Heteronormativity: Where you don’t even notice it.

One of the topics that we discussed in class that I was able to connect with the most was the concept of heteronormativity. It is something that we don’t really realize is so prevalent in every culture, regardless of whether your culture discriminates against homosexual relationships. When you turn to the internet, heterosexuality and heterosexual relationships are at the forefront of almost all posts on popular websites within our age group and in the background of websites for all age groups.

For example, the website 9gag. I enjoy this website as many of the posts are funny. Most of what makes the posts funny is that they resemble real life situations that most have encountered. Heteronormativity can be found in most of the posts. Specifically, the posts where it features two stick-figure people and it says “le me and le girlfriend” ( http://9gag.com/gag/4312394, http://9gag.com/gag/4309765, http://9gag.com/gag/4309868). The site never features a post where it is a male stick figure with a boyfriend or a female stick figure with a girlfriend. While this isn’t discriminatory towards homosexual relationships, it does but heterosexual ones in the spotlight.

Another example of where heteronormativity is seen on the internet in a more subtle way is on free gaming websites. For example on addictinggames.com, in their girl games section most of the games feature a girl trying to get a boy. In StylishGirl2, you go through many rounds of dressing your character to impress. In the first 3 rounds, she is trying to win over a boys heart, only in the last round do you have to impress a boss in different work situations. There is also a game titled Boyfriend Trainer, where you complete various tasks of “keeping your boyfriend in line” which includes making sure he doesn’t drive too fast and keeping him from looking at other girls. If younger generations are playing these games as they are easy games to play, they are slowly being rooted in the idea that girls need to find boyfriends, not girlfriends.  Without even realizing it, we are exposing the idea heteronormativity to our younger generations which may possibly lead to the continuation of homophobia or an inability to understand homosexuals and their relationships.

Posted in cyberfeminism | 3 Comments

Feminists fight against insulting trolls

“In internet slang,  a troll is someone who posts inflammatory, extraneous or off-topic messages in an online community, such as an online discussion forum, chat room, or blog, with the primary intent of provoking readers into an emotional response or of otherwise disrupting normal on-topic discussion.”

Female journalists and bloggers have recently started complaining that they are threatened or insulted online. The so-called trolls post or email threats about raping or crimes even worse.

In order to support each other and get a debate started about this – at the least – unfriendly behaviour towards women, blogger Sady Doyle encouraged women to share the insults women receive online (http://tigerbeatdown.com/2011/11/07/why-are-you-in-such-a-bad-mood-mencallmethings-responds/). On 7 novemer 2011, the hashtag #mencallmethings was trending topic on twitter. The hashtag is used by female bloggers and journalists to retweet anonymous insults they receive on a daily basis.

Jessica Valenti, called one of the top 100 inspiring women and one of the most influential bloggers of the 21st century by the Guardian (http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2011/mar/08/jessica-valenti-100-women), says to the Sydney Morning Herald:

“I can’t remember the last day where I opened my email and there wasn’t a piece of vicious (often sexual, often violent) hate mail there. I also don’t write about it because these days I’m loath to give any attention to harassers – in part because that’s what they’re so desperate for, but also because the threats have become so bad that my life offline has been seriously impaired by it and I’m just plain scared. But that’s the goal of harassers – to scare, to terrorise, but most of all, to shut us up.”

According to Boston-based blogger Courtney Stanton, one out of four comments she gets on blogs, are from an anonymous ‘troll’ trying to provoke a debate by posting pro-rapist comments.

New Yorker Shelby Knox was told ‘to die in a fire’ and Guardian columnist Suzanne Moore said that she could not even have some comments made public because of their vulgarity.

The Guardian invited a panel of British bloggers to debate about this issue, and find possible solutions to this problem. A suggested idea was sending comments of this sort straight to the police, but there is doubt among the bloggers whether this will have any effect.

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Inspired by the online fieldwork assignment i have decided to take a look at another site called TheCHIVE. The site has a tagline “probably the best site in the world” I am not going to discuss wheter or not this is true, but the tagline has much in common with another slogan, used by Carlsberg “probably the best beer in the world”. Becouse the slogans are so similar at least I automatically think about the beer whenever i see the slogan of TheCHIVE. Beer is something that traditionally is concidered masculine. So allready in the slogan it is possible to see that this site is gendered.

