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Why It’s Important To Examine The Impact Of Sexual Harassment In Technology

Through our vast consumption of digital technologies, the utilization of digital spaces led to the expression of gender becoming widely normalized. This can be said to be a result of the freedom being offered through digital means, where we all have the space to post, comment, share, communicate, like, and interact on the internet through social media. Yet, at the same, it is also to note how the openness and freedom of digital spaces can lead to an emergence of misuse and exploitation through revenge porn, sexual threats, and reinforcement of gender stereotypes.


Without any doubt, I believe that concept of sex and gender concerning safety online within digital spaces is a pressing issue that requires immediate attention, in addition to coming up with strategies to approach the given risks at hand. 


Now one may ask, what does gender have to do with the online world and technology? Firstly, I firmly believe that sexual harassment online is one of the main pressing issues that emerge from digital technologies. This is because of many issues that have appeared recently through social media. There have been many cases on digital platforms where online sexual harassment prevails in the form of sexual threats, coercion, and revenge porn on the internet. The implications of sexual harassment online raise immediate concerns regarding the safety and welfare of individuals online, especially women. 


Are we safe on the internet? Are we going to get attacked? Do we have any control over our privacy? Can we choose what to view and not view? These are just a few questions that many women may ask themselves when surfing the internet. Examples are revenge porn and unsolicited graphic content. It is to be noted that revenge porn typically takes shape in the form of image-based sexual abuse, where private pictures of an individual are shared online through platforms without consent. 


Similarly, unsolicited content comes from un-consensual pictures being sent to someone via social networks. For example, is the infamous case of teenage girl Amanda Todd in 2012. Her story began with her interaction with a man online when she was a young teenager, where she privately showed him her breasts, and he proceeded to take an un-consensual photograph. Eventually, he began harassing Todd online by sending him more photos. When she refused her fundamental rights, he spread them online, where she fell victim to bullying from her classmates and ultimately committed suicide, as written in an article by The New Yorker. 


The fact that Amanda Todd was blamed and harassed after suppressing pressure, rather than the adult man who shared intimate images of a minor without consent, raises troubling questions. For those reasons, I find it shocking to see how the public reacted negatively. Consequently, I believe it is essential for us as a nation to implement solutions to these pressing issues because of the results. 


Another main issue emerging due to the internet is increased chances of unsolicited content consumption through digital platforms. Examples of these platforms are Snapchat, Twitter, Instagram, and more. One may ask what exactly I mean when I say unsolicited content; one may ask? The answer is un-consensual “dick pics.” This mainly includes spreading pornographic genital images online to a receiver without their consent through social media sites, most commonly on Snapchat.


There are many reasons why someone might send this content, some hoping to achieve a sexual personality back or to cause disruption and harm to another person mentally. 

How many of us have women encountered inappropriate images being sent to us without asking through social media? The answer remains as many. From my experience, especially around my age group growing up, I can say that many of my friends and acquaintances have shared their experiences regarding receiving unsolicited graphic content online. Even worse, they are coerced and pressured to send the same content back. I can say that this action and exchange causes enormous stress on people, taking a toll on one’s well-being. 


This raises concerns about the dangers of breaking an individual’s boundaries and privacy. Thus, the results are breaching an individual’s privacy and limitations concerning what they are comfortable viewing and consuming and are a form of harassment in itself. Looking at these issues leads to a realization of the negative consequences that online sexual harassment can implement. It is pivotal to note that the main problem is not the distribution of the content but the lack of consent when sending them to any person. Due to those reasons, I find it highly crucial to discuss the implementation of these discussions in an educational environment to inform the youth regarding how to safely browse and interact with digital platforms without any damage or harm. 


The issue of sex and gender in online safety is a pressing concept that requires immediate attention. Additionally, it is pivotal to explore how we would approach this issue through education and the provision of knowledge in the curriculum. We need to recognize the impact of online sexual harassment concerning revenge porn and its negative consequences on breaking an individual’s privacy and boundaries. Additionally, unsolicited “dick pics” and un-consensual sexting is another main issue that requires an education approach regarding consent and safety in the school curriculum. Thus, the portrayal of gender within digital means requires instant consideration and planned strategies to tackle them. 

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Tags: #technology #digital #sexualharrassment #digitization


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