Author: Courtney

Reports and Zines and Blogs: Oh My!

In my previous post I explored the benefits of using the autoethnographic approach to my research. The critical benefit is that I am able to vividly, and more accurately, convey a woman’s experience online as I am able to intersperse my own voice amongst the research. In light of this, it seems fitting to present my work in a way that matches the vivacity of autoethnography.

My strength lies in writing. Considering this, when I began my research I leant strongly towards writing a research report – something that was familiar and comfortable. But as I have developed my project and looked further into autoethnogaphy, I have realised that this is perhaps not the best outlet for my research. A research report would be plain, boring and limited – three things that are the opposite of my research and its method.

While still focusing on playing to my strengths, my mind moved to zines. Zines offer the comfort of writing but also combine it with creativity and personality. Dajska describes designing a zine as an opportunity to be the writer, editor, designer and publisher of your own obsession (2012).  In my view, creating a zine is an opportunity to create a piece of material that is all about the author and their interests, which is fitting for research focused on autoethnography.

However, I was unable to find an online zine creator that I was satisfied with. Many offered little flexibility with layout, and because of this came off as basic and unprofessional. Making a zine was about personality, and having to fit into a certain layout with certain colours and fonts did not seem to live up to this.

I decided to move away from the zine idea. Again, my mind turned to a research report. But I remained adamant that I wanted a creative outlet with flexibility. And then it hit me. Why not a blog? Blood describes every blog as both having an impassioned author and as a reflection of the authors individuality (2002).

A blog would offer me the comfort of writing and of a familiar format, while also allowing me to create something more interesting than a simple word document. Of course, flexibility is a problem. Without paying for privileges, I am limited to choosing a pre-prepared layout but most still have a more professional finish than the magazine builders I’ve found.

Most importantly, by creating a blog I would be building an environment that I can build on past the due date of this assignment. I have enjoyed researching Reddit’s community and its perception of women, and I would like to continue researching it in the future.

Reference List

Blood, R 2002, ‘The Weblog Handbook: Practical Advice on Creating and Maintain Your Blog’, Basic Books

Dajska, E 2012, ‘How to Make a Zine’, Rookie Mag, 1 May, viewed 13/10/14, <;

Who better?

This weeks post will be outlining the methodology of autoethnography and its relevancy to my research on Reddit, women and anime.

‘Women should represent women in media’, Megan Kamerick 2011

Researchers are often caught in a tug-of-war between objective and subjective approaches. Quantitative data – numbers and statistics – is considered to be more stable than its qualitative counterpart – interviews and focus groups. One side is labelled scientific, the other considerate (British Library 2014). Both are true, yet both are not. It is unproductive to argue either side in terms of truth-telling. Instead, it is appropriate to consider them in terms of the research you are conducting.

My research will be considering the experiences of women, the illustration of women in anime, and the construction and treatment of women on Reddit. It would not suffice to say women are mentioned so many times, or this many users reference women in this specific way. The experience of every woman is unique and personal, just as every post and illustration is different.

The methodology of autoethnography provides a unique approach to research, which is fitting for such unique experiences. Autoethnography will allow me to reflect upon my personal experience within the anime boards of Reddit. It will allow me to vividly convey the way women are treated, filling the hole in academic research that Jane noted (2014). It is not apt to clinically approach this subject matter as this would diminish the accuracy and integrity of the research. Afterall, as Kamerick noted “How do you tell a woman’s story? You ask her to tell it” (2011).

But of course it is not enough to simply recount personal experiences. While I am not advocating the use of numbers and statistics, the research needs to be grounded in academic thought and theories. This will enable me to step out of the experience, and to reflect and draw conclusions from it. As Ellis et al. describes, autoethnography provides the opportunity to use hindsight to construct research based on personal experience, but grounded in academic theory (2011).

Like any research methodology, there is criticism of the autoethnography approach. Mostly, its validity is questioned due to its reflection on the author and its lack of hard facts. In terms of my own research, I believe its lack of hard facts will benefit the overall result. Traffic stats or content analysis will do little to convey the true nature of these boards. And as for the reflection of the author, who better to tell the story of women than a woman.

Reference List

British Library 2014, ‘Qualitative and Quantitative Research’, viewed 24/9/14, <;

Ellis, C, Adams T E &Bochner, A P 2011, ‘Autoethnography: An Overview’, Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung / Forum: Qualitative Social Research, vol. 12, no. 1, viewed 24/9/14, <;

Jane, E A 2014, ‘Back to the kitchen, cunt’: speaking the unspeakable about online misogyny’, Continuum: Journal of Media & Cultural Studies, vol. 28, no. 4, pp. 558 – 570

Kamerick, M 2011, ‘Women should represent women in media’, Ted Talk, September, viewed 24/9/14, <;

Mapping the Relationship Between Reddit, Women, and Anime

The following post will be a short outline of my independent research.

