Welcome to Week Four: gender, sexuality and dating

Popular commentary on ‘sexy selfies’ has tended to focus on (young) female subjects, and is linked to contemporary debates around the sexualisation of women and girls. However, men and boys also create sexy selfies, which are produced and circulated within a range of digital platforms, from social networking services (like Facebook)  to hook-up apps (like Tinder and Grindr). Sexy selfies are also created privately, and exchanged within intimate relationships.

This week we are considering the ways that gender and sexuality are framed within cultures of digital self-representation. We will also reflect on the concept of sexual citizenship to think through young people’s participation in these cultures.

The image production exercise for this week invites us to reflect on the ways that selfies communicate sexual interest and sexual availability within the networked publics of apps like Tinder. You are invited to participate in one or both of these exercises on the Selfie Researcher’s Flickr account:

1) Consider the role that ‘public’ selfies play within dating and social networking apps. Choose or create a ‘public’ picture of yourself that you might use as profile pic on a dating app. Using semiotic terms and concepts and thinking about the presentation of self (Week 1) and branding (Week 2), explain why you chose it, and what you are trying to signal, i.e., ‘I’m available for a relationship (but not creepy, clingy or desperate)’ to prospective dates/partners.

2) Choose or create a ‘couple’ selfie (i.e. a picture of you with a partner) you might display on a social networking site. Using semiotic terms and concepts (see ChandlerStreeter), and thinking about the presentation of self (Week 1) and branding (Week 2), how are you displaying an appropriate level of intimacy to your social network? What does appropriate mean? Do you monitor your pictures for oversharing/overexposure? Why? Why not?

You can find the rest of this week’s syllabus (including readings, and further ideas for discussion/reflection) here.

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