Geek Speak: Misogyny in the digital era

This article first appeared in Digital Edge, The Edge Malaysia Weekly, on January 9, 2023 - January 15, 2023.
Geek Speak: Misogyny in the digital era
-A +A

In dating apps such as Bumble, I thought my experience with it as a man was universal. After speaking to women who are friends and colleagues, however, I now know it not to be true. For me, Bumble was as simple as swiping and messaging other interested parties. Women, however, are often subjected to overly forward and degrading remarks from unsavoury characters.

Even on Instagram or Facebook, comments objectifying and sexualising women are rife. The anonymity that social media provides means that many people have a platform on which to air opinions that they would otherwise keep to themselves. Locker-room talk has also been a thing. Recently repopularised by Donald Trump, it is a problem that is too real in the experience of many men. 

Misogyny has been ingrained in society and affected multiple facets in our daily life. Toxic masculinity and the harm it brings to both men and women have been much discussed. Despite the progress made, there is a long way to go in achieving true equality between the sexes. 

Many women have experienced cat calls, with many more saying that they have become desensitised to it because it just happens too often. In the era of social media and the internet, misogyny has transitioned into a larger, more dangerous sphere.

A large number of people with dangerous opinions have gathered a following through their social media platforms. An infamous example is Andrew Tate, a former kickboxer who rose to fame with his misogynistic and patriarchal views. His rants have garnered him disciples, who follow his words as if they were gospel.

Recently, Tate was embroiled in an online spat with climate activist Greta Thunberg in which he was showing off the cars he owns, with nary a care for their environmental impact. Ironically, his replies to Thunberg led to his arrest in Romania, which is a whole other story. 

The question to be asked is why do beliefs such as these still exist in this day and age? I do not think social media has amplified misogyny; rather, it has provided an outlet through which individuals can channel their hate. 

Yet, as much as social media has provided an outlet for misogynists, there have been an equal number of accounts and individuals sharing their experiences. As such, if one knows how to look, the content is there for their taking. 

At the centre of this ugliness, misogyny can be overcome only through education and a change of values at the societal level. Only time will tell whether this will happen or continue to be an elusive dream.