The Stunning Difference Between Treatment of Men & Women on Reddit

Reddit user Pyyio posted a brilliant illustration of the difference between the way Redditors treat men and women. This is something that seems obvious to those of us who have been on the site for a long time and have seen the ridiculously fallacious graphic that gets posted to any woman who dares include her face in a photo (see featured image), but this example should clearly spell out the problem for those who are unfamiliar with the social network.

Nine months ago, a man posted this otherwise unremarkable photo of himself to the r/pics subreddit with the headline “This is me the being dope sick [sic] when i quit heroin. 6 months and counting of being clean“. It got 1450 total upvotes. The top 5 comments, in order (not counting one comment from the OP):


Congratulations man. Thats no easy feat. Heroin has taken many a life. Good to see somone beat it

(380 total upvotes)


“6 months and counting of being clean Datestamp 3/16/11” Was there a relapse in there?

(268 total upvotes)


I know that look.
I’ve made it myself.
When everything hurts all at once, you can’t tell if you’re burning hot or freezing cold and every fibre of your being is shouting at you to stop being a fuckhead and feed it what it thinks it needs…
stay strong, my man. if I can do it, you can do it.
clean for a little over 20 years, now. a great job, lovely house, two beautiful boys and a superhero for a wife.
it was worth every agonising second to come out on top and rebuild my life.
I am consumed with respect and admiration for you.
keep going.

(227 total upvotes)


Awesome job! I have 4.5 months clean.
Just remember: that’s the last time you have to be dopesick. Ever.

(106 total upvotes)


I don’t know you, but I love you for staying clean. It gives me hope for my brother.

(75 total upvotes)

Three days ago, a woman posted this otherwise unremarkable photo of herself to the r/pics subreddit with the headline “Been clean from heroin for 2 months and this is me today“. It got 608 total points. The top 5 comments, in order:


I’ve never done heroin, here is a picture of a pair of old shoes. [links to a random photo of shoes]

(2077 total upvotes)


Reddit just upvoted some girl’s mirror shot to the front page
Holy fuck, guys

(1785 total upvotes)


I’ve been clean from heroin for 24 years, nobody upvotes my mirror pics.

(1282 total upvotes)


I don’t get it. This is just a picture of a person. What is interesting about this picture?

(405 total upvotes)


9 outta 10 would bang. With protection.

(210 total upvotes)

To recap, men’s stories are valued and their struggles are supported. Women’s stories are worthless and are derided. Men overcome. Women are fucked. Men are brave. Women are attention whores. Here they are side by side for your comparison:

Rebecca Watson

Rebecca is a writer, speaker, YouTube personality, and unrepentant science nerd. In addition to founding and continuing to run Skepchick, she hosts Quiz-o-Tron, a monthly science-themed quiz show and podcast that pits comedians against nerds. There is an asteroid named in her honor.

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  1. Reddit has a huge sexism problem. This is beyond obvious.

    But I have to say there is a pretty big difference between the two images besides the gender of the posters. The first photo is of a person in bed who looks miserable and unhealthy. It matches the tone of the post and people’s expectations about addiction. The second is of an apparently healthy and attractive white person smiling in a mirror with nice clothes, a nice phone, and in a nice house. Not what TV and movies tell us drug addicts should be.

    I do think sexism played a big role in the difference in the reactions to these posts, but stereotypes of drug addicts also played a big role. All around, a depressing level of ignorance was upvoted by the Reddit hive mind of dumb.

    1. I don’t think there would be much sympathy for that woman no matter what. If she was in bed sick, looking less than middle class, wearing let’s say a tank top or some sort of undershirt, (the man looked to have his off), and reclined, she would again face scrutiny. I don’t think posing the same would level the playing field, I would not suggest she try that experiment if she wants to believe in the good in humanity. Many of the commenters to the first post had used drugs. They already know that people that use drugs are regular people and aren’t all like those for meth ‘education’ commercials or low income. Besides what about all those entertainers/athletes?

