The problem of verbal and emotional violence against women online remains insufficiently – or often, mistakenly – addressed. Headlines about online harassment continue to focus on victims rather than perpetrators, while platforms like Twitter and Facebook struggle to define and act upon the difference between free speech and abuse.
But there’s also the upside: social media’s potential for women who are seeking to mark out a space of debate, discussion and disagreement. Largely unmediated, social platforms offer the promise (if not always the purest realisation) of ideas being able to speak for themselves. Women are able to connect with each other, and with their publics, in ways that transcend the ‘motherhood penalty’ and other gendered factors of the traditional workplace.
Jane Gilmore, Rebecca Shaw, Yassmin Abdel-Magied and Lucy Valentine are writers who put their words, beliefs and opinions on social media – with the intention of connecting, challenging others and pursuing change. With host Sophie Black, they’ll talk about #writingwhilefemale. How do women participate in digital discussion? How do they end up in arguments, decide when to continue them … and what do they do when argument becomes abuse? And, in this odd amalgam of public and private space, how do women edit their own balance of the political and personal?
Jane Gilmore is a freelance journalist, with a strong focus on data journalism and male violence. She was the founding editor of The King’s Tribune, and now writes regularly for the Sydney Morning Herald. She has been published by the Guardian, Meanjin, the Age, the Saturday Paper, News.com.au and Junkee, among many others.
Rebecca Shaw (aka Brocklesnitch) is a writer, podcaster, and creator of the parody Twitter account @notofeminism, which has just been developed into an illustrated book with Affirm Press. She is a full-time content producer and writer at SBS Comedy, a contributing editor for Kill Your Darlings journal, one of the team at the Backburner, and has written for Junkee, the Guardian, Daily Life et al. She is also in constant competition with Ruby Rose to become Australia's favourite lesbian.
Sophie Black is the Wheeler Centre's Head of Publishing. Previously she was Editor in Chief at Private Media, where she headed up the titles Crikey, Women’s Agenda, SmartCompany, StartUpSmart and Property Observer.
Lucy Valentine is a Melbourne based comedy writer and enemy of the state. She writes regularly for SBS Comedy and co-hosts the Boonta Vista Socialist Club podcast.
Yassmin Abdel-Magied is a mechanical engineer, social advocate, writer and petrol head, and is the 2015 Queensland Young Australian of the Year. She advocates for the empowerment of youth, women and those from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds.
Born in Sudan, Yassmin Abdel-Magied and her family arrived in Australia when she was two. Since then, she has devoted her extraordinary energy and talents to making Australia a better place. At age 16, Yassmin founded Youth Without Borders, an organisation that enables young people to work together to implement positive change within their communities and internationally.