Why I Fight: To Promote Women's Voices Online

When I was 12 my best friend’s parents were going through a nasty divorce. My friend’s father, who had moved out, began to terrorize her and her mother by spinning his car across their lawn for nights on end — prompting her mother to get a restraining order against him.

This was my introduction to domestic violence.

Fast forward six years when, as a college student, I sat stunned while watching Not a Love Story, a film about the pornography industry. A campus anti-rape group had sponsored the screening, and the discussion afterward clarified the links between individual acts of violence and structural oppression of women. I understood my friend’s situation in a completely new way. Since that moment I have dedicated much of my life to fighting for women’s human right to be free from violence. 

Back then the Internet as we know it didn’t exist. Today at Free Press I fight for a just media system — which we need to protect and promote women’s human rights. 

I fight for diverse media ownership because while women comprise more than 51 percent of the U.S. population, they hold less than 7 percent of all TV and radio licenses. And study after study has found that the media are far more likely to quote men than women — even in stories about “women’s issues.” That makes it difficult for women to tell their own stories and for their perspectives to be heard and valued. And this in turn makes it difficult to raise public awareness about and address the root causes of discrimination and violence against women.

If we fail to address the root causes, we fail to stop the abuse.

I fight for Net Neutrality because it safeguards the Internet as a space where women survivors of violence can share —and amplify — their own stories. When a survivor uses her blog to explain the economic barriers she faced while leaving her abuser, she provides a powerful counterpoint to the mainstream media’s predictable victim blaming. Without Net Neutrality, a survivor’s blog might never find an audience.

I fight because the open Internet allows survivors to connect with, support and encourage one another in boundless ways that foster healing, lessen isolation and offer hope. With Net Neutrality, survivors’ blogs load at the same speed as sites for giant businesses. Without open Internet protections, survivors’ blogs could get buried in the slow lane and these crucial connections might never be made.

I fight because an open Internet enables organizing on the scale needed to hold abusers accountable, deliver justice and support to survivors, and prevent future abuse.

But in the end I see my work at Free Press as part of something even bigger: the tremendous diversity of efforts around the globe to stop oppression and injustice and to build a just, free, sustainable and healthy future for all. To me, that’s worth fighting for every day.

I hope you’ll join me in funding the fight with a gift to Free Press today.

Check out the earlier posts in our “Why We Fight” series:

Why I Fight: Because Free Press Members Inspire Me

Why I Fight: So Everyone Can Amplify Their Voices Online

Why I Fight: For Racial Justice

Why I Fight: To Preserve the Internet’s Level Playing Field