Grabbing attention: social media’s platform for women aids in social justice

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Grace Halupnik

Senior Maddy Licea reads a tweet posted by Alex Bozarjian who was responding to the public sexual harassment she received. Bozarjian’s tweet was read by many women and, through social media, was able to resonate and evoke a response from the public.

Grace Halupnik, Lead Editor

Despite the leap the 2010s brought for women’s rights, all it takes is one slap to make a woman feel like she is still a second-class citizen.

Alex Bozarjian was reporting at the Enmarket Savannah Bridge Run when a male runner approached her and smacked her backside. Thousands of viewers watched as a look of shock and confusion spread across her face on live television.

And that look resonated with many women across the country who have experienced similar incidents of degrading sexual harassment. 

While the actions of the runner were offensive and completely intolerable, the incident as a whole serves as an example of how far the response to sexual harassment has come after the influential #MeToo movement went viral two years ago. Before the explosion of support for sexual harassment victims, this same occurrence would have been treated much differently. 

One driving force of this change is the use of social media to expose acts of sexual harassment. In Bozarjian’s case, the clip was posted on Twitter by a viewer who saw the incident as it aired. This gave Bozarjian a platform on which to call out the offender and make it clear that such acts are despicable. 

“To the man who smacked my butt on live TV this morning: You violated, objectified, and embarrassed me. No woman should EVER have to put up with this at work or anywhere!! Do better,” she wrote in a Tweet responding to the video. 

Before the era of social media, incidents like this were easier to push under the rug and would have likely gone unnoticed. Now, such behaviors are commonly exposed and consequently viewed as unacceptable by the general population. This is evident in the large response to the small but impactful harassment Bozarjian received. 

English teacher Jenni Levora also acknowledged the impact social media has had on the #MeToo movement. “[Social media] provides a platform for exposing perpetrators. While the call-out culture goes too far sometimes, if social media is used to draw attention to actual perpetrators of sexual assault or harassment, then those people finally have to face some sort of reckoning,” she said. 

While misdemeanors are sometimes blown out of proportion by social media, it is a vital tool because it gives victims a platform on which to take a stand. 

In the past, it would have been easy to hear about a runner slapping the backside of a nearby reporter and brush off the incident or even laugh at it. However, things are different with millions of viewers on Twitter who were able to see the shock in Bozarjian’s eyes, the confusion in her expression, and the wavering of her voice as she attempted to continue to do her job. 

As Bozarjian told CBS, the incident made her feel “extremely vulnerable.” Through social media, she was able to reach a large population of women who could relate to the video and the way she felt. “I would say the reason why maybe it caught so much fire is because the emotion is extremely relatable for women all over the world,” said Bozarjian. 

Similar #MeToo confessions on Twitter and other social media sites have contributed to a more supportive environment for victims of sexual harassment. “There’s power in speaking up and connecting with a larger group that wants to stop harmful patterns,” said Levora. 

Due to social media’s influence of movements like #MeToo, reactions to sexual harassment are changing for the better. Exposing such acts through social media has led to the tearing down of two of the biggest walls standing in the way of ending sexual abuse: the skepticism surrounding victims and the trivialization of their harassment.

Sexual harassment is central to the dehumanization of women and makes any victim feel like a second-class citizen. But exposure through social media has created a better response from the public to such behavior which will in turn continue to change the way harassment is viewed in workplaces, schools and daily life. 

And this change in perception is vital in decreasing the frequency of future instances of sexual harassment.