How The Internet Can Benefit Women, Because It's Not All Trolls & Sexism
When you think about women and the Internet, a few things probably come to mind, and most of them aren't pretty. From the absurdly sexist trolls who go out of their way to criticize, threaten and dox women to the pervs ready to zip off an unsolicited dick pic through any means necessary, it can be frustrating and even frightening to be female online.
A recent Glamour survey found that 57 percent of women had received negative comments on social media, 52 percent had been trolled by someone they knew, and 35 percent had noticed harassment getting worse in the past year. And this is just everyday women. If you happen to be a slightly more visible human female, like a body positive blogger, feminist writer, or artist, then consider yourself painted with a giant red X.
But wait! Despite the doom and gloom studies about the negative realities women face in the digital sphere, there are plenty of upsides. After all, there must be a reason women outnumber men on Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram, and that women's media sites can thrive.
The Internet can be awesome for women, and here are four factors to keep in mind the next time trolling's got ya down:
1. It Helps To Reframe Beauty Standards & Encourage Self-Acceptance
There's a lot of talk about the media peddling and perpetuating impossible standards of beauty to the women of the world, but there's also a flip side to that. A study in 2014 found 82 percent of women believe social media can change our beauty standards for the better. Case in point: before the body positive movement took the Internet by storm, there were few places to see women of diverse races, sizes, ages, and abilities. Now, five minutes on Instagram will show you someone who looks like you AND who is proud AF of their physical form.
2. It Helps Create A Global Feminist Community
Whether it's sharing your sexual harassment story on Twitter through a trending hashtag, mentoring women in your field in a private FB group, or sharing pictures of your BFFs on Instagram, there are so many ways to meet, appreciate, and create community with other feminists. Sure we all have our disagreements on hot button issues, but it's the spirit of sharing and debate that creates true connection and helps shape our views in ways that can't happen outside a classroom or a special event.
3. It Can Give You An Oxytocin Boost When You Need It
Although we joke about people being addicted to likes, there are actual benefits that come from seeing those hearts pop up on your feed. One study found that the feel good hormone oxytocin can rise 13 percent while using social media, which decreases stress and gives you a boost of euphoria. Clearly, this isn't going to happen every time, and it can get out of hand, but in the right doses, your brain still feels an "in person" connection to the people you're interacting positively with online, even if they're thousands of miles away.
4. There's Always A Digital Shoulder To Cry On Even If You're Alone
Having a rough day? Sitting at home and feeling bummed but nobody's around to cheer you up? Dealing with some sexist bullsh*t? Besides a plethora of animal videos that'll force you to crack a smile, there's a lot of solidarity to be found online. In fact, even when the Internet itself is the problem, the Internet is often also the solution.
Although nothing can take the place of IRL relationships, there's always someone online to trade sob stories with or spill your guts to when you're in need of a little TLC. And, again, wherever there is a troll to be found, there are thousands of other women who feel your pain, and who will RT the hell out of your digital altercation in solidarity.
Images: Unsplash; Giphy (4)