Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Gender Equality Fail

I, like many other netizens, am a fan of the websites Fail Blog and FMyLife. The websites are each made up of a collection of mildly entertaining items that can generally be appreciated universally. Unfortunately, I’ve noticed that in the communities of both sites, which I imagine to be heavily dominated by males, sexism is quite alive.

The Fail Blog is a collection of amusing images and videos that depict obvious failures of some kind. Crazy accidents and unfortunate juxtapositions abound, along with just plain weird things and unintentional innuendoes, badly worded signs, and so on. Most images contain the word “Fail” printed prominently on the image, a trademark of the website.

Some images, however, are considered to be wins rather than fails. These are reserved for odd things that are considered cool in some way. The xkcd Verizon check, created to screw with Verizon employees who charged a customer more than originally quoted because of a stupid math error, is an example of one of these wins. It’s a clever joke and totally harmless, so I would be inclined to agree with their judgment of it as a win.

However, fairly recently, the Laundry Win was posted. It depicts a sewn-in tag on an article of clothing that contains laundry instructions, as well as the message “Or give it to your wife. It’s her job.” Technically, this seems to be a Photoshopped work, so it shouldn’t be on the site in the first place. If it was going to be on the site, though, it should be marked as a fail on account of how sexist it is. Someone managed to submit it with “win” written in big bold text and it achieved a rating of four and a half stars with 8359 votes as of this post. I must say, I feel a bit disgusted at the Fail Blog community here. Major fail, guys.

FMyLife is a site for posting personal grievances that purportedly show how “f***ed” one’s life is. Boing Boing uses the quote “Capsule-sized doses of schadenfreude to help you feel better about your life any time you need it,” to describe the site. The items there consist of everything from silly but embarrassing events, to just plain gross things, to crushingly unfair parents, and to terribly serious wrongdoing.

FML number 632473 describes a woman whose boyfriend attempted to orally rape her while she slept. As of this post, a total of 64,415 users clicked the “I agree, your life is f***ed” link. However, the admittedly smaller quantity of 6,946 users clicked the “you deserved that one” link. That’s almost seven thousand users who thought she deserved to have her boyfriend stick his penis in her mouth while she remained unconscious. That’s enormously creepy.

FML number 744790 is similar. In this one, a guy tried to rape his girlfriend after he tried to drug her so she would be asleep for a while. The woman ended up not taking his offered sleeping pills and, first mistaking his attempt as romance between respected partners, witnessed him exclaim in surprise that she was actually awake. *shudder* This one, which happened just last week, has 80,494 users who agreed her “life is f***ed” and 2,840 users who thought she deserved it. Although I’m glad that the first group greatly outweighs the second, the fact that there are almost three thousand in the second group disturbs me…

The sites Fail Blog and FMyLife have widespread appeal on the Internet. Both have developed their own communities focused on their sites’ content. While I am sure that each of them is predominantly male, that is no excuse for misogyny to go freely. This kind of crap should not go unchallenged. The Fail Blog “win” is just sad, and the FMLs are just disturbing.

Everyone who voted for the Laundry Win and/or that a rape victim deserves it: Major fail.

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