Research Aims

In short, I will be focusing on the Reddit community’s relationship and attitudes with and toward women. That is, how they represent, treat and refer to women. As Reddit hosted more than 486,000 sub-boards and had more than 135 million unique visitors in the month of August alone, the research will be narrowed to Reddit’s anime fan community and several boards related to it, in particular r/anime (Redditmetrics 2014; Reddit 2014). The research will be conducted through the process of autoethnography, as this methodology will allow me to consider my personal experience throughout the research. This will be discussed in the next post.


Jane argues that the true extent of the treatment of women online has never been explored academically, due to the sheer vulgarity of their experience (2014). She terms this treatment as ‘e-bile’, wherein women are often threatened with sexual violence in expletive laden comments.

Screenshot taken from on 18/9/14. For further examples, please see

Screenshot taken from on 18/9/14. For further examples, please see

Taylor typified video games and MMORPGs as accepted masculine spaces (2003). It would be justifiable to extend this to certain spaces online. Reddit, for example, has a primarily white male demographic, and has been described as not strictly pro-men, but just anti-women (Zuckerman 2012). The idea of a masculine space could also be extended to the anime genre. It is often criticised for developing female characters that are weak and subordinate to their male counterparts – the damsels in distress waiting for their hero (Izawa 2000; Cross 2014).

Reddit provides a particularly unique site for this type of discourse. As a community that lacks authoritative control in the form of site creators or site regulations, there are little avenues to pursue accountability. Users are encouraged to be anonymous, and other anonymous members of the community validate their opinions. When a female user is threatened with sexual violence, Reddit allows her to stand alone against not only the original poster, but also every user who up votes their opinion.

The anime community coupled with Reddit ties the idea of free discourse and masculine space together to create a particular provocative environment for observing the way women are treated by the Reddit community.

Reference List

Cross, K 2014, ‘Sexist Static: How a lust for crude misogyny is hobbling an important artform’, Feministing, 24 April, viewed 18/9/14, <;

Izawa, E 2000, ‘Gender and Gender Relations in Manga and Anime’, MIT, viewed 18/9/14, <;

Jane, E A 2014, ”Back to the kitchen, cunt’: speaking the unspeakable about online misogyny’, Continuum: Journal of Media & Cultural Studies, vol. 28, no. 4, pp. 558 – 570

Reddit 2014, ‘About’, viewed 18/9/14, <;

Redditmetrics 2014, ‘New subreddits by date (How Reddit grew over time)’, viewed 18/9/14, <;

Taylor, T L 2003, ‘Multiple Please: Women and Online Gaming’, Convergence: The International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies, vol. 9, no. 1, pp. 21 – 46

Zuckerman, E 2012, ‘Why is Reddit So Anti-Women?: An Epic Reddit Thread Counts The Ways’, The Wire, 26 July, viewed 18/9/14, <;

Awwnime: All About Cuddles

This week I fell down the rabbit hole.

I began by looking at board r/anime. Which as I have mentioned before, can be quite overwhelming. There was a slew of content to sift through and most of it, due to my amateur status, was completely foreign. I decided to attempt to narrow my experience by picking a board at random from several that focus on anime and manga.

The board that was most appealing based on name alone was r/awwnime. I was expecting cute and cuddly, and that’s certainly what I experienced.

The first impression of the board is its banner, which features several female characters with exaggerated eyes and bathed in pastel colours. Scrolling down, the board seemed to exclusively contain imaged-based content; all in the same pastel, highly feminine and “cute” art style.

Screen Shot of r/awwnime, taken 10/9/14

Screen Shot of r/awwnime, taken 10/9/14

The board boasts ‘All moe, all the time’ as its tagline. Moe, I’ve since learned, refers to this particular type of ‘cute’ anime style (Eisenbeis 2013). However, the term is controversial. Some believe the ‘moe’ style to be grown men sexualising young female characters (Hornyak 2014). This set off alarm bells for me, as I am concerned with how women are represented in Asian media. However, the board rules directed NSFW content to another board. This was still alarming, but at least the board distances itself from this use of the term.

I found the board more calming than its r/anime counterpart. I believe there are several reasons for this. The first, is that the colours and nature of the art style itself lend themselves to this sort of atmosphere to begin with. The second, when comparing the board with my experience in r/anime, is that this board is more organised and more restrictive with its content. It is not just anything related to anime, but only pictures relating to this particular sub-genre. All posts are tagged with either [original] to mark an original character, or tagged with the anime the character has been drawn from.

