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The Rhetorical Dynamics of Gender Harassment On-Line



This articlecompares two extended interactions that took place recently on the Internet, one from a recreational Internet Relay Chat(IRC)channel,andtheotherfromanacademic listservdiscus- sion group. The two interactions exhibit similar gender dynamics, which can be characterized as harassment of female by male par- ticipants. This harassment takes different forms, in keeping with the possibilities inherent in the two modes of computer-mediated communication. Whereas female participants on IRC are kicked off the channel, in the discussion group harassers must rely ex- clusively on language to intimidate and silence. This ª rhetoric of harassmentº crucially invokes libertarian principles of freedom of expression,constructing women's resistance as ªcensorship.º A rhetorical analysis of the two harassment episodes thus sheds light on the means used toconstruct and maintain asymmetricalgender and power dynamics in different modes of CMC.
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... In addition, the emergence of the Internet and new digital platforms was initially said to contribute to the democratization of discourses and the eradication of social differences, such as gender, class, and age (Herring, 1996d;Tagg, 2015). However, scholars soon found that the evidence did not support this claim (see Bou-Franch, 2013;Choularaki, 2010;Herring, 1996dHerring, , 1999Herring et al., 2015, among others;see Chapter 2). Therefore, one focus of interest for discourse analysts is to examine how people exploit these new technologies and perform digital practices in order to form social groups and enact social identities. ...
... Moreover, instant messaging and SMS stirred the interest of those DMC scholars who were concerned with the differences between synchronous and asynchronous communication. On the other hand, some scholars (e.g., Herring, 1996dHerring, , 1999 were interested in critical approaches to power dynamics in a space considered to be white male-dominated (see Chapter 2). ...
... Not only were women met with coercing and patronizing behaviors, but also with sexism and verbal (sexual) violence. Scholars such as Herring (1996dHerring ( , 1998Herring ( , 1999 and Hall (1996) denounced that the cybersphere had become a place where intimidation and harassment were tolerated, thus debunking previous claims of DMC contributing to (gender) equality. In fact, their studies suggested that male online behavior was similar to the results obtained in previous research on non-mediated communication (Herring & Stoerger, 2014). ...
This thesis critically traces the linguistic resources and patterns deployed by tweeters to discuss gendered discourses and patriarchal oppression concerning sexual violence. There are two primary aims of this study: 1) to examine tweeters’ discourses and ideologies regarding sexual violence and how they contribute to the negotiation of victim-perpetrator identities, and 2) to identify the role of evaluative language in the (re)production and resistance of gendered discourses and ideologies. To do so, this thesis takes AsJ Brett Kavanaugh’s controversial nomination to the Supreme Court of the United States as a case study. After his nomination was made public, he was accused of attempted rape by Dr. Christine Blasey Ford. Her allegations were followed by similar claims from two more women. The nomination became a major topic on Twitter as tweeters used different hashtags to express (dis)affiliation. Dr. Ford also became the target of verbal aggression by those who supported his nomination. However, her claims were also supported by tweeters who validated her testimony and, in turn, sparked the re-emergence of hashtag feminism. Two corpora of tweets containing the hashtags #KavanaughConfirmation and #NoKavanaughConfirmation were compiled to analyze and compare each dataset in relation to the objectives of this study. The corpora were investigated from a corpus-assisted discourse analysis approach (Partington et al., 2013) which combined corpus linguistic tools with Feminist Critical Discourse Analysis (FCDA) (Lazar, 2005, 2018) and Appraisal Theory (2005). The findings suggest that tweeters invoked discourses relating to gender-based violence to both denounce and perpetuate rape culture and patriarchal oppression in American society. Such discourses contributed to the negotiation of the identities of victims and perpetrators, which were unstable and fluid depending on tweeters’ socio-political groups. Antifeminist and patriarchal discourses were found to contribute to the portrayal of AsJ Kavanaugh as a political victim, thus portraying Dr. Ford as a political aggressor. In contrast, discourses of veracity and feminism gave credibility to Dr. Ford’s testimony and opposed the confirmation. These discourses depicted AsJ Kavanaugh as a liar and a sexual aggressor. On the other hand, the analysis of evaluative language revealed that negative Appraisal resources predominated in both corpora to convey immoral and unethical evaluations and collective emotional distress, which further contributed to the unstable construction of victim-perpetrator identities. All in all, this thesis provides insights into tweeters’ digital practices to discuss gendered dynamics and resist/reproduce patriarchal discourses derived from rape culture. In addition, it also shows the fruitful combination of corpus linguistics methods, FCDA, and Appraisal Theory in the analysis of gender-based violence and social media data.
