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. That is… not what the experiments prove.

    For instance, the Milgram Experiment shows that people will tend to feel deeply uncomfortable about doing unethical things, but will still usually do them if ordered to do so by an authority figure. The problem is not “people are sociopaths,” the problem is “people tend to listen to authority even when authority is clearly ordering them to do wrong things.”

  2. You’re still all we think about, and that gives you power over us. And we resent you for it.

    I’ll thank you not to speak for me.

  3. If you look at the Stanford prison experiment, the evidence appears to suggest that people will do clearly wrong things when presented with an ideology that makes it okay and social/institutional support (see also: everything from Abu Gharib to the Catholic Church covering up pedophilia).

    So what it shows is that social pressure is REALLY convincing for a lot of people, particularly if it comes from authority figures, and that if you make it okay to do X Wrong Thing people will tend to do X Wrong Thing.

  4. @Dracula

    Amanda had, I thought, a good takedown of this article http://pandagon.net/index.php/site/comments/misogyny-isnt-caused-by-male-horniness

  5. Shadow – That was pretty good, thanks. I think the closing line is my favorite.

    Either way, stop blaming sex for misogyny. If all men wanted was women to fuck them more, the English language wouldn’t even have the word “slut” in it.

  6. What ozy said. The Milgram experiment demonstrates the relative weakness of most people’s moral compass when confronted with an authority figure, not the lack of such a moral compass. The various steps through which people go to deresponsabilize themselves (and they are very consistent from people to people) only make sense if you assume the existence of such a moral discomfort with what these people are doing: cheating, for instance, where the subject continues to follow instructions and to ask questions and administer ‘shocks’ to hir partner, but tries to subtly lead hir partner to the right answer through emphasis or other tricks. If the point was that most people are sadists, you’d expect a large proportion of people not bothering or even leading the partner towards false answers.

  7. In fact, you’d expect people to lead their partners towards the wrong answer.

  8. Words like “slut” exist to control women’s sexuality through social coercion. I can’t yell you how many comments I’ve seen in MRA and PUA sites that run along the lines “unchecked female sexuality will lead to downfall of civilization.” Whoa.

  9. I can’t TELL you…
    Sorry about the typos. I hate my iPhone.

  10. “Sorry about the typos. I hate my iPhone.”

    Typing on a Smartphone is the bane of my existence.

    …and it’s what I do most of the time for Twitter.

  11. I wrote a blog about a similar issue in the gaming community. I also discovered this website:


    Basically, it’s a list of various sexist and horrible things that female gamers and those with female sounding usernames endure that would not be an issue if said gamer were male.

    And yeah, it sucks to be considered female on the internet. Either someone wants to fuck you, they want to go on about how NO ONE would want to fuck you, or they’re talking about trying to kill/rape you for saying anything at all.

  12. Sexist, misogynist, religio-psycho babble about women is a sure indicator of male idiocy. As a man, it makes me wonder at the lack of moral courage and rampant stupidity of far too many of my fellow men.

  13. All of my usernames are identifiable as female, yet I have never had any of these ridiculous experiences. This entire experiment seems painfully slanted and is absolutely blood smeared with the hyper feminist bull**** that is plaguing the internet. If you’re a woman and can’t make fun of yourself as a woman or otherwise, then you have bigger problems than internet frat boys. How about we get some humor in here? My vagina. That is all.

  14. I would give a medal to all of the trolls on this thread, because no one here seems to be recognizing the genius. All of you who are getting frothy at the mouth, raging, should step back and realize that the one you are raging at is LAUGHING at their computer screen. You are all victims to your own ignorance of the trolling community.

  15. @Shadow: That Marcotte article is, actually, utter crap. It is a huge strawman argument that attributes to the article being “taken down” claims and ideas that the article in question clearly did not make. In fact, Marcotte claims the article says the exact opposite of what it really says, and then argues against that to come to the same conclusion the article was pushing in the first place.

