KJIPUKTUK (Halifax) – The theme of this year’s International Women’s Day is a call to action. “Choose to challenge” is based on calling out and making a stand against forms of gender bias.
In the post pandemic world, people are spending more time online than ever before. So where is a better place to start #choosetochallenge than the online environment?
Halifax and Nova Scotia have a legacy of online gender based harassment that resulted in it being one of the first localities to enforce anti-bullying legislation. This was in response to the death of Reteah Parsons, whose alleged sexual assault was posted online. In response, Reteah was labeled a slut and experienced further gender based harassment.
Sexist messages thrive online. Although Facebook has created a harassment policy which has helped with removing slurs, toxic environments still exist unchecked in many dark corners of the internet.
Take the incel movement which was created on the reddit platform and has been associated with several killing events of women. Incels, short for “involuntary celibate”, define themselves as unable to find a romantic or sexual partner despite desiring one.
This movement represents the worst of online hostile environments. Although reddit recently banned the “incel” sub, the platform still remains one of the most unchecked areas for sexism.
On April 23/ 2018, 10 pedestrians in Toronto were killed by a self proclaimed incel motivated by his hatred of women. Canada remains a hotbed of reddit users.
Not calling out these slurs and aggressions, is not being a good ally to women. It’s time we took a stand against those forms of gender bias we witness in all of our environments. Stand up, hold up your hand and pledge to #choosetochallenge the sexism you see in your daily life, including online.
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