Cameron Conaway thinks gendering our social media only makes both experiences worse.
Pinterest has been dubbed the hottest new social network trend, and rightly so. Pulling in an average of 12 million unique users per month, Pinterest allows people to showcase and catalogue their likes and interests through a medium that never loses its steam, the image.
A week or so ago I signed up on Pinterest and created several “boards” including one for Warrior Poets and one for Malaria. Then, a few days ago I stumbled across this article on Forbes.com. Since then I’ve read the many articles and Twitter posts about how “Pinterest is for chicks.” Some preliminary Pinterest numbers showed that, in fact, 80% of users were female. When I signed up, many of the “pins” on the front page were of dresses and wedding-things and love quotes, but I didn’t explore any deeper than that before creating my own account. The pins that I saw were just other people’s pins, not male pins or female pins. In fact, I didn’t know the male/female numbers difference until I read about it. Now, there are loads of articles about how Gentlemint is Pinterest for dudes. The Forbes article opens with:
“On your first visit to Gentlemint, users of Pinterest might find a few familiar things. Tiled layout, shared content based on pictures by users, etc. But it’s clear that it’s catering to a different crowd entirely. As I write this, the site features pictures and links to tattoo machines, door handles modded to look like guns, Bugs Bunny cartoons, and of course, a bacon-topped donut.
“In other words, this is a site more focused on manly things.”
One article actually said:
“If there’s a Pinterest for men, this is it. Whether it’s a list of 1001 whiskeys to try before you die, a link to the machete used by Bear Gyrlls, 6 reasons to carry a handkerchief or an announcement of Doritos upcoming nacho-flavored taco shells…”
Sheesh. Talk about polarities. I could care less about wedding dress pictures and new flavors of taco shells. Where does this leave us men and women who want to “pin” about things without gender? My Warrior Poet section, for example, contains just seven pins so far, but here is the list:
(1) CNN Hero Robin Lim
(2) The 14th Dalai Lama
(3) UFC Fighter Mac Danzig
(4) Anti-Trafficking Warrior Somaly Mam
(5) The poet Sharon Olds
(6) The philosopher Plato
(7) Myanmar’s Democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi
Should I be pinning the women to Pinterest and the men to Gentlemint? Yeah right.
And the malaria board is, well, pictures of and about malaria. Where should that go?
It’s easy to see the poison that can happen when extreme and blinded polarities infect politics. We’re seeing it now. But with the rise of social media how much segregation is necessary? Any at all? Should we let the segregation happen naturally (if it does) within the site, or should we impose it and create separate sites?
Images: www.pinterest.com and www.gentlemint.com