    As to the subject of the Reddit experiment, let’s not make the mistake of thinking that this is just Reddit. The experiment would produce identical results on most major internet forums. If you’re a gamer, go to the gamefaqs dot com forums and advertise that you’re female. You *will* get the same results.

    Case in point, just yesterday, I saw a user asking a question about a handheld gaming system, and was given a reply that didn’t work. In answering that reply, the user identified herself as female and calmly asked to stop being called “him” before going on to calmly explain why the reply wasn’t any good for her. The user who made the reply then came back with the most disgusting display of condescending sarcasm I had seen all week up to that point, going on and on about how her identity as female was utterly unimportant. He then declared that the lady’s answer to his reply had consisted of “nothing but spazzing out” (he might as well have said “she must be on the rag”), and petulantly sneered that he at least deserved a thank you for replying at all.

    So yeah, this is a huge and wide-spread problem.

  16. Miss B., it great you had a good experience, but it should be painfully obvious to anyone who’s not brain dead that it doesn’t authorize you to negate the experience of countless who were harassed, insulted on the basis of their gender, threatened with rape or with assault.

    As for your second comment, I won’t take the effort to answer it, as it has already been done enough.

    You’re pathetic. And I guess* lying about being a woman.

    *or hope? hard to say.

  17. Thanks for telling us how to do it, MissBitch. I’m not sure how we ever got this far without you.

  18. Mizbitch: Did you bother to read the comments here?

    Would you be so kind as so share with us which of them are, “frothing” at the mouth?

    Why, pray tell, are you encouraging the people whom you claim don’t exist, by praising those who troll here? If no one is being mean/dismissive/rude/crude/condescending to women, how can they be “laughing at their computer screens”?

    You either don’t believe it exists, in which case I am glad for the good fortune you have had to never experience it, or you do, and you are on the side of the abusers.

    For the sake of one and all, I hope it’s the former.

  19. I would give a medal to all of the trolls on this thread.

    No way! Around here, they have to earn it.

    All of you who are getting frothy at the mouth, raging, should step back and realize that the one you are raging at is LAUGHING at their computer screen.

    But we’re laughing even harder!

  20. Raging? Once again, drive-by trolls really need to read the blog’s tagline.

  21. @Shade Tail

    Can you elaborate? I’ve read both articles (and re-read them in order to respond to you), and I think Amanda’s pretty much spot on. A lot of Wong’s article is essentialist in an easily disprovable way.

  22. I agree with Shadow. I read both articles, and while Wong’s was obviously well-meaning it was incredibly problematic and I felt Marcotte pointed out precisely why.

  23. MissBitch2U…or mral….

  24. @Shadow: The problem is that pretty much everything Marcotte attributed to the Cracked piece was nowhere in the Cracked piece. Perfect example, when talking about the bit where Cracked says that men throughout history have fought wars, erected monuments and buildings, and etc., all to impress the chicks, Marcotte snidely adds, “So much for creation by women and gay men.” As if pointing out the motives of powerful men is inherently an attack against everyone else. That was quite possibly the stupidest bit from Marcotte’s article, because it very obviously had *absolutely nothing* to do with what Wong was writing. He was saying that men do these things as a show of power, to lift themselves up and feel like they’re in charge. And what do you know, immediately after her snide strawman commentary, Marcotte agreed with that very point: men have done those things to put themselves in charge.

    The entire Marcotte article is littered with blatant nonsense like this, where she falsely attributes things to the Cracked article that are actually the opposite of what the article was saying, and then using her blatant misrepresentation to argue the exact same point.

    If you really read the Cracked piece, and I mean *really read it* with the intent to understand it (rather than the intent to misrepresent it to grind an axe, as Marcotte did), then you’ll see it’s real point. Contrary to Marcotte’s full figured strawman fallacy, Cracked was not praising men, or making excuses for their misogyny, or claiming that their frequent violent behavior is justified. Cracked was saying, “Hey fellas. *This* is why you act the way you do. *NOW STOP ACTING THAT WAY, YOU DUMBASSES!!!*”

    And Marcotte ignored all of this, claimed the Cracked article *was* trying to excuse bad-man behavior by blaming it on women, and then used that strawman to argue the exact same point that Wong had made: that men *are* responsible for themselves and are obligated to control themselves better.

