My sincerest apologies to the relatively young, handsome, straight, white, rich, liberal males out there. This blog does not concern you. To everyone else…
I’m joking of course about the opening statement. Everyone has been stereotyped in some way for something they have no control over (gender, race, ect.). There is no omitted category. If you think cyberspace is any more sensitive to this fact, you’re in for a rude awakening. It would be impossible to even crack the surface of sexism in social media in a 500 word blog. Anonymity, politics, and sheer desire for attention all play a role in it. To be frank, this behavior is accepted to a certain degree. Many like Tanja Carstegen, have actively been studying the influence of how simply selecting a gender for a profile sets a predestined perspective from the outside world on an individual. It’s a fair question to ask if social media has hurt or at least stalled decades of progress for both gay and lesbian equality and feminism.
I think two of the quintessential sexist lines I’ve seen and heard in my years online have got to be the ones involving “making a sandwich” and “thinking only with their penises.” I’ve never been accused of the first one (though I do make a hell of a cheeseburger), but as for the second, though it’s not an absolute truth, it’s apparently true enough that many (advertisers, porn sites, internet broadcasters) probably assume this about the men on the internet. I’ll give a personal example.
Yesterday on Facebook I got another friend request from a picture of a girl’s boobs. While they were nice, I didn’t recognize them. Request denied. I may not use social media as avidly as most, but I’m not an idiot when it comes to spammers using sexy pictures to lure in me and other users having “male” selected as their sex so they can advertise a product I don’t want. My male friends aren’t this shallow or stupid either because- oh, wait, 15 mutual friends. Just for kicks I checked the double D requester’s profile page and sure enough every status update was on how much “she” loved her new iPad and hoped people would buy it too. She knew about all the upcoming iPad sales (strange considering she already owned one). Every. Single. Status. Whoever requested me thought I would be so infatuated with the lone revealing profile picture uploaded that I would have thought, “Oh, she must just be shy and want to meet me. And she must just love her iPad.” I see the sexism from both side of this common occurrence. I see it every day, every time I get on the internet. Sexist statements and pictures are often glossed over, ‘liked’ and often ‘shared.’
There is a disproportionately large amount of sexism towards women, with the idea that women belong in the home or kitchen often being the implication or punch line.
Most of these zingers are aimed towards generalizing women, but there are some that target men, just not nearly as many out there. Most of these rely on the previously mentioned line regarding men’s inherent shallowness or that they aren’t as important to society.
So how big of a special treatment gap is there for the sexes online as opposed to in reality? Is this gap widening or closing over time with identities gradually becoming less private?
Unlike in real life, in cyberspace you get select your sex. Not a single scalpel is required. Think about it hard because this choice will tell people more about you than you think. That’s just how it is. It’s as easy for others to generalize you as it is for you to click on “M” or “F”.