Comment, Feminism

I Think the Internet Might Be Sexist

After finishing my exams this term at University, I decided I’d just really like to do the internet. Like properly, forget to have lunch, don’t change out of your pyjamas, what day is it? Internet. And of course, for any internetphile, Reddit was a frequently visited site. For those who haven’t encountered it, it’s like the heroin of the internet – you tighten your belt of procrastination, slap the vein of pointless shit, sit back and watch the hours waste away in a euphoria of cat videos and narwhal memes. It’s called ‘the front page of the internet’ because it’s where people will first upload their junk to, and has various ‘sub-reddits’ to accommodate for all types of interests from atheism to photo-shopping arms on birds. Needless to say, it is the mother of all time-wasters.

Reddit is undoubtedly one of the biggest internet communities, and with comes an interesting representation of human kind. It’s actually quite moralistic, and although sometimes frustratingly self-righteous, it encourages its members to get help and support in generally the right places. With the power of hundreds of thousands of people, it can do some seriously amazing things, and has. It’s raised thousands of pounds for charity, granted people with illnesses their greatest wish, and, created biggest secret Santa, ever. You can piss time away like there’s no tomorrow, but it does have some redeeming features.

However, Reddit is not all good. Upsettingly, it can actually be pretty shit. It’s very sexist, if not very anti-Feminist. It’s demographic is about 75% male, and whilst I know guys can be, and are, Feminists, this inevitably has some impact. Unsurprisingly, there are a lot of boob-orientated subreddits. The most striking thing is how creative reddit can be in objectification. Curvy? Girls with small boobs? Red haired girls…but naked? We’ve got them. In fact, in it’s repulsive subreddit ‘gonewild’ where insecure women post naked pictures of themselves for the validation of a male upvote, there’s a separate subreddit called ‘gonewildcurvy’ where girls get recommended to move too when they’re not skinny enough. Vom.

There was a particular BDSM post that was really unsettling. It’s one of the ‘top all time’ posts, and titles ‘My “How-To” Guide for Men on How To Dominate a Woman in Bed ;)’. Obviously an alarming title, with that awkwardly placed emoticon just makes it look like it’s written by an eight year old. Now, I’m not personally opposed to BDSM, but this post seems to digress harmfully away from my understanding of what BDSM entails. It phrases everything in terms of ‘men’ to ‘women’, encouraging them to ‘degrade’, ‘manhandle’ and even ‘rape’ for domination. It advises ‘call her a dirty little slut/whore/cunt/bitch’. Nothing like someone being a dick whilst you’re having sex. That really gets me hot.

 Do people not maybe interrogate why those kinds of things turn them on? It must cultivate such a ridiculously misdirected understanding of women’s ‘fetishes’, and innate sexual desires. A power relationship that predicated women getting on their knees and submitting every facet of their sexual and rational power. Upsettingly, an acquaintance once told me his theory that women were all innately sluts who deep down wanted nothing more than a bit of surprise anal and yearned to blow men endlessly. We didn’t speak much after that conversation.

I once posted a query on Reddit, prefixed with the phrase ‘as a Feminist’. ‘Shut up and suck dick Gloria Steinem’ was the response I got, along with various other hostile and offensive comments (though it did lead me to googling Gloria Steinem, win). The anonymity of the posts allows for people to be dicks, when they wouldn’t otherwise, but it was upsetting that the general feeling of understanding that is met with most posts on Reddit was lost with something about ‘Feminism’.

Whilst r/feminism has around 15,000 supporters, r/boobies (teehee) has 89,648, and r/gonewild has 340,319. I know the Internet is like 98% porn, but sites like Reddit, that are generally quite left in ideology should welcome feminism. My advice? Let’s reclaim the Internet, ladybros.

By Ruby Lott-Lavigna

Written January 2013

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