Online Sexual Harassment, Some See It… Some Won’t.
Have you ever scrolled through your social media feed and saw an explicit comment on a subject? Well, nowadays there are a lot of comments that seem to be harassing people yet unacknowledged and unsolved. This is an unusual action, people should be more aware about their use of the internet by not trying to offend anyone. I bet that you or the person you know must have seen someone get sexually harassed on the internet or maybe those around you must have experienced it in some ways so it is inevitable to say that these days the media is a crucial part of society and that everyone can participate. It can be said that social media is a platform where people with different race, gender, and social status can take part.
When the media has a lot of advantages, it also comes with a lot of concerns and drawbacks that are worth taking into account. Especially online sexual harassment that we will be talking about.
Let’s kick off with the difference between online sexual harassment and sexual harassment we typically see in the news.
Sexual harassment is a type of unwelcome sexual behaviors that is offensive, humiliating, or intimidating. It can be written, verbal, or physical. Both men and women can be victims of sexual harassment when it happen at work, school, or univeristy, it may amount to sex discrimination (Reachout.com, 2021). To make it easy, it is a sexual action without consent that makes other people feel uncomfortable. However, online sexual harassment is an undesired sexual action on digital platforms, including wide ranges of behaviors that use digital contents such as images, videos, posts, messages, and pages on an array of different platforms. Which can make a person feel threatened, exploited, coerced, humiliated, upset, sexualised, or discriminated against.
Now we’re going to categorize online sexual harassment into 4 types.
First: Non consensual sharing of intimate images and videos which is sharing sexual images or videos without permission.
Second: Exploitation, coercion, and threats which are forced or threatened to do sexual activities online or being blackmailed with sexual content.
Third: Sexualised bullying which are an individual being focused by, and deliberately prohibited from, a gathering or local area with the utilization of sexual substance that embarrasses, disturbs or victimizes them such as
- Being bullied because of gender or sexual orientation
- Body shaming
Fourth: Unwanted sexualization which is receiving unwanted sexual comments or contents such as
- Sexualised jokes
- Editing images of a person to make them sexual
Today, online sexual harassment is an issue that is currently happening in social media. A statistic from Pew Research Center shows that 41% of Americans have personally experienced some form of online harassment (Vogels, 2021). It is not surprising that many people experience online sexual harassment because social media pulls everybody in the community closer together. With a tap of a finger, you can talk to your favorite celebrities or idols through the internet.
This is the statistic from Pew Research Center showing that 41% of american experience online sexual harassment.
Something that surprised us is that one-fifth of Americans were harassed because of their political views and 54% of the American LGBTQ+ community experienced online sexual harassment because of gender, sexual orientation, or identity also, many blacks and Hispanics get sexualised bullying because of their race and ethnicity.
This statistic shows that one fifth of Americans have been harassed because of their political viewpoint.
the statistic portrays that sexual orientation and ethnicity is the reason why they were targeted on online sexual harassment.
The interesting thing is that when someone is different from one another, they might as well be the focal point of getting treated differently. It is so unexpected to see that diversity can lead to harassment.The fact that online sexual harassment can happen to anybody but for people with an incredible amount of followers or overwhelming amount of fanclub such as influencers and celbrities, these kind of people risk a higher possibility of being targeted
The famous Kpop idol named “BTS” works with world-class organizations, UNICEF.
As we all know, the K-entertainment industry nowadays is going viral worldwide, we are sure that you guys must’ve heard, sung, or even danced to the fantastic music of them. They have made lots of profit for their country because of this. Surely, with that much fame, also comes with sexual harassment both physically and online. For example, there are a lot of editing celebrities’ faces into explicit videos or images without their consent for the satisfaction of some group of fanclub. This action discredits and shames the celebrities.
Momo from TWICE being Deep Fake edited to create sexual images and videos by fans.
Also, in some Kpop boy bands, some fanclubs went crazy for them that they would verbally and sexually harass the celebrity, some would even stalk them everywhere they go. Moreover, some would even sell the idol’s privacy for their own benefits such as their address, phone number, flight ticket, and social media IDs.
Jungkook from BTS being verbally and sexually harassed by fans on Twitter.
However, being online sexual harassed doesn’t only occur to international celebrities. There are also some cases that actually happened in Thailand. For instance, BNK48’s Orn, one of the famous idol group in Thailand, sued her fan because of online sexual harassment. She came out and showed all the messages she has been receiving from this particular fanclub. She revealed that this is not the only case of online sexual harassment she had experienced, there are much more accounts that tried to harass her.
Orn BNK48 being sent sexually harassed messages by fans on Instagram
Online sexual harassment doesn’t only happen to women but also men. Bank Thiti, a popular teen actor, took pictures of himself working out at the gym. After that, gossip pages took images of him and published it on their fanpage, the feedbacks they received were unpleasantly sexual.
Bank Thiti being gossip pages took images of him published them on their fan page and receive unpleasantly sexual feedbacks.
No matter what gender you are, no one deserves to be harassed sexually, online or physically, and that no one should receive sexual contents without their consent. In Thai society, if men were to be sexually harassed, people would view it as a joke or a funny business. Men shouldn’t be treated this way, they have the right to feel fear or insecure as women do in the same situation. Many Thai men celebrities got sexually harassed by their friends, girls, fanclubs, and even news reporters, while those who are offenders don’t mean any harm or were just fooling around. And if the male celebrity feels insecure, people would view them as overthinking the situation.
In some cases there are also gangs of imposters that disguise themselves as a well known agency for fake casting, the purpose of this is to make the applicants act out kissing scenes, love scenes, or taking their clothes off. Their intention is to film or take explicit photos in order to make money out of it or satisfy themselves.
This is an announcement of a popular agency against fake casting.
The reason that there are still online sexual harassment is because in Thailand there are still some kind of sexual harassing action visible on some communication channel such as telvision, but people still view those actions as jokes or to fool around, making it seems like it is a funny business. For example there is a game show called 123 Ranking Show where a guest tries to entertain the audiences. But the guest, in this situation, entertained the audiences by sexually harassing a contestant in the middle of the show. This action definitely got a big laugh but this reflects the social normalization where sexual harassing a man can be funny and entertaining to some.
Dj Nui tries to entertained the audience by sexually harassing the guest
Seeing women as sexualizing objects is also a normalized thing in society. For instance, a popular Thai TV series, 2gether the Series, aired a scene where when a guy wants to get over someone, he has to entertain himself. With the help of his friends, they came up with a plan of going out watching the girls exercise and play sports. The cinematography, camera shot and angles, definitely shows how the director visualizes women as some kind of sex objects. This process is a type of harassment where the cameraman and the director had to zoom into certain parts and angles to present the body of the women to portray the satisfaction of men. Yet, ironically, not much seems to notice the sexual harassment since it is already a social norm.
The cinematography, camera shot and angles of 2gether the Series made visualizes women as some kind of sex objects.
The impact of online sexual harassment depends on the individual. It can be felt as both temporarily and can affect psychological well-being. Long term impacts can be amplified because of re-victimisation if content is re-shared online, or because the initial trauma of the incident resurfaces much later.
Therefore the normalization of sexual harassment resulted from the previous actions of soft medias no matter if it is from radio, ads, social media, or television. People should be aware of sexual harassment, as we are all mankind, no one deserves to be treated unfairly or be taken advantage of.