More needs to be done to tackle online trolls who use social media platforms to post abusive messages to women, writes Jenny Constable
As a 21-year-old student and budding journalist, I actively engage with social media on a daily basis; using it to check up on news, keep an eye on current trends, and most importantly, as a platform to post my own personal views in online discussions.
Last week, in the aftermath of the Ched Evans retrial, I tweeted my take on events from a feminist standpoint, and became the recipient of an onslaught of vile, vicious and repugnant responses - the vast majority of which were from men, who openly targeted me for merely expressing my views on a topical issue.
In contrast, many of my male friends on Twitter had expressed similar opinions to mine, but they were met with civil discourse and discussion - while I was repeatedly shut down and belittled; undermined with assumptions that I was a “slut” or a “sket”.
This isolated incident is just one example of the abuse women regularly receive on social media.
The omnipresent internet troll is unavoidable, but women seem to bear the brunt of online aggression and harassment far more than men.
What does this say about the relationship between social media and women who use it?
Fundamentally, in its capacity as a ‘safe space’ for its users, it wholly fails - women don’t feel safe using social media.
The inherent misogyny in society is exemplified when we take a look at the differences between how men and women are treated online.
Men are the agenda setters. They’re at the forefront of every argument and intellectual development; when they make a point they are cited, praised, revered for their insight, while women are reduced to our looks, our visual appeal rather than the quality of our opinions or the articulation of our views.
There are times where I have been reluctant to take strong stances on serious or controversial issues for fear that I’ll be trivialised or even threatened for perhaps expressing opinions some men might take offence to - walking on virtual egg shells to avoid causing offence, while men go unchallenged for their input.
As a journalist, I can’t afford to spurn social media, but I’m increasingly disheartened at the treatment of women online, and the shockingly lenient policing of these vicious trolls by popular social media platforms, where the perpetrators seem to rarely be held to account.
I’m tired of being branded a “slag” from making a controversial statement, or finding myself second-guessing my own beliefs because I’m scared of the repercussions.
I’m tired of compromising my views time and again because I can’t face the brutal backlash.
My views are just as valid; our views are deserving of respect and consideration as that of any man.
We have the authority to speak out, and we can shout as loud as we want.
Jenny Constable is editor-in-chief of the Strathclyde Telegraph