If you’re an individual who actively spends time online, you’ve certainly heard the phrase, “There are no girls on the Internet.”
What does that even mean? Well, I see it as, “This is a boys-only club.”
This sentiment reveals the toxic environment the Internet harassment women experience on a daily basis has bred in. It needs to stop.
Here are 10 ways harassment takes its shape.
1. Overt sexual harassment
This is obviously the clearest one.
From social media to other online communities, people will undoubtedly receive messages from individuals they have engaged in a discussion with.
For men, those messages can be argumentative or (in many cases) nonexistent. For women, those messages vary from sexual advances to violence.
Strangers don’t feel a sense of obligation to exchange polite discourse in a disagreement, so they say whatever comes to mind.
Unfortunately, that often comes in the form of vulgarity and threats.
2. Casual misogyny
One of the most basic forms of sexism is the complete denial it exists on a daily basis.
Most of us can’t go a few hours without being subjected to misogynistic posts, comments and images.
Just this morning, I flicked past a meme on my Facebook News Feed that read, “Chivalry isn’t dead; guys are just tired of ungrateful bitches.”
The man posting can hide behind the fact that the meme isn’t original content. He just reposted someone else’s idea.
It doesn’t actually mean he has sexist feelings, right? It’s “just meant to be funny.”
We train our minds to almost ignore those nuanced little jabs, but they surround us. All this does is reinforce the Internet as a male space.
3. The inability to self-identify as female
If we dare speak our minds in a female-centric thread, we mustn’t say we are, in fact, women.
We are told our experience as a women isn’t appropriate context. Sometimes, we’re even told we’re seeking special treatment just because “we have tits.”
How can we share experiences without framing it?
And even worse, if you do identify yourself in an anonymous space, such as Reddit, you open up yourself to threats and harassment simply because you’re a woman.
4. Sexual objectification
If you are scrolling through Imgur, one post could be a half-naked model posing in an erotic manner, and the next will be a user-submitted image of a woman in her own costume.
Without fail, the Imgur user who submitted her image will be rejected.
She will be accused of “attention whoring” and likely called nasty names, while the image of the model survives with a far higher score with comments about her physical attractiveness.
Posts are only supported if a man creates it and objectifies a woman, but they are not well-received if a woman takes ownership of herself and her body.
5. The hypocrisy
Do you remember when a young man live-tweeted a couple breaking up on the rooftop last year?
It was slightly inappropriate to be blasting someone’s private exchange on the Internet, but it was kept anonymous and it was hilarious. (#TeamRachel.)
His story was widely shared and laughed about for weeks.
Now, do you remember when a young woman live-tweeted a bad date? The infamous coffee shop date between an unsuspecting girl and a writer who makes the world’s best puttanesca sauce?
The author of the live-tweet was harassed and insulted across Twitter for "lying" to try to be funny. She was even accused of being a sexist because she took the side of the girl on the date.
The men of the Internet blindly banded together to defend a complete stranger.
6. Nice guy syndrome
We’ve all heard about the friend zone, the nice guy, the knight in shining armor or, as we affectionately know him on the Internet, the neckbeard.
The problem with the nice guy syndrome is it assumes women are not capable of knowing what’s best for them.
This demographic of men make clichéd statements like, “Women always date the assh*les.”
No, women date whomever they wish to date. It just may not happen to be you.
7. Women who deny harassment exists
This one makes me the saddest: Other women are sometimes our own worst enemies.
There are women out there who are convinced that either a) harassment doesn’t actually happen, and women just exaggerate or b) everyone is “just too sensitive,” and women should go with the flow.
What they fail to see is sentiments like those are fodder for those who harass women. They don’t fear the backlash as much when they have female support.
8. Feminist bashing
Some people wouldn’t see this as harassment, but I do. When people mock you as a feminist with the caricature of the “Tumblr SJW,” they are completely undercutting your experiences and opinions.
Rolling feminists up into one common image makes it easier to give them a bad reputation.
Women will get called out for attention-whoring, troll-baiting and a variety of other Internet faux-pas just by identifying as a feminist.
You are committing to an aggressive opposition to your beliefs.
9. Assuming women are dumb
How many women have ever received a compliment that includes the phrase, “You’re not like most girls?”
Anonymity breeds poor behavior because it removes accountability from the things you say.
Women are unfortunately one of the first victims of this phenomenon.
On the Internet, you can say anything, be anyone and ask anything. So, unfortunately, that often yields harassment.
Harassment occurs in so many ways for women on the Internet. In order to fix the problem, we need to start by actually recognizing it exists, instead of simply writing women off as "complaining."