      1. I think performing the opposite experiment would be safer and more revealing. Post a photo of an attractive, healthy young white guy with an expensive cell phone smiling in a mirror in a nice house. Supply minimal details about kicking an addiction in the title of the post. I imagine you’d see a skeptical response, but it wouldn’t rise to the same level of negativity we saw in the reaction to the young woman’s post. If he later supplied evidence (as pyyio mentions the woman did) I suspect Redditors would take notice and the tone of the thread would flip.

        1. Delphi_ote, I agree you about some of the top comments.
          “Reddit just upvoted some girl’s mirror shot to the front page Holy fuck, guys” and “I don’t get it. This is just a picture of a person. What is interesting about this picture?” seem to fall in line with your statement.
          These I agree could be snarky ‘skeptical’ comments, that the people commenting and up-voting here don’t understand the point of the story or believe it to be a hoax and make a snarky comment.

          Then there are the other three comments that are meant to diminish her accomplishment. These next comments (the ones below) suggest the commenter’s belief in her thread’s story, but then somehow diminish the accomplishment or ekkk with that last one.
          “I’ve never done heroin, here is a picture of a pair of old shoes. [links to a random photo of shoes]”
          “I’ve been clean from heroin for 24 years, nobody up-votes my mirror pics.”
          “9 outta 10 would bang. With protection.”

    2. In the post I also mentioned a similar thread posted barely three days later, of a guy. The pictures are identical except for gender and he only received support, in the girl’s thread someone asked in the tactless way possible to show proof, to which she obliged. But since everyone was so busy hating on her it’s buried at the very bottom of all the comments

      1. The photos are not identical. The guy posted a before/after photo, and the mirror shot is of him looking unhealthy in grungy clothes.

        People don’t form opinions on Reddit based on evidence or analysis. They make snap judgements. If they decide, “I think this photo is bullshit”, they’re not going to read to the bottom of the comments to prove their gut reaction wrong. They’re going to throw out ignorant remarks, distribute upvotes to people they agree with, and then move on.

          1. I’m not rationalizing. I believe that two types of ignorance are at work here rather than one. You seem to be searching for an enemy where one doesn’t exist.

        1. I’m honestly a little baffled how anyone could miss that difference. There’s no shortage of upvoted comments in the woman’s thread complaining about the lack of a before photo or pointing out that without one her photo’s just a generic mirror shot of a conventionally-attractive woman. It’s not like this is just some random difference we’re using to rationalize why everyone was nicer to that guy, people were specifically objecting to it 3 days before he even made the post with the before/after photo that we’re comparing her post to.

          1. Too bad instead of engaging with her in dialogue about her experience they automatically shot her down, she was pretty willing to comment too. Also, do check out the other two links over your post which are exactly identical, before and after picture of a haircut.

    3. If you follow the link to the reddit page where this comparison is laid out, they actually mention a third picture as well. In that one, it’s a before/after picture of a guy, sober and clean, where they’re both pretty similar in pose (one is also a mirror self-shot) to the one with the girl. This guy got the same positive response as the other, no lying down miserable in bed needed.

      1. No, but he put up a before/after shot where he’s obviously much healthier in one photo than the other. He’s smiling in the after photo and sad in the before photo. He’s dressed in a White Castle t-shirt in the before photo, for crying out loud.

  2. But but but teh reddit menz all KNOWZ the difference between noble suffering and people who just want attention! They know because… MENZ!


    Almost makes me want to make a Reddit account so I can give her some props.

  3. Thank you for featuring my post! It’s an honor for me.
    This is something that routinely happens on reddit and if anyone needs another example of it I’ve linked to a previous thread on the same topic at the bottom of my post

  4. I think part of the issue is that reddit is predominantly read by [hetero] men and therefore the comments will often reflect a male view of the world. If a woman posts something serious with a photo then her looks are considered first and foremost before the content of the post. Then, short of having anything worthy to say, a good many will resort to sarcastic humor. But if a guy posts something then other guys feel they can relate better and so the comments become generally more positive. However if you read further down in the comments you will find positive feedback. They are just not upvoted.

    1. What you are calling sarcastic humor really isn’t humor. It is meant to be degrading. And it is degrading. It is degrading. It is meant to diminish her accomplishment and it appears simply because she is female.

