A little gender experiment confirms that Reddit is full of douchebags

Now that's what I call a bridegroom.

So someone on Reddit did a little experiment that confirmed what we already know: that Reddit is overflowing with misogynist douchebags. Here’s the experimenter explaining her somewhat casual experimental protocol:

I noticed after two months as my female username I was constantly having to defend my opinions. I mean constantly. I would post something lighthearted, and have people commenting taking my comment literally and telling me I was dumb or I didn’t understand xyz. People were so eager to talk incredibly rudely and condescendingly to me. People were downright hateful and it made me consider leaving.

Then I decided to experiment with usernames and came up with an obviously male name. While people still disagreed with me which is to be expected, I had more people come to my defense when I had a different opinion and absolutely no hateful or condescending comments. I am completely shocked at how different I am treated since having a male username. I am not saying Reddit is sexist, well kind of yes, but I think it’s really interesting and thought that some other girls on here would want to get male usernames and see the difference for themselves.

She posted this in TwoXChromosomes, a subreddit devoted to women and women’s issues that is regularly overrun with angry MRA dudes and an assortment of FemRAs. This time the MRA squad didn’t take over the discussion, and numerous 2XCers reported experiences similar to that of the OP.

earthpeesfire noted:

I had a feminine user name years ago. Fuck that. It was like having a target on my back.

cantstopthe tried to duplicate the experiment on a smaller scale:

Just wanted to say that I made an alt yesterday with a female name, and continue to post the kind of things I normally post under this account. And today I was told I should be raped.

That has NEVER happened in all my 4 years of being on this site with various neutral names.

misscastaway also tried posting with a clearly female name:

I just tried posting on an discussion from this account. Immediately an insult including the word cunt and remarks on how I’m making a fool out of myself.

Might be a coincidence but when posting from my regular account (which is very gender neutral) that I use for discussions related to science, fitness, books etc I have never received this kind of behaviour. Not even when it turned out someone knew more about the subject and I was wrong/short in my knowledge. Then I was given another point of view, with a source – that was it.

I guess I’ll keep using those accounts in parallel now just to see if this was just by chance or if it really makes such a difference.

fatchick400 reported on the results of a similar experiment:

I created this account a few days ago to comment on some fat-hate, and have actually found it really interesting to see reddit from a different point of view.

The biggest surprise for me is the difference in how fat women are treated vs fat men. There is so much more hatred towards the fat women. A lot of people even refer to these women as “it”, completely negating their gender all together.

Meanwhile in the posts about fat men there are a few hateful comments, but they’re mostly full of light hearted jokes. In a few posts where the guys were obviously morbidly obese, barely anyone commented on the guys’ weight at all. Yet in posts with woman who are maybe 200lbs , mocking her weight always seems to be the main focus of conversation.

twofish added her experience to the pile of anecdotal evidence:

Most people on reddit assume I am male until I make it a point to say otherwise. More often than not, once it’s discovered that I own a vagina I’m no longer taken seriously, my opinions are belittled, and a slough of sexist and misogynist jokes/accusations get thrown my way.

I love Reddit for many reasons but it is one of THE most hostile places on the internet to be a woman.

Over on the Men’s Rights subreddit, meanwhile, the locals largely dismissed the experiment as unscientific and biased. As DavidByron put it:

Just seems like someone who set out to “prove” her own biases. She was biased to begin with, she ran the “experiment” in a biased way, interpreted the results in a biased way and then presented them to support her initial assumptions.

It’s the usual princess feminism which says men have it easy and women have it hard even while the exact opposite is happening. Why wouldn’t she say which usernames she used in her “test” so others can look at her methodology? Of course it’s not serious but then that’s the point.

Others explained that they weren’t really sexist because they’re such earnest fanboys of GirlWritesWhat, a woman who is able to bypass the usual MRA misogyny by pandering to the misogynists’ fantasy of male martyrdom.

The woman who posted about the experiment in the first place has now popped in to the r/menrights thread, and has (very politely) suggested to Mr. Byron that he try the experiment himself. I guess we’ll see what happens.

About David Futrelle

I run the blog We Hunted the Mammoth, which tracks (and mocks) online misogyny. My writing has appeared in a wide variety of places, including Salon, Time.com, the Washington Post, the New York Times Book Review and Money magazine. I like cats.

Posted on April 22, 2012, in antifeminst women, douchebaggery, FemRAs, harassment, it's science!, misogyny, MRA, rapey, sexual harassment, the c-word, vaginas. Bookmark the permalink. 286 Comments.

  1. Also, had “this girl’s” Reddit accounts been inhumed? How does that work, exactly?

  2. The only thing that would make it less believable would be an AOL account. I have one client who still uses AOL, and his emails are always eyeroll inducing (not just for that, but it doesn’t help).

  3. Yes, Hotmail is still a thing. I’m glad to know I’m not taken seriously here, though.

  4. Sorry, vaiyt — I was just being silly. But I’m still not taking Bob seriously.

  5. cloudiah – I think zie meant “exhumed”, but that still makes no sense. How do you “exhume” a Reddit account? Do you break into Reddit’s servers and take out the physical memory which contains a certain person’s account and post history?

  6. Isn’t inhumation how the Assassins’ Guild describes bumping off their victims? Or am I mixing them up with someone else?

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