TheCHIVE is a site dedicated to pictures and videos on the internet. Some of theese are funny, some are unbeliveable, some are cute and some are pictures of girls. Theese girl pictures are worth a deeper look becouse all the girls in the picture look more or less the same. Thin, big breasts, little clothing and long hair. This is interesting becouse the site never posts pictures of girls that not look like this. I don’t really know why. I know this is the looks of what is concidered a sexy girl, but everybody doesn’t like the same thing. The theories of heteronormativity also applies here concidering the fact that this is a site aimed towards a male audiance that supposedly like to look at the female body.

At the top of the page it is possible to choose from 8 different categories. Theese categories are Store, Girls, Video, Funny, Randomness, Sports, HQ and Show All. The most interesting of theese categories from an analytic point of view are Girls, Funny and Randomness. Each of theese three categories have a number of sub-categories Girls have 14 sub-categories e.g. Burn Bra, Hump day and Things that Bounce. Funny have 18 sub-categories e.g. FAIL, Meme and motivational. Randomness have 24 sub-categories e.g. Bachelor Pads, Crazy Food and Nature. Many of theese sub-categories are also male oriented as seen for example in the sub-category Bachelor Pads.

TheCHIVE is one of five sites owned by Resignation Media. The other sites are TheBERRY (that’s what she saw), TheTHROTTLE (probably the best auto site in the world), TheBRIGADE (In ‘merica we trust) and TheCHIVERY (has no slogan, but it is a online store). Of theese five sites only TheBERRY is aimed specificly for girls. TheTHROTTLE is a site dedicated to things with a motor, this is traditionally seen as a male thing. TheBRIGADE shows weapons and army related stuff in addition to girls in uniforms, theese are also traditionally concidered male things. The theories of heteronormativity fits surprisingly easily into any of theese sites, since none of them really shows anything different than people of the opposite sex than the target audience.

Posted in gender, online ethnography | 1 Comment

Diablo III,is this just a gender RPG?

During the past few weeks my Facebook wall was completely full of posts and pictures about Diablo III, so I started to look around and I realized that also  game shops had posters about this topic. But I started to think about it when my friend also started the countdown for Diablo III. At this point I was really curious and I started to play Diablo I and Diablo II.

Diablo is an action game with role-playing game elements and action. It was produced by Blizzard Entertainment and the first version was published 1996. Its success is due to the fact that it gave way to a new subgenre of action: RPG.

And now, after 12 years they finally published the third chapter of this saga. The most interesting thing is that, as in all the role-playing games, you can basically choose your classes and your character. There are three principal classes: the warrior is the most physically able of the classes; the rogue, very quick and sensitive; and the sorcerer is expert in magical practice and spells. The monk and another female character the bard were added later.

Diablo is set in the Kingdom of Khanduras in the world of sanctuary, an imaginary medieval world. The player runs through six levels, below the town of Tristram where it faces Diablo. The levels are developed in a monastery built many years ago to accommodate Diablo prison.

The character learns the long struggle between good and evil, a war without end. The combatants of the forces of good, the Seraphin and Angels, fought against the demons of hell who live in the Underworld.

I played Diablo and I realized that it is a very good game, most of all if you like role-playing games. So I asked some Diablo fans why they really like this game and they told me that basically everyone likes the role–playing games, that it is very fascinating and the graphics are very good. It is also very popular because people never know if they can trust the other characters and this makes the game more and more real.

It’s true that most of the player are male. I suppose that is because it is an action game and is not so “girlish”, is not what the girls are expected to play but is a very interesting game even if most of the characters are male characters. It is also possible for the girls find themselves in some powerful figures. The point is why are there so many differences between male and female games?

Is this a cultural facts or biological one?

Posted in cyberfeminism | 2 Comments

Gender and Online Gaming

Here you can find the prezi from the 16th of May.

Posted in gender, prezi from lecture/seminar | Leave a comment

female-friendly porn

Last week’s class and its discussion about pornography, internet and gender made me think more about this. How male porn often leads to objectictification of the woman, is a serious problem. And how the Internet provides a large market for it, by the spread of a product with such skewed power relations, is a problem too.

