Many of us know Newschoolers to be one of the most popular skiing websites in the world. One where like minded individuals can chat, share edits and, er, ruthlessly insult others.
Their new, females only forum was opened after this article appeared on the site, calling out those who make mean and inappropriate comments on girl’s edits and posts. And Newschoolers isn’t the only platform for this type of behaviour, it spreads to Twitter, Instagram, pretty much anywhere you’re invited to leave a comment – just ask Alana Blanchard, or Lindsay Bottos, an art student who created a photography exhibition about the abuse she received through her tumbler site. The Newschoolers forum, Lady Gabbers, cuts this out by allowing everyone to view the forum, but only allowing women to post so the guys can see how nice and polite they are to each other.
So far, Lady Gabbers has been a huge success, with many female shredders (or ‘pinknames’ in internet language) posting and using the site much more frequently than they did before. And why wouldn’t they? It comes with the freedom of being able to put yourself out there without the apprehension of demeaning comments or guys asking to see your boobs. It’s definitely been a confidence boost for the lady members, and is something to indicate that women’s freeskiing is being taken more seriously.
However, on the flip side, male and female members have given their opinion of the forum and the guys have had some surprisingly insightful things to say:
Just so that we’re all clear, sexism isn’t discrimination against women, it is the discrimination of the opposite sex. Similarly, feminism isn’t man hate, it is female empowerment towards the goal of gender equality. By blatantly discriminating against men, women are the offenders of sexism, there is no equality here. Thinking of this role reversal as innovative or progressive is ignorant and just think to yourselves how much negative press NS would get if they had male-only forums.”
And from another user:
I was trying to throw some compliments on a dew edit their way and was bummed I couldn’t. I hope at some point dudes will be able to comment. I think it is good it is initially not open to dudes, but hopefully that changes at some point in the near-ish future.”
So could creating a ladies-only forum actually be seen as regressive? And is it unnecessarily amplifying a certain male stereotype? After all, it wasn’t long ago that Emma Watson was quite rightly pointing out that sexism and gender stereotyping affects men just as much as it does women.
Or maybe the moral of the story is that we all need to be a bit nicer to each other. Because it’s not just women who get ripped on on Newschoolers, or any other corner of the internet for that matter. It’s guys who wear zebra print pants, people who use bad music in their edits and even children. Yes, I have actually seen negative comments on a child’s ski edit. Everyone has the right to their opinion, but there is a big difference between constructive criticism, opinionated debate and just being mean. In the worst cases of internet abuse and trolling, someone’s ‘opinion’ could see them facing up to two years in prison following a recent government plan to dish out more severe sentences to online bullies.
Every morning, my dad used to tell my brother and I to be kind to everybody, which is a simple concept that often gets overlooked when it comes to the internet. It’s all too easy to say something nasty about somebody when you can’t see how they’re going to react, but using computers to communicate doesn’t make us robots; there’s always a person putting him or herself out there behind the computer screen. I mean, how likely are we to tell a waitress in a cafe that she looks fat? Or the person sitting next to you on the bus that you hate their tattoos?
Maybe if we all thought a little bit about the impact our comments might have on others than Newschoolers wouldn’t need a girls-only forum in the first place.