“You’ve got to step up your game!”

by Camilla Beghin

Summer 2020, Covid-19 shut the world down. Why not restart dating then? Needless to say, I realised soon that Covid had changed the dating scene. That is when a friend of mine, let’s call him Harry, encouraged me to try online dating. Just before, like some character from a fairytale preparing me for a quest, he told me: “You have to step up your game!” He then informed me that as a white, European man, getting matches is a mission.
Throughout the years, he was not the only man who mentioned to me the difficulties within the online dating world.

Two years later, I realise the complexity of online dating. There are so many hierarchies: between genders, among males and between ethnicities. So, as online dating is increasingly more relevant in the after-pandemic in the UK (Gevers, 2021), I want to present these dynamics.

The above figure shows the tendency of online dating use from the start of the pandemic in the UK. The surge in August can be associated with an easing of the restriction imposed by the government, allowing more people to socialise (Gevers, 2021).

Females at the top

Following Mead’s model of society and gender (1935), it supports a hierarchy that places men as dominant and females as dominated (applicable to most aspects of social life). Online dating seems an exception. Let’s take the case of Tinder, the most used online dating app for my age group (18-29) (Statista, 2022): the data suggests there were 9 men for every woman in 2019. This reverses the traditional power roles. Women have more choice. We stand at the top of the hierarchy deciding the rules. Turns out, Harry is right: men have to step up their game! For a couple of matches he got on Tinder that summer, I would get about 50: I had much more choice.

But do women really have power? I had to step up my game too. How? By conforming to the traditional ways of “doing gender” through gender performance (see Messner, 2000; West and Zimmerman, 1987). Both Harry and I would choose the best pictures, select the best information about us. Some people go further. They use deception to perform gender to appear attractive (see Ankee and Yazdanifard, 2015). So yes, women have more power, but within the traditional gender performance boundaries.

Fessler, 2017

Men’s double hierarchy

Harry did not realise that he was also part of a male hierarchy. Being at its top means getting more matches. This is something another friend, let’s call him Tom, told me: in Exeter he has to compete with rugby lads and various sporty men; he struggles to stand out. After talking with various girls, I realised this fits the male hierarchy suggested by Connell and Messerschmidt (2005). We have 3 main types of men, and intersections of them:

• Hegemonic males: physically active and intellectually or socially powerful.
• Complicit males: receiving benefits of patriarchy.
• Subordinated males: minorities, often part of LGBTQ+.

I can see similar patterns on Tinder. Men try to prove their level of masculinity between hegemonic and complicit (as I participated in heterosexual dating, I cannot speak for the last group). So they show off sport abilities, drinking habits, and their degrees as opposed to simply their hobbies and passions.
This revealed men have a double struggle: they have less power than women and they compete to come across as more desirable by performing the “best” masculinity.

Intersectionality with ethnicity

We cannot only consider gender in online dating: ethnicity is equally important. In their study in the USA, Lin and Lundquist (2013) prove how ethnicity plays a strong part in dating selection. They were analysing the intersection between race, education and gender to understand tendencies in online dating. So, they discovered a tendency for women to respond to men of similar ethnicity or higher, whilst non-black man to ignore black women. This complicated the hierarchy adding other ladders.
I experience how my Italian origin was perceived as more “exotic”, so more attractive by British men. As a white, Italian woman I used it to step up my game, but I am conscious that some women’s ethnicity might be a factor damaging their chances.

So, ethnicity complicates the previous hierarchies. Some ethnicities (usually white) are considered advantaged compared to others. Also, within the same ethnicity, there is a tendency to reproduce gender hierarchies. Men over women.

My conclusions

• Heterosexual online dating has different hierarchies: between women and men, among men, between ethnicities.
• Both genders “perform gender”
• Ethnicity plays an important role: complicating the hierarchies.

As a white, “exotic”, woman it worked for me. Was I in a different position in the hierarchy, I would be wondering just as Tom: why the heck am I doing this to myself?


Ankee, A.W. and Yazdanifard, R (2015) The Review of the Ugly Truth and Negative Aspects of Online Dating, Global Journal of Management and Business Research: E-Marketing. 15(4).

Chen, O. (2022) You are more than Tinder. online Available at: https://ozchen.com/you-are-more-than-tinder/Accessed: 15 March 2022.

Cherednichenko, S. (2020) Top 10 Dating Apps in 2020, mobindustry. online Available at: https://medium.com/mobindustry/top-10-dating-apps-in-2020-1f35b0c624b6 Accessed: 15 March 2022.

Connell, R.W. and Messerschmidt, J.W. (2005) Hegemonic Masculinity: Rethinking the Concept, Gender & Society. 19(6): 829-859.

Fessler, L. (2017) Tinder now shows its premium customers who likes them – even when the feeling’s not mutual., Quartz. online Available at: https://qz.com/1064995/tinder-gold-premium-membership-likes-me-function-can-i-see-who-already-swiped-right-on-me-on-tinder/ Accessed: 15 March 2022

Gevers, A. (2021) Online Dating in Europe, ComScore. online Available at: https://www.comscore.com/Insights/Blog/Online-Dating-in-Europe Accessed: 4 March 2022.

Lin, K. and Lundquist, J. (2013) Mate Selection in Cyberspace: The Intersection of Race, Gender, and Education, American Journal of Sociology. 119(1): 183.215.

Mead, M. (1935) Sex and temperament in three primitive societies. New York: William Morrow.

Messner, M.A. (2000) Barbie Girls Versus Sea Monsters: Children Constructing Gender, Gender & Society. 14(6): 765-784.

Statista (2022) Share of individuals who were current or past users of online dating sites and apps in the United Kingdom (UK) in June 2017, by age group, Statista. online Available at: https://www.statista.com/statistics/714211/online-dating-site-and-app-usage-in-the-united-kingdom-by-age-group/ Accessed: 5 March 2022.

West, C. and Zimmerman, D.H. (1987) Doing Gender, Gender & Society. 1(2): 125-151.






Why do I recommend Beauvoir’s The Second Sex?

by Junyi Xu

As a male, it is strange for people to hear me say that I am a feminist. Women are curious about the reasons behind this, while men think I am betraying men or have been brainwashed by feminist theory. This is a sad result, because in my view the feminist movement is an anti-authoritarian movement, and in post-modern society people often break with authority to construct new ideas, new isms. So why did men lose out to feminism? The result is obvious: an unwillingness to give up privilege. When I was a child, I often wondered about the traditional Chinese family model. I couldn’t understand why my father smoked in the house without regard for the feelings of others, why the men in the family didn’t fulfil their responsibilities as husbands but the women didn’t dare to run away, and so on, some of the absurd things that we were used to but that I started to think about when I was very young. I was later introduced to feminism, the most famous of which in China is Beauvoir and her book The Second Sex. The popularity of Beauvoir in China could not have been achieved without Li Yinhe, who brought some of Beauvoir’s ideas to China and made them very popular. Of course, Beauvoir’s past with Sartre is also a subject of great interest to the Chinese. Her mode of living with Sartre has, I think, in a way changed the way many people view marriage. As I read the book, I was struck by how many of my thoughts as a young child were echoed in the book. Some of the ideas or examples in the book were repeated over and over again in reality.

