In this article, we focus on how fitness doping is perceived and discussed socially among users frequenting an open online community called ThinkSteroids.com. The more specific aim of the study is to investigate and dissect the meanings attached to women’s use of PIEDs, how fitness doping can be understood in terms of gender and spatiality, and what implications this has for women’s communicative engagement with one another within the online forum.
We are interested in how community members on ThinkSteroids discuss fitness doping and the meanings attached to this practice. We have presented these discussions as cultural manifestations that have taken place within a particular (and gendered) spatiality. On ThinkSteroids.com, anybody with an Internet connection can gain access to information and post about their own experiences of doping. The user side of ThinkSteroids is divided into different forums around broad topics (e.g., Steroid News Forum, Steroid Legal Forum) that are then subdivided into discussions or threads on specific forum (e.g., “Steroids Did Not Make London Bridge Terrorists Act Aggressively” in Steroid News Forum). While the personal information presented about users is somewhat limited, seemingly, the majority of the postings are by men. Forum discussions range in topics from a general “Steroid Forum” to a focused “Steroid Homebrew” forum for users making their own anabolic–androgenic steroid (AAS) products, but only one is focused on women. The “Women and Steroids” forum, the focus of this study, is the dedicated space for issues and topics related to women and their use of various steroid products. ThinkSteroids is one of several websites where steroid use is discussed (e.g., T-Nation.com, Bodybuilding.com), but unlike others, this site is overtly focused on PIED use. We chose to concentrate on the Women and Steroids forum as it was the one explicitly directed at steroid use specifically rather than “training” or “supplements” as on other sites. It is included under the forum group “Anabolic Steroids,” and discussion threads focused on a wide range of topics related to women’s use. The other forums are not indicated as men only, and women do sometimes post in the non-specifically gendered forums. However, we chose to analyze the ways women engaged in forum because it had been specifically carved out to focus on women’s steroid practices. The Women and Steroids forum is dynamic with new posts in discussion threads daily.