    Marcotte’s article is nothing but a huge strawman fallacy from beginning to end, which is what makes it utter crap.

  25. Yeah guys, if you really read the article, you’d agree with Shade. Obviously.

  26. Well, to be fair, I love me some axe-grindin’. I can’t speak for Shadow, but personally? Nothing makes me happier than a really, really tiny axe.

  27. Shade, here is an actual quote from the Cracked article:

    Go look at a city skyline. All those skyscrapers? We built those to impress you, too.

    Let me repeat that with emphasis added:

    Go look at a city skyline. All those skyscrapers? We built those to impress you, too.

    Gosh, it’s almost like Wong did, in fact, explicitly say that ALL the skyscrapers in any given city skyline were built by men who wanted to impress women.

    How unfair of Marcotte to suggest that he said all the skyscrapers were built by men who wanted to impress women (thus unambiguously ignoring all the ones built by women and gay men), just because he said all the skyscrapers were built by men who wanted to impress women. The nerve of her.

  28. Uh, Shade Tail? Where exactly in the Cracked article does it say or even imply “Now stop being misogynist dickbags”. Because I seem to have missed it.

  29. Yeah, I did read the article, as it happens. Strange that someone who claims to have “really read it” didn’t notice that it wasn’t even addressed to men, let alone tried to tell them to stop being misogynists.

  30. All of my usernames are identifiable as female, yet I have never had any of these ridiculous experiences

    That’s just great for you, because it’s not just english-speaking dudes who have hailed me with really lewd bullshit just for being a gal. I’m not exactly fluent in portuguese, but I can follow just enough of it to know I am being cat called. And I don’t even have that feminine a user name, I just had a female character. Same thing happens to a friend of mine in a particular game he plays.

    All of you who are getting frothy at the mouth,

    You are all victims to your own ignorance of the trolling community.

    There is no such thing as a single trolling community (Although there are communities with high numbers of trolls, such as /m/ on 4chan)

  31. @Shade Tail: the fact that this post is about ONE misogynistic example doesn’t mean that everybody here doesn’t KNOW that the same thing can happen all over the internet — because, you know, we DO. Sounds as if your reading comprehension is what needs some work because nowhere did David or any of us imply that X is the only place such things happen.

  32. Hehe, that’s hilarious! My experience is very different. I regularly post with my female handle or avatar. It typically results in men falling all over themselves to help the little lady, explain in great detail how something works and ensure I’m able to accomplish whatever I need. I can’t recall ever having had someone be rude to me when I use a female screen name. When I use a male or a neutral handle, people are much less helpful, more matter-of-fact, more inclined to tell me to figure things out for myself, and generally more rude. So yeah, using a feminine handle changes things, but not negatively.

  33. I wouldn’t worry too much about misogynists as long as women have jobs and you are willing to be patient. Statistically hateful male supremacists are a dying breed. The primal drive in life is still to procreate. That’s declining dramatically. Women are avoiding those men. Their dna will get thinned out in a hurry. Even if they do impregnate someone they woman will often leave if she can. Yes, some will always exist the same way white supremacists will always exist but they won’t be the dominant class going forward. Society needs women move up in the world because look where we got as a species without women’s input. Almost completely self extinguished.

    If you don’t know men and women are very different, think differently and evolved differently you are missing a huge piece of the puzzle as to why humans are a species at constant war who have never even managed to feed the majority of their own species. Think about it. Women need to rise up and temper this with their natural caution and focus on basic needs of others in order for humanity to survive. It’s common sense and I believe it will happen. We are a crossroads in the power structure and the push back is intense. Don’t breed with them and it’s game over. That’s why they are pushing back on abortion and contraceptives. They don’t control procreation any more. That is ultimate power. If you can’t procreate, your DNA dies – forever. You’re done.

