Gen Z and Social Media’s Impact on Feminism
On one side of the spectrum, many say that social media has had a positive influence on feminism as it has brought countless women together and has encouraged solidarity between communities. An example is the #MeToo movement that started with Hollywood celebs such as Jennifer Lawrence, Uma Thurman, and Gwyneth Paltrow calling out the American film produce Harvey Weinstein for his sexual harassment cases. Since then the movement has spanned across the whole world like a wildfire and encouraged a change in many communities. Some other instances of social media being a positive influence on feminism include the protesting of the Texas Abortion Bill in 2013, the #YesAllWomen in
2014, and the changing of Victoria's Secret’s slogan from “Perfect Body” to “A Body For Every Body” (even though most of the models there are still white and all of them are size 0). There have also been instances where influencers on Instagram and Tiktok had taken to posting their natural faces and bodies to encourage body positive attitudes in the young girls that consume this online content. Overall, it seems as if social media has impacted feminism in a pretty positive way, at least on the surface.
On the other side of the spectrum, many argue that social media is damaging to feminism and women everywhere. There has been an increase in sexual harassment, intimidation, and overall gender-based violence on the internet towards women. The internet and social media have also put countless women in danger by making it really easy to track women and sell them into human trafficking. In fact, Maggie Neilson, partner and executive officer of Global Philanthropy Group, has said that “the combination of mobile phones and online want ad platforms have made it easier to order a girl than a pizza.”. There has also been a rise in the viewing of sexually explicit content on the internet and it has become available to children younger and younger. This kind of content encourages violent behaviors towards women and demeans them into simply just objects. The internet has also produced the dilemma of anonymity which has caused people to hide behind their fake identities and gain false confidence that has caused them to bully girls on the internet on the basis of looks, weight, and race, without perceiving the consequences that could follow them.
The internet has become a double-edged sword for feminism and for women in general everywhere. While there are some good effects from the internet, there have been extremely heavy negative effects as well.