    2. Is this supposed to be some kind of defense? “Redditors are only saying these horrible things because they’re too busy objectifying her and are unable to relate to women as people.” isn’t exculpatory at all.

    3. “I think part of the issue is that reddit is predominantly read by [hetero] men and therefore the comments will often reflect a male view of the world”

      As a hetero man, I’m horrified to think anyone would dismiss this as just my view of the world. The problem isn’t with them being hetero men, it’s with them being a hivemind of misogynist shitlords.

  5. It is pure and simple male ignorance. Some of it is defensive reaction to low self-esteem or a kind of irrational fear of showing empathy for the other gender. Men are also very fearful of being exposed as something other than their assumed persona suggests. Hey, I speak from experience as a man. Now old and more honest.
    Understanding the male behavior can help make us more bearable!!

    1. Gary, I disagree. It is not ignorance. The statements are meant to be degrading and are degrading. I don’t have to understand degrading. I think self esteem and irrational fear don’t come into play. These are not comments made in reaction during a personal conversation, these are people who have found the thread, clicked on it and have gone out of their way to say something hurtful. I think this behavior happens because it is allowed and unchecked and is perpetuated, i.e. all the up-votes. It chases a lot of the good people (those that know how to behavior better) away and allows others to think this kind of behavior is okay. It is group think and it is meant to be hateful, in this case toward a woman who was trying to over her drug situation.

    2. Men are stupid, unbearable cowards?
      No way it’s about privilege or entitlement or misogyny, or sexism – couldn’t be!
      Couldn’t be about denigrating women or taking them less seriously or providing them less support – couldn’t be about treating women as inferiors, no, never.
      Explain it away as something else, quick!

      man stoooopid hurrr hurrrr man no think fart boner hawt ladeeeeeee RUN HIDE skary ladeeee no hurt boner HAHA boner
      Thanks for cracking the man code.

  6. What’s is missing in this discussion is the third option – saying nothing. Obviously you cannot judge the veracity of someones claim by simply looking at a single picture. If you see a post and think may be bogus, but can’t know for sure, why post anything at all? Even more, why post something degrading or hurtful? If the person is looking for encouragement/support and you choose to be silent, at least you have done no harm. This begs the question, “Don’t these men have anything better to do?”. Those that choose to respond by being hurtful/degrading are doing it on purpose and with a purpose – ignorance is no excuse.

  7. For some people is in their nature to tell jokes when the talk is about something serious – and not funny jokes but tasteless ones, instead of just stfu if they have nothing better to say. They are insecure and duochy people, too centered on themselves to see beyond their selfish rationale. The case raised up seems to not be of those people, but rather random trolling idiots probably addicted to heroin and because they can’t kick the habit are envious of people that can and feel the need to bring them to their level. Especially considering that their target is merely a female of the species, weak and easy to bully – they are not suppose to overcome the obstacles that trolls can’t get over with their mighty intellect and drive.

  8. Hi pyyio – yes, it’s unpleasant too. I didn’t say otherwise. The difference is that any attempt in SRS to have a serious discussion which doesn’t fawn, flatter and agree, no matter how carefully and temperately you try to write, is simply met with a ban. I would take up a discussion there if it were possibly but it’s simply not possible.

  9. But, pyyio, the relative unpleasantnesses of various subreddits aside, how about considering the substance of the matter. Do you think the single pair of threads proves what Rebecca claims it proves?

  10. It is just absurd, the lengths that apologists for this kind of bullshit will go to rationalize their denialism. Case in point, the link from metaburbia. The reality distortion field is in full effect. Do they really think that such a nonsensical assertion will convince anyone with two neurons to rub together? Or do they think the targets for their garbage spewing are really so dumb as to buy their shit-stained arguments? Or are they just that dumb themselves? I can’t tell; maybe all three are factors are at work.

  11. So are you agreeing then that Rebecca’s claim that your post demonstrates anything much – is incorrect?

    And now you’d like to try to make the claim again….by posting another single pair of threads.

    Do you see a flaw in your general method here?

