By Shannon Fitzgibbon


Sexism is ultimately the discrimination or prejudice held against someone due to their sex or gender. More often than not, this deals with women over men, as women have often been deemed “lesser” due to their gender. There are many reasons that sexism would exist in a patriarchal society, most notably to keep the male dominance as such. This issue has plagued society for generations, and continues to this day in more ways than one. Even in the Internet and on social platforms, sexism and other forms of harassment based on gender continue to spread and to harm others.

Forms of Sexism:

Sexism and other forms of discrimination or harassment online can be wide ranging. In the world of online gaming, for example, female identifying players are often harassed for not being “good players” and are 25 times more likely to be sent sexually explicit messages by other male players for simply being a female gamer. Furthermore, female characters in video games and in online games have been oversexualized with large breasts and tight-revealing clothing. Both of these forms of sexism that exist in the world of online gaming and many of the offenders face little to no consequences for their actions. Unfortunately, these occurrences happen on more than just video game platforms, many female writers, politicians, and other influential women have faced the brunt of public backlash online, at rates men have never seen.

Sexual Harassment:

Beyond that of sexist remarks and hurtful words used online, there is a much more serious form of online sexism and harassment. Sexual harassment of women, whether that be the raunchy comment left underneath a post on social media or the solicitation of nude photos, which 53% of women surveyed for a Pew Research study had occur without consent. At the end of the day, sharing explicit photos without consent is sexual assault, in which recent legislation has worked to address, but the problem has yet to come to a conclusion.

Preventing Sexism Online:

In order to work towards equality both on and offline, there must be an end to the consistent demeaning and sexualization of all women. Starting the conversation with those you care about, asserting the proper way to treat everyone online, regardless of gender is imperative to ensuring the Internet is a safe space for men and women.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Have you experienced or witnessed sexism online?
  2. Why might female writers, politicians, and other influential women face backlash online?
  3. How can we ensure to actively enforce a safe online environment for everyone online, regardless of gender?
  4. Are some online platforms better at moderating sexism and harassment?

For more information concerning online experiences of women, check out Girls Don’t Play Video Games, Do They?


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