If the movie "The Social Network" is to be believed, all this modern technology, media, and communications we have created are simply new ways to exploit old gender inequalities.
The Stanton Peele Addiction Website, October 4, 2010. This blog post also appeared on Stanton's Addiction in Society blog at PsychologyToday.com.
Sexism in the New Facebook World
The Social Network is the movie depicting Mark Zuckerberg's development of his world-dominating Internet social-networking creation, Facebook.
Facebook itself is gender-free - anyone can list whatever information they want, and anyone can contact whomever they want, with the permission of the recipient.
I would guess in practice this still means boys approaching girls - although there is a lot more to Facebook than just that.
The movie, however, portrays a lot of genderinteraction - none having to do with work. All of the main business figures - Zuckerberg, his competitors, his enemies - are men. All of the braintrust meetings, and confrontations, involve men. When Zuckerberg and his partner, Eduardo Saverin, meet Internet entrepreneur Sean Parker, Saverin brings his girlfriend - who serves as eye candy. In the house in California where Zuckerberg and his work group are making Facebook into an Internet monster, women are there strictly for play.
Let's dial back to the beginning of the film. Zuckerberg has trouble scoring with women - shown dancing nearly nude at Harvard fraternity parties to illustrate what he isn't getting. He treats his girlfriend like crap, and she dumps him. Then, when he and Saverin become Internet gurus, two women throw themselves at the men - Saverin calls them "groupies" - giving them oral sex in a bathroom. Later, however, one becomes a crazed "bitch" and sets fire to Saverin's hotel room - for no reason at all, the film would have us believe.
Zuckerberg attains his first notoriety by creating an on-line contest comparing women's attractiveness ("hotness") in a competition that crashs the Harvard network - now I wonder which gender was flooding the Internet with their votes?
So here's how it works in the new social network: men have the power, since they are brilliant and do the work. Women are around to amuse them, and often turn annoying - if not crazy. Women are drawn to powerful, successful men - to whom they offer sexual services, although presumably with the assumption these will eventually bring them material and social (power) benefits themselves.
Thus, according to The Social Network, we really haven't progressed - even in the highest creative circles of the Internet and at America's leading university - in terms of how the sexes relate.