  12. Tell you what though, pyyio – if you do manage to demonstrate to the satisfaction of the skeptics here, who doubtless have high standards for what constitutes evidence, that you’ve discovered a hugely subscribed-to website shows evidence that some people are sexist, you should prepare such startling research for publication in some prestigious journal or other.It’ll be earth-shattering.

    1. I don’t really have the time or effort to do a peer reviewed study on how reddit’s user base is predominantly sexist, but this is a problem that comes up a lot of times and the sheer number of upvotes on those comments is more than enough to show that it’s no small group.

    2. What’s your point here, metaburbia?
      Unless you’re saying sexism doesn’t exist, doesn’t hurt women, isn’t the collective default, then why the attitude?

      We know it exists, nobody’s ‘proving’ anything. Just pointing it out. Again.
      And then watching people desperately trying to explain it away as anything other than what it obviously is. Again.

  13. ‘I don’t really have the time or effort to do a peer reviewed study on how reddit’s user base is predominantly sexist’

    So…we’ll just accept claims based on a comparison of 2 threads? There might be a place for that – but on a skeptic blog? really?

    Look, nobody doubts the continual existence of sexism, though some like me would question the contemporary reification of ‘The Patriarchy’ and would part company from you and Rebecca on that. But the point of your original post, the point of SRS, and the point of Rebecca’s post here seems to be to make a point about Reddit being particularly bad in this regard. I’m doubtful of that claim. Perhaps I’ve misunderstood…isn’t that your claim? Is it just that the entire Internet’s sexist (or a manifestation of ‘The Patriarchy’), is that what you’re saying? Or are you making some point about Reddit in particular.

    Because if you are trying to make a specific point about Reddit I really do think you’d have to do something other than point to a couple of threads. Really.

    1. It’s not just a couple threads, if you don’t register the constant daily sexism present on the internet then obviously it’s going to seem like a rare occurrence by just seeing these couple of threads here. What would be enough to satisfy you that women face higher numbers of personal attacks just because of their gender on Reddit anyways, if I just kept posting thread you’d surely say “3, 4, 5, 6 occurrences don’t point to any trends on the matter”.

  14. @punchdrunk the initial pair of threads on Reddit simply doesn’t bear scrutiny so Rebecca’s title : ‘The Stunning Difference Between Treatment of Men & Women on Reddit’ and line reading, ‘Reddit user Pyyio posted a brilliant illustration of the difference between the way Redditors treat men and women’ is a bit sloppy for a skpetic site. Don’t you think?

    I agree nobody’s proving anything; but with this pair of threads nobody’s actually pointing anything out, either.

    I’m not sure what you mean by a ‘collective default’. If the modal height of men is 5′ 9” it nevertheless doesn’t make much sense to say 5′ 9” is a ‘collective default’. Perhaps there’s some jargon I’m not familiar with here. What is it supposed to mean?

    1. Sexism against women is the default generally in our culture (I’m American) is what I meant by that.

      No, I don’t think it’s sloppy, I think you’re picking nits and arguing for the sake of arguing.

  15. @pyyio – ‘if you don’t register the constant daily sexism present on the internet’

    You seem to be ignoring my previous comment. Or attacking a strawman. Perhaps you posted before I made it.

    Are you trying to say Reddit is particularly egregious?

    ‘if I just kept posting thread you’d surely say “3, 4, 5, 6 occurrences don’t point to any trends on the matter”.’

    No, I didn’t say that. I pointed out that your initial pair didn’t even serve as the illustration you claimed it was.

    1. If you’re asking for in depth studies on something that’s rather obvious than I can only wonder what you’re trying to accomplish.
      Does it have to be particularly egregious? It’s already egregious enough as it is, are you saying that unless it’s the worst bastion of sexism we should just sit idly?
      It does, the top comment hating on the girl has as much points as the top 5 comments of both of the other threads combined, that is enough to show that people on reddit are more predisposed to like something that directly attacks a woman other than on topic discussion.

