Category Archives: Social Media

“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:Accessed: 15 March 2022.

Cherednichenko, S. (2020) Top 10 Dating Apps in 2020, mobindustry. online Available at: 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: Accessed: 15 March 2022

Gevers, A. (2021) Online Dating in Europe, ComScore. online Available at: 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: Accessed: 5 March 2022.

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






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’ –

Elliot Rodger –

Incels and the Men’s Right’s Movement –

Vigil of the UCSB –


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:

#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 (, 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.

References (2020) History of social media Available at:,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.

West C and Fenstermaker S (2016) Doing difference. Routledge.

Zimmerman DH and West C (1987) Doing gender. Gender and Society 1(2).

Choice Feminism in the Age of Instagram

Grace Baker

A couple of years ago third wave feminism, particularly choice feminist movements, were being questioned and discussed. It may seem outdated, then, to be rehashing old problems. However, in light of new Instagram community guidelines (yawn), Instagram has become a sort of microclimate of society. It highlights the ever emergent problems of choice feminism.                          

So what is choice feminism?

The original fight against choice feminism began in 2006 when Linda Hirshman coined the phrase in order to denounce it. It puts a label to concepts that had taken over feminist movements in the 1980’s. It pushed back against the strict idea that women should neglect the home and get to work. Instead, this new ideology purported that after years of oppression women should be able to make whatever choices they want. Deciding not to work, having a plethora of children, being promiscuous or not, shaving or not and the list goes on.

Women should simply be empowered in their choices and all such empowerment is deemed feminist under the choice feminist banner.

It can be seen as arising out of criticisms levelled at feminism; that it is too radical, too exclusionary, and too judgemental (Ferguson 2010). Choice feminism, instead, does not really challenge society. It ensures that everyone can be included in feminism (we wouldn’t want to lose any allies!). It also guarantees that people cannot be judged since all choices are valid and, therefore, not open to moral indignation. Choice feminism is, thus, increasingly used by women in order to present their empowerment as feminist.

For example, Emily Ratajkowski recently published an article ‘Buying Myself Back’ and not too long ago ‘Baby Woman’. She claims that her empowerment is, quite simply, owning her body and presenting it however she wishes. This has been framed as feminist activism. I think this is dangerous.

Choice feminism has the ability to take feminism out of context.

It skims over the intricacies involved, especially within intersectional feminism. Kimberlé Crenshaw highlighted the important ways in which race, gender and socio-economi

c background intersect in the lived experience of women. This theory has since been broadened to include a wide range of different disadvantages people may face. Such intersections are highlighted when we contrast the way in which @emrata, as she is known on Instagram, is able to post empowering pictures compared to Nyome Nicholas-Williams.  

Nyome (@curvynyome) posed topless wearing black bicycle shorts only. This picture was frequently taken down by Instagram as it was deemed to ‘break their rules’. This resulted in the circulation of the ‘I want to see Nyome’ campaign.




In comparison, Emily can pose fully naked but for a flower over her vulva, among many other risqué photos, and yet these pictures are not removed.

Both images comply with the Instagram guidelines as neither show full nudity nor nipples. However, Instagram explained that it was a former policy on ‘boob squeezing’ that had caused Nyome’s photo to be taken down. In my opinion, Nyome’s photo does not include any more ‘boob squeezing’ than Emily’s. Instead, she is attempting to cover more of her bigger boobs. The rules, therefore, have been applied unevenly. I think it is worth looking at why this may be the case.

Emily has white privilege, pretty privilege, skinny privilege (to name a few). Her posture is also more open and alluring whereas Nyome’s is closed off which could be seen as intimidating. Nyome’s buzz cut hairstyle also presents as more androgynous. Therefore, it can be assumed that Emily fits better into the economy of the male gaze.


Thus, though it can be incredibly empowering to freely express your sexuality and make money from it, not everyone is given this choice.

It seems impossible, then, to say that Emily’s choices are feminist.

They still buy into the commodity of women, into the male gaze, and into what society deems to be beautiful. Such ‘choice feminism’ clearly hides important aspects of intersectionality. In this case being a black, plus-sized, less womanly (on societies’ standards) individual means her choices are lacking.

So what is the solution?

We need to delete choice feminism and actually create a feminist political stance.

This includes making judgements, creating change in society, and in some cases excluding those stuck in the status quo. This is okay.

We may not always get it right. Judging is a political skill and we all need practice. It is the skill of defining and explaining what actions and choices actually benefit the feminist movement. It is creating arguments for the case and hoping other people jump onboard. We may fail. If we do, we need others to hold us accountable. Therefore, we need to be open to the risks of being political, feminist activists. We need to find ‘pleasure in politics’, as Ferguson advocates, even when it feels incredibly uncomfortable.

It is time to embrace not just feelings of empowerment in our choices, but the uncomfortable feeling of being in the realm of risk.

Emily Ratajkowski’s articles:

Instagram Community Guidelines:[0]=Instagram%20Help&bc[1]=Privacy%20and%20Safety%20Center


Ferguson, M. L., (2010), ‘Choice Feminism and the Fear of Politics’, Perspectives on Politics, 8(1), pp.247-253

Hirschman, L. R., (2006), Get To Work: A Manifesto for Women of the World, New York: Viking

Crenshaw, K., (1989), ‘Demarginalizing the Intersection of Race and Sex: A Black Feminist Critique of Antidiscrimination Doctrine’, University of Chicago Legal Forum, 1989(1), pp.139-168