Beauvoir is considered by many to be an icon, a pioneer. My undergraduate major was in literature, and I remember that during an introduction to existentialist literature, my teacher mentioned Beauvoir and her feminist views, her most famous point being that “women are not born, they are created”. It was seeing these interesting ideas that broadened my horizons and drew me deeper into feminist theory. In The Second Sex, it is around this same idea that her research and thinking revolves. In the book she mentions several factors in reality that contribute to the low status of women as the ‘other’ as opposed to the male figure. The most subversive point for me was Beauvoir’s discussion of the law and education. Firstly, she argues that the law is an instrument of domination used to bind women, and that since the world became civilised, countries have been dominated by men. In order to strengthen the foundations of their rule, rulers enacted laws that were masculine from the outset. They were harsh on women and lenient on men. It is easy to understand that men wanted to reinforce their control over women through the law, so in early society it was easy to see that the law did not give women the right to vote or to vote, and there was a general perception that women should stay at home rather than work. Secondly, the law of marriage was another tool to keep women in check. Women did not have much choice over marriage and if a marriage was unhappy, it was the man who divorced the woman and vice versa. In modern times, of course, these incredible rules and regulations have been amended. The inequalities on the surface have improved, but the inequalities in the shadows have been slow to be resolved. I think the best part of Beauvoir’s book on the growth of women is the analysis of the teenage years. This is the period when women begin to establish their values, and education plays a crucial role. Education is divided into two parts, education at home and education at school. In school education, women are taught that a woman does not need to have a high level of education and that after a general education she should find a secure job, get married and have children. Then women lose their sense of enlightenment and stop rebelling against male authority. On the other hand, such ideas are conveyed to women in family education. One of the things I cannot understand is that the mother also plays this role. The family role of the mother becomes “alienated” from the male, with two male roles in the family educating the children. If the mother is also a victim of the education system in the traditional family, then why is it that today, some of the women who have received higher education still hold such ideas, albeit less strongly. It is inconceivable that this section of the female population still does not choose to resist when faced with male authority. Some women have become the accomplices of men.

To borrow the opening line of the book, “I hope that women and men are equal throughout the world”. This is perhaps what often moves me.


Beauvoir, S. de, Borde, C. and Malovany-Chevallier, S. (2010) The second sex. New ed. / translated by Constance Borde and Sheila Malovany-Chevallier ; with an introduction by Sheila Rowbotham. Vintage. Available at: https://search-ebscohost-com.uoelibrary.idm.oclc.org/login.aspx?direct=true&db=cat07716a&AN=pclc.992361273405136&site=eds-live&scope=site (Accessed: 8 March 2022).





‘’Say good-bye to gender stereotype’’: how is gender portrayed  in the lyrics of pop music?

by Stephanie Pang

Music is seen as an expressive tool where individuals can express their emotions. We often use music for many different purposes e.g. aesthetic appreciation or religious worship. However, music is often a battlefield for gender and inequality issues. Gender stereotyping is not a new phenomenon in music. During the 1980s, the majority of women in music videos were dressed sexily (Gow, 1996) while men  are seen as masculine figures and carry hegemonic masculinity.

How Males are portrayed in the songs sung by artists

When listening to music, especially songs sang by female singers, it comes as un surprising that men are portrayed as having all the power. The lyrics “I’ll be a  fearless leader and I’d be an alpha type’’ (The Man, Taylor Swift), shows that the  image of a top manager in society includes a successful man with a strong  masculine presence (Acker, 1990). Messner (2000) supported this view stating that  men usually hold position e.g. head coach and assistant coach.

Male are also seen as more privileged than females, as they are usually ‘’ranking in  dollars, and getting bitches and models’’ (The man, Taylor Swift). This shows that  men are like free spirit animals who constantly search for dreams and living the best  of their life (Hyden & McCandless ,1983). And, lyrics ‘I’d be just like Leo in Saint  Tropez’ (The Man, Taylor Swift) shows that men are like playboys, and Leonardo  DiCaprio (fun fact… Leo has a reputation for flirting with different girls, he always  takes his girl friends to have fun in Saint Tropez).

Aside from that, men are portrayed as capable of breaking women’s hearts (shame  on them….). This is demonstrated in lyrics “How’s your heart after breaking mine?” (Taylor Swift, Mr. Perfectly Fine), the female singer was devastated after being left by a guy. Similarly, another lyric ‘’Pretends he doesn’t know that he’s the reason why you’re drowning….’’ (Taylor Swift, ‘I know you were trouble) conveys the same  message. Men being a heartbreaker can be linked to Click and Kramer (2007)’s view  that women are perceived to be the ones who constantly have their hearts broken  and wish for shooting stars.

How females are portrayed in the songs 

If men are usually seen as powerful and masculine? Does that mean women are  being seen to having the same characteristics as well??

Well… the answer is probably not. Women are typically portrayed as fragile and  weak in songs sung by female singers, as they tend to break down more than men  after a relationship ends. This is evident in lyrics ‘Everything that I do reminds me of  you, and the clothes you left, they smell just like you’ (Avril Lavigne, when you’re  gone). This showed that women were unable to let go of the men and she still  believes that the clothes he left smelled like him. Therefore, women are seen as  weak and needy (Lisara ,2014).

Other than that, in songs sung by male singers, women are viewed as objects that  are constantly being view by men. Sexual objectification occurred through body  representation e.g. sexy clothing, body parts (Flynn et al, 2016). This can be seen in  lyrics, ‘’Missing more than just your body’’ (Justin Bieber, sorry), ’Everyone else in  the room can see it, everyone else but you’’ (One Direction’s What makes you  beautiful). These lyrics have shown that man has missed the body of the female he  is speaking of ,and it also indicates that a woman’s body is still meant to be touched, even if the man doesn’t deserve it due to his mistakes. Once again, female is being  seen as object more than male artists (Flynn et al, 2016).

However, women are not always seen to be portrayed as weak and sexy figures.  Songs that are mostly sung by female artists themselves try to fight against  marginalization and push for equal rights as well as empowering women (Nwabueze,  2019). Lyrics ‘’I don’t need a man to be holding me too tight’ (Kesha, women) ‘’She’s  on top of the world, hottest of the hottest girls’’ (Alicia Keys, Girl on fire) showed that  women can live a better live by themselves. This is in consistent with Nwabueze  (2019)’s findings that women are seen to be able to rule and bring positive changes to the world. Yet, we can also argue that only songs sung by female artists are able  to portrayed woman in a positive way.



To our future

Men and women are portrayed differently as we live in a world where certain  activities are classified as masculine or feminine (West & Zimmerman, 1987).  Therefore, we can see that gender is socially scripted and that men and women  must perform a set of performances in order to fit into society.