Moving past just the face of the board, the third reason lies in the community. As the content is so restricted, the comment section is full of positivity. The commenters are there to appreciate the artworks, rather than to discuss episodes or argue over spoilers. And this begets a more peaceful and fun atmosphere than the mishmash in r/anime.

liked being in the board, even though I had little idea about the shows these characters and images were taken from. Before I knew it I was ten pages in, in absolute awe of the artists’ works, and filling up on the happy vibes emanating from the board.

Reference List

Eisenbeis, R 2013, ‘How to Know if Something is Moe’, Kotaku, 10 January, viewed 10/9/14, <;

Hornyak, T 2014, ‘Japan’s ‘Moe’ obsession: the purest form of love or the fesitshization of young girls?’, The Japan Times, 26 July, viewed 10/9/14, <;

Reddit: A Double-Edged Sword

For this blog, I will be focusing Reddit and its community, and reflecting upon my experiences with both.

Reddit is a site that exemplifies Barlow’s imagined cyberspace (1996). The community is allowed almost complete freedom and is only subjected to only five core rules and the rules of the subreddits they post on, if the moderators choose to have any (Reddit 2014a; Reddit 2014b). The site’s main admins will not interfere with subreddits and their moderators unless there is a violation of the main five rules. For many, the morals and ethics upheld in the offline world are largely irrelevant.

The sites construction is confusing and seems messy to a user that is unfamiliar with the way it works. When I first began engaging in Reddit, as part of a university assessment, I found it overwhelming. You open the ‘front page of the internet’, only to be faced with a series of links varying from cute animal snaps to thoughtful comments on the construction of gender. It was also confronting how quickly the community can move from considerate to smutty in the space of one thread.

Its moderation is at the mercy of the wider community who can control it by up-voting or down-voting the content. On the face of it, Reddit is a content democracy. However, without laws to govern it, it can be ruthless when faced with an unpopular opinion. When a user posts a bigoted or abusive content, there is a mass of people showing acceptance by up-voting it, not to mention those who also comment their support.

It is the chaotic side of Reddit that often gets it in trouble. Most recently, Reddit has been linked to the celebrity nudes scandal of 2014. A subreddit was created called ‘The Fappening‘ which documented the scandal and is archiving the pictures (Vultaggio 2014; Evans 2014). I was conflicted when viewing this subreddit. While I most certainly do not agree with the sharing of these pictures and much less with the obvious delight of those who have shared them, my support for open discourse and free speech is equal to my support for women. This conflict is indicative of my feelings towards Reddit as a whole. Do I support freedom of speech wholly? Or do I uphold and defend my beliefs and accept that some voices should be stifled?

Reference List

Barlow, J 1996, A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace, viewed 3/9/14, <;

Evans, S J 2014, ‘How Reddit became a one-stop shop for the iCloud photos: Online forum giving advice on how to share images, protect the hacker’s identity – all while urging users to donate to a prostate cancer charity’, Daily Mail, 2 September, viewed 3/9/14, <;

Reddit 2014a, ‘Rules of Reddit’, Reddit, viewed 3/9/14, <;

Reddit 2014b, ‘Moderation: Basics’, Reddit, viewed 3/9/14, <;

Vutagiio, M 2014, ‘What Is ‘The Fappening’? Alleged McKayla Maroney Nude Pictures Banned From Reddit’, IB Times, 2 Sepetember, viewed 3/9/14, <;

r/NorthKorea: Telling A Story Through A Story

For many, the Internet is linked with their expression of self (Poole 2012). Facebook feeds document feelings while Twitter records opinions. The online world offers an opportunity of expression and storytelling that has never been offered before (Pareles 2006). 

Pool, C cited in TechWebTV 2012 ‘Web 2.0 Summit: Self Expression Through Social Media – Chris Poole’

Reddit offers this opportunity more than most sites. As a site that thrives on user generated content, it welcomes personal experience albeit usually for the purposes of comedy. Boards such as r/AskReddit, r/iAMA and r/TIFU are all based on users recounting personal experiences. But it is not only the places that specifically ask for users to recount their personal experience that tell an important story.

r/NorthKorea provides an insight into the shielded Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), but unlike most digital storytelling, it provides a voice for North Koreans through the documentation of the experiences of visitors and defectors, and the aggregation and discussion of everything ‘North Korea’ (Reddit 2014). While it is impossible to say whether this story truly reflects the average experience of a North Korean citizen, it provides somewhat of a voice and story to a nation that is confined from the rest of the globe.

