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->''"The Internet: where [[{{GIRL}} the women are men]], [[InternetToughGuy the men are boys]], [[PaedoHunt and the boys are FBI agents]]."''
-->-- '''Anonymous'''

Common assumption on the early years of the Internet, then a typical joke and quickly becoming a DiscreditedTrope.

Back in the dim recesses of history, the Internet was predominately populated by computer savvy people, which were assumed to be mostly men, and if you found someone with a female/girly username [[{{GIRL}} it tended to be a lie]].

As the Internet grew, women became more common. Sadly, men pretending to be women became even ''more'' common as well; it soon became apparent that announcing you were female online (and thus a geek girl) was a way to get lots of attention and accommodation from other users, even to the point of some them being tricked into mailing gifts, cash, or passwords. In some circles the backlash was huge and violent, leading to anyone claiming to be female to instantly be accosted with demands of "proof" (eventually codified [[{{GIFT}} as "Tits or GTFO"]]).

Of course, proving you are female online is something of a conundrum, since any pictures or voice you present as proof can just as easily have come from a sister, girlfriend, or random site -- which thanks to webcams was later solved by asking for a [[TrustPassword "timestamp", a picture with the current date, time, and a certain message]] (which could ''still'' be pictured with a woman who just happened to be near the actual poster, but it helps). Not proving it or refusing to share pictures means that you would be assumed to be male and only pretending to be female for the attention or (if in a game) free items.

For real women, even a vague mention of a boyfriend or husband as an aside would get these righteous Internet College Males screeching in rage that you were an evil AttentionWhore pretending to be female to get things. In response, girls started ''[[SweetPollyOliver pretending to be men]]'' just to avoid the harassment.

Nowadays, the lingering sentiment can only be seen as a [[MemeticMutation meme]] in [[Website/FourChan certain corners of the Internet]] and in people's assumption that anyone they meet online is male unless obviously otherwise. You can still see this in the gaming community, but that too is fading with time. With the advent of Voice over IP it's pretty obvious who's female (at least physically) as your voice will "give you away". It's still good to keep in mind that sometimes the software distorts or changes the voice so that people will question your sex regardless.

Nowadays, women dominate communities such as {{Fanfiction}} sites, SoapOpera boards, Website/{{Facebook}}, ''VideoGame/SecondLife'', Website/LiveJournal and its clones (particularly in JournalRoleplay), Website/{{Tumblr}} (the successor to [=LiveJournal=] for fandom blogging) or Website/MySpace. As such, this is mainly a DiscreditedTrope these days.

See also MostFanficWritersAreGirls, {{Hackette}}, {{GIRL}} and CrossPlayer.



[[folder:Anime and Manga]]
* Part of why so many people were in denial about Tsukasa in the ''Franchise/DotHack'' series. The series averts this in general, there's only two cases of a male pretending to be female.
* In ''Anime/CowboyBebop'', while the crew investigates the hacking of an old spy satellite, everybody assumes that Radical Edward, the mysterious computer genius who did it, is a male of indeterminate age, race, and apparently species. Turns out Ed is a thirteen year old girl (even when looking right at her, it took Faye a few minutes to tell).
* ''LightNovel/{{Durarara}}'' Kanra=Izaya. And he's particularly girly online, leading to many fanworks of him crossdressing to get "in character." Also, [[spoiler: it's suspected in the novels that Pure Water 100% is Aoba pretending to be a girl.]]
** Subverted in that Setton (a basically androgynous user) turns out to be Celty, and Saika is a girl... well, originally a knife, but NOW a girl...
* Averted with a passion in ''LightNovel/AndYouThoughtThereIsNeverAGirlOnline''. Hideki/Rusian tried to confess to a girl online, but she admitted that she was actually a guy in real-life. However, when his present-day guild decides to have a real-life meetup, not only does the girl he ended up marrying in-game turn out to be an actual girl, but his other two guildmates turn out to be female [[CrossPlayer Cross Players]]. [[spoiler: Also, the first girl ended up being a girl after all, and one of his guildmate's friends, also a girl, ends up joining later.]]
* Lampshaded in ''Anime/SwordArtOnline'' during the Aincrad arc, where the majority of [[{{GIRL}} female players were revealed to be male players using female avatars]]. This also holds true for Gun Gale Online, where Sinon is one of the only girls shown onscreen in the male dominated game.
** This phrase is said word-for-word by Asuna in the first episode of the DVD Blu-Ray mockumentary ''Sword Art Offline''.

