Fellow feminist activists!
Please join us, Feminists United at the University of Mary Washington, as we continue to speak out against rape culture and cyber-harassment.
Last year, Feminists United fought against sexual and relationship violence in our community by educating the student body at our general meetings and by being vocal on our campus. As any feminist activist knows, when you do this type of work you can expect some backlash. However, what Feminists United faced last year wasn’t just backlash, but misogynistic and hateful threats, which were posted mostly online and anonymously.
Starting on Monday, September 14th, University of Mary Washington’s Feminists United will be passing out information on Title IX and cyber-bullying on the campus. To show the campus the cyber-harassment we faced as a group last year, we will post some of the threats we received on a wall. The triggering posts will be covered to protect people’s well-being. We will also give fellow students the opportunity to write why they stand against cyber-harassment, which will be put on top of the threats in a symbolic gesture of solidarity and empowerment at the rally at the end of the week. We also hope to have a speaker at the rally to talk about the issue. Feminists United is working with other student groups, such as Young Democrats, PRISM, and Diversibility, to put this event on.
This event is important because too often the issue of online violence is not seen as “real violence.” However, online violence, in any oppressive form, is just as scary as violence “in the real world.” Online violence may not always produce physical harm, but it certainly adds to an already existing culture of violence against women and encourages hate. The emotional and psychological damage it does produce is also harmful. Words can and do hurt, especially if they are threats posted by people who believe they are truly anonymous on the internet. Online anonymity can make the threats even scarier for victims because they don’t know who is threatening them. The emotional stress of walking through campus feeling like a target is something no student should have to endure.
The online world is currently a hostile place for women. Online violence is another tool being used to attempt to scare and silence women through the use of misogynistic language and threats. It is more proof that we need feminism. It is an example of another space in which feminists must work in so that women feel safe.
Making our community, online and in the real world, a more equal and just place should be something we all strive toward.
Vice President, Feminists United
University of Mary Washington