Browsing the content of the board paints a picture of a nation that is built for show. Images show empty streets but extravagant statues. Scrolling through, I get a feeling of isolation and pride. The citizens isolated from others but prideful in their country. One user posted a poignant photo of a female traffic director smiling, which they say is a rare occurrence, amongst a reel of tourist snaps littered with propaganda (fatherdougal 2013). A sense of human delight nestled in a story of propaganda and poverty.

Through website of the nation’s main broadcasting service, presents an aggressive, proud and stiff voice (The Voice of Korea 2014). Same, same but different. The ‘Voice of Korea’ is littered with combatant rhetoric which is weakened by the outdated and disjointed layout of the site. As I listen to the snippets of news audio linked on the site, I can’t help feeling that the electronic voice of the news reader aptly matches the image the North Korean government pushes. Stiff, robotic and void of genuine emotion. Built for show, but showing nothing. 

r/NorthKorea, although not voiced strictly by those whom it is about, provides a story that has genuine human sentiment. Through the aggregation of content, the Reddit community provides insight into a group that is forgotten under the weight of their governments actions. Reddit, as a community, has expressed the identity of a group that is unable to do so itself. A story within a story. 

Reference List:

 Fatherdougal 2012, ‘Just got back from a week in North Korea (Pyongyang, Kaesong, and the DMZ) – Here are some of my favourite snaps from the trip’, thread, 10 May, Reddit, viewed 28/8/14, <;

Pareles, J 2006, ‘2006, Brought to You by You’, The New York Times, 10 December, viewed 28/8/14, <>

Poole, C cited in TechWebTV 2012, ‘Web 2.0 Summit: Self Expression through Social Media – Chris Pool’, web video, 3 April, Youtube, viewed 28/8/14, <;

Reddit 2014, North Korea, viewed 28/8/14, <;

The Voice of Korea 2014, Voice of Korea, viewed 28/8/14, <;


Reddit – A Bucking Bull Subdued by PSY’s Dance Moves

Reddit is the anti-thesis to social media. The site is not about developing a public profile, at least one not linked to the offline world (Couts 2012). It is this commitment to anonymity that allows the site to foster discussions and content that are uninhibited by social norms. Remember, this is the site that hosts boards such as r/picsofdeadkids and the community that asked rapists to tell their side of the story (Reddit 2014a; UnholyDemigod 2014; The Cajun Boy 2012). In short, it is not exactly the place for celebrity PR.

The self-indulgent and self-promoting celebrity feeds of Facebook and Twitter are a far cry from Reddit’s own celebrity PR outlet. r/IAmA is used, although  it must be stressed not strictly, for celebrities to conduct a kind of open-forum with the Reddit community and their favourite celebs (Reddit 2014b).

The 25th highest ranked (as of 20/8/2014) AMA was conducted by South Korean musician PSY (Reddit 2012). PSY is one of the few Asian celebrities to conduct an AMA, and the only one to be aggregated as within the top 100 of all time (Reddit 2014c). He answered questions ranging from how he keeps a straight face dancing (because he’s serious about it) to what his favourite breakfast food is (korean food). Overall, the AMA presents PSY as fairly laid back, especially as his AMA was not tied to the promotion of any particular project. Although his responses seem short, perhaps as English is his second language, he allowed users to ask anything and he answered most of their inquiries.

AMAs are the only outlet that celebrities are allowed to (somewhat) control their image on Reddit. The rest of the content is user-generated and aggregated. For example, PSY’s song Gangnam Style has its own subreddit (r/GangnamStyle) and a search of the keyword ‘PSY’ on the site locates fan drawn images, jokes, and other varying content (Reddit 2014d). This content is not controlled by PSY or his PR reps but rather his fans and/or cynics.

If we are to learn anything from Reddit, it is that when they commit, they fully commit. We must look only to their Boston Bombing witch-hunt to see how passionate they can be (ABC News 2013). Reddit, with its values strongly planted in being the opposite of social media, provides an uncontrollable landscape for celebrity public image. PSY has bravely traversed the landscape, emerging relatively unscathed and perhaps with an expanded fan-base, due to a catchy song and a well-received forum with his fans.

