Cool Gender Assumptions, BuzzFeed

February 1, 2013 § Leave a comment

i just can't

In an article about Facebook’s new content-flagging policies — which attempt to take into account more subtle forms of harassment, i.e. harassment that doesn’t clearly violate Facebook’s terms of service agreements — BuzzFeed writer Justine Sharrock frames the issue in terms of “mean girl” behaviors — because apparently, girls are the only people capable of being mean on Facebook. “Facebook has a message for mean girls around the world,” her lede reads. “But it’s up to you to deliver it to your friends.” She plays the same hand two more time throughout the article, writing that:

Overwhelmed with people flagging photos for removal, Facebook noticed that the majority of the them weren’t violating the community standards — images depicting things like porn, violence, self-harm, drugs, intellectual property, or privacy violations. Instead, in the U.S. where the majority of users are, most of the reported photos depicted the person flagging the photo — in an unflattering or embarrassing way. As Facebook’s researchers dug deeper, they found that people were also reporting photos of their exes with new girlfriends, photos of “besties” which didn’t include them, and images of children which they wanted to keep private. Especially amongst teenagers engaging in mean girl behavior, things got complicated. What they were reporting as hate speech were really just examples of their classmates being mean.

Later, Sharrock concedes that “Mean girls don’t always mean to be mean,” and will often take down offending content once they realize it upset someone.

I don’t understand why Sharrock felt compelled to frame the issue of Facebook harassment in terms of “mean girl” behavior — especially when the cited research never once mentions female-specific behaviors. Yes,  some girls are mean. Some women are mean. But so are some boys and some men, so………I guess if you’re a dude and acting like an asshole, that makes you a little bitch? —which is a horrible way of putting it, but that’s the implication. Either that or dudes AREN’T mean, not like girls, who are horrible. It’s gross whichever way you slice it.

And I know, I know — I shouldn’t expect much better from TrollFeed. But this sort of thing is irritating.

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