By Shuaishuai Wang (Faculty of Humanities), Rachel Spronk (Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences).
This project explores how gendered content and sexual classifications on social media come to be algorithmically aggregated and processed to regulate sexual identifications of users. Gender has been theorized as a repetitive and ritual performativity, which is discursively enabled, hence regulated through language (Butler, 1999). In cyberspace, though, gender is derived from behavioral patterns stemming from users’ interaction history with gendered content. This process produces gendered relations and networks, which are algorithmically categorized into sexual classifications on social media. As such, data extracted from users’ online activities are replacing what has come to be known as the discourse on sexuality (Foucault, 1990), emerging as a new field of power in which sexual classifications are (re)constructed, contested, and legitimated. Focusing on gendered videos on Douyin (TikTok) and Chinese gay men’s sexual use of Twitter, this project brings the two platforms under a comparative lens, shedding light on how sexual classifications vary in differently classified gendered content, and how algorithmic cultures of a specific platform diverge across different geographical locations.