Disrespect towards women online

Disrespect towards women online happens in social media comments and messages, forums, and video calls and can include:

  • trolling women on social media
  • making sexualised comments and sexist jokes about women
  • attempting to silence women because of their level of sexual attractiveness
  • pestering women for dates and sex on dating apps.

Key facts about online disrespect towards women

  • 65% of girls and young women reported being harassed or abused online – worse than the global average (58%) ( Plan International , 2019)
  • Women are more likely to report being harassed online than men ( Australia Institute , 2019)
  • Sports women cop more harassment on social media than male athletes – and it’s more likely to be sexist, belittle their sporting ability, or sexually harassing ( Plan International , 2019)
  • Women of colour and of religious minorities, women who have a disability and those that identify as LGBTIQ or are outspoken online are harassed even more – and it’s usually more extreme ( Plan International , 2019)
  • 53% of women harassed online said they had lower self-esteem, and 51% were mentally or emotionally stressed after the harassment ( Plan International , 2019).

How to do something

  • Show you don’t agree by posting eye-roll or thumbs-down emojis
  • Support women and others doing something about disrespect by liking and sharing their posts and comments
  • Speak up against disrespect by asking in the group chat: ‘I don’t get it, why is that funny?’
"People will say stuff in a group chat and I just say, 'We're better than that'. That's it. I never say 'you', it's always 'we', because whether you like it or not we are in it together." Tarang Chawla, Our Watch Ambassador

Extra advice

  • Message women being disrespected to show they have support and aren’t alone
  • Share posts from women being disrespected to help to drown out negativity
  • Messaging the person being disrespectful can feel less attacking than commenting publicly
  • Speaking up with links to research or insights can help keep things constructive.

If you or someone you know is experiencing disrespect or harassment online, please visit the Help and support page for support services.