How social media helped spread the F-Word(Feminism).
With this huge use of social media, it has become an active platform for adopting the issues of women in the Middle East. On Facebook alone many campaigns have been initiated, many groups are being created, and many real-life stories are being shared.
“The uprising of women in the Arab world” is one of the pages with the largest numbers of likes, hitting over 120,000 likes. It has played a vital role by displaying pictures of women who are victims of sexual harassment and also a lot of pictures of people from all around the world who support the uprising of the Arabs Feminism. It has also been sending out advice on what to do in case of being raped, and what is the next thing to do afterwards.
Another big step which was taken is the call to stop sexual harassment. This was definitely a big step towards spreading awareness regarding sexual harassment by all means: verbally or physically. There were maps created to show the most targeted places where harassers are, and also to report any incident instantly. Has this been effective? Yes, with this, some harassers now fear to show up because in the past women did not dare to talk about it due to the social terms and society’s judgments that wouldn’t defend them or take their side. Now, however, they can talk about it openly, report it and share the details of the harassers, when known.
Even Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) has its share on the media. FGM has been a very big problem which arose in Egypt and Sudan the most. Social media platforms started spreading awareness and campaigns to stop this inhumane act of FGM, and even TV channels showed commercials for stopping this criminal activity. Has this been affective? Yes, as I mentioned in an earlier article on FGM, Egypt has stated a new law which prevents the act of FGM under any circumstances.
But, did the old media portray women in the Middle East in the wrong form? Yes, women in the Middle East were portrayed as weak, helpless, and waiting to be saved from their submission to men’s authority. But with this new widespread use of social media, women have taken advantage of it to lead different campaigns to empower women, ask for their rights, stand up for themselves, and to lead people to the truth which says women in the Middle East are not submissive, and not hiding behind the veil waiting to be saved. They are women of leadership whose voices call for equality.
Social media has made it easier to share reality: no politics controlling the media and no societal chains wrapped around the real life stories shared by our women.
Published in BROAD Feminist and Social Justice Magazine / Chicago – Sept. 2014, Pages 70-71
By ABEER ALLAN