Australian women are more likely to block, report and unfriend people over content they find offensive than men are.
The Australia Talks survey found women were more likely than men to have boycotted a brand because it had said or done something they found offensive
75 per cent of Australian women say they have unfollowed or blocked someone because they disagreed with their behaviour
71 per cent of women say they have withdrawn support for a celebrity who has said or done something they found offensive
That’s according to the Australia Talks National Survey, which spoke to over 60,000 Australians to gauge their attitudes and feelings.
When talking about the way they behave online, 75 per cent of Australian women said they had unfriended, unfollowed, blocked or hid someone because they disagreed with their behaviour.
That is about 16 percentage points more than men say they do so.
In some ways, there are obvious explanations. It’s no secret that women face more harassment online than men.
In a recent study by Plan International, 65 per cent of young women in Australia said they faced some form of online harassment or violence.
But as well as taking action online to protect themselves, women seem to be more likely to take action online when it comes to behaviour they disagree with on a grander scale.
A significant majority of women responding to Australia Talks (77 per cent) said they had boycotted a brand because it had said or done something they found offensive.
Olivia Williams, based in Melbourne, found herself in just that situation when she heard a story about a proposal to build a Dan Murphy’s liquor store in the dry community of Bagot near Darwin.
The store was opposed by Aboriginal elders living in the community, especially Aunty Helen Fejo-Frith, and Ms Williams thought she could help by encouraging a boycott.
“Boycotting can be powerful,” she said.
“It initiates conversations … people I know would say ‘I’m going to drop into Woollies, do you need anything?’ And I’d say, ‘oh, no, I don’t shop at Woolworths’. And then that opens up a conversation.”
“[Thinking about] where you’re putting your money and where that business’s values lie can be a really empowering practice.“
But a boycott wasn’t her only tool, an online petition and the use of an instagram account she administers called BlakBusiness also helped her spread the message.
Olivia’s campaign has big win
This week the campaign Olivia has worked on had a big win, on Wednesday Woolworths Group released a independent report that it had commissioned after the campaign had brought attention to the issue.
It found Woolworths had failed to give proper consideration to the community and recommended aginst proceeding with the store, a recommendation Woolworths has accepted.
“[Woolworths] failed to give sufficient reflective consideration to First Nations people of Darwin and the Northern Territory with respect to their socio-economic status, their histories and their struggles to overcome disempowerment and disadvantage.”
Ms Williams, a Wiradjuri woman who was living on Ngunnawal country in Canberra when she started the campaign, said she didn’t know why Australian women in general seemed more likely to boycott a brand but she said the strength of women in the Aboriginal community had been inspirational for her.
“Within the Aboriginal space, of course, we’re a matriarchal culture and we have really staunch women.”
Woolworths CEO Brad Banducci said mistakes had been made when the company was considering the new location.
“[Woolworths] should have taken a broader definition of our stakeholders and the community that we needed to consult with.”
Pushing to change Disney Princesses
When Hannah Diviney was growing up, her mum made sure it was a big Disney household.
“I was a major Disney kid, my mum is the kind of person who went out and bought all the Disney movies on DVD before she had children just so she was ready to go,” she said.
But it wasn’t too long before Ms Diviney, now 21, began asking why the films being made by companies like Disney didn’t include people who looked like her.
Now a writer, uni student and activist, Ms Diviney has Cerebral Palsy and decided she wanted to try to improve the representation of people with disability in the stories the next generation of kids will be consuming.
In the Australia Talks survey 71 per cent of women said they have withdrawn their support for a celebrity who has said or done something they found offensive.
While Ms Diviney’s campaign is not about withdrawing support of Disney, she said she had stopped supporting celebrities and artists in the past who had ignored feedback about portrayals of disabilities and repeated the behaviour.
“I would hope that if someone pointed out that this [portrayal] is harmful, you made a mistake, can we please talk about this? Most people would be open to that conversation,” she said.
She said she wanted to show Disney that a feature film starring a princess with a disability was something that could only benefit the company and its global audience.
“Particularly a princess, because they’re the ones that you see on lunchboxes and bedspreads and the birthday parties.
“And that tiny little seed that gets planted there will hopefully help those kids grow into more [tolerant] adults and then when wouldn’t you know? You’ve changed the whole society that way.”
Hannah wrote an open letter to the board of Disney in 2015 but it wasn’t until six months ago, after launching an online petition, that she began to see her campaign really pick up steam.
She said she certainly understands why women behave differently online.
“There’s been a few Twitter trolls who have taken it upon themselves to tell me that we don’t need a disabled Disney princess either because they think political correctness has gone too far or they feel there were other princesses who already fit that category.
Some suggested that the mermaid Ariel was already an example.
“I’m like, yes, that’s because she’s a mermaid who has a tail … she belongs in the water, she’s not disabled.
“It can be a super solitary experience and sometimes it feels like it’s just me pushing a boulder up a hill but then I sit back and I remember well, actually know the reason this boulder is even moving is because thousands of people pushed with you.”
The Australia Talks National Survey asked 60,000 Australians about their lives and what keeps them up at night. Use our interactive tool to see the results and how your answers compare.
Then, tune in at 8:00pm on Monday, June 21 to watch hosts Annabel Crabb and Nazeem Hussain take you through the key findings and explore the survey with some of Australia’s best-loved celebrities.