If you ever have the misfortune of paying a visit to, or stumbling upon, a post from social media hit Dan Bilzerian, on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook, you don’t have to look too hard to discover his blatant sexism. With overtly smug, tongue-in-cheek posts, his online presence appears to be geared totally toward displaying the lavish life he leads. Yet the most disturbing thing about Bilzerian’s sexism and decadent lifestyle is the amount of fans he has gathered.
Bilzerian is a self-professed gambling addict, and gun obsessed womaniser, who is, according to Buzzfeed, “living off his Daddy’s trust fund”. He has been described as “the most interesting man on Instagram“. But when did ‘the most interesting’ become equated with flippant sexism and vast amounts of money and partying?
The power of social media and its influence in society cannot be emphasised enough. We needn’t look further than recent online campaigns such as the No Make Up Selfies (which raised both awareness and millions of pounds for Breast Cancer) to testify such power. However, as much as social media can be utilised toward the greater good, on the flip side, the largely ignored negative influence of social media must be taken into account. Posting updates that could range from job opportunities to a photo of someone’s lunch, social media is now, more than ever, a fixture of everyday life and almost a necessity. So, when social media giants such as Bilzerian are able to post anything and it will still be met with a harrowing level of celebration and lack of questioning, it is a cause for concern.
Social media and the online world in general are prone to trends, and sexism appears to be a trend that Bilzerian is cultivating through his online presence. One caption above a photo of two scantily clad women cleaning reads “A man needs to always keep a clean house.. To be clear, I am not suggesting he clean his house” The sexist ideals which lie at the heart of such posts are legitimised due to the support and celebration they are met with and it would be naïve to suggest that such legitimisation had no influence, ultimately, upon social ideals in everyday life.
This disturbing trend of casual online sexism is anachronistic somewhat in the sense that it is at odds with the supposedly modern society we are meant to be living in. It is almost certainly the case that dominant online voices such as Bilzerian’s will be emulated to a certain extent in everyday life and conversation simply because of this influence of social media.
Labels such as ‘LAD’, which thrive online due to pages such as Uni Lad, are synonymous with Bilzerian’s lifestyle and are poisonous because they encapsulate the same sexist attitudes and treatment of women simply as objects of male gratification. Thriving in university culture, ‘LAD’ culture as opposed to harnessing a mindset of social tolerance and open mindedness (which would be expected in university culture), quite frankly, encourages sexism and sexual harassment.
If such trends continue uncontested then it is detrimental to any vision of social equality because of the fact that such backwardness is met with this stark lack of disapproval or opposition. It is, in fact, disturbingly encouraged. While it seemingly has become a Facebook trend for unremarkable photos of gay couples to be removed, Blizerian and Uni Lad are allowed to thrive and continue. This point of comparison provides a bleak insight into the collective, paradoxically backward, online mindset that appears to be geared toward reviving archaic sexism, and simultaneously, intolerance of the LGBT community. Online pages such as ‘The Everyday Sexism Project’ have been set up in order to tackle and denounce the rise in sexism, however, while ‘The Everyday Sexism Project’ has 5,868 likes on Facebook, Bilzerian and Uni Lad are massively more supported with Bilzerian garnering a total of 2.9m likes and Uni Lad 952k of likes as it stands. It seems that popular culture has a very long way to go in cultivating a mindset of tolerance and equality.
As published on studentjournals.co.uk June 12 2014