[[folder:Comic Books]]
* In ''ComicBook/UltimateXMen'', Hank [=McCoy=] believes that he is spending his time chatting with a supermodel mutant named Naomi. It's actually the Blob, searching for info on Magneto's death. [[spoiler:Cue things turning sour, when Hank accidentally lets it slip that Magneto's still alive and agrees to meet "Naomi", only to have Brotherhood telepaths rip their leader's location out of [=McCoy's=] head]]. Blob even says that everyone on the internet is either guys or guys pretending to be girls.

* ''Film/TheMatrix'':
** Neo is surprised that "Trinity" is a woman, he thought it was a guy. She replies that most guys assume she is a man, mocking the trope.
** Earlier in the drafts, "Switch" was intended to be a female in the Matrix and a male in the real world.
* Similarly, the protagonist of the movie ''Film/{{Hackers}}'' is surprised that fellow hacker Acid Burn is female.
* In ''Film/Cube2Hypercube'', the (female) protagonist is surprised to find out that the legendary hacker "Alex Trusk" is a girl, as the guy who originally told her about Alex assumed "he" must be male.
* In a variant, the first victim in ''Film/{{Surrogates}}'' is an overweight male who operated a sexy female surrogate.
* ''Film/{{Gamer}}'': Kable's wife is an actress in that universe's version of ''VideoGame/SecondLife'', and she's "played by" a fat, sweaty pervert who likes to use her for cyber-sex.

* In ''Literature/{{ReadyPlayerOne}}'' [[spoiler:Aech, the protagonist's best friend online, is actually a girl in real life but has a male avatar and persona. The Aech is pronounced as in H, and her name is Helen.]]
* In ''Literature/{{Otherland}}'' [[spoiler:Sam]] deliberately uses a male-persona online to avoid the annoying moths-to-a-flame effect.
* In ''Mike Nelson's Movie Megacheese'', Mike interrupts his review of ''Film/YouveGotMail'' to remind us that not only is Meg Ryan not chatting with us online, but that:
-->'''[[Creator/MikeNelson Michael J Nelson]]:''' "''...no one who looks like Meg Ryan is chatting with you, either. No one named Meg is chatting with you... Guys, if there's a void in your life that you think is being filled online, keep in mind the person doing it has a beer gut and is named Dan, and remember that you're also filling a void in his life. Ladies... well, you don't need any advice, because you don't chat online.''"

[[folder:Live-Action TV]]
* ''Series/DoctorWho'':
** From the [[Recap/DoctorWhoS27E1Rose first episode of the revival]]: "''She''? She's read a website about the Doctor and she's a ''she''?"
** [[Recap/DoctorWhoS29E10Blink "Blink"]]:
--->'''Larry Nightingale:''':Me and the guys are trying to work out the other half.\\
'''Sally Sparrow:''' When you say "you and the guys", you mean the internet, don't you?\\
'''Larry Nightingale:''' How'd you know?\\
'''Sally Sparrow:''' Spooky, isn't it?
* ''Series/{{Psych}}'': "Poker? I Hardly Know Her!" - Shawn and Gus (well, mostly Shawn, but it was Gus' account) track down a guy by chatting him up online while pretending to be a girl, then asking to meet him. When they meet, the guy says that he should have known they weren't really a girl.
-->"All girls on the internet are guys. Except for you, who are actually ''two'' guys..."
* On ''Series/{{NCIS}}'', [=McGee=] is very taken with a woman he's met in his online gaming program, the one where he's an elf lord. [=DiNozzo=] confides to Ziva that it's really ''him,'' messing with "Probie" and trying to teach him a lesson that women online aren't to be trusted. It's then subverted when [=McGee=], tipped off thanks to Ziva, turns the prank around on Tony by PullingTheThread and pretending to be getting a little ''too'' serious about the nonexistent woman, to Tony's great consternation.
* Ted in ''Series/HowIMetYourMother'' was a {{GIRL}} playing WOW. Also inverted, as at one point he met a Girl In Real Life playing a male character.
* This was kind of alluded to by Drew Carey on ''Series/WhoseLineIsItAnyway'' once. His line went something like this: "Welcome back to ''Whose Line Is It Anyway'', the show where everything's made up and the points don't matter. Yep, the points are something you'll never see, just like a ''real'' lesbian in a lesbian chat room."
* Played straight in ''Series/TheBigBangTheory'': Howard and Bernadette had a breakup caused by him having online sex in a Warcraft Game with a female troll. Turns out the person playing the female elf was [[{{GIRL}} actually another male]].
* Way, way, averted in ''Series/PersonOfInterest'', where for quite a long stretch the BigBad is a female [[TheCracker black hat hacker]] who goes by the handle Root. (Bit of a GeniusBonus there: in the Unix world, "root" is the usual name of the superuser account, which gives whoever's logged into it total control of the system. Windows has the same sort of account, but calls it "Administrator", which is the same thing the Machine calls Harold.)

