“I didn’t have the language”: Young people learning to challenge gender-based violence through consumption of social media

Molnar, L. I. (2022). “I didn’t have the language”: Young people learning to challenge gender-based violence through consumption of social media. Youth, 2(3), 318–338.

Link: https://doi.org/10.3390/youth2030024

Open access: Yes

Notes: In this article, Molnar explores how young people’s understandings of gender-based violence is challenged by social media. There are several significant findings in this study. First, gender violence is often minimalized (and, indeed, invisibilized) due to internalized contexts of inequality, where people do not have the language to even express the violence they were subjected to. Second, schools and other socializing contexts allow young people to challenge their experiences and identify violence as such. Finally, social media has the same role: it allows users to explore and discover the language to describe gender violence. In summary, this article highlights how social media can unsettle and clarify contexts of violence that are opaque and invisible, thus highlighting productive uses of digital media to promote care and solidarity.

Quote: “For these young people, using social media helped them to find the words for their experiences, or to fill a gap in knowledge from the circulation of or discovery of resources and materials online about gender inequality or violence.” (p. 335)

Abstract: In recent years, young people in Australia and abroad have taken to social media to express their concerns about the violent behaviour of their peers, and to share content that challenges the causes of gender-based and interpersonal violence. From launching policy-changing petitions to responding to and engaging with online campaigns, young people are pushing action and momentum from generational changes in feminist movements. Young people have their own contexts and influences that affect understandings and responses to gendered inequality and violence. This paper discusses the findings of nine focus groups with 32 young people who share content online about preventing gender-based violence, exploring their perceptions on their reasonings for using these tools and how they came to assumptions about gender inequality. It explores the contexts that young people in Australia draw upon to challenge existing gender inequalities and their reasonings for using social media to share ideas about preventing violence with others. The findings of this paper, thus, have implications for how young people are engaged in the primary prevention of gender-based violence, suggesting better use for social-media-campaign content engagement.

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