What it’s like to be a Woman Online: our Influencers share their thoughts

Over the next few days we are celebrating International Women’s Day, a day created to celebrate and acknowledge the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women and promote equality around the world. There are several different opinions surrounding this day, some of them negative, so we wanted to refocus the emphasis on personal experience and look at one individual’s online experience as a prominent female influencer.  This is an interview with one of our most beloved lifestyle bloggers: Luisa-Christie blogger at www.luisachristie.co.uk.

luisaHi Luisa, tell us something about yourself
Hey, I’m Luisa-Christie and as well as working full time doing social media at a record label in London, I blog over at www.luisachristie.co.uk (I’m currently in the process of transitioning from a previous name: ‘Eat Sleep Luisa Repeat’). It’s a lifestyle blog, which primarily focuses on vegan food, cruelty-free makeup, live music, product reviews and fun stuff to do around London (and other places I visit) – as well as a few other things too. I’m also quite active on my Instagram & Twitter accounts, which are both @luisachristie.

What are your sentiments towards International Women’s day?
I think it’s a great chance for the world to appreciate how great women are and the positive changes they have made politically, economically, culturally and socially. Whatever gender they were assigned at birth, whatever their sexuality or race: if they identify as a woman – that’s pretty amazing and we should celebrate it together, whilst also fighting for gender equality.

How have you found being a woman with a large online presence?
I’m pleased to say I’ve not encountered too many issues. I have had the odd misogynistic comment/unwanted direct message with an attached (gross) photo. However these are usually from people I do not follow or engage with so they go to my “other” inbox on Facebook/Instagram and I can just “ignore” them and get on with my life.

Once I had a Twitter rant following a bad taxi service, and some of the replies I got from the cab drivers were pretty vile… But that’s the worst it’s been for me.

In your experience, have you found more or less gender equality with the online community?
Overall I would like to say more gender equality (but that might be wishful thinking), because it’s easier for everyone to have a voice. As much as some people use the internet as a way to be nasty and hide behind their keyboards, I think the sort of anonymity that comes with being online and choosing your username, etc, is great for some as they are able to engage with hot topics in a less intense environment than a face to face, “real life” encounter.

I’m happy to say that the people I follow and engage with are incredibly aware of ensuring gender equality (for example, being conscious to use the correct pronouns for how an individual identifies, rather than auto piloting to heteronormativity). I can’t recall personally encountering any terrible gender inequality online. That being said, I have a number of LGBTQ+ friends ranging from musicians to YouTubers and influencers who have an active presence online and identify as genderless/queer/non-binary and some of the things I’ve heard from them and strangers on the internet, has been quite horrible.

Has being a woman affected your experience online? If so can you think of a specific example?
I’m incredibly lucky to be able to say that I don’t think it has. Sure there’s a creepy comment or two, but I usually formulate a reply in my head (sometimes I write one in my “notes” app on my phone) and then rather than posting it, I actually delete it, and just block the person in question. It’s actually quite therapeutic because I get the anger and frustration out without the extended emotional turmoil of the back and forth of nasty comments (because let’s face it, most of the people posting these kinds of things, don’t want to learn or engage in positive conversation). It does baffle me that people get off on being nasty to others online though, I guess they don’t have anything better to do with their time. Which is quite sad really.

How do you deal with the pressures surrounding women and appearance online?
I think it is very hard to navigate through the social digital space and not get bogged down by the media’s perception of the “perfect female body” or the appearance of people’s lives through their perfectly edited images that they put out on social media. That being said, I think the flipside of the negative pressure surrounding appearance online is that it’s much easier for women to find people and body types they relate to and are inspired by. There are so many wonderful people and companies I follow that celebrate bodies of all shapes, sizes, and colours. They’ve definitely helped me love my body more over the past few years, and helped me a little with how I choose to appear online.

Do you think the internet is a good forum for politics? If so what did you think of the Women’s Marches?
I think the internet can be, but sometimes it can definitely be really really bad. It’s great that the internet has become a hub of information, but it’s also become so easy for people to incorrectly label themselves as things when they aren’t. Calling yourself a feminist, but not being intersectional is actually just as dangerous as being someone that doesn’t believe feminism is an important thing. It can be really damaging.

I think the Women’s Marches were great on the one hand, but on the other, they alienated trans-women, and Women of Colour. There’s currently so much stigma around trans-people and People of Colour (no thanks to a certain President), but the pink hats and signs relating to a cisgendered women’s genitals “fighting back”, I do not think were well thought out. It’s so important to bear in mind that just because a person looks a certain way, does not mean you should assume their gender.

As a cis-white woman I speak about all of this from a place of privilege, knowing that I have not and won’t ever encounter first-hand the systematic racism and ingrained prejudice that others do, but I really think it’s so important to be vocal and try to use my privilege for good as much possible.

In my personal experiences, if something political is getting really heated, I usually try to take myself out of the situation for a moment, speak to people I respect who are “in the know”, do a bit of reading online and try to think about it from both sides. That makes me remember and realise what is important, why my stance is what it is, and how my approach to the situation can be a positive one and a learning experience for all involved (myself included).

Finally, what message would you like to send to all women out there?
I would like to say that all women are important: whatever the colour of their skin, or whatever gender they were assigned at birth. Anyone can make a difference, whether it’s encouraging one person to be more mindful about the words they use and how they could be hurtful, or talking about the importance of intersectional feminism to a bigger group of people.

I’m still learning and I’m nowhere near being fully informed on all of this, but I think now more than ever, is the time to be an ally to those in need of support, and speak up. We gotta stick together.

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