As I read in ‘Feminist sexualities, race and the internet: an investigation of suicidegirls.com’ by Shoshana Magnet, are feminist potentials not always easy to achieve in a world where commerce is often on the first place.

Yet, I see the principle as a positive thing. In this course we have spent much time on negative aspects of internet culture, things that should be changed. I would now like to turn to the question; ‘what and how should it be changed’? What are solutions, oppurtunities and possibilities for women and more genderequality concerning sexuality on the Internet?

In my opinion it can be useful to look at utopian perspectives, without losing sight of dangers and negative aspects. Utopian cyberfeminists ague that online, women are freed from the rigid norms that traditionally restrict female sexuality. Rather than being reduced to passive female objects that must conform to male desires, cybertopian feminists ague that in ‘feminist-inspired virtual worlds’ a female body is staged as active, intelligent and polymorphously sexual.(Steffensen,2002) And the internet’s anonymity enhances female agency.

To come back to pornography. I think that the Internet could be a suitable platform for female-friendly porn. The accessibility and anonimity factors could lead women to online spaces where the woman as subject is central.

Female-friendly or feminist- porn seems to have emerged in last years. A Dutch TVmovie was released recently and the critically acclaimed Spanish movie ‘Cinco Historias par Ellas’ won the Feminist Porn awards in Toronto.

But what is it that makes porn female-friendly or feministic? A general answer is that it should emphasize the seksuality of women. A different pattern, the presence of a plot, more aesthetic etc. are common requirements. But women seem to be very different in what they want. One thinks it’s to soft, the other thinks it’s to vulgar.

However, the Internet can, more likely than a movie, represent multiple desires. In the Netherlands is the erotic platform from the woman’s point of view www.shespot.nl significantly growing. Apperently there is some need for porn for women. And I’m now curious about situaties in other countries. Do other people notice this kind of rise in their home countries? How is this constructed than and how should it be according to you?

Posted in cyberfeminism | 1 Comment

The Gender Ads Project

Unrelated to the topics that have been discussed previously on this blog, I would now like to discuss an initiative that begin in 2002. This initiative, the Gender Ads Project, is an online project that “gives educators and students resources for analyzing the advertising images that relate to gender.” The website began when its founder decided to create a web site to host images and interpretations for students in his gender studies courses. The site became quite popular and now has over 4,000 advertising-related images. Dr. Scott A. Lukas, the founder of the Gender Ads Project, has done a good job of organizing the images into different categories and subcategories. For example, one main category Roles/Types has 16 subcategories that include things like mothersstrippersexotics, etc. Overall, the site has seven main categories (roles/types, objectsmalestogetherviolencepolitics, and other). Under each subcategory, there is background information, a short description of the ads, and discussion questions. This website is good to discuss because of the way it bridges the internet, gender, and learning.

Although there is a lot of material in each subcategory, I thought it would be interesting to examine the ads under one of the categories and answer the questions presented on the website based on my own opinions and thoughts. The category I have chosen to analyze for this post is the Roles/Types subcategory Normalized. In order for you, the readers of this post, to understand the answers to these questions, it is important for you to view the advertisements and information presented on this page. The link can be found here: http://www.genderads.com/page3/page11/page11.html


(1) In what specific ways are women placed into categories of the “normal” and the “abnormal”—what are the themes that are evident in the ads?

Women are placed into these categories when these industries constantly present images of woman that are so contrasting. Because there really is no in-between, these categories have emerged. From analyzing these advertisements, it would seem as though women are placed in the “normal” category when they are skinny, have symmetrical faces and bodies, and body proportions that are difficult to achieve without plastic surgery. The most obvious way that women are placed in the “abnormal” category is when they are overweight. Also, it seems to be “abnormal” when women don’t want to change their bodies so this would likely place them in this category. Lastly, no other ethnicities or races were shown in these advertisements so it appears that woman of color would also be placed in the “abnormal” category.

There are quite a few common themes. The three that are most obvious to me are:

  1. If you’re not thin, something is wrong with you.
  2. It is important to look perfect (correct proportions, symmetrical face, etc.).
  3. It is possible to change yourself to fit the ‘norm’ if you work hard enough or can afford it.

(2) Are specific parts of the body targeted by the industries of normalization, which ones?

