Canadian Journal of Law and Technology


violence against women and girls, VAWG, responsibilization, oppressive social practices


Responsibilization, in a true circular fashion, is not only born of but also benefits institutional (e.g., social media companies and law enforcement) and cultural power structures (e.g., misogyny and patriarchy). When targets of online abuse take responsibility for the abuse launched against them, that assumption of responsibility requires energy, and that energy is taken away from efforts to hold institutions and perpetrators accountable. Responsibilization tries to tranquilize change in the service of power. The tricky thing about interrupting this process is that it requires more than just offering better support. It also requires exposing, challenging, and dismantling harmful ideologies, belief systems, and values that underpin the responsibility-taking that equality- seeking groups have long undergone as a way to deal with multiple forms of oppression and discrimination. Eliminating the problem may not be possible. The immediate focus instead should be on reducing harm in the here and now by offering stronger and more varied and effective support from all stakeholders, especially social media platforms.