Internet is full of memes and a large chunk of them are misogynistic ones. They not only promote misogynistic voice under the cover of fun, but creating a deadly sexist environment.
One of the contradictions of the Internet is that although it is a place for the exchange of ideas, it is also a place where people with obnoxious and extremely offensive beliefs put their beliefs as ideas for memes who share their viewpoints. It’s shocking how sexist some parts of the Internet are.
Sexist and misogynistic memes are widely available on the internet. It’s past time we stopped presenting them as an amusing diversion. We are all familiar with the various online memes but most of the memes are now misogynistic that make fun of women. Contrary to popular assumption, these memes have negative effects and are not merely “jokes.” These memes disseminate sexist and misogynistic views while disguising them as harmless humour.
Memes that promote anti-feminism, objectification of women, and gender stereotypes are readily available. By making it appear less objectionable, they support tolerance for such beliefs and foster casual sexism. Sexist humour has long been a staple of patriarchal cultures. Such humour stems from sexist notions of women’s inferiority. Sexist humour has found a tremendous outlet with the development of the internet and the rising popularity of “memes.”
Given that memes only work when they resonate with an idea that the user already has, it seems to sense that sexist memes are so well-liked. Since incredibly popular online content is a direct reflection of society, we can infer the dominant perspective on gender equality in society from trending memes.
The portrayal of women as opportunists who manipulate the concept of gender equality for their own convenience is a common memetic trend. These memes suggest that women are cunning manipulators who apply feminism to suit their shifting needs. This is an obvious attempt to minimise the significance of feminism and gender equality.
Such memes try to denigrate women and spread misinformation about them. These memes portray women as fighting for equality while remaining steadfast in their refusal to give up the advantages that they have just due to their gender identity. Such memes have the ability to spread throughout the world and are accessible to practically all internet users without restriction, which could encourage misogyny. They subtly encourage men to act in a hostile manner against women, which also increases the prevalence of gender-based violence.
Everybody has seen popular memes on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and other social media platforms that overtly display gender-related discrimination. They eventually contribute to and reinforce gender stereotypes in the general population. Such sexist humour encourages unfounded, exaggerated generalisations that present an unfeasibly negative image of women. Additionally, they reinforce biases and prejudices related to gender and deepen the gap between the dominant and suppressed genders.
Many memes target women, emphasising on their physical attributes and intellectual prowess. They exhibit dominance, male chauvinism, and the idea that men are more intelligent and capable than women. This frequently results in the sexual objectification of women, in which women are reduced to just their outward appearance. Any chance of women developing a positive body image and a sense of self-respect is destroyed by exposure to such content.
The ethics and beliefs that these memes implant in young internet users are problematic cultural prejudice, stereotypes, and gender discrimination. They serve as a widespread and powerful socialising agent. Those who dismiss the idea that sexist views are represented by memes downplay the gravity of the situation by dismissing it as “just a meme.” We must all work together to oppose sexist comedy in popular culture and raise attention to how it serves to normalise gender inequality in society under the guise of amusing entertainment.
Online harassment of women and other marginalised groups has caught the attention of both the academic and popular press in the context of the Internet. According to feminist studies, situations of online sexism and harassment are frequently made to seem humorous in order to be reframed as “appropriate.” People can freely express sexism without worrying about facing consequences thanks to this tolerance of sexist ideas. Furthering the internalisation of casual sexism, which occurs when sexism is so normalised that it is ingrained in our subconscious, is this. The idea of gender equality is thus threatened by unbridled misogyny in memes.
(Purbasha Palit is a student of Journalism and Mass Communication from Amity University.)
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