I think it is crucial for us to achieve gender inequality in our society as young adults  always listens to pop music. Music will influence their perceptions of relationship, sex and gender roles. As a result, the music industry has a big impact on gender  construction. To achieve gender equality, I believe more female composers and  singers as well as more positive lyrics about women are needed.

(life is not only about competition; it is also about  collaboration between men and women, therefore, men and women must be treated  equally)


Acker. J (1990). Hierarchies, jobs, bodies: A theory of Gendered organization, Gender & Society, 4(2),  pp.139-158,


Click. A. M & Kramer. W. M (2007) Reflections on a century of living: gendered differences in  mainstream popular songs, Popular Communication, 5(4), pp.241-262,


Flynn. A. M & Craig. M. C & Anderson. N. C & Holody. J. K (2016), objectification in popular music lyrics: An  examination of gender and genre differences, Sex roles, 75, pp. 164-176, DOI 10.1007/s11199-016-0592-3

Gow. J (2009). Reconsidering gender roles on MTV: Depictions in the most popular music videos of the  early 1990s, Communication reports, 9(2), pp. 151-161, DOI: 10.1080/08934219609367647

Hyden. C & McCandless. J (1983). Men and women as portrayed in the lyrics of contemporary music,  Popular music & Society, 9(2), pp.19-26, DOI: 10.1080/03007768308591210

Lisara. A (2014). The Portryal of Women in Katy Perry’s selected song lyrics, Passage, 2(2), pp.61- 68, Available at: file:///Users/pangwingtakstephanie/Downloads/21156-47562-1-PB%20(2).pdf (Accessed: 18 March)

Messner. A. M (2000). Barbie girls versus sea monsters, children constructing gender, Gender &  Society, 14(6), pp.765-784, Available at:

https://vle.exeter.ac.uk/pluginfile.php/2414056/mod_resource/content/1/Barbiegirlsvsseamonsters.pdf (Accessed 14 February)

Nwabueze. C (2009). Pop Music, literature and gender: perceptions of womanhood in Grande’s ‘’God  is a woman’’ and Achebe’s Things Fall Apart, Litinfinite Journal, pp.23-33, Available at  :10.47365/litinfinite.1.1.2019.23-33 (Accessed 15 March)

West. C & Zimmerman. H.D (1987). Doing Gender, Gender and Society, 1(2), pp. 125-151, Available  at: https://www.jstor.org/stable/189945 (Accessed 7 March 2022)

Post-Lockdown Femininity Fears: The Return of Revenge Dressing!

by Ellie Gibb

Ditch the joggers, switch off the X-BOX, put down the pint and slap on some lippy. Is that how you do it?

Is it just me or did living, working and studying from home make me more “laddish”? And living with boys throughout lockdown did not help!

Stay at Home De-Feminised Fashion.

Fashion has long been a product of the social climate. Nowhere has this been more apparent than during COVID-19. The pandemic has opened the market for a new stay at home fashion. Never has loungewear, jogging bottoms and pyjamas been so popular.

According to City A.M. – London’s most-read financial and business newspaper – In 2020, loungewear sales rose 1,303%.

Every day I was noticing a blurring between my feminine and masculine side. I had always been a bit of a tomboy and embraced gender-bending practices. Yet when I was stuck inside with boys, I was violating these gendered norms even more. This act of “Garfinkeling”, whereby I was undoing gendered expectations in the privacy of my home was empowering and relaxing.

At the time I was a woman in a man’s world, literally!

What about when lockdown ends…is this still acceptable to act like this?

Consciously Reclaiming Femininity.

When “freedom day” came on May 17th 2021, I asked myself have I forgotten how to be a woman? And how do I “do” gender properly?

I had spent months inside gaming, wearing pyjamas and dragging myself out of bed to the desk.

I had no care in the world surrounding what I was wearing. I did not need to stress about looks in my own home. My housemates were used to my sloppy side and so was I.

For the first time in my life there was zero anxiety about what to wear. What was expected of me, or what I was supposed to be conforming to.

I was not alone here as in 2020, clothes sales slumped 25.1% as no one needed new or fancy clothes (see below).

Your clothes say a lot about you. They are status symbols. They define you and they are a significant part of your identity.

I had not been out in months. So now I need to use my wardrobe to reclaim my femininity! I wanted to “dress like a girl” and be glamorous for the first time in months.

Now was the time to impress and put on the best and most authentic performance. Let’s show the world that I can be feminine!

This initial moment was huge and of heightened importance. It represented a “magnified moment” in my lifetime. Want to learn more about moments like these? Check out this link: ‘Barbie Girls Versus Sea Monsters’.

You are Actually Going Out…It is NOT on Zoom!

After comfort dressing for months in the confines of my home, fashion had been the last thing on my mind. In fact, fashion had been non-existent for a long period of time. My wardrobe remained untouched. As a result, the anticipation of freedom created a sense of anxiety, specifically amongst women (see below).

I don’t usually wear high heels, dresses or make-up…but I felt the need to. I was left asking ‘Why was this? Why do I have the desire to “dress myself up”?’

Yet everyone was doing it as in 2021 online searches for high heels and dresses were up by 197% and 176%.

Post-Lockdown Revenge Dressing.

“Revenge dressing” was made famous by Princess Diana in 1994. Her jaw dropping “revenge dress” was worn at the Serpentine Gallery. She wanted to hit back at Prince Charles’ infidelity and show him what he was missing.

Yet, a new trend of revenge dressing was emerging due to COVID-19 restrictions being lifted. The pandemic has given a whole new meaning to revenge dressing. Post-lockdown statement outfits were bolder, brighter and better than ever before.

After all the talk of freedom day, my femininity fears peaked. I had to be the best and most glamorous version of me.

Everyone began treating the walk into Turtle Bay for bottomless brunch as their first red carpet appearance!

But this left me asking… am I now over-“doing” gender?

Most importantly, I concluded that no I am not overdoing gender. I am a woman reconstructing gender, transforming femininity and hybridizing my identity. I am in control of who I want to be. I can reclaim my femininity by dressing to impress whilst sipping my cosmopolitan. But then I can return home to my jogging bottoms, my pint and my home comforts.

Goodbye lounge pants…for now!

Further Readings:

Evans, C. & Thornton, M. (1991). ‘Fashion, Representation, Femininity’, Feminist Review, 38(1), 48-66.

Muse (2020). 2020 Fashion: A Year in Review. Muse. [online]. Accessed 4 May 2022. <https://www.muse-magazine.com/2020-fashion-a-year-in-review/>

Pomerantz, S. (2008). Girls, Style, and School Identities: Dressing the Part. New York & Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

West, C. & Zimmerman, D.H. (1987). ‘Doing Gender’, Gender & Society, 1(2), 125-151.

Woodward, S. (2007). Why Women Wear What They Wear. Oxford & New York: Berg Publishers.

