The internet could be a powerful tool in the fight for gender equality, but so far it has been disappointing. As more girls and young women access the internet, they often come up against prejudice, misogyny and stereotypes online: This is what you should look like, this is how you should behave.
Large-scale research shows that girls and women are hit very hard by this misinformation and misinformation online. A whopping 87% say it negatively affects their life. Three girls tell Metro their story.
Everyone has to deal with misinformation and misinformation, but The Truth Gap investigation through International Plan shows that it mainly affects girls and young women. “Every day, girls and young women are bombarded online with stereotypes about their bodies and how they should behave,” said director Garance Reus. “With increasing digitalization, it is more important than ever that girls learn to navigate between half-truths and prejudices. “
Lots of girls dealing with fake news online
Disinformation and disinformation affect girls and young women around the world in all kinds of forms: stereotypes, online (sexual) harassment, bodily humiliation and, for example, lies and gossip about female politicians, which brings girls to to underestimate himself. Reus thinks it is very important “that they do not be discouraged to make their voices heard”, but it is still happening today. One in four girls is less likely to share their opinion, and one in five girls has stopped being politically or socially active.
So it’s no surprise that 91% of girls are concerned about misinformation and misinformation online. Especially since in many cases it is girls and young women who rely on online information on topics that specifically concern them. Take, for example, sexuality, feminism, women’s rights, and sexual health rights. These subjects are often still taboo in their immediate environment (school or home). Almost half of girls therefore sometimes feel stressed, anxious or even sad because of misinformation and misinformation online.
Sara, Alisa and Anne tell Metro about how fake news online is (negatively) affecting their lives.
“I struggled with my self-image”
Sara (21) encounters disinformation and disinformation online, especially on Instagram: “There is almost always Photoshopping. I spend maybe an hour a day on Instagram. If you see pictures of people who have been photoshopped all the time, it makes you insecure. And it doesn’t just happen to the Kardashians, it happens everywhere. Everyone knows how to do facetun, it’s very accessible. It makes it hard to see when something is wrong, but because I’m so consciously involved in it, I see it often. I think if you are not consciously involved in it you can hit it very easily. Especially with young girls, and boys too.
“Now that doesn’t bother me anymore. I accepted my appearance, but I remember that it affected me a lot during puberty. I started to have problems with my self-image, I started to doubt myself and watched everything I did. You are very conscious of your appearance, when there are so many nicer things to occupy you.
“You see too few women in politics”
Alisa (21) is one of the four girls who are more careful about expressing their opinion because of what she sees online. And few women are involved. “You often see men speaking, for example, in politics or in leadership roles. Of course, lately it has improved more and more, but as a result you are less likely to support yourself as a woman in a mixed group, for example at school. It makes me more restrained. In a room full of men, I’m more likely to be quiet. “
“It would help if I saw more women in leadership positions, like the Prime Minister of New Zealand. I watch it. And not only the top women when it comes to female topics, but also more girls talking about ICT, for example. The stereotypical woman must be broken.
“Bodily shame weakens someone even more”
The stereotypical woman is something that Anne (24) has encountered a lot in recent years. Online, she is often told what people think of her and what they think she should look like. “Recently a man posted a comment under my bikini photo: ‘a little too chubby.’ I found it very difficult. People don’t realize how much it can affect someone. It is very easy to commenting from a (fake) account to make someone feel bad about posting a bikini and body photo. I have become more reserved with what I post and how I want to show my body.
A few years ago, the student was also harassed on Twitter. “I was tagged by a boy in a photo where you saw that I had an eating disorder. Add the hashtag “anorexia”. Others have tagged themselves in there. This way you make sure that someone gets weaker even more. There is always so much emotion behind. Friends then want to help me by telling me to “let it go”, but isn’t that a way to calm me down? “
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