The potential for social media to act as catalyst for societal change can occasionally be put into perspective when enough people share thought-provoking ideas through online platforms. The Everyday Sexism Project has made it possible once again to seek cultural concerns.
This week, both #shouting back and #standingup have been trending on Twitter. They both involve a continuous stream of individuals revealing, via tweets, instances of sexual assault that range from ‘minor’ instances to extreme attacks or long-term harassment. These came from identified men and women and people of all ages. It makes for extremely unpleasant reading. However both trends provide a clear, undisputed, (and for many – very shocking), insight to the global scale of sexual harassment.
Last year #ididnotreport was another startling trend that employed social media to highlight in this case the deep, long-term effects of victim-blaming and its prevalence within our society. These online movements are incredibly powerful in that they provide a raw portrayal into the psychological turmoil that thousands of people face, which may have otherwise been dismissed if it wasn’t for the scale and online accessibility of these trends. It seems that once people read the confessions of others, they feel comfortable and brave enough to open up themselves.
For many, just reading these confessions from others has been enough to reassure them that they are NOT to blame for the terrible acts they have experienced or encountered. Western society has an overriding tendency to excuse and protect the perpetrators of sexual assault by making the victims feel as though they provoked it. Yet as we have seen with the gang rapes in India and the ridiculous victim blaming tactics used by the government in reaction, rape culture is in fact an international problem. This is a problem that seriously needs to be addressed and that’s why I’m glad the issue is gaining so much media attention.
I thought this was a particularly strong article from Natasha Walter that addresses the pandemic and what should be done from childhood in regards to perpetrators of sexual violence, before misogynistic attitudes have a chance to develop.
As an individual I’ve felt encouraged to question my own experiences and the various implications regarding this issue. This just goes to show how powerful the unity within social media can be, especially in uncovering problems and truths. There are entire oppressive ideologies that need to change. Perhaps this is the start.