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Action needed to tackle misogyny and gender hate online, say academics
Experts are gathering at the University of Sussex this week for a two-day conference debating misogyny and gender hate online.
María Rún Bjarnadóttir, Doctoral Researcher in Law at the University of Sussex, says: “Misogynistic speech is not a new phenomenon but social media and the internet have changed its scope and distribution. In light of current debates around sexual harassment in Westminster and Hollywood it is timely to consider the policy approaches needed to deal with it.
“Reports and studies show that acts that could be considered online abuse affect women disproportionately. Further, certain forms of abuse, like image-based sexual abuse, are directed at women in the vast majority of cases.
“We need to find out why this is happening and how we can solve it. Opinion making, journalism, and public debate now predominantly take place online. If online abuse – call it hate, threats, or misogyny – is holding women back from full political and civic engagement we will not have a gender equality problem on our hands, but a democratic one. That is not only damaging for women, but all of us.”
The event will bring together experts from a wide variety of disciplines, from law and sociology to media studies and youth and social work. International stakeholders from the Danish Institute for Human Rights and UK stakeholders from the Nottingham Women’s Centre have been invited, as well as participants working for the Police.
Presentations will focus on:
- Online misogyny in a legal context
- Policy approaches to image-based sexual abuse
- ‘Lad culture’ and banter online
- Misogyny and street harassment
Taking place from Thursday 2nd to Friday 3rd November, the event has been organized by María Rún Bjarnadóttir and Dr Hannah Mason-Bish from the Sussex Centre for Gender Studies, and is supported by the Sussex Humanities Lab, the Sussex Information Law Group, and the Equality and Diversity Forum.
The Sussex Centre for Gender Studies carries out research and teaching on gender issues in a variety of schools and departments, which makes for fresh and innovative debates and diverse approaches to teaching and learning. It also has a strong policy, community and media presence via a number of high-profile research projects. The Centre for Gender Studies, which draws all this expertise together, is based in the School of Law, Politics and Sociology and led by Dr Hannah Mason-Bish and Dr Kimberley Brayson.
The Equality and Diversity Forum (EDF) is a national network of organisations working across all areas of equality and human rights. It brings together people from a range of disciplines, sharing knowledge and expertise. It helps members to speak with one voice on shared positions; informed by a strong evidence base, and communicates these positions in powerful ways. EDF is working in partnership with the School of Law, Politics and Sociology at the University of Sussex to support the development of the EDF Research Network – bringing together academics, NGOs and policymakers to improve policy and law on equality, human rights and social justice.