Women's Facebook Photo Sabotage: Another Example Of Coded Misogyny?

on July 05 2012 12:30 PM
Study Of Women On Facebook
A study conducted by MyMemory.com concluded that women frequently commit sabotage by posting unflattering photos of their frenemies on Facebook, often as a means of retaliation. Flickr

On Monday, the Daily Telegraph published a story about another way that women are purportedly out to get each other. The article, titled Women Deliberately Post Ugly Photos Of Friends Online, is based on a study conducted by MyMemory.com, which concluded that women frequently commit sabotage by posting unflattering photos of their frenemies on Facebook, often as a means of retaliation.

Among the 1,500 women over the age of 18 surveyed, 65 percent of the women polled said they would be angry if a friend posted a bad photo of them, even though most admitted they've committed their own acts of 'photo sabotage,' the study concludes.

The Telegraph story has become immensely popular on the Yahoo Lifestyle page, while the results of the survey have been reported on by top outlets such as MSN. But it has generated some backlash. Jezebel's Cassie Murdoch posted a response to the story, subtly questioning the legitimacy of the study itself.

Whoa, if you've been innocently posting photos on Facebook as a means of conveying what a fun time you and your friends had at the beach, you're doin' it all wrong, wrote Murdoch. According to a somewhat crazy sounding survey, many women are posting unflattering photos of their friends online as a means of getting back at them.

The reports reflect a disturbing trend of portraying women in an unflattering light and pitting them against each other in the name of social science. Would a study of how cruel men are to one another via social media ever see the light of day? Probably not. Similarly, the phenomenon of competitive parenting and its media perpetuation seems to be targeted squarely at mothers. (Case in point: Time magazine's May 2012 cover story which asked women Are You Mom Enough? The controversial cover photo of a mother breastfeeding a three-year-old child made sure that the story was widely read.)

Louis McCudden of The Independent was likewise alarmed by the message the MyMemory.com Facebook study sent.

It's convenient that women are all bitches, because that proves sexual inequality has nothing to do with misogyny or -- God forbid -- men. It's just that women sabotage each other, she wrote.

When I read that one in four women likes to occasionally shame other women, it doesn't surprise me ... because, in the dirty maze of all the frustrating bull we are supposed to navigate with magical feminine dexterity, the only person we are allowed to hate for any of it is ourselves. So sorry if there's a little bit of misdirected rage and resentment between women at times, she continued.

If you want to see it redirected, whatever your gender, then don't tell a woman she's a bitch. Tell patriarchy.

All the more disturbing is that several articles take the study at face value, extending the implication that women are catty bitches who want nothing more than to see other members of their gender destroyed. Many of the reports even scolded women for not playing nice online. Few took the time to delve deeper and dissect the findings as proof that sexism in the media continues to be an enormous problem.

Although we thought we left playground bitchiness back in our teens, a recent study suggests that many female Facebook users are becoming increasingly catty by deliberately tagging unflattering photos of their (supposed) friends, reported Shiny Shiny alleging that the reports exemplify female bitchiness.  

It seems that women aren't behaving themselves online began a report by gadget website T3, putting forth the notion that women are using the Internet in an unruly fashion.

Most alarming is the assessment of the MyMemory survey released by Fox News, which contrasted shallow female behavior with the upright social networking conduct of men.  

Christopher Johnson would never untag a bad pictures, but he says this survey is just more reason to be proud of his gender, the outlet reported before taking it a step further and portraying men as noncompetitive.  

Us guys ... we look out for each other. I think it's funny when women do that, but I'm definitely happy I'm a guy, said Johnson.

Interestingly enough, men were left out of the study, a fact that went unnoticed by most outlets that reported on it. The omission of males is indicative of just how unbalanced and unfair the study is.

Never mind that MyMemory seem to have omitted the figures showing how many men upload pictures of 'friends' with punch bowls on their heads, penises drawn on their cheeks and the England flag tattooed on their buttocks as they vomit into a bin, writes McCudden. You think women are competitive bitches? Look at Chris Brown and Drake. Look at drunken Arsenal and Spurs fans. Look at the men in urinals surreptitiously measuring their willies. Look at casino banking, look at war. Men are hardly all beacons of solidarity.