Monday, June 25, 2018

Back in the Trenches

This morning brings another status report from the War Beween Men and Women:

Study: male D.C. reporters retweet male colleagues three times more than their female colleagues- - Laura McGann, Vox

In a tweet promoting this article, journalist Kainaz Amaria says:

Twitter is a fun place for men; a hellscape for women - via @lkmcgann & @christinamta

A new study reveals why female journalists are so much less influential on Twitter than men.

“A hellscape for women?” you wonder. Surely that’s a bit of an exaggeration. Considering the amount of negative feedback, sexual harassment, and threats of violence that women are subjected  to on Twitter (and other forms of social media) I’d say hellscape is pretty darned accurate. Add to that the heightened pressure that comes when being on Twitter and functioning successfully is a part of your job and people who should be your peers ignore you, talk around you, and give others credit for your work and ideas. 

This has been happening in the workplace for a long, long time. Social media simply magnifies it. I wrote about this phenomenon as it applies to the local social media scene in 2014 and lamented on the lack of progress in 2017:

Tag or recount all present at an event
RT, Share, comment, and praise work by both men and women
Engage in online dialogue with both men and women
Respond to comments from both men and women
Support both male and female candidates

More likely to tag or recount men present
More likely to RT, share, comment, and praise work by men
More likely to engage in online dialogue with men
Respond more frequently to comments from men
Support and/or take more seriously male candidates

Locally, I continue to see men piling on to support men while being quick to cast doubt when women are challenging the status quo, or negating women’s contributions in online conversations by flat out ignoring them. “Bro culture” is a thing on social media, even right here in Columbia/Howard County. It may not look like the hair-raising incidents of sexual harassment and threats of violence we read about when women dare to speak with confidence/authority on Twitter, but it is there just the same. 

When it comes to politics, I have become hyper-aware of who responds respectfully to constituents. Who engages with women as meaningfully as they do with men? Who includes women, supports women, is willing to allow women to take leadership roles? I’m not going to give any candidate a free pass on this. I’ll say it again:

Equality is empowerment: taking people seriously, allowing them to participate in the conversation, allowing them to be visible

Men, especially white men, have privilege. Brought to the world of social media that privilege replicates itself exponentially. Every single interaction we have online is an opportunity to either ignore, maintain, or disrupt that state of affairs. Keep an eye out. If you’re not already painfully aware, you might learn something.

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