“I am 17 years old and I am a feminist,” British high school student Jinan Younis writes in her Guardian editorial, describing her and her female peers’ experiences with cat calling, rape, emotional abuse, and eating disorders and how it inspired her to create a feminist club at her school. Sadly, those are all well-known issues that women, especially young girls face. The striking part of the editorial is in the details of the passionate backlash that her feminist club received from male students, specifically the way that it was expressed online.
Younis writes of the boys at her school sexually harassing her over Twitter — “feminism doesn’t mean they don’t like the D, they just haven’t found one to satisfy them yet” — of brushing away her arguments with gendered slurs, and making sexually objectifying comments under posted pictures of her and other female students holding signs reading “I need feminism because 1 in 4 Women are Sexually Assaulted.”
When she informed school officials of this abuse, they simply told her to take the pictures down, allegedly in order to protect Younis’s “safety and welfare.” If the school actually cared about Younis’s “safety and welfare,” wouldn’t the officials penalize the actions of the abusive students and actually listen to the feminist group’s concerns?
The school’s official “solution” was a typical one: shut young women up under the veneer of “safety,” covering up the abuse they face rather than putting the effort into addressing it. In the age of of digital misogyny — creep shots, revenge porn, the types of comments Younis received from male students — exposing digital misogyny and addressing the issues of patriarchy and social media abuse — it is a courageous step forward. When internet harassment so often leads to victim blaming — “You shouldn’t have posted pictures online in the first place. What about your personal responsibility?” — we need more young feminists like Younis and real solutions.
Sometimes, that could mean fighting fire with fire, like that incredibly satisfying case of the woman who sent unsolicited dick pictures to the perpetrator’s mother. It’s not unreasonable to think that men are now thinking twice now that the e-flasher’s face is all over the internet.
(Images: Who Needs Feminism UK/Facebook)