Archive | June, 2011

Policing Behavior Through “Trending”

6 Jun

I have a twitter account and regularly ignore the “Trending” section. But today I clicked on the “#aintnothingsexyabout” trend. I was struck by several things: a. how many were directed specifically at women (including things that would seemingly relate to men as well), b. the differing nature of things directed at women as opposed to men, c. the predominance of smoking as not sexy, d. the nature of the tweets directed at gender (or not directed at a gender) from trend to trend.

So take a look. No surprises with the things directed at women, they mostly reflect things we already see in advertising and various other medias (and by the way, were posted by both men and women):

“#aintnothingsexyabout a drunken woman staggering and getting off with every man in the club. Be a lady.

Ladies #aintnothingsexyabout you dancing on every dude in the club

a hairy coochie, some ladies didn’t get the memo that was handed down in 1995

out of shape women

Make up that I can tell you have on.
a girl who gives herself away so easily… Ladies never settle to be a man’s everything till he puts a ring on you

a women who smokes…sorry ladies that’s just not attractiveActing like a dude, you’re a LADY. Act like one

girls with messed up teeth & always laughing @ something

A female trying to act hard. We all know you’re not about that life. Please take a seat.
a girl that can’t cook
being insecure..luckily for me, i dont have an insecure bone in this eat anything i want no calorie counting slim body”
So the general message would be: don’t be flirtatious, don’t seek attention, don’t act in typically masculine ways, don’t wear obvious makeup, if you have a physical “anomaly” fix it (but of course make sure it’s not obvious to us that you “fixed” it so that you’re not accused of being obvious) or don’t EVER laugh, shave yourself (but again, hide it all costs for someone may be able to tell that you weren’t born hairless) and please, no smoking and amazing cooking. BE A LADY.
Also, if you’re going to be strong, be ready to be put in your place. We all know you’re weak.
A particularly interesting one was the last: the implication is stunningly honest: If your metabolism is such that you can eat whatever you want without “gaining weight” then you should not feel insecure but that those women who are not considered “thin” should constantly be insecure till they are at an acceptable look.
But of course, after all that, don’t think for one minute you’re entitled to feel insecure.
#aintnothingsexyabout a woman with a lot of baggage and insecurities
#aintnothingsexyabout– a girl who needs to be told she is beautiful….. ladies have self worth…don’t wait for a man to validate you
So the majority of tweets directed at a gender were women as were (I found this surprising) tweets about not smoking directed at women. It strikes me as odd that men are as not policed for smoking as women are.
However, men were policed on some other things (when they were actually mentioned, that is):
#aintnothingsexyabout a man with no confidence … go find some & then re-present yourself #YRB
#aintnothingsexyabout two men kissing
#AintNothingSexyAbout Stalking. If you like her approach her, don’t be a creep.”
#aintnothingsexyabout guys disrespecting & mistreating females ladies if a guy can’t love you & respect you for who you are leave them.
#AintNothingSexyAbout a guy that dont know how to stand up for his girl. Smh.
#aintnothingsexyabout flip-flops on men.
So from these views, men must be confident, must not be gay, should seek women without stalking them, and aim to respect women (interesting that even this message is also directed at women as being responsible for leaving that person), men must stand up for their (assumed) women and can never wear flip flops (that sucks). Generally, it was harder to find tweets directed at men at all but when they were there, they were rarely directed at their physical appearance.
Of course, there were a couple of racial controls going on as well:
#aintnothingsexyabout getting blond streaks if you are desi. honestly, you look like a sunflower, and not in a good way
#aintnothingsexyabout getting dreads if you are a white person. seriously, slavery was bad enough, leave the black people alone.
And then a plethora of anti-smoking tweets generally aimed at everyone. Almost all of the posts about cigarettes aimed at a gender were about women. Other cigarette posts did not reference a gender or addressed both (of the dual socially accepted genders; I do recognize there are more).
Of course, collecting data from twitter is not systematic: it’s limited by the demographics and values of the people who use twitter, who use it during the days I looked (for example if people of a different economic status are working particular times they are less likely to post where as I might run the risk of having collected posts from only people able to post during those times, ie. unemployed high school kids, etc). And perhaps those who do not tag to the trend but still post about what is sexy to them have different values to reflect. So I recognize the general limitations and would not seek to create a definite message off this collection.
What I generally want to call attention to is the way these values keep repeating in society, who they are about (predominantly) and what ways they differ from group to group. It’s worth taking a look at.
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