Black Women Caught in the Digital Crosshairs

Black women are often in the crosshairs of abusive discourse driven by social media. That recent targets are often public figures suggests that social media abusers find it profitable to attack high-profile Black women who have become symbolic avatars for the group as a whole.

(This article originally appears in the Spring 2024 issue of Ms. Join the Ms. community today and you’ll get issues delivered straight to your mailbox!)

The Hypocrisy of a Post-Roe Mother’s Day

This Mother’s Day—like the countless that have come before it—conservative politicians who fancy themselves members of the party that upholds “family values” will send out social media posts praising the moms among us. They’ll wax poetic about the “decision” to become a mother and how it’s the “most selfless, most important job in the world.” Some may even go so far as to task their speech writers with crafting some moving message about how vital mothers are; how we’re raising the next generation of prolific thinkers and world leaders; how we should be revered “not just today, but every day.” 

And in the post-Roe world they created with their anti-abortion policies that have forced people into motherhood, attacked IVF and fertility treatments, and left doctors terrified to treat pregnant patients to the point that women are slipping into comas, miscarrying in hospital lobby bathrooms and enduring unnecessary C-sections instead of receiving common abortion care, it will all be one big, giant pile of bullshit.

Busting Five Myths About Birth Control

Debunking myths about birth control is not just a matter of correcting misinformation; it is crucial for empowering individuals to make informed choices about their sexual and reproductive health. 

Let’s explore some myths about contraception that the young people in your life may have seen online—including that it may make you infertile (not true!) and can cause cancer (quite the opposite!).

The Tradwife’s Catch-22

How is it that an independent business executive goes from a full-time position in the C-suite to a full-time position in the kitchen, out of submissive devotion to her husband? If you’ve recently spent time on TikTok or Instagram, you may have wrestled with this question.

Tradwife influencers are right to point out the emptiness, precarity and dissatisfaction of neoliberal life, and the appeal of the alternative they offer is clear. But much of the rosy picture they paint exists only on our iPhones and not in reality. Domestic labor is neither slow nor peaceful.

The Rise of Deepfakes Demands Legislative Action

Women represent 99 percent of those targeted by deepfake “pornography,” which makes up 98 percent of all deepfake videos online. In 2023 alone, the volume of deepfake abuse videos surpassed the total of all previous years combined, with the number of nonconsensual videos doubling annually.

Those nonconsensual images are created and shared with the goal of humiliating and degrading the women and girls in them. The fallout is immense, and it goes beyond personal harm. The silencing effect leads to people stepping back from vital arenas like politics, journalism and public discourse. But that’s the point of this misogyny, isn’t it? It’s gender-based violence at its core.

Urgent action is needed, and effective legislation is a critical starting point.

Your Top Questions on Abortion and Birth Control, Broken Down

Dr. Raegan McDonald-Mosley, CEO of nonprofit Power to Decide and practicing OB-GYN, is dedicated to educating people on abortion and the healthcare options that come with it. #AskDrRaegan provides candid, judgment-free sexual health information to young people by meeting them where they are: on social media.

Check out TikTok users’ top questions on abortion and birth control, answered by Dr. Raegan.

If It Can Happen to Taylor Swift, It Can Happen to Any of Us

A few days ago, TIME’s Person of the Year was the victim of a deepfake pornographic attack.

Swift likely experienced the same nauseating feeling that many other women did when she saw her face plastered on nude bodies and virtually defiled by the public. And Swift’s lawyers will struggle to find satisfactory legal recourse. Taylor Swift was the victim of our lawless internet, where platforms can entirely evade a duty of care to their users. So were countless women before her.

Restricting Access to Information Online Won’t Keep Teens Safe. It Will Only Erode Democratic Rights

Well-meaning legislative proposals to protect young people undermine a key factor in teens’ development: independence. Proposed legislation at the federal and state levels increasingly mandates parental monitoring of all kids, including even older teenagers, which undermines teenagers’ independence—something that healthcare experts say is critical for young people’s development and mental health and parents want too.

Providing teenagers with tools to protect themselves, along with options to get parental help when needed, can go much further in creating a safe environment online.

Not Helpless, Not Silenced: What to Do if You Are Experiencing or Witnessing Online Abuse

Online abuse can feel like an enormous, insurmountable problem, but we are not helpless, and we refuse to be silent. Together we can fight back to make the internet safer, more equitable and more free.

Here’s what to do if you are facing online abuse; if you are witnessing online abuse; if you manage people who face online abuse; or you want to push the tech industry to do better.