Trials & Tribulations of Women in "Meatspace"Posted: February 3, 2011
If you’re a guy, you’ve probably laid witness to it. If you’re a girl (and active on the Interwebs), you’ve probably had it happen to you more times than you’d care to admit.
Yep. I’m talking about MISOGYNY ON THE INTERNET.
It’s really an unfortunate thing to see. Being a previous XBOX Live subscriber, WoWer, and redditor (among other things) it’s been a common theme that if you’re not blessed with the XY chromosome, you’d better hope you were blessed with superbly thick skin.
By “misogyny”, I’m referring to the following (surprisingly common) instances:
- A girl loads into an XBOX Live game, speaks into the microphone, and proceeds to be overwhelmed by flirting men or heckled out of the channel. On the more disturbing side of the spectrum, there’s kids leaving voice messages insinuating necrophilia and rape. Ah, what it must be like to be 13 with a microphone and inattentive parents.
- A girl joins a predominantly-male clan. They get to know her via games. They start flirting with and taking a liking to her. They promote her based on enjoying her presence (not necessarily her skill or contribution), even if they’d never admit it. Members egg the girl on to post her picture so they can put a face behind the voice. The picture goes up and… it’s underwhelming. She’s no longer a valued contributor to the clan. Rifts are created. Either she (and her supporters) leave, the clan disbands, or there’s neverending tension.
- A girl gives her Facebook link to someone. She’s relatively attractive. She now has 20 friend requests. Of the few she accepted (since she knew them pretty well), she must now field their inbox flirts and additional friend requests from the people they share her link with. Then start the rumors the girl’s an attention whore or desperate for friends.
- In WoW, sometimes girls are given passes in groups despite their abysmal performance relative to more suitable candidates. It’s not even a matter of mixing the right personalities- sometimes they’re just outright poisonous but have a hot voice. But they’re kept around because they’re a chew-toy for the males to play with (and to transform their anger into flirting). These girls aren’t seen as equals. They’re seen as tools that amount to a prostitute that gets paid in epic gear.
- On reddit, girls are karma bait. (Karma is the “thing” you give to users when you upvote a story.) Anything posted by/with a cute girl is given karma in throes. Anything with an unattractive girl… not so much. Any post made by a girl (by them identifying themselves as such) is given unyielding scrutiny by users because “they’re a girl, and they’re just using their gender as a persuasion tactic.” In the worst cases, it boils down to “it has breasts; therefore, anything they say must be crazy.”
These are just a few of the examples I see on a weekly basis. Worse, these are just the stories I pick up on from what females tell me (or see in public channels). There may be more extreme, or more frequent, examples I couldn’t even imagine.
It’s not to say these stereotypes and behaviors aren’t well-deserved or perpetuated, but it’s disappointing to see the very women we want on the Internet (our girlfriends, wives, or female friends in general) getting chased off by people with no internal censor.
Why is this problem so prevalent? What makes guys’ (or even girls’) brains snap when a female enters the room?
I’d like to say we’ve evolved as a society, but the Internet does a great job at making everyone seem like they’re conceptually stuck in the 1950’s.