“There are no girls on the Internet”: Gender performances in Advice Animal memes
Online anonymous forums are valued as spaces of open participation which facilitate multiple expressions of identity. In this paper I unmask how memes perpetuate existing gender power structures in spaces where users are only known by pseudonyms. The site of study is the r/AdviceAnimals forum of Reddit, in which a popular genre of memes known as Advice Animals are shared by users. Using a cross-section of Advice Animal memes submitted to this forum, the study examines the uneven distribution of power in representations of gender and feminists. I find that while women are highly sexualised, obsessive, and clingy, male characters are a default central character, used to express non-specific ideals of behaviour. As feminists, men are portrayed as legitimate, whilst women-feminists are epitomised as hypocritical, demanding, “Nazis”. The main contribution of the article is highlighting the gendered nature of memes, and call attention to the unequal representation in pseudonymous space.