There Are No Girls on the Internet
An Internet trope that was originally true, then an attitude in general, and finally a meme with only lingering traces left.
Back in the dim recesses of history, the Internet was predominately populated by young male nerds. While you might occasionally find a person with a genuine female identity in general anyone you met with a female username was actually male.
As the Internet grew, women became more common. Sadly, men pretending to be women became even more
common as well; it soon became obvious that announcing you were female online (and thus a geek girl) was a surefire way to win lots of attention and accommodation from other users, even to the point of them being tricked into mailing gifts, cash, or performing other favors. This led to anyone claiming to be female to instantly be accosted with demands of "proof" (eventually codified 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 "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.
This was a lot of fun 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 Attention Whore
pretending to be female to get things. Girls naturally responded to this by pretending to be men
just to avoid the verbal harassment and righteous screeching.
Part of the paranoia was justified
on the early
internet by both GIRLs
and even some actual girls, taking advantage of the fact that the internet had a great number of socially awkward males who were easily duped into thinking this girl who was paying attention to them was seriously interested in dating them, if only they 'proved' their affection with gifts and special privileges
. Nowadays, of course, attempting this usually elicits the aforementioned righteous screeching, deservedly so.
Nowadays, the lingering sentiment can only be seen as a meme
in 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 to some degree 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 some people will not take your advice seriously
and that sometimes the software distorts or changes the voice so that people will question your sex regardless.
There are, in fact, certain places where women now dominate the community, such as in Fanfiction
sites, Soap Opera
, Second Life
and its clones (particularly in Journal Roleplay
(the successor to LiveJournal
for fandom blogging) or MySpace
. As such, this is mainly a Discredited Trope
See also Most Fanfic Writers Are Girls
and Cross Player
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Anime and Manga
- Part of why so many people were in denial about Tsukasa in the Dot Hack series. The series averts this in general, there's only two cases of a male pretending to be female.
- In Cowboy Bebop, 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).
- Durarara!! Kanra=Izaya. And he's particularly girly online, leading to many fanworks of him crossdressing to get "in character." Also, 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...
- In Ultimate X-Men, 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. 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.
- The Matrix: 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 Hackers is surprised that fellow hacker Acid Burn is female.
- In Cube 2: Hypercube, 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 Surrogates is an overweight male who operated a sexy female surrogate.
- Gamer: Kable's wife is an actress in that universe's version of Second Life, and she's "played by" a fat, sweaty pervert who likes to use her for cyber-sex.
- In ReadyPlayerOne 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 Otherland Sam deliberately uses a male-persona online to avoid the annoying moths-to-a-flame effect.o
- In Mike Nelson's Movie Megacheese, Mike interrupts his review of You've Got Mail to remind us that not only is Meg Ryan not chatting with us online, but that:
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."
- A variation is used in Foxtrot. Jason meets a fellow RPGer 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. 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. 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.
- For a while, some users playing lady Night Elves in World of Warcraft 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.
- This Article from The Escapist.
- Tucker of Red vs. Blue 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 Ambiguously Gay male character with pink armor) pretending to be the girl and Simmons playing a skeptical guy.
- Averted in One Hundred Yard Stare a web original where there are definitely girls on the internet.
- Deliberately averted in The Guild, in which there about as many female gamers as there are male ones.
- Inverted in Journal Roleplay. 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."
- Resident Evil Musicals's creator Shadow Leggy 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.
- If you go by pictures and video, then pictures of girls probably outnumber pictures of guys - at least more than half.