through revenge porn. The majority of people experiencing revenge porn are women. Why is that? Maybe it’s because there are more photos being taken of women, but that doesn’t make this okay. I am sure there are plenty of women who have photos of men that they could share but choose not to. My guess is that if a woman shared pictures that it would somehow be turned around on her and she would become the victim of some sort of slut shaming.  John Oliver discusses revenge porn and other harassment that women have experienced online and it is scary to hear (although he gets his message across through comedy). What’s even more scary is that online spaces have become a new place for people to harass others. It is so much easier to harass someone online compared to in person. You can hide your identity with a made up name and say whatever you want basically. It shouldn’t be okay for people to harass someone online. But the worst part of all of this is that there isn’t a lot of action taken to stop harassment or have a harasser charged criminally. This is something cannot be ignored. Fortunately as many as 26 states have been working on changing laws regarding online harassment including revenge porn.  Just last week an NHL prospect for the Chicago Blackhawks was suspended by the organization over revenge porn. 

As stated earlier, we know that online spaces aren’t the only places where women fall victim. A real estate agent in the city posted a story to her Facebook page explaining how often she is the victim of harassment. Her picture and phone number are posted on advertisements throughout the city so her name and number are very visible. She has had sexual phone calls, text messages and photos sent to her but the worst of it was when she decided to answer a FaceTime call from an unknown number thinking it was a potential client. What she saw when she answered was a man masturbating. She couldn’t see his face, only his mid section. She reported it to the police and I believe they were investigating. She expressed that there have been times she has felt very unsafe. NO KIDDING! I wonder how many other realtors experience this. My guess would be that more females than males would experience this.

Have you ever been the victim of harassment? Like I said I fortunately haven’t yet and hope that I don’t ever become a victim. I don’t know what I would do if I were to become a victim. If it was just rude or negative comments I would just try to brush them off. If they were sexual in nature or threatening in anyway I think I would report it. I tried to look at Canadian Laws in regards to revenge porn and online harassment but wasn’t able to find a whole lot. If anyone has any information about the laws in Canada I would love to read more!


2 thoughts on “Harassment. The New Norm?!

  1. Great post Ashley. I am in the same boat as you and was brought up to play hockey with the boys and compete with them and that I was an equal, so I never really experienced or was aware of the many complicated and complex issues surrounding females. I was quite angry reading the articles this week as well and felt like we should be doing something to make a difference, but what? It is sad that was are still dealing with issues like sexism, racism, etc. I am not sure if the internet makes it easier or people are more likely to harass because of the anonymity. Not sure, but something has to change.


  2. Pingback: To Shame or Not to Shame? | E. Therrien

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