Although the body as a whole is targeted, when examining just the ads that are present on this page, I would say that women’s waists and women’s faces are especially targeted. Surprisingly, breasts are not as emphasized in these ads.

(3) Do images of female normalization compare to those of male normalization, if so how?

I would say that the answer is both yes and no. On the one hand, males and females both have different classifications of “normal” and “abnormal.” For example, males are usually presented with images that make them feel like the norm for men is muscular bodies when woman are presented with images that make them feel like the norm for them is skinny bodies. This is why I think that the images do not necessarily compare with each other. One the other hand, both genders may feel the pressure to make changes within themselves and their bodies to fit what is seen as the “normal body.” So in this way the images of female normalization do compare to those of male normalization. Regardless of comparison, it is important to emphasize that both genders really are presented with normalization images that are difficult for individuals to compete with.

Posted in cyberfeminism | 1 Comment

Leftover Chinese women in youtube video

In these years, there’s a new,specific and sexist term for unmarried women in China--leftover women (Shengnu). It refers to urban, professional women whose age over 27 still being single. The irony is male population is larger than female population. These highly educated women has high requirements when seeking for boyfriend. The most popular and “basic” requirement is : “Men should have their own car and own house”. As China is not yet a welfare state with wide wealth gap, this requirement is hardly archived.

In traditional Chinese society, women are supposed to be weak, dependent and most importantly to be a wife and mother. However, with the wide spread of education and equality, women in China becomes highly educated and highly financial independent. They can live alone without men, without marriage. But still, they face great pressure from the older generation and even from the whole society. They will be labeled as spinsters and as well as I mentioned–“leftover women”. As a result, they seeks for high standard men and not willing to be with men who has less social status and wealth. They are facing the conflict of tradition and modern values. They are more independent now while still want to find a stronger man to rely on.

Upon this problem, wide discussion was held throughout the society. A men made a video with his own song stating his wish to have a girlfriend even though he has no cars and no house. Here is the video with English subtitle below. This raised wide concerns and most people give sympathy to this young guy. Soon after, a defensing video made by a group of “Golden leftover women” uploaded.  This video restates their requirements for a boyfriend and urges boys to be stronger.This video raised even more discussions, mostly are criticizes from male netizens. As long as they are anonymous, most comments are mean ,rude and even sexist. However, these comments truly reflect men’ s opinions.

In the defensing video and its comments, we can see both femininity and masculinity built strongly. In the lyric, they stated that if men do not have money, car and house then they are not qualified to have a beautiful and high quality girl to be their wives. Also, they criticize some boys are even weaker than girls. In the video, the most interesting scene is a tom-boy teasing on some “real men”  who is weaker than her. And in the comments, we can see there are tons of men criticize these girls are too material-minded and some even criticize the appearances of these girls in the video. Some say that true love should not be built upon money. Some even say that rich men will only seek for young girls but not these “leftover women”.  At the same time, there are some female netizens defensing that men should have enough wealth to maintain a family and this video is truly reflecting the reality.

After watching the video and comments, I feel sad that even modern Chinese women are higher educated and having higher social status then before, they still stick in the tradition values’ frame. They objectize themselves as a commercial good and sell their bodies when there’s somebody having enough wealth. As long as they have certain minds, men can build up their ideas of “Wealth can buy women” among the society. However, I feel grateful that the widespread of internet and media let people speak their voice out and raise discussions. I believe these discussion can make the society and women’ s mind move forward.

Posted in cyberfeminism | 2 Comments

Gender-swapping for beginners

The internet as a new space, where everyone can create a new identity made me think about how the users actually use the possibilities of self-fashioning and creating.

I guess the possibility of creating a new virtual person of oneself exists since people are able to translate their physical way of life into pictures and language. The internet however is just a new opportunity to create a new ´I´ for people who have maybe never thought about doing this before.

Anyway, in my opinion, the cyberspace is just ´another place to meet´, so it is not a new reality but an extension of the real world. So if you create a new identity why not switching the gender? I found this theory about ´gender swapping´ by John Suler.