Gender, the guitar and why people won’t stop calling Wet-Leg ‘Industry Plants’

by Johnny Hurst

Following CPB-London’s recent ‘imagine a’ campaign:[1] picture a guitarist. Are they a man? They shouldn’t be. Not only should you not assume a man – historically, you should assume a woman. So why has this changed? And how does this relate to the accusations of Wet-Leg being ‘industry plants’? Let’s start at the beginning…

The Guitar and femininity

The association between masculinity and guitars is a relatively recent phenomenon. Originally, the guitar was a paradigmatic feminine instrument. In 1783, Carl Junker named the guitar’s predecessors[1] as one of the 4 women-appropriate instruments (Stenstadvold, 2013). In the early 1700s, Roger North echoes this judgement (ibid). These pro-women guitar stances weren’t a stand against sexism: the guitar’s slender frame allowed women to remain elegant whilst playing. The guitar was also not a professional instrument[2] – it was an amateur instrument, played at home (Stenstadvold, 2013), accompanying[3] another instrument (Jackson, 2020). Thus, the project for modern women guitarists is not to create a feminine space in the guitar-world, but to reclaim it.

So, when did guitar’s feminine-status decline? Pinpointing a date here is difficult. Whilst the well-known Delta-Blues players of the early 20th Century are all men,[4] we have to recognise that history might be filtering out women-guitarists of this time through looking backwards with a guitar-as-masculine lens. Elizabeth Cotten writes Freight Train 20 years before Robert Johnson steps into a studio. Cotten even used a left-handed-upside-down string technique,[5] later used by[6] male-guitarists Albert King and Jimi Hendrix. Sister Rosetta-Tharpe could be seen ripping on an SG Custom in the early 1960s. So when did the change occur?

Strohm points to the invention of the electric guitar (Weinstein, 2013). This makes sense: before amplification, the guitarist had the quiet role at the back of the Big-Band. Once amplified, the guitar could take the lead role (ibid).


Enter the men. Amplification permits distortion: the aggressive sound of rock. Here we start to see the masculine paradigms work their way in. Then comes the virtuoso; the fiery and phallic displays in the late 1960s.[7] This trajectory continued: think 1970’s and 1980’s “masturbatory” (Weinstein, 2013, p. 144) guitar solos[8] – the guitar was cemented as a masculine domain.

So how did this affect guitars?

Firstly, once the guitar had been made masculine, the unspoken rule of ‘standard’ coming to mean ‘masculine’ instantiated itself.[9] The masculine way of playing guitar became the standard way of playing guitar. Deviation from this standard was/is seen as a mark of the amateur. Look at how Jett, St. Vincent and Millington[10] stand in powerful, assertive, masculine poses when performing.[11]

Masculine-as-standard worked in another way: guitars were now made for male-bodies. A standard-size guitar today is not a standard-sized guitar for a human body; it’s the standard-size for a male body. Perez (2019) talks about this problem for pianos: the keyboard was designed with only male hands in mind.[12] This can be seen in the size difference between guitar brands like Teisco in the 1950s[13] and the larger Gibson and Fender guitars that continued from the 50s onwards. Teisco guitars are shorter, so are retrospectively dubbed as student/3/4 sized[14] guitars. Perhaps they’re not smaller versions of ‘standard-sized’ guitars, they are just guitars not made for men! Moreover, guitars such as Teiscos had a revival in women-driven punk-bands. Perhaps they wanted to use a guitar that fits![15]

Thus women in the modern-age are faced with a dilemma: they must play guitar like a man[16] on an instrument that is too big for them to do so. Here enters Wet-Leg.

Wet-Leg and unapologetic rejection of normative-masculinity

Wet-Leg are a new alternative band. Neither Wet-Leg guitarist plays with the violence, aggression or domination of the instrument that the male-standardised perspective insists on.[17] Wet-Leg doesn’t need to perform masculinity to perform the role of guitarist; they perform the role of ‘guitarist’ continuously with their performance of femininity.

Against the masculine-as-standard backdrop, Wet-Leg’s deviation from masculine-styles of guitar-playing is viewed as a deviation from ‘good’ guitar-playing. One video that centres Wet-Leg’s guitar-style is riddled with comments expressing their disgust for it. So Wet-Leg refuse to play guitar like men. And thus fuels the fire of ‘industry plant’ accusations.

Inference to Industry Plants

Innumerous Tiktok comments accuse Wet-Leg of being ‘Industry Plants’.[18] Whilst there’s no single reason why, I think their rejection of masculinity-as-standard is a strong factor.

Viewers see Wet-Leg’s non-masculine style of playing, and because non-masculine is seen as bad, Wet-Leg’s guitar-playing is seen as bad/amateur. If Wet-Leg are amateur musicians, then how have they had viral hits? The answer is simple! Wet-Leg’s success is the industries work, not theirs! Thus the apparent inability of Wet-Leg’s guitarists is squared with their commercial success.

Only, the viewer is wrong; they’ve mistaken non-masculine guitar-playing for bad guitar-playing. Wet-Leg aren’t amateur guitarists, they are women guitarists who have succeeded on their own merit! It turns out, Wet-Leg are actually just a decent band!

 [1] The Lute and Zither

[2] The guitar not being part of the orchestra

[3] Read: being subservient to

[4] Think Robert Johnson, Son House, Lightning Hopkins…

[5] Seen being used by Cotten herself here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IUK8emiWabU

[6] And often incorrectly credited to

[7] Think Jimi Hendrix’s wild onstage movements, and sitting his guitar on fire at the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967

[8] Think Van Halen, Guns ‘n Roses, Bon Jovi, Def Leppard…

[9] For a more detailed discussion of male-as-standard phenomena across historical data and modern society, see Perez’s “Invisible Women” (Perez, 2019)

[10] Of the 1970s all female rock group ‘Fanny’ who I recommend. Especially their cover of Marvin Gaye’s ‘Ain’t that Peculiar’

[11] I’m not saying here that these fantastic female guitar-players are ‘pretending to be men’, but instead pointing out that we seem to celebrate and hold in higher acclaim female guitarists who play guitar ‘like men’.

[12] See Perez (2019) Chapter 7: One-Size-Fits-Men

[13] Production ending early 1960s

[14] Presumably ¾ the size of a standard male body

[15] Where more standard brands of guitar were used, female alternative rock bands often use guitar models with shorter scale lengths, such as the Fender Mustang, or Gibson Les Paul Jr (notice the ‘Jr’: it’s the smaller, younger and inferior guitar to the flagship, men-in-mind Gibson Les Paul).

[16] With deliberate reference here to Young’s (1980) ‘Throwing Like a Girl’

[17] See an example of Wet Leg’s Teasdale playing guitar here: https://vm.tiktok.com/ZMLf7ybTN/?k=1

[18] An Industry Plant is a band/artist manufactured by a record label to be commercially successful, though presented as a grass-roots musician.


Further Reading:

Industry Plants – Another Form of Sexism in Music – Amika Moser

A nice short piece by Amika Moser on how accusations of industry plants are linked with sexism.


