Sexual bullying makes me sick. That is, any sort of bullying or shaming about someone’s gender or sexuality. Research shows that girls are disproportionately the victims and the bullying is usually about their sexuality and fueled by sexual double standards. You know the sort of sexual double standards I’m talking about; men can wear revealing clothes, have many sexual partners, be sexual whereas if women do the same they are met with more condemnation and judgement.
Cyber bullying is the intentional and repeated behaviour performed through electronic media for the purpose of harming others. Modern technology makes it easier to intimidate, shame and harass someone.
Also known as electronic harassment or online aggression, cyber bullying is becoming a bigger problem as the internet plays an increasing role in our lives. Social media and google are our new reputation emblems and being publicly shamed can lead to depression and suicide.
Internet and phones become a weapon for bullies to harass women about their appearance, sexuality and their real or imagined sexual activity and to harass men for their perceived sexual orientation and masculinity. Bullies embrace the internet as a space of criticism and judgement and act like the “sex and moral police.” Bullies actions are more like a mirror that reflects their own internal problems and insecurities than revealing anything about the victim.
Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth are more than three times as likely to experience harassment online than non LGBT youths. LGBT kids are four times more likely to attempt suicide than non LGBT adolescents. Research shows that adults are just as susceptible to the negative mental health effects of cybercbullying and that victims of cyber bullying have worse anxiety and depression outcomes than victims of traditional bullying.
A new study of university students found that women who have experienced cyber bullying have increased rates of depression by six fold. Young adults are twice as likely to attempted suicide if they’ve experienced cyber bullying than those who have not and the effects can last for decades after the bullying took place.
The most common cyber bullying tactics reported were; online unwanted sexual advances, harassing by text and posting degrading comments publicly on social media.
“Bullycide” is a new term for when people commit suicide as a result of bullying and it’s happening to adults and kids.
The study found that cyber bullies were more likely to have very low self esteem and have problems with alcohol use. Their existing mental health problems manifest outwardly as aggressive online behaviour.
I want to see kindness, compassion and acceptance go viral. Let’s embrace the power of technology to promote respect for each other, our bodies, our sexual expression and our sexual orientation. Let’s harness our creativity to take a stand against bullying.
I’m starting an education campaign against sexual bullying. Please email me with your bullying story or how you stood up to sexual bullying and I will publish it on my website. I will have a new page up soon in support of this campaign.
I want you to have your story heard. There’s too much pain and blaming of victims taking place. Telling your story can inspire and strengthen others. Let’s transform the toxicity of sexual bullying into an atmosphere of respect and love.