Online sexism is currently among the negative aspects of online culture. Online culture
remains sexist despite the rosy expectations of the early stages of the digital development
that digital technology would resolve the physical, economic, and technological
inequalities between genders. Even with women’s increased online participation, a
considerable portion of online content contains sexist expressions of derogation of and
hatred for women. For example, comments on news articles and posts on web forums
are found to use extremely vulgar expressions revealing radically sexist ideology
that can upset readers’s emotional stability. Even news articles, which are considered
public discourse, feature sexist remarks and images and can be accompanied by sexist
advertisements, some bordering on pornographic images.
Many women feel uncomfortable with and even insulted by sexist content and suffer
damage to their self-esteem when personally attacked by aggressive remarks addressed to
them. This type of experience can prevent women from freely expressing their opinions
or communicating online, and can even lead them to withdraw from online activities.
The detrimental effects of sexist online content are not limited to women. It causes young
people who frequently encounter sexist content in their daily online activities to form
an inappropriate gender consciousness. Since the sexist content degrades and objectifies women based on gender stereotypes, young males can come to consider the essence of
masculinity and gender relationships to be one of domination and violence. This distorted
understanding of reality leads to not only gender conflict, but also to the imprisonment of
men in inappropriate norms of masculinity.
Recently, the phenomenon of online misogyny, which started from certain maledominated
communities, has raised the issue of developing a systematic understanding of
online sexism. Even though sexism in the media has been an important subject of media
studies since the 1980s, online sexism has not been methodically monitored or discussed
due to the difficulty of access to the broad online territory. Research into online content
requires a qualitatively different approach from the previous methods utilized to analyze
traditional media, such as broadcasting and newspapers. To monitor online content,
we need to develop a tool for online monitoring which takes into consideration the
multiplicity of platforms, un-fixity of content, and interactivity between content and users.
This research is designed to examine the status of online sexism by monitoring a diverse
range of online environments, with a particular focus on the targets and types of online
sexism and the related gender stereotypes. Online sexism is a recent development within
the overall phenomenon of gender discrimination. This paper examines how it differs
from previous forms of gender discrimination and how it can be contextualized. It also
attempts to develop a monitoring tool that can be applied by civic groups as they conduct
their own monitoring of sexism on the Internet.