OPINION: Has Social Media Caused a Surge in Misogyny?
Updated: Nov 10, 2022
It goes without saying that there is a thin veil separating reality and the online world; hiding behind a screen makes it easier to share opinions and engage in political and social discourse. At the same time, the real-life impact is still there; a silent normalisation of misogyny. A new social hierarchy has formed: sigma, alpha, and beta males. Through sites such as Reddit, 4Chan, and Discord, an online culture around belittling women has been permitted to exist.
The leading cause? Anonymity.
There’s no need for these users to post their face, age, or identity on these sites. You can exist as a separate being, free from the constraints and judgement of society - free from any repercussions too. These chat rooms provide company and interaction with like-minded people, even if the common ground is fundamentally hating women.
Incel (involuntarily celibate) culture can be defined as male supremacy. A strong dislike for women. A victim complex spurred on by a group of people who are essentially yes-men. These men find themselves in unfortunate situations where they can’t find love and like many other members of this generation, turn to internet groups to find solace and reassurance. However, in 2017, Reddit banned its largest incel subreddit. Over 41,000 members were engaging in the idea that women owed men a relationship, and that they were treated cruelly by society, and unfairly pushed aside because of their looks or status. The group became rampant with assault threats and hate speech, so much so that it was venturing into dangerous territory. Of
course, none of the individuals were held accountable for the online abuse they spouted - once again, anonymity became their crutch, their saviour.
But online misogyny extends beyond chatrooms of men typing out their resentment of women. One person who can attribute his rise to fame to sexism and bigotry is Andrew Tate. Popular among young boys and men, Tate is known for his misogynistic and homophobic videos. He is of the belief that women are men’s property, they are defined by their sexual past, and also that performing CPR on another male is ‘gay’. Completely ridiculous and outdated ideologies, of course, to anyone who values equality in our society. He made a remarkable imprint on TikTok, with his videos being viewed 11.6 billion times. Despite violating multiple community guidelines, his videos weren’t removed; for a while, it seemed that TikTok prioritised views (and thus profit) over the spread of violent internet misogyny. Eventually, Tate was banned from Facebook and Instagram - and rightly so.
But TikTok, Tate’s primary platform, is mostly popular with teenagers and young people - what kinds of messages are we sending to the social media generation, and where do we draw the line?
The issue here lies in the fact that we are so easily influenced by the media we consume. These incel sites and misogynistic videos offer a place for any young male who can’t find his place in the world. But this breeds sexual offenders. It breeds a new kind of sexism. It breeds hate. And for those reasons, social media sites should clamp down on this new wave of misogyny - to protect and save a future generation of not only women but men too. Because after all, the patriarchy doesn’t serve anyone well.