  34. cellophaneWindows

    Never really gave much thought to the whole “rape culture” idea until Reddit. It’s sounds so inflammatory as to be absurd, but last week, a woman on reddit posted about how she was sexually assaulted multiple times because men treat attractive women like objects to be had and multiple guys told her to get over it. The relative merits of being attractive obviously trump any potential rape-y downsides (which I guess would be: people wanting to bang you because you’re hot, also be friends with you because you’re hot. Sounds like fun?)

    So, yeah. Rape culture is a thing. TIL.

  35. Welcome to the internet. When people are allowed to be anonymous, they’re not nice. Get over it. Come back when you can handle it.

  36. proof that there are no females on the internetz

  37. I have posted as a female on the internets before: Sounds like people on Reddit are just scum

  38. Kelly, ah, nice to see you upholding the rights of assholes to be assholes.

    Which they have, as you demonstrate. On the flip side, decent people have the right to say they are assholes, which you are.

  39. People are just assholes on the internet. If you identify as a black person, you WILL be called a [slur removed –DF]. As a Hispanic, [slur removed –DF]. Asian – [slur removed –DF]. Woman – cunt, bitch, etc. Male – cunt, bitch (as well).

    Actually of those slurs, the male/female one is probably the least specific to a particular group.

    Either way, my point is: on the Internet, not everyone is going to be courteous and respectful. If you identify with a particular group, there WILL be jerks that WILL USE some misogynistic/racist/whatever slurs against you.

    EVERYONE deals with disrespect on the internet. If you reveal part of your personal life, SOMEONE out there will use that and try to bring you down with that.

    The effect is lessened for “white” and “male”, because they’re just a majority on reddit. That’s just how it is.

    This isn’t reddit-specific behavior. It’s internet and anonymous behavior. I don’t know why you think that identifying as a female (which is generally a minority demographic on many sites, not just reddit) wouldn’t be used against you. Any group you identify with will face harsh criticism from SOMEONE. If you open yourself up to that by divulging personal information, be ready for the flak. That’s all it is. Use your heads.

    Is it fair? No. Welcome to the internet.

  40. pillow in hell

    Fakename, what makes you think that women are a minority anywhere on the internet? Women use either gender neutral names or masculine names on a regular basis. Same goes with online video games.

    Chances are good that at least half the people you’re interacting with online are in fact women.

    Also, why does the internet get a pass in terms of not having basic human decency and accepted societal norms of interaction enforced? What’s so special about the net?

  41. CassandraSays

    There are no girls on the internet! Except for the ones I’m mansplaining to right now, but other than them, no girls. Everyone knows that.

    For extra special irony points, isn’t complaining about the fact that someone else is complaining about something a bit…oversensitive?

  42. Apparently if you’re black, Hispanic, or Asian, you’re neither a man nor a woman.

    (Also amused that David took out the racial slurs but not the gendered slurs. Pretty sure quoting that bit would throw me into moderation.)

  43. Well, I thought about taking out the gendered slurs, but we discuss those terms here so often it seemed pointless. (I actually have removed the c-word from the filter.)

  44. I’m not criticizing your edits, it just amused me. (And good to know about the filter.)

  45. The Kittehs' Unpaid Help

    How are “c—” and “b—” not referring to specific groups of people? They’re attacking women. When used against men, they’re directly calling them female, as a recognised form of attack: it’s putting a man down to compare him to a woman. A slur that refers to women’s genitals is about as specific as it gets.

    And as Cassandra said – why set the bar so low? Why is it suddenly acceptable to you to use such terms simply because it’s the internet? Do you think these attitudes don’t exist in meatspace?

  46. willl@tuiseh.com

    Feminism: attempting to prop up the rapidly dropping value of female sexuality. “Wah, men won’t be slaves to my fat thighs!” Haha, losers.

  47. willl: attempting to get the last word on a months-old thread with a rather sad little straw-man, lazy insult combo.

  48. Oh jeez I didn’t realize that would leave a clickable link, though I should have. Emailing the big head so that our resident troll doesn’t get hit with all the spam.

