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

See all articles by Jane Bailey

Jane Bailey

University of Ottawa - Common Law Section

Valerie Steeves

University of Ottawa - Criminology

Jacquelyn Burkell

Faculty of Information and Media Studies

Priscilla Regan

Independent

Date Written: 2013

Abstract

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

Suggested Citation

Bailey, Jane and Steeves, Valerie and Burkell, Jacquelyn and Regan, Priscilla, Negotiating with Gender Stereotypes on Social Networking Sites: From 'Bicycle Face' to Facebook (2013). 37 Journal of Communications Inquiry 91-112, 2013. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2279202 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2279202

Jane Bailey (Contact Author)

University of Ottawa - Common Law Section ( email )

57 Louis Pasteur Street
Ottawa, K1N 6N5
Canada
613-562-5800 ext. 2364 (Phone)
613-562-5124 (Fax)

Valerie Steeves

University of Ottawa - Criminology ( email )

25 University Street
Ottawa, Ontario K1N 6N5
Canada
(613) 562-5800 ext. 1793 (Phone)
(613) 562-5304 (Fax)

Jacquelyn Burkell

Faculty of Information and Media Studies ( email )

FIMS and Nursing Building, Rm. 2050
London, Ontario N6A 5B9
Canada
5q9-661-2111 ext 88506 (Phone)

Priscilla Regan

Independent

No Address Available

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