Reference List:

ABC News 2013, ‘Reddit says sorry for Boston bombing ‘witch hunt’’, 23 April, viewed 20/8/14, <;

Couts, A 2012, ‘State of the Web: Reddit, The World’s Best Anonymous Social Network’, Digital Trends, 11 September, viewed 20/8/14, <;

PSY (PSY_Oppa) 2012, ‘I am South Korean Singer, Rapper, Composer, Dancer and Creator of Gangnam Style PSY. AMA’, Reddit, thread, 24 October, viewed 20/8/14, <;

Reddit 2014a, ‘Pics of Dead Kids’, Reddit, viewed 20/8/14, <;

Reddit 2014b, ‘Frequently Asked Questions’, Reddit, viewed 20/8/14, <;

Reddit 2014c, ‘Top scoring links : IAmA’, Reddit, viewed 20/8/14, <;

Reddit 2014d, ‘GangnamStyle’, Reddit, viewed 20/8/14, <;

The Cajun Boy 2012, ‘If You’ve Ever Wondered What It’s Like To Be A Rapist, Have We Got A Thread For You!’, Uproxx, weblog post, 27 December, viewed 20/8/14, <;

UnholyDemigod 2014, ‘The ‘ask a rapist’ thread’, Reddit, thread, 16 December, viewed 20/8/14, <;

I’m Lost in a Sea of Strangers, and Someone Told Me They Were Sexist

Updated: to format references correctly.

Over the past week I have been lurking on the Reddit board r/anime (Reddit 2014). Every day, I have been perusing the top 100 posts in an attempt to familiarise myself with anime beyond what is shown on Australian screens. In short, the experience was isolating.

Scrolling through the posts felt like walking past strangers. The content I viewed was varied but seemed to be primarily focused on image. Characters were presented either in stills or as fan drawings, with little explanation to where they are from. Reddit, as a platform, is well-suited to this sort of image heavy board (Fenn 2013). But this format made it harder for me to engage with the content and the community. It is easy to scroll past strangers, just as it is easy to dismiss dialogue you don’t understand and jokes you are not apart of. As it is rightfully allowed to be, the board and community within is clearly geared at an experienced viewing audience, rather than hooking in new viewers. Perhaps, for this reason alone, it is not the best place to start my viewing experience.

Aside from the board layout, I also suffered from my own bias. Last semester, I conducted a small-scale research project with another UOW student into Reddit’s AdviceAnimal memes (Bauer & Shalavin 2014). The results showed that some of the memes did show women in a negative light but were deemed not offensive as they were of a joking nature. As such, I began viewing the board with the assumption that some content would in fact be misogynistic. This accusation has been thrown around the anime community before with fans pointing out the hyper-sexualised construction of female characters (Cross 2014). However, while I believe I was searching for this over the past week, I do not believe I found it. While most image-based content featured female characters, they were hardly ever represented as overly-sexualised. Instead, they were largely drawn in empowered stances or situations and praised in the comment sections

My experience was hindered by both myself and the site I attempted to engage in. It is, of course, not the community’s fault that I felt isolated as I was a novice nor that I walked into experience with a poorly informed view of female representation in anime. Perhaps this is a site to return to after I have begun my viewing experience. 

Reference List:

Bauer, E & Shalavin, C 2014, ‘Gender and Digital Dissent Followup’, presentation, 14 May, Prezi, viewed on 12/8/14, <;

Cross, K 2014, ‘Sexist Static: How a lust for misogyny is hobbling an important artform’, weblog post, 24 April, Feministing, viewed 12/8/14, <;

Fenn, M 2013, ‘Reddit is becoming an image board – Here’s why’, 20 March, The Daily Dot, viewed 12/8/14, <;

Reddit 2014, ‘Anime’, Reddit, viewed 12/8/14, <;

Pokemon, Nintendo and Me.


My name is Courtney Shalavin. I’m a second year BCM student majoring in Digital Media and minoring in International Media. This is my fourth session that involves blogging for assessments, so hopefully I’ve got it down by now. 

My main experiences with Asian culture is with their pop culture. Like many, I watched Pokemon and Sailor Moon on Cheez TV when I was a child, and was caught up in the storm if Nintendo game boys and Yu-Gi-Oh! cards. When I’m having a lazy Sunday afternoon I’ll switch on SBS’ Pop Asia or on a Saturday night at home, I’ll watch SBS2’s If You Are The One. And of course, I’ve watched a few Studio Ghibli movies in my time. Overall, I feel as if I have engaged with only the tip of Asian popular culture, the media that has been the most prominent, easily digestible and accessible in our own media domain. 

In previous semesters I’ve looked into virtual game economies, k-pop and the way women are portrayed in AdviceAnimals and other internet memes. I feel as if any of these areas could easily be used as springboards for independent research in this subject. In particular, I would love to explore the portrayal of women in Asian pop culture perhaps with a focus on women in the music industry or female characters in animes.  

My blog can be found here and my twitter handle is @shalaohla. 

– Courtney S