The problem of misogyny has been one that continues to be an issue in the 21st Century, despite women having made great strides within the past 50 years in most advanced countries around the world. One female college student from Australia inadvertently discovered that this approach had taken a step backward after some of her fellow students were discovered to be making a series of crude comments about her on social media.
Eleanor Henry is a 22-year-old student who is currently studying commerce at the University of Melbourne. During a group chat on Facebook, Henry was mistakenly added to the group, which allowed her to read the remarks made about her by the male students. She later indicated that she had worked on a group project with two of the men involved prior to the incident and had no interaction with any of the others.
Using photos that had been previously posted on Henry’s own Facebook account, the men made a series of remarks about her that were almost exclusively sexual in nature. Most were fantasies described by the men in crude terms, with many of the others responding with online remarks that indicated amusement. In one comment, one man speaks of taking her to Thailand so that she could take part in group sex.
After first being shocked by the remarks and then breaking into tears, Henry spoke with her sister about what type of action she should take. Still angry about the incident, she decided to take her sister’s advice and take screen shots of the comments, with the self-described feminist then posting them online on November 5.
In conjunction with that posting, she expressed her anger and the humiliation she felt while also embarrassing the men involved and providing a clear example of the rape culture that still exists.
Henry’s posting resulted in an immediate backlash against the male students involved, while Henry herself is still thinking about reporting the students to school officials after the end of exams. Whether or not that would lead to the students being expelled from school is unknown.
Expressing some discomfort about having two of the men in one of her classes, Henry noted that she had thought about sending the posts to the men’s parents in an effort to further humiliate them.
From a national perspective, the issue of violence against women continues to be an issue in Australia. In 2015, 86 women were killed because of some form of domestic violence, while 2016’s number has reached 65 with five weeks left in the year. During the same week of this incident, five women were killed.
Henry has received mixed messages from some of the men since the story went public. Two offered apologies, in contrast to another man who stated the entire interaction was a joke and that she shouldn’t have taken it so seriously.