While I was sifting through this morning’s Olympics coverage, I came across this story:
While Reddit has proved itself as a great source of viral news and received deserved praise for its coverage of the Aurora shootings, a recent thread posited a question about where women fit in in the site. It’s already yielded over 1,700 responses — some genuinely awful especially those towards the bottom of the thread, and some which actually made us think about Reddit’s male-driven culture and how women factor into it.
I’ve been a fairly active member of Reddit for nearly 3 years. I currently have three separate accounts: one simply named ‘anonymous' for general/AMA threads, one that includes 'girl' in the name for female threads about celebrities, makeup and DIY threads, and my main Reddit handle. I won't reveal the full name but it begins with 'anotherguy’.
Why? Because, as a fellow Redditor pointed out in this thread, Reddit is just as sexist as the real world. When I posted comments in gaming, science and politics threads, I was trash-talked and downvoted into oblivion. No one could possibly believe that a female might have original, thought-provoking commentary to add to a science or gaming thread. I was considered a gaming groupie and what one kind Redditor referred to as a ‘nerd whore’.
anotherguy is well-received. The community actually takes the time to read my comments and respond intellectually. I even have a few online friends there, mostly college-age foreveralone males. Sometimes we message back and forth about how awkward social situations can be, and how frustrating it is to interact with members of the opposite sex. They have no clue I’m a heterosexual female who experiences the same self-esteem crippling friendzoning that they do. I’m not lying to fit in, or exaggerating so I can build an online friendship with these guys. I am a dorky foreveralone who happens to have a vagina.
I shouldn’t have to adamantly defend my foreveralone status. None of the males do. They accept each other as equals, they support each other. Why am I denied that sort of online camaraderie simply because I’m female?
As the article points out, it’s because sexism is still fully accepted by our society. The real and online worlds are “easy” for women to navigate. All we have to do is open our legs and someone will provide our necessities. It’s sickening that a country that crows about freedom as frequently as the US does is insistent on keeping the female gender below the males.
The men of Reddit have a safe place to go where they can be themselves. And I can go too, and they’ll accept and support me.
As long as I pretend I’m male.