Prof Uses 4Chan Prank As Example Of ‘Digital Manspreading’

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Rob Shimshock Education Reporter
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An English professor defined “digital manspreading” and explained it using a 4Chan prank in a feminist publication, Campus Reform reported Tuesday.

University of Wisconsin-Madison professor and doctoral candidate Brandee Easter argued in the March edition of Feminist Media Studies that “digital manspreading” occurs when men “take up space” online, reported Campus Reform.

“[Digital manspreading] is an act of privilege, entitlement, and toxic masculinity,” Easter explained, calling men’s relationships with “online space, made through the affordances of digital infrastructures…gendered, material, and embodied.”

The feminist scholar cites “C+=,” pronounced “C plus equality,” a programming code created by 4Chan users to poke fun at the feminist notion that the patriarchy holds sway over all aspects of life, even the Internet.

“[C+= was] created to smash the toxic Patriarchy that is inherent in and that permeates all current computer programming languages,” the 4Chan pranksters explained. Several engineers fell for the hoax and the code appeared on professional websites.

Easter terms “C+=” “digital manspreading” and argues that it constitutes the censorship of women online.

“This silencing calls for feminist scholars to attend seriously to the everyday spatial, material, and embodied structures and forces of online misogyny,” the professor reasons.


“Harassment and threats against women online are a well-documented concern,” a UWM spokeswoman said in a statement. “Easter’s paper uses the metaphor of ‘manspreading’ and the C+= programming hoax to show that cyberspace is not a neutral, machine-created environment but rather one created by people and subject to the same prejudices and challenges as other spaces.”

Eleven percent of women report gender-based online harassment, compared to five percent of men, according to Pew Research. But men report more frequent online harassment overall, with 44 percent of men and 37 percent of women reporting online harassment.

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