  16. >’If you’re asking for in depth studies on something that’s rather obvious’

    No, I’m not asking for anything. i just pointed out that what you seemed to be saying demonstrated Reddit’s sexism, and which Rebecca says is a ‘brilliant illustration’ of same actually isn’t that.
    ‘Does it have to be particularly egregious’

    Well, if you’re making a special claim about Reddit, yes, I’d say it should be. Rebecca’s post here seems to be suggesting that Reddit is remarkable in some way in this regard, though I suppose you and she might not have been trying to single out Reddit.

    >’ are you saying that unless it’s the worst bastion of sexism we should just sit idly’

    This is a strawman, of course.

    >’that is enough to show that people on reddit are more predisposed to like something that directly attacks a woman other than on topic discussion.’

    Actually, that isn’t enough to do that, You’d need a lot more evidence carefully assessed to demonstrate that,

  17. I don’t set such standards. The sort of evidence needed to substantiate your assertion or even just to provide an illustration is clearly more than one pair of posts that on examination don’t actually support your position though. Don’t you think so?

    Is this the much-vaunted ‘critical thinking’ on display here?

    1. I’m not going to spend hours and hours compiling information to fit a vague criteria of yours when you’ll most probably move goal posts around, if you don’t think the ridiculously high amount of support those comments had in the form of positive score then there’s not much point in continuing this

  18. Again, ordinary standards of evidence aren’t ‘standards of mine’ and i haven’t asked you to spend hours doing anything at all.

    >*you’ll most probably move goal posts around*

    Another strawman

    >*if you don’t think the ridiculously high amount of support those comments had in the form of positive score then there’s not much point in continuing this*

    I presume you mean to say…well, what? To say that it demonstrates some percentage of unknown people are readily sexist? Well yes of course. Was making that pretty banal observation the extent of your purpose, though? I didn’t think so. Was it the reason Rebecca called it ‘brilliant’? That’s unlikely, don’t you think?

    >*there’s not much point in continuing this*

    I completely agree.

  19. I think that we (everybody) should:
    a) find within ourselves the courage to admit that some censoring, done transparently, can be a good thing and then punish and/or banish trolls and unpleasant people from fora, or
    b) stop complaining about the comments, and the posters, and just complain about the REAL problem: the internet and the not-very-smart idea that any and all censorship is automatically bad.

    I have never been persuaded yet that censoring can’t be done in a way that benefits greater society.

  20. @metaburbia, I think that this is a blog post. You can take it for what it is worth. I think that these threads on reddit are telling and have value for the conversation at hand. I think this is worth talking about. In regards to reddit being a cesspool, “parts are, parts aren’t. I was just on r/ancientgreek. Not a cesspool. Depends what you choose to visit really.” I think you must agree then that Reddit has problems pertaining to the post topic even if you don’t think it is illustrated in this particular blog post.

    “So…we’ll just accept claims based on a comparison of 2 threads? There might be a place for that – but on a skeptic blog? really?” This is not the first time reddit has been discussed on this site. And it would be rather unskeptical if someone just ate there beans and said that is all the food to be eaten. Yup go to the pantry if you like, read about this topic on other blogs, do some research and write your own blog post. No one is saying this is the definitive review of reddit and “The Stunning Difference Between Treatment of Men & Women on Reddit”.

    I understand that you take contention with use of the word ‘brilliant’. I think you made your point on that. Fine I don’t take issue with that. I think the use of brilliant is a subjective term. I would agree with you if you are saying that brilliant should not be interchanged with the words definitive or absolute. If we are saying it is illuminating well then I would agree with it as written in the post.

  21. @greenstone123 you may or may not be aware of the history of SRS and Reddit…I’ve only just stumbled across it and I’m not sure I quite understand it. But my point is that Reddit’s a microcosm of the Internet at large and I don’t *think* it’s particularly nastier. It is as nasty as the world gets. I might be wrong. There may be something about it that encourages nastiness and in fact it’s way, way nastier than the Internet at large.

    It’s just, I haven’t see evidence of it and this couple of threads certainly isn’t evidence, an indication, an illustration, or anything like that.

    And on the other hand: there are large swathes of reddit that are really useful. Like the r/ancientgreek subreddit I mentioned – I just watched a play by Euripedes performed in Ancient Greek. Absolutely remarkable.. Or, for me, r/europe. And r/AskHistorians, that’s very heavily modded and can be interesting. Like the Internet, really.

