Misogyny and Online Abuse

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2024 National Women's Conference
13 October 2023

Conference notes that the proliferation of misogyny online continues to increase, which has a terrible impact on women and girls. According to Amnesty International, one in five UK women have experienced online abuse or harassment. This type of behaviour silences women and girls and prevents them fully taking part in society, in an age where digital interaction is essential in many parts of our lives.

Misogynistic influencers such as Andrew Tate have dominated the headlines recently, and it is clear that the algorithms of sites such as TikTok and Instagram have assisted this harmful content. The preaching of male dominance and female submission by the likes of Tate is dangerous for women and girls. This toxic masculinity is also negative for men and boys, teaching them that showing emotions are a sign of weakness. It can lead to physical and verbal violence, a negative outcome for all of us.

The social media giants have had free reign for too long and have been slow or unwilling to remove harmful content. The passing of The Online Safety Bill on 19 September 2023 is a welcome piece of legislation that aims to tackle this toxic discourse. However, the tentacles of the misogynist rhetoric are far reaching and need to be considered in all aspects of our everyday conversations and interactions.

Unison as a union of almost 80% women needs to be at the forefront of tackling misogyny in all sectors where we are active, as well as in our own communities and our union. Testimony from delegates attending National Delegates Conference in 2023 highlighted the growing use of misogynistic language and behaviour in schools towards teaching staff and girls. This echoes reports in the press that the influence of misogynist influencers are becoming ever more pervasive in society.

Several years ago our National Women’s Committee lead a highly successful campaign against page 3 media porn. Conference we now need that same energy and focus for a campaign against online misogynistic posts, forums and articles.

The normalisation and spread of this abuse must not be either accepted or allowed to continue. Conference calls on the National Women’s Committee to:

– Work with all appropriate sections and groups within our union to campaign to raise awareness of the harm that misogyny in all forms, but especially online, causes.

– Produce guidance for regions and branches to assist and advise our women members when they face this toxic behaviour in the workplace.

– Work with our Labour Link committee to lobby for greater legal control of online abuse.