One of the Guys

16 Dec

In my last post I discussed how men are performing masculinities by two means: by participating in the actual technologies of social and digital media, and through the content of this participation, which is centered around alcohol consumption and partying. While it is mostly men posting on the wall, there are a few women who participate by posting on the walls or by commenting on other participants’ posts. The women’s stand-alone posts, which I mentioned earlier, were either congratulatory or were photographs with friends. However, upon more recent observation, I found that the women’s comments on male posts were in the masculine style.

So what is going on here? Why are most participants men? Why are there very few women participants? And why do these women write comments in a masculine style? In “Hanging Out in the Virtual Pub,” Lori Kendall observed similar activity among the few women in BlueSky. For people who are outside of the normative social group, joining the style of conversation becomes very important—more important than the actual topic of conversation. Most women do not consider obnoxiousness as a normal part of friendship or a usual requirement for group membership, but among males this is important. Women must join into this obnoxious and insulting pattern of speech in order to be accepted and respected by the men, both in BlueSky, and on the Band of Buds site.

Kendall says that the gendered social context on BlueSky casts women as outsiders unless and until they prove themselves able to perform masculinities according to the social norms of the group. The same thing happens in the drinking/partying context of the Band of Buds website. Women must prove that they are “one of the guys” or else they are ignored or treated as sexual objects. The women who are able to use the masculine patterns are accepted within the group, but their acceptance “reinscribes masculine norms, which continue to define women as assumed outsiders and outsiders, by definition, as not men.”

Since my last post, no women have participated in the Philadelphia discussion board by posting their own comment. They hardly write on the wall, and I think it might be because this environment is not welcoming to women. Those who do participate respond to male posts, and copy the masculine style. I want to understand what is appealing to the men that makes them so inclined to post frequently, and why the women are not as interested. I am conducting an interview with a man from one of the top teams tomorrow afternoon to find out why he is interested in participating in this contest. I’ll update tomorrow with the results!

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