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Feminism is a socio-political movement that centers around the idea of improving the living standards and cultural opinion of women, both through changing female representation in the media and legislation. Individual feminists and groups act on either the belief of gender equality or the superiority of women as a gender to men.
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Feminism began to develop as a philosophical idea in the early 19th century, encouraged by works such as Soujorner’s “Ain’t I a Woman”. In the 20th century, feminism developed into a social movement through activists in the suffrage movement. The movement is oftentimes described in “waves”, starting with the first wave and continuing on to the third/fourth waves, although there is much debate over how the waves should be categorized.
“There are No Girls on the Internet” is a tongue-in-cheek adage which implies that there are no female entities actually participating in online activities, especially when it comes to anonymous exchanges in chatrooms and discussion forums. The outdated myth also jests that the Internet is essentially a “sausage fest” dominated and defined by male internet users and a smaller population of male trolls or griefers who pose as women in pursuit of lulz.
The origin of the myth can be traced back to the male-prevalent days of Usenet, particularly in the virtual Multi-User Dungeons (MUDs), a genre of text-based online role-playing games and predecessor to MMORPG like World of Warcraft. During this era, it became a routine practice among male players to falsely pose as girls to solicit gift or other unfair advantages. Such prevalence of gender deception in MUDs was first noted in 1993 by American sociologist Amy Bruckman in her research paper “Gender Swapping on the Internet”:
“Many people, both male and female, enjoy the attention paid to female characters. Male players will often log on as female characters and behave suggestively, further encouraging sexual advances. Pavel Curtis has noted that the most promiscuous and sexually aggressive women are usually played by men. If you meet a character named “FabulousHotBabe,” she is almost certainly a he in real life."
The practice has since remained a popular trolling technique in online conversations and more recently, as an integral part of griefing in the context of online gaming. In addition, such stereotype of the average Internet user as “a geeky male who is single and desperately seeking interaction with the other sex” became further amplified and perpetuated through its frequent portrayal in popular TV shows, films and novels.
The feminist movement on the Internet began to thrive with the rise of blogging in the late 1990s, burgeoning into a network of women’s interest blogs and communities such as The F Word, Feministing, XOJane and Jezebel by the late 2000s.
Anita Sarkeesian is a videoblogger and media critic best known as the host of Feminist Frequency, a web series in which Sarkeesian reviews and analyses common tropes in popular culture from a feminist viewpoint. In 2012, she was introduced to a larger audience after launching a Kickstarter campaign to fund a new web series exploring the negative tropes surrounding women in video games.
Mary Sue is a negative term used in fanfiction and literary criticism to describe an original character that is often overly idealized or assumed to be a projection of the author. When used by a male author, the character is referred to as a Gary Stu or Marty Stu. The term is considered by some to be misogynist due to how easy it is to write off a female character as a Mary Sue, but a male character can have the same qualities and be regarded as a normal character.
Feminist Ryan Gosling
Feminist Ryan Gosling is a single topic Tumblr showcasing a series of image macros based on stillshots of the actor seemingly submerged in thought and various excerpts from feminist literature works. The character of Feminist Ryan Gosling can be interpreted as the sensitive counterpart of the FuckYeahRyanGosling image macro series.
Make Me A Sandwich
“Make me a sandwich,” sometimes deliberately misspelled as “Make me a sammich,” is a catchphrase often used by male internet users to mock, discredit or annoy female internet users, playing off of the sexist trope which states that women belong in the kitchen.
Feminist Nazi is an advice animal image macro series featuring a photograph of Australian reality TV star Layla Joyce Subritzky from the ninth season of Big Brother Australia. The captions typically depict a naive approach to stereotypical feminist ideas, in a similar manner to College Liberal.
#SorryFeminists is a Twitter hashtag that is used to poke fun at preconceived notions about feminist codes and beliefs.
Who Needs Feminism?
