Hypersexualization Of Young Girls On Social Media
In the second edition of SheThePeople’s Online Safety Summit for Women, the summit seeks to bring together all stakeholders and explore a consolidated approach for the online safety of women and children. The summit discussed the hypersexualization of young girls online and how we can equip our youth to have a better online experience.
This particular panel titled ‘Hypersexualization of Adolescent Girls on Social Media’ featured three prominent personalities who shared their experience and suggestions on how to improve things regarding the hypersexualization of adolescent girls online. The members of this panel included Dr Ranjana Kumari, a well-known social activist, the director of the Center for Social Research, and the chairperson of Women Power Connect. The second panelist, Sujata Parashar is an award winning novelist, writer, poet and founder of the Chalk It out Express (a talk therapy based platform addressing emotional health). Dr Aditi Paswan, an assistant professor at Delhi University and former ICSSR doctor and fellow at Jawaharlal Nehru University, was the third panelist for this session.
Hypersexualization of young girls on social media
The summit seeks to bring together all stakeholders and explore a consolidated approach for the online safety of women and children. The summit discussed the hypersexualization of young girls online and how we can equip our youth to have a better online experience.
When asked about how the female body is scrutinized on social media, Dr Kumari said: “The most important thing to understand is that when you look at the other person as an instrument for your own pleasure or for your own sexual goals, then you objectify that person. That’s where the whole problem comes in because women are generally represented, traditionally, through the patriarchal framework of looking at women as a pleasure for men. That means she doesn’t have her own agency no. She’s not really someone who’s very capable and who has a lot of potential to do other things. She’s not an individual or a person. Just like when you like something, you want to own it, you want preserve it with you and you also control it.”
Sujata Parashar said that not only women but also men are very conscious about their physical appearance these days. She said: “The pressure to conform to an ideal body type or a physical image is found more in women.” She further shared an example from her conversation with a Gujrati woman stand-up comedian who told her about her childhood experiences of how she was always chosen for the character of King, always in her school plays because she was dark is of skin.
Issues facing the youth
Dr. Aditi Paswan also elaborated on the discrimination based on color and shared how people in Bihar over-apply the bleach to fit certain desired standards and in turn suffer from skin cancer. She also told how students upload their photos online and don’t get enough likes, they get depressed and turn to nudity. The students feel that the maximum skin exposure they do, the maximum likes they will get. Dr Paswan also spoke about cyber bullying and how every girl becomes a victim of it.
Women and girls shy away from reporting cyberbullying
According to Dr Kumari, there are several reasons why women and girls do not report cyberbullying. One of the reasons she says is to be reprimanded for their actions and immediately declared wrong for putting the stuff online in the first place.
Issues to discuss with youth
The Chalk It Out Express founder spoke about the importance of discussing the concept of content with the youth of society. She said: “To teach the child to say no to something he or she does not want and to accept it without feeling offended. If the child does not want to be hugged by an adult, give him or her the opportunity to say no. And for the other person to accept it as well.”
When asked how young girls should use social media positively, Dr Paswan said: “The younger girls are at a very vulnerable stage of their lives. They should be very careful while sharing anything on social media. Once it’s there, it’s there.”
Watch the full panel discussion here.
Suggested reading: How parents can deal with inhibitions, challenges about online safety