Misogyny: the different behavioural prescriptions on social media
The interaction and representation of men and women on social media significantly uphold and contribute to hegemonic patriarchal ideologies that dangerously shape our opinions, beliefs, and attitudes.
While I can applaud the liberation and agency social media as a platform has awarded marginalised voices and discourses, the eminent influence and impact it has on the mindset of our youth is detrimental.
Under capitalist dogma, social media nurtures and feeds into these pernicious ideologies that uphold misogynistic values that underpin hegemonic hierarchies.Where gender is performative, social media revolves around the socially prescribed archetypes of masculinity and femininity. While I can debate the capitalisation of women's bodies and sexuality on social media, I will focus on the degree of control the audience has over this as reflected within our micro world.
On social media, women are scrutinised for being in a bikini, not wearing a bra, or not showing a passive smile, as we are taught not to "invite unwanted attention" because it looks as if we are "asking for it." The mini skirt is not the cause of sexualisation; the hijab hasn't stopped it. It was never about the clothes and never was. Never will be.
I have witnessed countless times these pernicious narratives being placed onto the impressionable minds of young girls by parents and guardians.Girls who have had to ask permission from their parents to post a photo.Girls who have had to delete pictures because of their parents, and all because it was"giving off the wrong impression."
Through this, girls are taught that being sexual is shameful. If this logic used to criticise women does not hold when applied to men-then it's not logic; it's sexism.This leads girls to learn that it's normalised to be sexualised by men, while men know it is shameful for women to be sexual.
Parents' simple rule on our youth feeds into these harmful grand narratives. Parents hide behind the "keeping you safe" card.
But it is keeping me safe from who? Is it honestly narrowed down to the "creepy old men"?
The responsibility of men is once again placed on women. Teach your sons not to sexually objectify women instead of teaching your daughters not to be sexual.Because denying your daughter the right to be sexual is another way of objectifying her.Social media is not dangerous because girls are being sexual; it is only dangerous because parents project that it is acceptable when men sexualise them. These misogynistic narratives become internalised, and we pass them on to our daughters.
You see, it is not the fathers telling their daughters not to post a bikini photo. Yet,ironically it is because they don't want to appear perverse as they are passively aware of the privileges awarded to them by capitalist patriarchal institutions that only sexualise the feminine. Because it is normalised, even women internalise this misogyny, which is highly reflected as mothers are predominantly the ones who inflict these guidelines on social media. By reflecting this onto the impressionable youth, we are feeding into these narratives that objectify the feminine as a controlled capitalist entity.
But we can unlearn this behaviour by being aware of our thoughts and feelings and how internalised misogyny is woven into our fabric of existence. It is the role of both parents to become conscious of how they apply different guidelines to their daughters and sons.
Social media is not dangerous for a young girl because of its public demeanour. Still,instead, we fail to acknowledge our internalised misogynistic tendencies that feed into capitalist and patriarchal narratives that govern our society. By denying your daughter the right to self-expression of their sexuality, we thus normalise being sexualised, and shun being sexual. We place the burden and blame on women rather than teaching our sons how to not sexualise other women on social media.
You see, women aren't sexualised for being sexual, and they are sexualised for simply being. So, stop apologising for being sexual, in a world that has yet to apologise for sexualising your existence.
About the Author, Gigi:
I am currently in Year 12, completing my HSC at school in Sydney. I hope to attend University where I aspire to study for a double degree in Property Economics and Business Law.
I wanted to participate in the committee to contribute a contemporary perspective on the safety of social media engagement and effective for young people.