    >No one is saying this is the definitive review of reddit and “The Stunning Difference Between Treatment of Men & Women on Reddit”.

    No, but the claim was made that it illustrates a certain view of reddit re. women – and it simply doesn’t.

  22. Although I understand the argument that the woman’s photographs may be bogus, I find it interesting that very few people applied this argument to the male case. While the male does look pathetic in his photograph, we cannot know if this is attributable to heroin abuse. The male in question could simply be a pathetic loser who normally looks so dismal, he could be sick with another illness, hung over, etc… One of the arguments used to discredit the woman’s picture was the absence of track marks, but the male has a conspicuous lack of track marks as well. Although obviously we cannot take this one comparison as evidence that reddit is a sexist cesspool, the legacy of sexism on this website is well documented by many other writers and internet users. The prevalence of sexism (and racism) online is, in a way, unremarkable and a wakeup call to those who claim the need for feminism magically died many years ago. The sexist dreck we are no longer allowed to spew in polite company finds expression on the internet due to anonymity found online. Sexism online will continue to be a problem until sexism in our public lives ceases to exist.

  23. To those saying it’s all about the before:after nature of the shots – think carefully what the reaction would be had the woman in question posted a picture of herself looking ill and unattractive, i.e. the equivalent “before” picture to match the guys. I guarantee there would have been a significant proportion of highly-upvoted responses saying it’s a pity she didn’t die, that she must be filthy and diseased, that she should go back and do a proper job of killing herself, &c. And probably a score of others offering her drugs in return for sex.

  24. @sallystrange I’ve linked to a thread that discusses the ways in which those two threads don’t illustrate what pyyio and what Rebecca seem to think they illustrate. I could take up a lot of space here rehashing the arguments made in that thread: or we could both read it and talk about the points made. Or if you don’t want to do that you could just write, LOGICKS, you haz them.

    So, no, not ‘because I say so’ but because of many of the observations made here:


    that I think it would be pointless to just repeat on this blog. It’s sort of how the web works, you know? Links. URLs. Hypertext.

      1. Fair enough. But you’re ok with the content in the thread Rebecca linked to? You found the ‘You are a shitlord! Shitlord shitlord shitlord!’ contribution? particularly fine, did you?

        1. No, I didn’t follow that link either. I went to Rebecca’s links and seen if they matched up with the screenshots and left. The content for this story was presented about ‘The Stunning Difference Between Treatment of Men & Women on Reddit’. In your link you said your points were presented there. Instead I got there and well, to suggest that those threads contain a coherent argument that backs up your claim, well, I think it does more to back up Rebecca’s. I saw attacks of character on the first screen’s worth of content and nothing that backs up your point. There were the twat jokes. Umm, seriously? How much is a person suppose to wade through to flesh out the points that you are trying to make? And yes, I find it particularly appalling when women are attacked distinctly because they are women. When their arguments are silenced merely from the fact that they posses a ‘cunt’ or ‘twat’. I am done.

  25. Someone sent this to me and I actually made an account just to comment on this. I am the girl who posted the picture and I was absolutely appalled by a good portion of the comments. But then again, I have received an overwhelming amount of PM’s wishing me luck with my journey. But I could not agree more.. Reddit is incredibly sexist and that post of mine proved it to me. I felt very objectified. Also, the track marks thing is kind of dumb because honestly who shoots up in the parts of an arm that are visible in my picture. I posted pictures of my track marks in a comment but not many people took notice.

    The feedback was about half and half. But the negative feedback still really did hurt a lot.

    1. Hi soapium. I just made an account so I could send you some good thoughts. Congratulations! I hope you’re doing well. It just boggles my mind that so many people wish others ill. But, I suppose that’s the issue. Women are others and not really people to them.

    2. I’m really glad you received so many positive PMs. It boggles my freaking mind that you would receive any negative feedback for something like this. It’s so completely hatefully irrational. As far as I’m concerned, you rock. I know from my own battles with addiction to far less addictive substances that it’s not easy to do and especially to stick with it.

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