While our real mind with the associated gender is sitting in front of the screen and is probably not affected by the online gender switching, the body as a social construct online experiences the opposite gender. Reasons to switch genders online could be to do it ´just for fun´, curiosity, prank other users or even to find someone for ´cyber-sex´ of the same gender. It is easily conceivable to switch the gender in almost every form of the internet – in a blog, in an online game, in chat rooms or social media.

It all starts with the nickname what is the first hint for a gender attribution. In online games, it is also possible to choose an avatar in the opposite gender and create the whole body in a specific gender. But there are borders as well, since there is the so called ´raid´, where they talk to each other with their real voices. However, it is interesting, that gender swapping apparently increases the use of stereotypes, since users mostly live up their stereotypes of the opposite gender in online games.

There are also some hints how to swap gender and how to experience the whole internet easier with a reversed view on gender roles. With this program, all the nouns and verbs on the internet are automatically changed into the reverse gender.

Since there is a certain immaterialness online, it is possible to switch the gender in theory, but in my opinion, it is not possible to act like a person with the opposite gender since the real body is still sitting in front of the computer and acts according to the social norms and the gender constructions outside the internet. Also the difference how women and men experience certain situations and react to those probably can not be hidden. Although a lot of aspects are probably easy to fake, e.g. language and phrases or some kind of behaviour.  Nevertheless, I think that gender-swapping can be useful to explore the role as a woman or man for a certain time.

There is also some research on this field and here are some conclusions of online gaming and gender swapping.

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Gender portrayal in Gaming: Break.com versus Collegehumor.com

Note: For the purpose of clarity, I am presenting the links to the videos discussed in this post here.

XBox Girls Get Revenge — http://www.collegehumor.com/video/6258778/xbox-girls-get-revenge

Geek and Gamer Girls — http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_eJmYKN_1QE

After viewing and analyzing the video Geek and Gamer Girls on Break.com for the just-in-time assignment, I thought it would be good to examine a similar video on CollegeHumor.com. Because both of these websites are humor websites, it is interesting to compare and contrast their methods of portraying gender roles, masculinity, and femininity.

As discussed in my just-in-time assignment, Break.com is a website that is aimed at a young, male audience. Because of this, the video Geek and Gamer Girls was created in a way that would appeal to this audience. The CEO of Break.com has even stated in an interview with ADWEEK, “We have a male audience that likes two things: attractive women and demolition.” Putting aside the demolition aspect of this quote, the website does not shy away from making it known that they cater to a male audience. Unfortunately, this means that women are typically portrayed as highly sexual and very passive whereas men are portrayed as domineering and in control. By doing this, each male viewer is able to put himself in the roles of the male characters on this site. This can clearly be seen in the video Geek and Gamer Girls. Personally, as a female who enjoys gaming, this video (as well as the comments) were fairly offensive and completely inaccurate.

A similar video, Xbox Girls Get Revenge on CollegeHumor.com attempts to portray the same concept – girls are gamers too. The differences in the two videos are strikingly obvious. In the CollegeHumor.com video, the female characters are dressed in average clothes, are not overly dressed up (or down for that matter), and they use offensive language in the same way that male gamers are known to use it. In my opinion, the girls portrayed here look and act very similar to a lot of females I know (especially when it comes to gaming). It’s also important to note that there is a definite gender role shift in this video. As men were shown as more powerful in the Break.com video, in this video, the female characters are more in control. In fact, they have so much more power in this video that eventually the male character becomes submissive even and ends up crying. The humor of this video is the way that the gender roles are constructed. This is because most people usually do not picture woman or men looking and behaving in this way.

As a personal fan of CollegeHumor.com, I appreciate the humor of this video much more than that of Break.com. As I said in my assignment, I am fairly certain that the video on Break.com would have portrayed the genders differently if the a majority of their other videos were not created by men for men. CollegeHumor.com, although created by two males, has quite a few women on their staff (one writer who is now even writing for the popular show Saturday Night Live) and caters to a more diverse audience. More specifically, their content is aimed toward “the deviant minds of high schoolers, college kids and bored office workers alike.” This is not necessarily true of all the content on CollegeHumor.com as they do have post like Cute College Girl of the Day and Hottest College Girl (without male equivalents). For the most part, though, the website is fairly equal as it is humor that both young men and women can enjoy.

Perhaps the CollegeHumor.com video is a good example of what Break.com’s video would have been like if the audience were different.

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