Negotiating with Gender Stereotypes on Social Networking Sites: From 'Bicycle Face' to Facebook
37 Journal of Communications Inquiry 91-112, 2013
18 Pages Posted: 15 Jun 2013
Date Written: 2013
Research indicates that stereotypical representations of girls as sexualized objects seeking male attention are commonly found in social networking sites. This paper presents the results of a qualitative study that examined how young women "read" these stereotypes. Our participants understood SNS as a commoditized environment in which stereotypical kinds of self-exposure by girls are markers of social success and popularity. As such, these images are "socially facilitative" for young women. However, the gendered risks of judgment according to familiar stereotypical norms are heightened by the intense surveillance enabled by SNS. While our participants indicated that a mediatized celebrity culture inculcates girls with messages that they must be attractive, have a boyfriend and be part of the party scene, girls are much more likely than boys to be harshly judged for emphasizing these elements in their online profiles. Girls are also open to harsh criticism for their degree of publicness. The risk of being called a "slut" for having an open profile, too many friends or posting too much information suggests that continuing discriminatory standards around public participation may effectively police girls’ capacity to fully participate online and complicate their ability to participate in defiant gender performances.
Keywords: stereotypical representations of girls, sexualized, social networking sites, studies, SNS , self-exposure
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