Early last week a Facebook group called ‘Melbourne Guy Pals’ was established as a parody of the female-only group ‘Melbourne Gal Pals’ which has over sixty thousand members. Melbourne Gal Pals is a community where girls can get advice, find recommendations and discuss various topics from where to seek mental health support to which is the more elite version of fairy bread (btw it’s with the original 100s & 1000s). The group created last week was the antithesis of everything Melbourne Gal Pals is and stands for.
Whereas Melbourne Gal Pals was born out of enhancing community, seeking advice and giving support, Guy Pals is and was the embodiment of toxic masculinity. The group gained over seven thousand members before being taken down 48 hours after its creation (though this was only after a journalist from The Guardian contacted Facebook for a comment). Amongst posts slut-shaming young women, posting details of girls and leaking nudes was the alleged posting of a sex tape containing an alleged minor who was filmed without her consent. Posts containing nudes, misogynistic statements, and overall slut-shaming had comment sections full of guys hyping each other up, congratulating one another and demanding more, a virtual creation of the hyper-masculine locker room archetype.
The fact that the community was made up of boys from all around Melbourne, our home, was all the more heartbreaking. When news began breaking on Melbourne Gal Pals of what was occurring, shock, outrage, and concern reverberated throughout the group. It was clear that such a reaction, while completely justified, was what these boys thrived on.
For too many, this event may have been unsurprising as casual sexism is something most women experience frequently. However, we must ask ourselves why this happened? Somewhere along the line, our education, political and media systems have failed to address gender inequality in our youth. To see these kinds of perverse attitudes so publicly and so unapologetically displayed should ring alarm bells for everyone. Gender inequality is the root of many issues within society, family violence and male suicide being the two most pressing, and if left unaddressed will continue to create and exacerbate countless problems across society.
So what can we do about it?
The first steps of action were seen by calling out this behaviour, reporting the page to the police and supporting the victims (which the girls of Gal Pals did so very wonderfully). In saying this, our hats go off to those who called out the behaviour within the group knowing that they would be harassed. In doing so, steps towards accountability were taken and dialogue was sparked about why this is just not okay.
The next steps are working towards prevention. We need to continue to educate others - especially young people - about gender equality, respectful relationships and their rights as human beings. Gender inequality is rooted deeply in so many issues within our society, and in taking even seemingly small actions we better our community bit by bit.
Further details of what occurred on the page can be found here.
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