privacy, sexism, the personal public

what is already yours

RECOMMENDED READING: Gratuitous: How Sexism Threatens to Undermine the Internet.

[…] Checking my Tumblr feed is like checking in with my friends, even if these “friends” are people I know very little about and will possibly never meet in real life. I met most of these people through friends of friends or via the social discovery that re-blogging affords. I somehow stumbled into their worlds, and they were interesting enough to make me want to come back. I interact with enough of them that I can pretty clearly say that when they post something, it is intended for me. I’m part of their small group, and I have no qualms about that.

Lisa, on the other hand, is a different matter. Lisa is a college student at a large university in the Midwest (and Lisa is not her name; I don’t know whether she would want a bunch of book nerds suddenly reading her posts or not, so I’m not going to link to her blog here, either). She seems pretty smart, and she blogs about her love life, her schoolwork, her friends, and all of the other things that matter to her. I find Lisa’s life very interesting, and her blog is great. But I haven’t completely settled the “is she talking to me” question. While Lisa follows me back, we don’t interact with each other. She uses Tumblr in a very social way, she isn’t really part of the crowd of people whom I otherwise follow. And I find this somewhat troubling. […]

The pane of glass, and the contrast between the brightly lit casting room and the dim audience space, was enough distance to effectively dehumanize these girls. There were other factors at work, such as the blonde California girl’s status as marketing conceit and sexual totem, but I think a big reason we all felt free to dissect and dismiss these girls is because they couldn’t really see us. We were, more or less, anonymous. It was especially unsettling to turn around after watching for a few minutes and see one of the girls who had been in the call standing just behind us. How long had she been there, the girl in the leopard print shorts? And how did she suddenly become so real? […]

Why are women treated differently than men online? I suppose the greater question is why they are still treated differently everywhere — online or otherwise — but since this post is about the web, I will focus on that. Surely there’s the garden variety sexism that permeates most of our culture, where women’s opinions are discounted or denigrated, and where the female form is used to sell everything from liquor to football. But I think there is something else at work online, and in many ways, it’s related to the strange feeling of watching all of those girls wait to have their pictures taken, as well as my conflicted feelings about enjoying college girl Lisa’s blog so much.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.