At First, the Guitar was a “Women’s Instrument” – Ashawnta Jackson

A short article from Ashawnta Jackson on the historical relationship between women and the guitar, which served as the inspiration for this blog post

At First, the Guitar Was a “Women’s Instrument”

“Women and the Electric Guitar” – Mavis Bayton (Chapter 3 of ‘Sexing the Groove”, edited by Sheila Whiteley

A moderately long piece on the Electric Guitar and women, touching on Gender Performance à la Judith Butler


 Rock’s Guitar Gods — Avatars of the Sixties – Deena Weinstein

An academic article discussing the image of the Guitar God in the 1960s – see page 151 onwards for Weinstein’s discussion of masculinity!


 Wet Leg’s Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/artist/2TwOrUcYnAlIiKmVQkkoSZ?si=vI5Hbi0mR6imstryitFlhg

Chaise-Longue is currently their biggest hit


Works Cited

Jackson, A., 2020. At First, the Guitar Was a “Women’s Instrument”. [Online]
Available at: https://daily.jstor.org/at-first-the-guitar-was-a-womens-instrument/
[Accessed 12 03 2022].

Perez, C. C., 2019. Invisible Women: Exposing data bias in a world designed for men. London: Chatto & Windus.

Stenstadvold, E., 2013. ‘We hate the guitar’: prejudice and polemic in the music press in early 19th-century Europe. Early Music, 41(4), pp. 595-604.

Weinstein, D., 2013. Rock’s Guitar Gods — Avatars of the Sixties. Archiv für Musikwissenschaft, Volume 70, pp. 139-154.

Young, I. M., 1980. Throwing like a girl: A phenomenology of feminine body comportment motility and spatiality. Human Studies, 3(1), pp. 137 – 156.



Does university rugby culture reinforce hegemonic masculinity?

by Olivia Heathfield

“All the freshers have to down pints… eat cat food, and lots of other random things” (Dempster, 2009:490).

Hegemonic masculinity is a concept that was developed by Connell (1987). This type of masculinity is considered to be the most dominant and idealised form of masculinity. It is commonly displayed by young, white, male adults who behave in ways that are considered ‘normative’. Connell (1995) explained that hegemonic masculinity was displayed in sporting activities at universities and I consider that rugby boys at Exeter University are definitely seen as the ideal by many other students at this university.

Rugby Varsity

Exeter University is one of the top universities for rugby. Each year, two big varsity matches are held where students can watch and support Exeter’s 1st rugby team. The rest of the Rugby Society congregate together in the stands… and there are a lot of them. To say they are hard to miss is an understatement. Firstly, they are all dressed in the same brown chinos, blue shirt and green tie, highlighting their collective sporting success (Dempster, 2009). Secondly, you can hear them drunkenly chanting from a mile away. They start drinking hours before the match and their rehearsed chants contain lyrics which are insulting and derogatory. For example, when Exeter played against Cardiff Met, the Exeter rugby boys chanted “Your mum cleans Lafrowda”. This chant implies that students at Cardiff Met are from less privileged backgrounds because they attend a non-Russell group university. Thus, Exeter rugby boys are attempting to show off academically as well as through sport. Obnoxiously insulting the other university clearly displays elements of hegemonic masculinity – they are ultimately trying to prove that they are the best. Moreover, at several varsity matches I witnessed physical fights between the rugby boys from Exeter and the rugby boys from the opposing university. Again, this is a way that rugby boys assert their dominance over others in order to prove that they are at the top of the masculinity hierarchy.

TP Wednesdays

Many of the rugby boys fit the idealised masculine body image – big, tall, muscly, strong (Light and Kirk, 2010). Therefore, it is not surprising that the rugby boys draw a lot of attention to themselves during a Wednesday TP (Timepiece) night out. Just like at varsity, they wear the same brown chinos, blue shirt and green tie and so, along with their tall and muscular physique, they are very easy to spot in the club. They are able to “brand themselves”, making them stand out from the “common herd” (Dempster, 2009:491). Moreover, they have a reputation for engaging in multiple sexual relations. According to Dempster (2009), rugby boys at universities view women as sexual objects, and I agree that the rugby culture at Exeter university encourages this. This is an element of hegemonic masculinity as this group holds dominance over women (Connell and Messerschmidt, 2005). So, on a Wednesday night in TP, it almost seems like a competition as to who can ‘pull’ the most girls. They do this to show off their sexual prowess and ultimately, prove that they are the most idealised, masculine man. This is reinforced further by the fact that many girls view this type of man as the most attractive (Light and Kirk, 2000). If girls want you, then you are doing something right… I guess.

Rugby Socials

Heavy drinking at university is considered to be a behaviour that displays elements of hegemonic masculinity (Dempster, 2009). Exeter rugby boys commonly engage in heavy drinking, especially during their Wednesday sports socials. They show off their masculinity by proving that they can drink multiple pints or by drinking a pint as quickly as they can. At socials, they are constantly forced to drink. I was very surprised when my friend who is in the Exeter Rugby Society told me that he drank 22 pints within the space of 2 hours! Also, freshers (first years), as part of their initiation, are forced to engage in acts that highlight their ability to withstand pain and embarrassment. These acts include getting naked and drinking or eating things like cat food (Dempster, 2009). Quite frankly, you do not even want to know what one boy drank this year in order to earn the role of the mascot at varsity.

Not all rugby boys?

It is easy to stereotype all boys who play rugby at Exeter university as rowdy, obnoxious, intimidating and disrespectful to girls. Individually, most of these boys appear to be nice and normal. Yet, when they come together, they perhaps feel that they have to prove their masculinity in the face of other boys who are also trying to be the most idealised form of masculinity. Gender acts as a key feature of one’s identity, and Warin and Dempster (2007:891) argue that through gender, “laddishness” is adopted “as a form of social currency in the early stages of their new lives at university”. Therefore, it can be argued that hegemonic masculinity is adopted by rugby boys at Exeter University because their rugby culture reinforces this type of masculinity.


Connell, R. 1995. Masculinities. Cambridge: Polity.

Connell, R. 1987. Gender and power. Sydney, Australia: Allen and Unwin.

Connell, R.W. and Messerschmidt, J.W., 2005. Hegemonic masculinity: Rethinking the concept. Gender & society19(6), pp.829-859.

Dempster, S., 2009. Having the balls, having it all? Sport and constructions of undergraduate laddishness. Gender and education21(5), pp.481-500.

Light, R. and Kirk, D., 2000. High school rugby, the body and the reproduction of hegemonic masculinity. Sport, education and society5(2), pp.163-176.

Warin, J. and Dempster, S., 2007. The salience of gender during the transition to higher education: male students’ accounts of performed and authentic identities. British Educational Research Journal33(6), pp.887-903.

Incel culture: How a neo-masculinity challenges traditional notions of hegemonic masculinity

by Sophie Houghton

TW – Sexual Abuse, Threats of Violence, Mass Violence

Source: New America

Misogynist incel men have advocated for the legalization of violent actions to punish and control women, such as rape and beating. Posts have suggested legalized violence against women partners as a justified response to disobedience, not providing sex, or otherwise failing to “fulfil their feminine role.” (Kelly et al, 2021).

