Chapter 6: “Pretty and just a little bit sexy, I guess”: Publicity, privacy and the pressure to perform “appropriate” femininity on social media – Valerie Steeves

ABSTRACT

Steeves uses the eGirls data to test this claim, and to explore the relationship between privacy, publicity and resistance on social media. Her analysis reveals a complex and contradictory set of affordances and constraints. Although the publicity enjoyed on social media made it easier for eGirls participants to cultivate professional relationships with potential clients and employers, the easy slide between private experimentation and public performance opened them up to harsh judgment, especially from peers, if they stepped outside the narrow confines of a highly stylized and stereotypical performance of femininity. Steeves concludes that resistive and potentially emancipatory identity experimentation is more likely to occur if the privacy of the virtual bedroom is protected from commercial interests that seek to replicate the kinds of stereotypes that constrain girls¹ enjoyment of the public sphere, and if girls are given more control over the virtual traces they leave in the public sphere.

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