If somebody treats you differently because they think you belong to a certain group of people, this is unlawful discrimination. Whether it is about your age, gender, race, a disability you may have, religion, lifestyle choice, – it does not matter. And there is no difference to saying it in person or saying it online!
“Online violence against women is an overt expression of the gender discrimination and inequality that exists offline. Online, it becomes amplified.” – APC.ORG
The most common direct discriminatory incidents we hear of are:
- “People have said mean or rude things about me because of my race”
- “People have shown me a racist image online”
- “People have cracked jokes about people of my race online”
- “People have shown me degrading images of women online”
- “I have been labelled because of the clothing I am wearing in a picture I have posted”
- “I have been sent a meme mocking my disability”
- “I have been excluded from a chat group because I am a women”
- “People have threatened me online because I have spoken out about a subject that wasn’t well received because I was a women and should know nothing about”
- “I have been told to be quiet – a women’s place is barefoot, pregnant and in the kitchen”
- “I have been told that I am confused as I am a lesbian and need to choose a gender”
- “People have told me that the world doesn’t need any more gay people I should jump off a cliff”.
The most frequent contexts for these experiences were social networking which as a woman makes one feel inferior, targeted, labelled. The kind of hurt that discrimination causes runs deep, and can take a long, long time to heal.
Before speaking out, it is important to take your time to understand the way the Internet works and understand how powerful social media is. Digital literacy and understanding terminology is very important. Without this knowledge we don’t even know that we are victims.
There are ways that we can remain safe online and avoid being discriminated against:
- If you intended to be anonymous, stay anonymous.
- If you don’t want comments, there is on some platforms an option to disable them.
- If you didn’t mean to share it, but you did, know what to expect!
- Don’t bother to reply to meaningless comments. Don’t get into an argument.
- Expose the abuse and report.
Help others and tell your real-life stories to move the virtual world.
Telling your story can help a cause move forward, Knowing this, feel proud if your story and use the opportunity to share your views. Freedom of speech is a common right we all share, but being listened to is a privilege. So if your story made waves, keep going!