What makes a man ‘manly’? Masculinity is a concept that was developed in congruence with feminist theory, and it suggests that there are defining characteristics that make a man. For instance, a common understanding of masculinity is ‘hegemonic masculinity.’ Scholars Connell and Messerschmidt (2005) explain the concept, suggesting that “Hegemonic masculinity was understood as the pattern of practice (i.e., things done, not just a set of role expectations or an identity) that allowed men’s dominance over women to continue.” (832).

Connell and Messerschmidt suggest this as a normative description of masculinity, the pure essence of being a ‘man.’ Conventional characteristics of this notion range from whiteness and heteronormativity, to possessing traits like physical strength, rationality, and a lack of emotion. However, it can be questioned whether this notion stands the test of time, with masculinities beginning to shift. One example case of such change is the notorious Incel movement.

Incels – The Black Pill Ideology

Incel, which stands for involuntary celibate, was conceived by a woman who wanted to create an online community for lonely people, to help them find friends and companionship. This woman requested to remain anonymous, both due to feeling ashamed of the term’s exposure and fearing reprisal for creating a label for alt-right misogynists. An article surrounding this is available in the further readings for this piece. Incels have their own identity theory, using what is termed “pill” vocabulary. This is taken from the film The Matrix, in which the hero Neo must choose between two pills. The blue pill keeps him subdued in an artificial but tolerable world. Instead, Neo chooses the alternative red pill, which makes him truly aware of reality. The third pill, a brainchild of the Incel movement, is the “black pill,” which allows the Incel to become aware of the “immutability of reality.” (Baele et al, 2019:1675) Such Incels see their existence as predetermined, as women choose sexual partners based solely on looks. Therefore, Inceldom becomes a birthright. This differentiates Incels from less extreme misogynists, “who think in terms of the “blue pill/red pill” duality hope that they can take advantage of knowing how society really works to escape their predicament (e.g., invest in aesthetic surgery or gym membership, become “pickup artists” (Baele et al, 2019:1675). Incels, however, believe this life inescapable, and attempt to escape through societal change, advocating for terror and mass violence.

Source: UCSB

An infamous example of such violence is the 2014 Isla Vista killings, where Elliot Rodger, a 22-year-old extremist, killed 6 people and injured 14 others. Rodger’s rampage, accompanied by a 141-page manifesto detailing his beliefs, was motivated by a hatred of women, who had denied him sex. His shooting spree was his ‘Day of Retribution,’ before he killed himself. Rodgers believed himself a victim of his birthright and became a martyr for the Incel movement. The moving image above is a vigil held by the University of California Santa Barbara (UCSB), as the students gathered to mourn the victims.

A neo-masculinity?

Strangely enough, the characteristics of the Incel vary significantly from those suggested by hegemonic masculinity, which calls into question whether it is high time for new research. Masculine traits stereotypically include assertiveness, confidence, and physical strength. However, with the majority of those who deem themselves an ‘incel,’ the opposite appears true. Often these ‘loner’ types lack self-assurance and possess domineering attitudes, and symbolise an even more sinister masculine group. Debbie Ging (2017) suggests that “many of these new toxic assemblages appear to complicate the orthodox alignment of power and dominance with hegemonic masculinity by operationalizing tropes of victimhood, “beta masculinity,” and involuntary celibacy (incels).” (Ging, 2017:639) An example of such victim mentality was proposed on the banned forum r/Incels, which suggests that Incels believe women are attracted to a handsome jawline. Therefore, due to the lottery at birth, the ‘non-Chad’ is destined to become an Incel. This perfectly encapsulates the Black Pill ideology.

Source: The Independent

As a final point, it seems an appropriate time for research surrounding masculinity to advance. Hegemonic masculinity no longer seems an appropriate tool, as the Incel ideology is one that a surprising number of individuals relate to. The stereotypes of the assertive, dominant man are beginning to fade as ideas on ‘doing gender’ change, with performativity being replaced by inferiority and victimhood. Perhaps an update on the topic is required. Or perhaps, the notion of gender should be reduced to a concept much less important, with the focus being on protecting vulnerable groups from dangerous individuals like the Incel.


News Articles

The Origins of ‘Incel’ – https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/apr/25/woman-who-invented-incel-movement-interview-toronto-attack

Elliot Rodger – https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-43892189

Incels and the Men’s Right’s Movement – https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/incels-alek-minassian-mra-mens-rights-terrorism-toronto-van-attack-a8323166.html

Vigil of the UCSB – https://www.niot.org/blog/ucsb-comes-together-after-mass-shooting-isla-vista


Further Reading

Baele, S.J, Brace, L & Coan, T.G (2021) From “Incel” to “Saint”: Analyzing the violent worldview behind the 2018 Toronto attack, Terrorism and Political Violence, 33:8, 1667-1691, DOI: 10.1080/09546553.2019.1638256

Connell, R.W. and Messerschmidt, J.W. (2005) Hegemonic Masculinity: Rethinking the Concept, Gender & Society. 19(6): 829-859.

Ging, D. (2019) ‘Alphas, Betas, and Incels: Theorizing the Masculinities of the Manosphere’, Men and Masculinities, 22(4), pp. 638–657. doi: 10.1177/1097184X17706401.

Kelly, M, DiBranco, A, Decook, J.R. (2021) Misogynist Incels and Male Supremacism: Overview and Recommendations for Addressing the Threat of Male Supremacist Violence, in Political Reform. Retrieved from: https://www.newamerica.org/political-reform/reports/misogynist-incels-and-male-supremacism/

Will a woman’s work ever be done?  Not when it involves doing housework and doing gender

by Paula Lovelock

Finding myself living in a London house-share with four guys in the mid-1990s, it only took a few weeks before I went on strike with the cleaning.  I explained to them that our kitchen was becoming a health hazard and that I wasn’t prepared to work full-time and maintain basic hygiene in our three-storey semi.  Their answer was it wasn’t that bad (your stockinged feet would get stuck to the floor) and we couldn’t afford to hire a cleaner.   I hired a cleaner.

Looking back, this has become interesting in many ways.  I have never really analysed why it was me who felt obligated to deal with the housework issue in one way or another.   I had little money to spare.  But these men were all wealthy, ex-public school professionals who could easily afford to hire a cleaner.  I had to wonder if my female presence combined with my efforts at keeping us out of squalor just felt natural to them.  Why get a cleaner when there is a woman in the house?

It seems unlikely that they just didn’t see the dirt.  When participants in one experimental study were shown pictures of an untidy room, there were no gendered discrepancies in perception; both men and women evaluated the level of mess and degree of urgency to clean it similarly.  However, when the gender of the occupant of the messy room was known, moral judgments emerged, with female room dwellers held to a higher standard than men (Thébaud et al., 2019).


To investigate how these gendered notions of housework have evolved, the classic sociological paper on ‘Doing Gender’ provides insight into the way gender is constructed through our daily performances.  The authors, West and Zimmerman (1987) detail the influential sociological work of Goffman (1977) on symbolic interactions in our social lives. These practices cumulatively come to shape the broader structures of society that categorise us by sex. The model of ‘gender displays’ elaborates the socially approved conduct that rewards ‘deference’ from women and ‘dominance’ by men.

