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Misinformation through a feminist lens

  • IASbaba
  • August 10, 2021
  • 0
UPSC Articles
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WOMEN/GOVERNANCE

  • GS-1: Role of women and women’s organization, population and associated issues, poverty and developmental issues, urbanization, their problems and their remedies.
  • GS-2: Mechanisms, laws, institutions and Bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections

Misinformation through a feminist lens

Context: The online world amplifies the social norms of the physical world. Women face aggressive and offensive trolling on the Internet, designed to undermine and discredit them professionally and shame them into silence. 

Feminism & misinformation on Social Media 

  • Position does not matter: Woman’s position of power does not shield her from vulgar misinformation. 95 female politicians out of 724 received nearly one million hateful mentions on Twitter between March and May, 2021 (Amnesty International Report)
  • Inter-sectional challenges: Organised disinformation and sexism intersect with Islamophobia, castetism, religious bigotry and other forms of discrimination to threaten vocal women 
  • Responsibility on Women: The harassment is so rampant that more often than not, women are asked to either ignore the abusers or block such handles. As always, women are expected to take precautionary measures instead of men being asked to behave.
  • Misusing Sexuality: While on the one hand women are targeted with sexist attacks, on the other, their sexuality is used to further misinformation. There are multiple fake Facebook accounts posing as a woman and “posting provocative comments that could hurt social harmony”.
  • Political attempt to silence Feminist Voices: A recent report by UNESCO on online harassment faced by women journalists says that political actors instigate and fuel online violence campaigns against women journalists. 
  • Misinformation and sexism have a symbiotic relationship: Misinformation piggybacks on sexism to discredit vocal women and sexism uses misinformation to reinforce patriarchal norms. 
  • Gendered misinformation threatens Democracy: A healthy democracy is participatory and promotes gender inclusiveness. Sexism and misinformation intimidate women from taking vocal stands and are antithetical to a progressive society.

Conclusion

While social media gives a platform for women to raise issues, repeated abuse takes away that freedom. Social media, the place that bolstered the #MeToo movement, is the same place used to shut women down.

Connecting the dots:

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