[[folder:Newspaper Comic]]
* A variation is used in ''ComicStrip/FoxTrot''. Jason meets a fellow {{RPG}}er who he finds incredibly cool and talented. He is then horrified to learn that the player is a girl after she offhandedly comments that she has to get her bangs trimmed. [[spoiler:Turns out it's Eileen Jacobson, who found out his username from his friend.]]
** Peter was similarly afflicted, receiving an instant message from a bikini model who shared all his interests and wanted to chat; he assumed it was Jason pranking him and sent back a threat. [[spoiler:It turns out it really ''is'' a bikini model with football posters on the wall, and she's calling the police as she reads Peter's message.]]

[[folder:Video Games]]
* For a while, some users playing lady Night Elves in ''VideoGame/WorldOfWarcraft'' got the idea of stripping off their armor and doing the /dance animation on top of the Ironforge mailbox for tips. Doing so was an immediate way to be branded a male gamer.

[[folder:Visual Novels]]
* This is why everyone in ''VisualNovel/{{SC2VN}}'' assumes that Reva is male.

* ''WebComic/SabrinaOnline'' mentions this quite early. When Sabrina logs onto a chatroom and the guys [[http://www.sabrina-online.com/strips/SabOnline17.GIF go nuts]] when she announces she's really a girl. Granted it was 1997.
* On the gaming note, ''Webcomic/SequentialArt'', Pip gets into "[[VideoGame/WorldOfWarcraft Realm of Lorcraft]]", an MMORPG, and starts going on quests with a player in possession of a hot female avatar. Art convinces him that it's probably a "fat, bald man with B.O." on the other end. [[http://www.collectedcurios.com/sequentialart.php?s=266 Cue the next panel, which shows an actual hot chick, on her bed, with a laptop, unsuccessfully searching for Pip's character.]]
* [[http://xkcd.com/322/ This]] ''Webcomic/{{xkcd}}'' addresses this.
* ''Webcomic/ArthurKingOfTimeAndSpace'': In the contemporary arc, Arthur and Guinevere first meet when their characters on an MMORPG team up; Arthur initially doubts that Guinevere is really a girl, partly because she's playing a male character but mostly because she also claims that in real life she's not wearing any clothes. (She isn't lying: She's a [[InnocentFanserviceGirl nudist]].)
** Later, when their MMORPG team all get webcams, it turns out that Tristram is also female (which comes as a surprise to the reader, as well, since in the standard Arthurian tale Sir Tristram is male).
*** Though the big surprise around Tristram being female was actually because she had complained before about her uncle Mark's treatment of his wife Isolde (and she, like Guinevere, played a male character online) as if Isolde was just a trophy for Mark. The other characters thus assumed that Tristram was a guy expressing his frustrated crush on Isolde. Lancelot, as a reflexive homophobe (though he got better about it), definitely took the revelation the worst.
* Frequently mocked (yet entirely subverted) in ''Webcomic/{{Enjuhneer}}''.
* The SliceOfLife webcomic ''Friday y Innak'' explains that both the author Kkatman and her fursona, the eponymous Friday, intentionally chose masculine usernames because "I didn't want anyone knowing I was a girl. Lot of freaks on the internet." Innak, Friday's male room-mate, nervously replies "And now that you're one of them?"
* Two of the characters in ''[[Webcomic/FlintlockesGuideToAzeroth Flintlocke Vs. The Horde]]'' [[http://pc.gamespy.com/flintlocke-vs-the-horde/episode-5-talkin-bout-locks/917701p1.html try to]] [[http://pc.gamespy.com/flintlocke-vs-the-horde/episode-5-talkin-bout-locks/918405p1.html figure]] [[http://pc.gamespy.com/flintlocke-vs-the-horde/episode-5-talkin-bout-locks/918581p1.html out]] if Cheri the warlock is really a girl. [[http://pc.gamespy.com/flintlocke-vs-the-horde/episode-6-to-the-barrens/926156p1.html Turns out she is.]]
* Also referenced in [[http://penny-arcade.com/comic/2005/09/30 this]] ''Webcomic/PennyArcade'' strip.
* Gen, of ''WebComic/LittleTales'', has a very sincere way of [[http://www.little-tales.com/index.php?Strip=624 telling trolls she's a girl]] while streaming.
-->'''Gen''': Anyone can flash a camera, but it just takes a little bit of cleverness to send a troll screaming, even though you give them exactly what they asked for.

