On one rainy night last week, my roommate and I were cozily sitting at our desks chit chatting and staring at our computer screens. We were supposed to be getting work done, but like most of the college students of my generation, we were both procrastinating on facebook. As I looked at some of the updated profiles, a few of them got my attention. This was mostly because the changes that were noted on the facebook homepage were a result of risqué pictures that had been added to my contacts’ profiles. I click on my friend’s picture of her in Puerto Rico. She’s barely dressed and chugging a large bottle of tequila. Awesome. I cried out in dismay and my roommate scampered to see what the trouble was. We both were horrified by what we saw. Our friend, a woman we love and respected was “one of those girls” who puts up a sexually provocative picture. We sat there in shock. What was the world coming to?
After a few moments, I click on another updated profile. A guy I went to high school with has joined the group, “Blow Jobs Rock.” Are you serious? I click on yet another profile. A classmate of mine has changed his picture to reveal his bare chest and flexed bicep. A frat party rages on in the background. Interesting.
When I came to work the next day, I started thinking about why these people feel so comfortable representing themselves in these sexual ways. A guess when you’re in college, risqué pictures are to be expected. Actually, its kind of what facebook is for in all honesty. It started out as a college networking website but in its most modern form it is the chronicle of our exciting and scandalous youth. Profiles have become an important statement of who we are. For many, who we are is an obnoxious frat boy who likes blow jobs. Apparently.
I wonder why men feel that they need to represent themselves in this manner. Do they really want everyone to know they think “Blow Jobs Rock”? What really compels men to represent themselves in this hyper-masculine way?
I have come to believe that facebook has evolved into yet another form of peer pressure for women and men. If a guy says that he likes “watching movies and hanging out with friends” it is not nearly as provocative as being a member of the group, “Get Naked B****!” (Seriously, it’s a real group.) Men want their peers to perceive them in the traditionally masculine light, and facebook allows them a more removed, consequence-free venue to do it in.
There are a lot of wonderful things about facebook. It has allowed an entire generation of young people the ability to keep in touch in a way that has never been possible before. However, the stuff I see on facebook reminds me that we have so much work to do in the fight to change traditional forms of masculinity. One might argue that these pictures, degrading phrases, and groups don’t really hurt anybody. But as we all know, technology and facebook are a huge part of college life and if we perpetuate gender stereotypes online, we’re still perpetuating them all over the world.