However, while Goffman sees these performances as optional, West and Zimmerman disagree.  They view that people are made ‘accountable’ for their performances in their socially approved sex categories of ‘women’ or ‘men’.  Through consensus of expected, ‘appropriate’ behaviour, people are kept in order.  In the patriarchies of the West, men top the hierarchy.  So, while gender is enacted at an individual level, these interactions are institutionally inscribed.  As a result, apparent ‘essential’ differences continue to segregate women and men in normative ways. The gendered division of labour appears to be normal and natural.  So, the fact that women’s work is never done is accepted, even useful, in maintaining the status quo.

My 1990s experiences seem fairly unremarkable according to research from the decade prior.  In one study on the housework attitudes of heterosexual married couples, Berk (1985) found wives did the majority of housework and childcare, even if employed outside of the home.  Staggeringly, in this example, both husbands and wives felt this to be a fair arrangement.


By the mid-1990s, research in Western societies continued to find that women performed disproportionate levels of housework, despite patterns of increased paid employment (Brines, 1994).  Such studies refer to doing housework as symbolic displays of femininity in the service of maintaining gender relations.

So, have things changed much for women since then?

It seems not.  Recent studies assert the life dissatisfaction experienced by women who work longer hours than their male partners, while continuing to do the majority of unpaid labour in the home (Flèche et al., 2020).

Indeed, YouGov statistics in February 2020 show that the majority of housework was being done by women, with over half saying they have sole responsibility for the laundry and cleaning bathrooms.  While this is clearly a very generalised depiction, it highlights how women continue to conform to gendered expectations of housework.

However, it seems the Covid 19 pandemic has made more visible the chasm of gender inequality in housework in the West.  Brigid Schulte, social policy director at a US think tank, cites the “breadwinner/homemaker” model that operates in our culture (Gross, 2020).  This is expressed through the stereotypical gender performances that sustain the inequality of domestic labour, despite the unfairness in task distribution.  Interestingly, she cites research on housework between same-sex couples that reveal that there is more harmony in their decisions over the division of household chores.  This can probably be explained by the absence of gendered assumptions over ‘male jobs’ and ‘female’ jobs.


The evidence illustrates that the dynamics over allocation of tasks between genders have broader impact.  The actions we take in our social contexts are both a cause and effect of social organisation and a means of perpetuating and legitimating gendered divisions.  Whether it is challenging partners, siblings or incredibly lazy and entitled housemates – for women, doing gender requires work on top of doing housework.  Perhaps that work can be consciously channelled in new, resistive ways.


Further Reading:

Brines, J. (1994) ‘Economic Dependency, Gender, and the Division of Labor at Home’, American Journal of Sociology, Vol. 100, No. 3 pp. 652-88, November 1994

Flèche, S. et al. (2020) ‘Gender norms, fairness and relative working hours within households’, Labour Economics, Vol. 65, June 2020, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.labeco.2020.101866

Gross, T. (2020) ‘Pandemic makes evident ‘grotesque’ gender inequality in household work’ NPR, 21st May 2020, [Online] Pandemic Makes Evident ‘Grotesque’ Gender Inequality In Household Work : NPR

Thébaud et al. (2019) ‘Good housekeeping, great expectations: gender and housework norms’ Sociological methods and research, Vol. 50, No. 3. pp 1186-1214, 2021, Sage, August 2021

West and Zimmerman (1987) ‘Doing gender’ in Gender & Society. Vol. 1, No. 2., pp 125-151, June1987

‘I’m not like other girls’

by Paige Parsons

…Hmm, not like other girls, or a case of internalised misogyny?

Since I was little, I have heard this comment voiced from many women, often as a way to distance from ‘typical’ perceptions of femininity. Maybe from women who don’t like painting their nails, or wearing makeup, but who like to drink pints, those who swear (too vulgar!), or burp (definitely not ‘lady like’- whatever that means).

This comment, escaped from the mouths of many (myself included), is both familiar and complicated. What does it mean to be like other girls? Why are you not one of them?

We know women are weak, erratically emotional, and exist to please the gaze of men, or so they have us believe. If this is what women are bound by, then perhaps I’m not like other girls either.

Now, I know this is based on a rigid framework of stereotypes, stemming from our need to label our identity to navigate the world (Delphy, 1993). But as a re-occurring observation I have made, and continue to make, it has consequences for the respect (or lack of) for femininity.

‘I’m not like other girls’ holds other women in a box of confinement (one labelled girly girls, perhaps), their box placed lower on the hierarchy of gender. Girly girls, as we know them, can be explored through an emphasized femininity (see Connell, 1987). This is the expectation of women to conform to a desirable view of femininity, an ideal characterised by subordination (to men) and heterosexuality (having sexual feelings for the opposite sex).

Now, I do not want to blame women (or men) here….everybody has been boxed by the system that is patriarchy, a social system where power is gendered so that masculinity is dominant (Johnson, 2006).

This comment does not simply undermine other women purposefully (although it continues to spread narratives that paint femininity as lesser). Rather, society has a case of internalised misogyny (Manne, 2018), where sexist ideas and disrespect towards women (and femininity) have been engrained into our thoughts.

What does this mean?

We have internalised ideas that women as weak, inferior and have certain characteristics, e.g., appearance obsessed (we might blame beauty/advertisement organisations) or needing a man to feel fulfilled (we might thank traditional fairy tales), but let’s leave that for another day.

These ideas are expressed through our actions, towards ourselves (self-regulation and objectification, see Enson, 2017) and towards other women. Let’s say… the assumption that women should have less sex than men as to maintain ‘purity’ and ‘innocence’…. (Ironic right, as women are apparently existent for the sexual pleasure of men).

Having internalised misogynistic attitudes, distance from these may foster feelings of superiority, moving one closer to ideas of masculinity. I mean, in a patriarchal society, who can blame us? We have learnt that it provides acceptance in the social world….

But, through devaluing other women, we do not increase our own value (on a wide scale, anyhow), but rather, we maintain sexist ideas that continue to mobilise the box that is femininity.

So, through saying (and believing) ‘I’m not like other girls’, we continue to fragment femininity, creating competition and tension between women. Consequently, the patriarchy is supported as well as the division that is central to its power.

Let’s not forget, gender is fluid (Beasley, 2005). An individual may express the comment as to genuinely explore and signal a lack of alignment with the female identity. We must reflect on comments, thoughts, and actions as to question how and why we position ourselves and others, particularly as meaning is communicated through the language we use (Crawford, 1995).

Who are these other girls?

The other girls… Are they able-bodied? Are they white? Are they black? Are they young? Are the old? Are they slim? Are they fat?

These are important questions. The answers reflect the way normative (and emphasized) femininity has been presented to us. Whether that is through the media, television, books, or beauty industries. The way we recognise the ‘other’ girls can impact how we reconcile, respect or celebrate feminine identities.

