Speaking Up on Cyber-Bullying
The scandal on ex. CBC host Jian Ghomeshi has been continuously ringing in the ears of men and women all over Canada. The topics of sexual harassment, abuse and assault are at the headline of every media outlet with women coming forward to talk about their own experiences. Each day that passes, there are more and more women AND men showing support of one another over social media. Unfortunately, there are also those who have been using these same tools to re-victimize and bully women who are showing courage to talk about their own story.
This is a problem. A few months ago, the hashtag #yesallwomen was on top in terms of trending on twitter. Hundreds of women used this tool to express their feelings in a way that was very empowering. It was a great way to see women support one another and speak up. It takes a lot of courage and you may ask, why? It is only twitter – no big deal. BUT it is a big deal.
I remember using the popular hashtag to express my thoughts and each time I expressed myself, I was confronted and bullied by an unknown twitter account. I remember my initial thoughts when I read the comments. I felt angry. I doubted myself. I wanted to hide. And I wanted to delete the tweet before anyone saw. But I didn’t do anything wrong.
A year ago, when I was 8-months pregnant, I tweeted the TTC to let them know about the issue with seats being available for pregnant women. Within minutes, I had the media asking me more about this issue AND I had a cyber-bully putting me down for standing up for myself in the first place. I was shocked! Who were these bullies on twitter that could spark such a fear inside me?
These online bullies are the same ones who feel it is all right to touch a girls behind at work, or feel it is ok to make a woman feel uncomfortable on the streets. These same bullies are the ones who exert their power, because they think they can. And they do it to those who they feel are powerless.
A sad reality. I know as a woman, it is my right as a human being to speak up about an issue I believe in without having to fear about what someone would say to me. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to confront harassment. It is painful and as a mother of a daughter, I know I would want her to have a life where she is free to be herself and feel empowered.
And now with the Ghomeshi case hitting the headlines, I am hoping that the issues of sexual harassment (on and offline), will continue to be discussed. I am proud of the many women and men who came forward to talk about their stories (anonymously or not). It’s with this ongoing dialogue that we can one day eradicate sexual harassment, empower women and without fear, express ourselves online. One courageous person at a time!