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Social media

Social media is one of the most powerful tools in our current world, and a large proportion of the younger generations are on various social media sites, now from as young as 5 years old. But for years on social media, young girls and women have been subject to unwanted sexualised comments, articles, posts and videos about their appearance and behaviour. Nowadays, as well as women dealing with catcalling and sexualised comments being forced on them in person, we also must deal with these comments online. Hyper sexualised posts about women have become normalised to the extent that no one addresses it as a serious, disgusting problem which needs to be dealt with. As these profiles can be anonymous, it provides people with a platform where they feel they can do and say whatever they want without facing any consequences. And in the vast majority of these situations, this is the case as no one deals with any repercussions for their actions.

Although there are regulations put in place on certain platforms, I believe there needs to be much stricter policies regarding the issue of unwanted posts and comments objectifying women. On Instagram, for example, you can report posts but it often takes days for them to be taken down when they shouldn’t have been allowed to stay online in the first place. When a girl posts a picture of herself, many unwanted sexualised comments appear under the post and won’t go away unless someone reports them. When these comments stay online it sets the precedent that you can say these things in person and without the persons consent. As well as this, there have been multiple investigations into group chats on many social media sights created by boys where they objectify, over sexualise, and make disgusting, unwarranted comments about girls.

Of course these chats are taken down once they are exposed, but the problem with social media is that a lot is private and therefore no one can see what you are talking about. Obviously, this is important in order to respect people’s privacy, but this has enabled the movement of “Locker room banter” from in person to online as well. We need to start addressing this issue as we cannot continue to teach young girls and boys that this behaviour is acceptable. If we do not put any restrictions or regulations in place, the objectification and hyper sexualisation of women online will continue to be normalised and thought of as okay.

Millie Bobby Brown received hundreds of comments weeks before her 18th birthday counting down the days until "she’s legal!” On Emma Watson’s 18th birthday, she came out of her party and “photographers laid down on the pavement and took photographs up [her] skirt, which were then published on the front of the English tabloid newspapers the next morning", as she recalled. If they had published the photographs 24 hours earlier, they would have been illegal but as she had turned 18 they were legal.

There are hundreds of other examples of women being objectified and sexualised in the media and online, and not just celebrities. It has been normalised and accepted to comment on women and girl’s bodies and appearance. This shouldn’t be the case. In order to make social media as safe as possible, we need to protect the most vulnerable people and currently women receive many unwanted posts about them, and even more comments about their appearance. Realistically we won’t be able to change this objectification over night, but what we can do is acknowledge the issue, address the problem, and push for more policies and regulations which prevent these comments.

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