Gender roles, or a tale of two Facebook stickers



UPDATE, 11/4/2013: The artist who created Hacker Boy has also created the “Hacker Girl” sticker. Turnabout’s fair play and because I took them to task, somewhat, for no Hacker Girl originally, it’s only fair that I share the news. I’m not fond of pink, but that’s my issue, not theirs. The boy was blue. So the girl’s pink. Whatever. She’s a hacker. And a girl.

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Let me just start off by saying I am absolutely not accusing Facebook, or the creators of these stickers of being sexist.

But when I looked at the descriptions of these two new-ish Facebook stickers this morning, I was struck by something.

Hacker Boy is “a computer genius who doesn’t always play by the rules. He’s at a computer, hacking away, building, making, computing. Doing stuff.

Mobile Girl “loves chatting on her phone, and she’ll throw a tantrum if you take it away.”



These aren’t by the same artist, so it wasn’t done in concert. They came out at different times. I doubt highly anyone thought, “Oh, we should have a sticker about girls who like to talk on the phone and a computer geek boy.”

And that’s not the point. There is nothing wrong with either of these stickers. I know plenty of people of both genders who fit both tropes.

However, what struck me is the gender roles we keep putting ourselves in. Girls talk on the phone. Boys hack. That was the stereotype when I was back in high school (a long time ago). And yes, I got my own phone (not phone number, just phone) when I turned 16. And I did love talking on the phone. But whenever I had the chance to fiddle around on my dad’s PC (not everyone had a home computer then, either), I would fiddle and practice BASIC.

You know what? That’s all besides the point.

I struggled a lot in writing this post. It seemed ridiculous in some ways. But the more I thought about it, the more I knew I had.

The point is, what this represents is how far we haven’t really come in how we represent gender roles. I’m not asking for a “Hacker Girl” sticker, even.

Look. We know that seeing representations of ourselves is a very powerful thing. Will the Mobile Girl stickers cause any girls to suddenly forego computer science and stay glued to their phones, talking about boys? Of course not. Nor will the Hacker Boy stickers cause any boys to suddenly take up computer science.

I long for the day that this incongruity won’t even strike me.

Photo by Augustin Fest via Flickr Creative Commons.

May 12, striking back at Facebook and LOST!

The backlash against Facebook‘s ever-morphing privacy settings is growing. A group of NYU students are working on an open-source, yet much more private, alternative and it’s getting lots of support. Network World.

Speaking of backlash, there was a lot of hate for Tuesday’s Jacob/MiB-centric episode of Lost, but I loved it. Also came up with a nifty new theory. TV Tyrant.