[[folder:Web Original]]
* [[http://www.escapistmagazine.com/articles/view/issues/issue_45/272-OMG-Girlz-Dont-Exist-on-teh-Intarweb-1 This Article]] from ''The Escapist''.
* Tucker of ''Machinima/RedVsBlue'' fame says this at one point to his his alien baby, advising him, among other things, that "all the girls on the internet are actually dudes".
** ''Red Vs. Blue'' also did this in its "Real Life Vs. Internet" PSA, in a skit with Donut (an AmbiguouslyGay male character with pink armor) pretending to be the girl and Simmons playing a skeptical guy.
* Averted in ''WebVideo/OneHundredYardStare'' a web original where there are definitely girls on the internet.
* Deliberately averted in ''WebVideo/TheGuild'', in which there about as many female gamers as there are male ones.
* Inverted in ''JournalRoleplay''. Female players outnumber the guys by a lot, and among many sources of drama is the community's tendency to view male players as "creepy."
* ''Music/ResidentEvilMusicals'''s creator ShadowLeggy has been constantly mistaken for a guy on the earlier days, until she told her fans she was a girl. She even mocks this trope sometimes herself.
* Averted with ''Website/{{Pinterest}}'', a site whose user base is filled with far more women than even Website/{{Tumblr}}.

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* In the ''WesternAnimation/DannyPhantom'' episode "Teacher of the Year," Tucker and Danny don't believe girls play online games. They're extremely surprised to find out the player Chaos, who routinely kicks their butts, is none other than their friend, Sam(antha), who then reveals that 'all' the best players of the game are girls, who know codes and secrets that none of the boys do.
* Parodied in one episode of ''WesternAnimation/DuckDodgers'' where he is playing an online fantasy game with a party. He initially assumes that the attractive blonde elf in the group is likely fat and unattractive in real life. Later he avoids getting a kiss from an extremely beautiful witch who he thinks the same of (he transformed her from a witch Hazel cameo after all), only for the audience to find out she looked exactly as attractive in real life.
* On ''WesternAnimation/{{Futurama}}'', Leela enters a chatroom and hears some nerds boasting about their "success" with women; She announces herself as female, only to have the nerds panic at her presence. Meanwhile, another "female" avatar speaks with an obvious male voice.
** Of course, the chatroom they were in advertised itself as "Filthy," [[AllMenArePerverts so...]]
** Bender then [[{{GIRL}} disguises himself as a woman]] and starts charging by the minute to talk to him.
* In ''WesternAnimation/DinoSquad'', Buzz gets hooked to an online dino game. The BigBad finds out and, using various technological means, [[http://spectrumofmadness.com/?p=214 poses as a teenage girl who plays alongside of Buzz]] and getting to know him a bit. Ultimately, Buzz is lured to an abandoned house after the "girl" shouts that a dinosaur monster is attacking.
* In ''WesternAnimation/{{Undergrads}}'', Gimpy (hacker alias G-Prime) catches another hacker hacking his computer. He automatically assumes this to me a male hacker until her name and logo comes up: She-Prime. He's initially freaked out.
-->'''Gimpy''': Whoever did this is a man of skill! A man of cunning!\\
She Prime logo comes up.\\
'''Gimpy''': A... A ''girl''? A '''girl'''!?
* Kyle from ''WesternAnimation/SouthPark'' plays as female fire mage in WOW in "Make Love Not Warcraft".

[[folder:Real Life]]
* If you go by [[TheInternetIsForPorn pictures and video]], then ''pictures'' of girls probably outnumber pictures of guys - at least more than half.
* In MMORPGs, plenty of cases existed where male players pretend to be girls to get free things. A common joke was that any female character is likely a GIRL (Guy In Real Life).