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Gender on Facebook



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  • 1. Crafting of Gender on Facebook and Myspace Women’s Studies 301 9-10-2008 Jenna Ferguson Alyssa Spicher Julie Thompson Johnathan Kerns
  • 2. Defining Gender…
    • Sex: What you are biologically…
    • Gender: What you are based off of social influences…
    • Gender Identity: How you view yourself…
    • Gender Role: How society views you and how you are expected to behave…
  • 3. “ Identifying” Gender…
    • Social Behaviors and Gender…
    • Images of Self and Gender…
    • Interactions Between People and Gender…
  • 4. Social Behaviors and Gender…
    • What do our actions say about our own gender?
    • What we choose to engage in defines who we are and how we see ourselves…
    • For example: on Facebook/Myspace , what each person describes as their favorite activities, interests, and groups helps define masculinity, femininity, etc
  • 5. Images of Self and Gender…
    • Every choice we make: what clothes we wear, jewelry we select, and things we buy and use everyday, help define our gender to the outside world
    • For example: on Facebook/Myspace , the pictures we post and the captions we give them tell others a lot about us
  • 6. Interactions Between People and Gender…
    • How we interact with each other also describes our individual gender
    • An individuals etiquette can say volumes about what gender they designate themselves
    • Even how we speak and what we carefully (or recklessly) choose to say defines our gender…
    • For example: on Facebook/Myspace , what we say in our profiles is just as significant as what we put on them
  • 7. Interactions Between People and Gender cont…
    • “ The Wall” on Facebook/Myspace : where people can post comments on someone else's (or their own page), and carry on conversations. This public display of remarks can be handled uniquely depending on a person’s gender
    • Mail/Inbox: private messages that can also be analyzed by Gender Identity
  • 8. Facebook/Myspace and Gender…
    • Facebook recently developed an interest in users defining gender
    • “ We've gotten feedback from translators and users in other countries that translations wind up being too confusing when people have not specified a sex on their profiles.” ( Facebook product manager Naomi Gleit)
        • Now gender classification is required when registering
        • Transgendered users may “opt-out” of selecting their gender but this may cause gender discrepancies on their mini-feed and other applications
  • 9. Facebook/Myspace and Gender cont…
    • Both sites have experienced a backlash when it comes to gender identity
  • 10. Facebook/Myspace and Feminism…
    • Facebook/Myspace have been used to promote a feminist discourse among users as well as promote activities and illuminate current world events
    • Some schools have partnered with Facebook to make their own pages to promote on campus events
      • University of Connecticut’s Women’s Center
  • 11. Fulfilling Stereotypes on Facebook/Myspace : Males…
    • Display Pictures
    • Dominating/Aggressive pictures
    • Pictures of material possessions
    • Albums of Photos
    • Fewer photos than females
    • Sports pictures or social gatherings
    • Applications
    • Gender challenging material
    • Used to assert power over other men
    • Content Within the Blanks
    • Men often claim to have interests similar to the type of woman they want to meet
    • More women=more power
  • 12. Fulfilling Stereotypes on Facebook/Myspace : Females…
    • Display Pictures
    • Present vanity
    • Often show themselves in a sexual light
    • Albums of Photos
    • Dedicated to people they care about
    • Profile owners pictures are always the best
  • 13. Fulfilling Stereotypes on Facebook/Myspace : Females cont…
    • Applications
    • Often give each other “gifts”
    • Stickers are oriented around love, relationships, and humor
    • Content Within the Blanks
    • Women place interests on male activities in order to attract the opposite sex
  • 14. Self-Conducted Interviews…
    • Our group decided to interview Penn State students to understand why they use Facebook/Myspace
    • Interviewed 10 Penn State students: 5 males and 5 females between the ages of 20-24
    • Study focused mostly on the use of Facebook
  • 15. Self-Conducted Interviews…
    • Interview Questions:
      • Why do you use Facebook ?
      • How is Facebook useful, other than social networking?
      • How do you portray yourself on Facebook ? (Both men and women)
      • How do you view others on Facebook ?
      • What do you think of Transgender people on Facebook ?
      • Do you view Facebook as a Feminist space?
  • 16. Self-Conducted Interviews…
    • Why do you use Facebook ?
    • To keep in touch with friends
    • To display pictures
    • Stalking
    • Others were using it
    • Communication for school related projects
    • How is Facebook useful, other than social networking?
    • To get in touch with classmates
    • To stay informed
    • To Pass time
    • To display resume
    • To sell/advertise products
  • 17. Self-Conducted Interviews…
    • How do you portray yourself on Facebook ?
    • Women:
    • “ I only use pictures of myself where I look good.”
    • “ I practice my profile picture.”
    • “ I try to keep my facebook clean to avoid any bad consequences from professors or employers”
    • “ I have opted to keep my info basic… I feel it is superficial to describe myself in only those terms… my true friends know my interests”
    • Through looking at female profiles
    • Men:
    • “ I don’t really add pictures.”
    • “ I’m not really going for a certain look on there.”
    • Through looking at male profiles
      • More sports application
      • Joked about homosexuality
  • 18. Self-Conducted Interviews…
    • How do you view other’s on Facebook ?
    • Women said they compared themselves to others on the site (in terms of appearance)
    • Use it to find out more about new acquaintances/friends/potential love interests
    • If men post pictures or get too involved in Facebook they are “girly”
    • Men didn’t really add much
    • What do you think of Transgender people on Facebook ?
    • Most didn’t know about the petition
    • Transgender is not an appropriate category (1 person)
    • Thought it should be added back as an option
  • 19. Self-Conducted Interviews…
    • Do you view Facebook as a Feminist space?
    • 90% of women said yes
      • You can start movements on Facebook
      • Women can portray themselves however they like on Facebook
      • Lesbians on Facebook
      • 10% of women said no
      • Females are pressured to be sexual
      • Competition between Women
  • 20. What Make’s You Popular/Our Experiment…
    • Imaginary profiles created
    • Friend requests/messages
    • What does this indicate about how we portray ourselves?
    • What does this say about strangers/the Facebook audience?
  • 21. Checking the Boxes/Questions for the Class…
    • SEX: Male Female
    • RELATIONSHIP STATUS: Single In a Relationship Engaged Married It’s Complicated In an Open Relationship
    • LOOKING FOR: Friendship Dating A Relationship Networking
    • Do any of the options appear more on the profiles of men or women?
    • Do any of the options carry a double standard?
    • What message are they sending to the Facebook world?
  • 22. Questions for the Class…
    • Do you see Facebook/Myspace as a Feminist space? Why or why not?
    • Since many people believe that Facebook is discriminating against transgendered people, should users be able to “fill in the blank” when it comes to this option?
    • Are websites such as Facebook and Myspace supporting controversial issues such as gender identity and feminism, or are they perpetuating the problems?