  49. Why did I say “resident?” Guys I really cannot handle my totally legal over-the-counter antihistamines. /wank

  50. “Wah, men won’t be slaves to my fat thighs!”

    Said no feminist ever.

  51. The zombie thread awakens from its slumber and demands BRAINS!!!!! Sadly, the visiting troll has no brains to offer. Zombie thread goes back to sleep.

  52. We were decieved.
    Looking back at the activities and actions that lead us to where we are now, I can say that it was our faults of hubris more than the brilliance of our enemies – a scant comfort in these dark times. It all seemed so reasonable, so good, so righteously noble that who could avoid pledging themselves to join the cause? Women are people, they’d say, women have emotions just like men, they’d argue, and we should take the time to restructure our societies to take care of women and deal with the people in it, as people, because we are all people.
    Thy used the phrase people quite a lot. Humans, too , come to think of it.

    It was a lie.

    What they wanted wasn’t equal rights and equal pay for an equal job. What they wanted was the same thing that every large person desires. A worshipper rakishly attempting to copulate with their meaty thighs. Turns out the Feminist Movement had long since been co-opted by a very small and definite clique of kinksters.

    And what can we do now that that the Thigh Troopers are marching on the last free strongholds of us men? Nothing. We have cast ourselves out from the high reaches of Heaven and in our arrogance assured that our children, and our children’s children will never know the touch of a thin woman. Never know what it’s like to lift someone up and hold them in the air, or maybe, spin them around in a dance of mutual pleasure. What remains is nothing but cellulite and despair, across a wasteland of fast food and mini bars.

    I heard the hunt surgeons by night, chasing them down with tame manginas and screeching. Anyone who’s ever done a liposuction is branded a traitor against the Idealized Form, sent to the camps.

    No one ever hears from them again.
    I don’t think the camps are real. I think they eat them.
    Why didn’t we listen when the PuA’s spoke out? Why didn’t we heed the words of the Red Pillers in their Reddit Bunkers? Those same bunkers, cracked by overpowering memes and derision. Nothing but corpses and pithy slogans there now.

    But in our arrogance, we were deceived.

    Here, I’ve written you some apocalyptic fiction to go with your obsessive need to put down others. Enjoy.

  53. What is it with assholes on the Internet using the word ‘slavery’ totally inappropriately? I mean, we had NWOslave, and that icon with a man chained to a high heel with a moutth, now this?

    Also, my thighs brings ALL the hubby to the yard!

  54. Proffers Fibinachi all the internetz, tied up in green satin ribbons.

  55. Considering they equate two X chromosomes with being female, of course they’re idiots.
    They’re horrible and mean to anyone who’s intersex, transgender, female, or anything not a white cismale. It’s disgusting. I only go there once in every blue moon and end up being upset after a few minutes of looking at it anyway.

  56. You also need to work on your feminism. Saying vaginas and XX chromosomes are female is transmisogynistic and damaging to the minorities that are still fighting for their basic rights.

  57. Argenti Aertheri

    I can’t find the comment about XX chromosomes and I assume it’s here, not the OP idiots, based on your wording. Link? (As the resident answerer of non-binary questions, I’m curious who I need to explain what to, if that sentence makes sense outside my head [oh gods don’t let it be me when I was a n00b])

  58. Is Allen/A’s comment referring to the name of the subreddit? From the OP: “She posted this in TwoXChromosomes, a subreddit devoted to women and women’s issues ”

    (Hint: when saying “you” it’s a good idea to make it clear who’s meant. Also, necroing a thread from way over a year ago?)

  59. Argenti Aertheri

    Hm, maybe, that’d make sense as that shit doesn’t really fly around here.

  60. Exactly.

  61. Last I heard this girls reddit accounts were exhumed and she was lying about all of this.

  62. Is Hotmail still a thing?

  63. Seriously, just on principle, I don’t believe anyone with a hotmail account.

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

  65. 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).

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

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

  68. 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?

  69. 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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