Chapter 1: A perfect storm: How the online environment, social norms and law shape girls’ lives – Jane Bailey


Bailey articulates an empathetic description of the experiences of the participants in The eGirls Project and a rich vision of their needs as eCitizens. Drawing on the eGirls data, she highlights the gap between the problems that policymakers focus on and the problems that girls would like to see addressed. She then gives voice to the messages that our participants expressly wished to pass on to policymakers. First and foremost, our participants wanted policymakers to know that the online environment can be particularly hard for girls because the publicity it enables — which is a large part of the benefit — also creates a “powder keg” where one mis-step can permanently damage their reputations. They accordingly called upon policymakers to address the ways that online architectures open them up to judgment and shaming if they fail to perform a narrow, highly stereotypical type of “girl”. To get the policy response right, policymakers must stop focusing solely on criminal responses that typically make girls responsible for their own safety. Instead, they should limit the ways in which corporations invade girls¹ online privacy for profit, and regulate media representations that reinforce stereotypes and set girls up for conflict.