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Facebook: Who are we posing for? May 15, 2007

Posted by lindamc in "the gaze", Attractiveness and age, Facebook, female perfection, Female Power, female relationships, feminism, humor, sexual power, sexuality.
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So, in normal Amherst fashion, I was procrastinating my finals work by searching around on facebook and looking at this weekends edition of fun and fabulous pictures. I started to see a theme: girls pose differently then guys: ok I know “WOW!” what a find! Shocking, but in thinking about the male gaze, it is really easy to notice that women pose for men in their pictures: particularly on drunken Saturday nights. Many groups even do it for their girl friends, even at other schools: so that they can look at the pictures and say: “oh look how cute so and so looks out with her friends in their little langerie!” I think that this might be something that is different then a few years a go. Facebook and Myspace have allowed for internet stalking and picture posting, and allowed each and every member to create a little album of themselves for the opposite sex or for their friends to get jealous from. Specifically relating to girls: do we really think about how and who we are posing for when we take pictures? (particularly those on drunken or wild nights) So is it always the confusing: women like to see men looking at them, or is it women like to see other women looking at men who are looking at them….or even worse: women like to see anyone looking, as long as their being looked at!

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1. kblack10 - May 16, 2007

This is all so true! I think that when taking pictures, knowing that they will be viewed by all other 200 friends attempting not to study, girls in particular do their best to appear like they are hot, fun, and simply having the best time of their lives. I’m going to have to say that women like to see anyone looking, as long as they’re being looked watched. In the sophisticated society of Facebookers, I believe that girls spend more time than guys reviewing every painstaking detail on other people’s pages, anxiously waiting to see newly tagged pictures, and spending an agonizing amount of time devising the perfect status update. Women know that they will be seen in their pictures multiple times by literally hundreds of people, and therefore when the pictures are taken and you put on your best “look at me, I’m fun, hot, and everything you’re not!” smile, you already are thinking of the coming Facebook fame. It would be a lie for almost any girl who uses facebook these days to deny that she has specifically chosen to wear that cute jeans skirt with the black stillettos without knowing all too well that she would be captured sporting this outfit on camera and viewed on Facebook the next day. And when picking out that hot outfit for Saturday night’s hours of partying, every girl knows that it is almost a sin to re-wear a shirt that she worn even a month ago because, oops!, there are already pictures of her on Facebook wearing it! While one might think, “oh, no one will notice!”, based on the fact the girls in particular love to view other girls on such sites and pour over every single picture, oh yes, such a “mistake” surely would be noticed!

2. EWilkes - May 16, 2007

The whole “tagging” phenomenon that you mentioned, kblack, is especially interesting. With the invention of tagging came the concept of “untagging,” allowing people to actively filter the way that their appearances and personalities are presented to to world. Many people, especially girls, seem to have a “level of attractiveness” quota for their Facebook pictures that aides them in selecting which pictures will stay tagged and which will be discarded. This has created some interesting phenomena, including the “tagged by you” vs. “tagged by others” difference. I know that, when stalking people on Facebook (busted!), my friends and I never rely on pictures tagged by the person in question. If a person tags a picture to him or her self, it can usually be assumed that it’s because they look great (or at least super fun or super cool). The “untagging” culture has created a culture in which people are constantly confronted with pictures of themselves. Self-voyeurism, which used to be somewhat limited to mirrors and the occasional handful of photographs, is now inescapable. With this self-voyeurism comes constant self-scrutiny. I’m not entirely sure where I’m going with this, but the bottom line is that I’m astounded by just how much Facebook has changed the world we live in.


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