Juliehangart 2020


So, although an innocent comment at first, ‘I’m not like other girls’ reinforces femininity as an inferior identity. These repetitive interactions nurture misogynistic attitudes (Manne, 2018), shedding light on the ways women are subtly subordinated.

Remember, men have internalised this too. It is not masculinity vs. femininity, but rather patriarchy vs. us all.


So yeah, I am like other girls: strong, diverse, intelligent, interesting, wonderful, and complexly unique; remembering that one expression of gender is no more valid than another.


Beasley, C. (2005) Gender and Sexuality: critical theories, critical thinkers. London: SAGE Publications.

Connell, R. W. (1987) Gender and Power. Society, the Person and Sexual Politics. Cambridge: Polity Press.

Crawford, M. (1995) Talking Difference: On Gender and Language. London: SAGE Publications.

Delphy, C. (1993) ‘Rethinking Sex and Gender’, Women’s Studies International Forum, 16(1), pp1-9.

Enson, S. (2017) ‘Evaluating the impact of hyper-sexualisation on the lives of young people.’ British Journal of School Nursing. 12(6), pp. 274-278.

Johnson, A.G. (2006) Privilege, Power, and Difference. 2nd Edn. New York: McGraw- Hill.

Juliehangart (2020). Available at: https://www.demilked.com/not-like-other-girls-comic-julie-hang/ (Accessed on 7th March 2022).

Manne, K. (2018) Down girl: the logics of misogyny. New York: Oxford University Press.

Rajagopalan, H. (2017). Comic: What is Intersectional Feminism? Available at: https://feminisminindia.com/2017/04/08/comic-intersectional-feminism/ (Accessed on 7th March 2022)

Stanford, Q. (2019) Available at: https://allears.net/2019/11/27/theres-big-changes-coming-to-snow-whites-scary-adventures-in-disneyland-next-year/ (Accessed on 7th March 2022)

Vector (2021). Available at: https://www.shutterstock.com/image-vector/multiracial-women-different-figure-type-size-1263222466 (Accessed on: 7th March 2022)

#MeToo Social Movement and the Improvement of Women’s Awareness about Gender Equality

by Wenjie Huang

Can social media drive a new wave of feminism?

I believe that social media has made the new wave of feminism becomes possible now, as it facilitates the growth of women’s connection and empowerment. For individuals, developing awareness is important. Perception of people influence their intention and even actions. When individuals all realise that they need to fight for equality in the society, they will become a strong group that sparing no efforts to improve women’s social status. A lot of youngers have realised that they are of no difference to men. This motivates girls and women to pursue the life that they want.

 The power of social media in driving social movement

We all know that the media environment has been evolving, while social media have become popular communication tool since early 2000s when Facebook was launched (Broadbandsearch.com, 2020). I am interested to argue that #MeToo social movement plays an important role to improve women’s awareness about gender equality. Of course, women’s social status might still be an issue, especially in the countries and regions where women are still considered less valuable than men.

With social media, people now have the opportunity to generate and publish information to the public as social media has the feature of user generated content (UGC) (Luca, 2015). The creation of #MeToo movement was initially just personal sharing, which it attracted attention of women and men who share the feelings that women need to voice up and get united to seek equal rights for women. The #MeToo movement was started by a sexual assault survivor and activist named Tarana Burke but it did not attract much attention in the beginning. After actress Alyssa Milano twitted about #MeToo, this hashtag went viral and got 6.5 million tweets in 3 months (Chou, 2018). The success of this social media movement lies in its viral effects. Information can be circulated virally in the social media communities, which makes information spread within minutes.

What is the power of social media community?

An extended community is created when people share their opinions using #MeToo (Manikonda et al., 2018). People grow their intention to use social media to share useful information that help women. The power of this hashtag was elevated when the scale of followers and users is large on social media (Leopold et al., 2019). Women who suffer from inequal treatment and sexual harassment are given a space to express, which is a relief of people. More importantly, this empowers women to enhance their awareness about the importance of gender equality. Gender is a concept constructed through cultural and social means (Zimmerman and West, 1987).

Anonymity is an important principle on social media, which drives honest sharing of women about their experience (Elbagir, 2020). Clark-Parsons (2019) brings up that networked feminists emerge after #MeToo. Feminist activities have been organised for women to pursue gender equality, as it is still a general issue recognised (West and Fenstermaker, 2016). The development of social media provides a new platform for feminists to share their opinions and help women to seek their equal rights. Before the introduction and availability of social media, people can only have access to news through TV or newspaper. As these media are controlled by either governments or private owners, individuals have no access to authentic information of individuals. What is worse, people’s opinions are not heard on these news networks.

UGC allows individuals to share their comments and feedbacks, especially because of its interactive function. Individuals are not only audience of news content, but they have become owners of media. Authenticity and trustworthiness of social media are perceived high. Feminism becomes popular following the social movement of #MeToo, since some critical principles about gender equality are circulated and reinforced on social media (De Benedictis et al., 2019). Neoliberal feminism also grows, which is a trend for  powerful women to discuss about gender equality as they find it morally worthy (Ghadery, 2019).

Following the influence of #MeToo social movement, there have been changes in legal system in the US to protect the benefits of women (Tippett, 2018). This example suggests that social movement like #MeToo contributes to changes in the society. Law protects people in the society, while law is not of no bias. This is evidence to show that #MeToo has the capacity to make law makers think of optimising the legal regulations to better adapt to the changing world and changing needs of women. Seeing that there is improvement made for women to improve their situation is very inspiring and encouraging.


Broadbandsearch.com (2020) History of social media Available at: https://www.broadbandsearch.net/blog/complete-history-social-media#:~:text=By%202004%2C%20social%20media%20had,integral%20part%20of%20our%20lives.

Chou S (2018) Millions say #MeToo. But not everyone is heard equally.

Clark-Parsons R (2019) “I see you, I believe you, I stand with you”:# MeToo and the performance of networked feminist visibility. Feminist Media Studies. 1-19.

De Benedictis S, Orgad S and Rottenberg C (2019) # MeToo, popular feminism and the news: A content analysis of UK newspaper coverage. European Journal of Cultural Studies 22(5-6): 718-738.

Elbagir Y (2020) Anonymity helps # MeToo movement extend its reach.

Ghadery F (2019) # Metoo—has the ‘sisterhood’finally become global or just another product of neoliberal feminism? Transnational Legal Theory 10(2): 252-274.

Leopold J, Lambert JR, Ogunyomi IO, et al. (2019) The hashtag heard round the world: how# MeToo did what laws did not. Equality, Diversity and Inclusion: An International Journal.

Luca M (2015) User-generated content and social media. Handbook of media Economics. Elsevier, pp.563-592.

Manikonda L, Beigi G, Kambhampati S, et al. (2018) # metoo through the lens of social media. International conference on social computing, behavioral-cultural modeling and prediction and behavior representation in modeling and simulation. Springer, 104-110.

Tippett EC (2018) The Legal Implications of the MeToo Movement. Minn. L. Rev. 103: 229.

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