Who Needs Feminism? is a movement organized via a single topic Tumblr and Facebook page that feature photos of people holding handwritten signs explaining why they need feminism and why feminism is important to them.
Privilege Denying Dude
Privilege Denying Dude is a series of image macros centered around a guy in a suit posing with his arms crossed, with captions satirizing the typical white male’s patronizing viewpoint on a range of politically sensitive issues like racism, homosexuality and feminism. This meme functions similarly to the feminist bingo card or the oft-linked article “Derailing for Dummies”, offering quick & funny punchlines (EX: “but what about the men?” or “what about the racism that white people experience?”) for those trying to troll serious discussions about women’s issues and racial equality.
Hey Girls, Did You Know…
“Hey Girls, Did You Know…” is a series of multi-pane exploitable images featuring webcam photos of Tumblr bloggers accompanied by captions commentating on the issue of self-image or body-image, similar to another photo set series known as Dear Girls. Many instances parody the original image, which poked fun at cleavage shots that are frequently uploaded by female Tumblr users.
When Did This Become Hotter Than This?
“When Did This Become Hotter Than This?” is an image macro series comparing two sets of photographs featuring celebrities or famous subjects from two distinct time periods or generations. What began as a commentary on the ever-changing definition of beauty across generations, eventually led to online debates regarding the controversial issue of body images and even expanded across areas outside of celebrities, such as cute animals and inanimate objects.
“Slut shaming” refers to the practice of criticizing a woman for engaging in certain sexual behaviors outside of traditional gender roles, whether it be actual or presumed based on her manner of dress, speech or personality. Online, such practice has been discussed in the context of cyberbullying, as some cases have led to teenage girls committing suicide, and it remains a popular debate topic among social justice bloggers.
Check Your Privilege
“*Check Your Privilege*” is an online expression used mainly by social justice bloggers to remind others that the body and life they are born into comes with specific privileges that do not apply to all arguments or situations. The phrase also suggests that when considering another person’s plight, one must acknowledge one’s own inherent privileges and put them aside in order to gain a better understanding of his or her situation.
The Hawkeye Initiative
The Hawkeye Initiative is an art movement in which artists replace female super hero characters shown in impossible body positions with the male Marvel superhero Hawkeye, one of The Avengers.
Mansplaining is an Internet slang term used to describe condescending and inaccurate explanations that are given under the assumption that the audience is entirely ignorant on the subject matter or topic. The name stems from an online behavior commonly exhibited by male newbies on female-oriented discussion forums, however, any member of either sex can be guilty of mansplaining.
This Is What I Was Wearing
“This is What I was Wearing (Tell Me I Asked for It, I Dare You)” is the slogan that was originally seen on a sign held by a feminist activist at the 2011 SlutWalk in New York City. Online, both the slogan and the photograph of the sign have been parodied through image macros and photoshopped images.
Feminist Taylor Swift
Feminist Taylor Swift is a novelty Twitter account that parodies song lyrics of the American pop singer with feminist commentaries on romantic ideals that may be deemed patriarchal or heteronormative.
C Plus Equality
C Plus Equality is a satirical programming language created by 4chan users in response to a proposal of a feminist programming language published on the humanities and technology site Hastac in December 2013.
Feminists have received large amounts of criticism, both online and in real life. The men’s rights movement (MRM) was founded in the early 1970s as a countermovement, claiming that men do not hold greater wealth, power, or societal privilege over women. Instead, it is the other way around. The MRM has grown greatly with a strong online presence, with mixed results. Feminists criticize the MRM as misogynystic and trying to distract people from feminist issues. Several MRM groups have been labeled as hate groups by the Southern Poverty Law Center. 
Southern Poverty Law Center – Intelligence Report, Spring 2012, Issue Number: 145 Men’s Rights Movement Spreads False Claims about Women
Radfem News Service – SPLC Names Men’s Rights Activists (MRAs) as Hate Group