- Here’s to You, Ellen Page - 15 February, 2014
- Make-up and Feminism Can Go Hand in Hand - 13 January, 2014
- The Rainbow Curtain: Russia, LGBT Rights and the Winter Olympics - 17 August, 2013
Social networking has completely changed the surface of relationships as we know it – and I use the term surface with a hefty pinch of salt. “Making it Facebook official” and “ex-stalking” are just two examples of the interplay between relationships and the internet that are the plague of modern life. Given the blessing and curse of our own media outlet, the modern social networker falls prey to the Facebook paradox – sharing too much; never learning enough. With the anonymity of our internet history kept away from prying eyes, we can examine the activities of those around us to an unhealthy end. Recently this social media intervention into our private and personal lives has found new form in the Rate Your Shag pages.
While we try to keep up with the Joneses, we also have to tackle our own squeaky clean online appearance. Selecting attractive sentiments to lure our acquaintances into a false sense of security, we give a cropped, Facebook-friendly version of our lives ready for the taking. We untag photos. We brag about our achievements. We edit our interests. We take on a completely different social networking persona. However, when sexual relationships get thrown into the mix, that bizarre blend of animosity, obsessives and self-consciousness goes into overdrive.
It is bad enough that on a personal level, there are too many minefields to overcome if you’re attracted to someone, and like 90% of the Westernised planet, they have Facebook. The questions that run through an average person’s mind go from acceptable to startling in zero to thirty. Do they come across well? Do they have many friends? Do they share appropriate information? Do they look good in photos? Do they like the right pages? Are they too status happy? Do a lot of people click the “like” button in their favour? Soon enough, a hedonistic pursuit of every single piece of information becomes a must-do. Past relationship histories, past photos and past interests can be revealed by clicking on the timeline tool, revealing enough to make the steadiest of users’ hearts churn. It is a torture we all deploy, and what we all cannot live without.
While we wrestle with our own personal media displays, we fall victim to the genderised national media displays thrust upon us. As the words “masculine” and “feminine” dominate the minutiae of SEO meta-details to the big bold advertisements that greet us in the streets, even the most reluctant media-guzzlers struggle to escape the frenzy. Women are sexualised, submissive sirens chained to servility; men dominant, aggressive, muscular and callous. It’s the same fairground ride that’s been mobile for decades, rendering so many dizzy that they become privy passengers, regurgitating their roller coaster of experience. And experience is what has been shared on the recent flummox of “rate your shag pages”.
The lucky few who are still confident enough to act on their sexual prowess are now likely to end up on one of the multitude of sex rating pages available. Naming and “shaming” their partner of choice on the page, contributors describe their sexual experiences in hair-raising detail. Genitalia are described, positions deduced, habits revealed. And if that isn’t enough, the page’s persecutors conclude their passage with a score out of ten. The most unfortunate victims are tagged in the post(s) related to them, inducing a sense of shame that shouldn’t be their own.
While men are judged on their penis size and women on the beauty of their boobs, the intimacy of a sexual encounter is bludgeoned by the insatiable thirst for new blood in the hunt for social networking kudos. Those expressing a natural desire for sex have entered an unwilling spiral of finger-pointing, which is nothing short of a nightmare when their sexual agreement began on a sense of mutual respect. Yet again, the twelve year olds of the social spectrum reign free, stunted by their inability to deal with sex as a fact of life, and a transaction – on whatever level – that should be far, far from the prying eyes of the public domain. It seems that in our request for social acceptance, our sense of respect needs to be wantonly disregarded, in a manner far more disturbing than sex.
Unlike the confessions and spotted pages that reigned for weeks without juncture, rate my shag is already getting its comeuppance. Rate My Shag(pile) is one of the most popular alternatives to the page, and is arguably far more creative. Others prefer to rate their canned treats, making rating Spam their retro activity of choice. Although the original pages are now in swift decline, others are more than willing to take their place, rearing their ugly heads under different namesakes, and taking over other social networking domains.
Bullying, offensive, humiliating and crude, the pages only serve to treat sexual conquests like victims, as users pinpoint what made their lovers tick at their most vulnerable moments. As the media’s enforcement of a brutal and unforgiving sexuality penetrates into the microcosm of our news feeds, social communities across the UK are being affected by the divulging of information that is not theirs to spill. Nothing more than the latest form of online trolling but nothing less than a life-destroying reality, the absurd maliciousness of online community is becoming an unstoppable force. Social media heralds a warning that shouts vulnerability and pleads for analysis, before Facebook users become as desensitized as the computers in front of them.