According to a new study published in the British Journal of Social Psychology, tweeting about sexism can ‘improve women’s wellbeing’. Just how far that extends, I’m unsure. After all, if you’ve been separated from your friends in a club and end up cornered like an antelope facing a pride of slightly worse for wear lions, whipping your phone out and sending an indignant tweet probably won’t do much for your wellbeing.
The study involved three groups of participants who were separated by their levels of tweeting. The first group tweeted publicly, the second tweeted privately, and the third didn’t tweet at all. Apparently the public tweeters showed ‘decreasing negative effect and increasing psychological wellbeing’. In other words, the group who vented their feelings online to an audience felt better about it afterwards.
Positives and negatives
It’s undeniable that the internet has given females more of a voice in the battle against sexism. The Everyday Sexism Project (which can be found on Twitter @EverydaySexism) and the #YesAllWomen campaign are two of the more well-known social media movements. These movements may not have been possible without the power of Twitter to help them both go viral.
Unfortunately, despite the global popularity and huge waves of support generated by both of these campaigns, they are not without backlash. Opposition in the form of #womenagainstfeminism and ‘feminazi’ slurs have recently risen up against web feminism, led by the egotistical and the misinformed. The confusion between feminism and man-hating, as well as the threats of murder and rape that are often thrown at those speaking out, are surely reasons why speaking out is so necessary.
Being able to speak out on social media is important
Victim-blaming, the trivialisation of rape and sexual assault, and the rise of ‘dating’ apps that set women (and men) up like virtual brothels – I’m looking at you, Tinder – are all reasons why we need to be so vocal about what is and is not acceptable. Issues like consent, sexual harassment, domestic abuse and objectification all need to be addressed, and it seems that social media is one of the most powerful tools at our disposal.
And while no, not all men are sexist pigs, and yes, there are many genuine, loving relationships that started through Tinder, the fact still remains that #YesAllWomen was started for a reason.
All women have felt threatened by a man at some point in their lives.
All women have felt unsafe walking home alone at night.
All women have had to deal with someone who wouldn’t take no for an answer.
For every ‘GET YA TITS OUT’, for every ‘she shouldn’t have had so much skin on show’, and for every ‘you know you want to’, there is a tweet. There’s a voice. There’s an example of a woman taking a stand.
And for anyone who thinks it’s wrong or overdramatic for a woman speaking up about feeling threatened, or abused, or taken advantage of, or having suffered sexual assault… you are the reason we need to.
Victims need to be listened to, and believed, not interrogated or blamed. Women need to feel safe and respected, not intimidated or ashamed of themselves. And sexism, threats, and sexual harassment need to be eradicated, not justified.