... Some argue this treatment is diminishing with time, as any sex differences found in past studies were typically mediated by age (Junco et al., 2010). Most research showing that females use less tech is over 20 years old and/or the research targets those with tech-victimization, which females more readily report (Herring, 1999). More recent data are mixed. ...
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This article examines how people understand technology-mediated abuse (TMA) between adult romantic partners. Because knowledge and attitudes regarding sensitive issues are created and shaped via technology, users’ interpretations are crucial to understanding life-threatening relational situations such as TMA. In this study, 551 individuals were recruited via community-based chain-referral sampling and asked to describe TMA (e.g., online stalking, hacking, verbal attack, etc.). To varying degrees, age, sex, and technological proficiency each and also, interactively predicted TMA perceptions. Findings showed that older (vs. younger) and male (vs. female) individuals understood different technology-mediated behaviors as harmful when used by adult romantic partners.
... Digital hate is nothing new; it first appeared in the early days of the internet in the 1980s and 1990s (Jane 2014a), when we communicated via discussion boards, chatrooms, Multi-User Dungeons (MUDs) and other virtual communities (Turkle 1995;Donath 1998;Herring 1999;Herring et al. 2002). Feminist theorists have been at the forefront of interrogating the connections between technology, gender and power dynamics (Wajcman 1991(Wajcman , 2004Turkle 1995;Spender 1996;van Zoonen 2001van Zoonen , 2002Travers 2003;Haraway 2006) and how this impacts the phenomenon of digital hate (Herring et al. 2002;Penny 2013;Citron 2014Citron , 2015Jane 2014aJane , 2016bJane , 2017Jane , 2020Mantilla 2015;Phillips 2015;Vera-Gray 2017 Feminists access to, and experience of, Twitter is political, particularly since women are already marginalised from traditional political spaces (Mendes et al. 2018). ...
This thesis makes an original contribution to knowledge by demonstrating why it is important to widen our understanding of contemporary political participation to incorporate digital activism and clicktivism, particularly with regard to access and inclusion of a wider range of voices and opinions outside of those who already have access to mainstream political platforms of communication. Existing debates within political science on alternative forms of political participation are limited by comparing them to traditional politics, organisations and processes and ranking them accordingly as legitimate or illegitimate forms of political participation. What is not considered in these debates is that women, particularly feminists, are marginalised from male-dominated political structures, which delimit participation within the bounds of traditional politics. In this thesis, I evidence the significance of feminist digital activism and clicktivism as a means of lowering the barriers to create an inclusive definition of political participation. By taking an interdisciplinary approach, this thesis draws on debates within literature from three fields: web science, political participation and feminist activism. The intersection of these literatures reveals a new perspective on the contested concept of political participation, the motivations for and impact of, labelling digital activism as a form of contemporary political participation, unconstrained by borders, boundaries and citizenship. Accordingly, Twitter is the object of analysis for this qualitative investigation and the specific characteristics and practices that are unique to this platform merit a study of its own, which is currently missing in the literature. Digital feminist activism is explored as a form of political participation through an ethnographic study of feminist activists’ use of Twitter, which demonstrates that instances such as the #MeToo moment in 2017 can raise societal awareness about pertinent issues, which affects political and social change. Drawing concepts from the literature on digital activism, political participation and feminist activism creates the conceptual lens for analysing the empirical data gathered through undertaking a range of semi-structured interviews with feminist activists from Australia, Aoteroa New Zealand, Europe and the United States. The feminist Twitter community was observed as part of the ethnographic study during the year-long interview window, which allowed the researcher to examine feminist activists’ communication, action and connection practices. Further, interview respondents were identified and recruited on Twitter during this observation process. Feminist activists are inherently political; the actions they take, who they communicate with and connect to, are practices shaped by Twitter’s distinct characteristics, which enable feminist activists to interact and connect with geographically dispersed feminists, broadening access to information, resources, and knowledge. A tweet can challenge and critique a sexist headline when it directly addresses the journalist who penned the article and mentions the mainstream media company that published it: I evidence that it is not merely easy, disposable and inconsequential. I argue that clicktivism is a form of digital activism, which enables an individual to be political and to participate. Further, clicktivist practices, such as using a hashtag to contribute to large-scale action are easily replicated, which essentially is what makes this form of digital activism so significant.
... Bu araştırmalardan çevrimiçi iletişimin erkek baskınlığında ve erkek odaklı olduğu sonucuna varılmıştır (Sutton, 1996). Nitekim erkeklerin internet üzerinden kurulan iletişim durumlarında agresif tavırlar sergilemeleri ve tacizde bulunmaya yönelik çekince göstermemeleri, kadınların katılımına caydırıcı bir etki yaratmakta ve genellikle kadınların otosansür uygulamalarına ve kamuya açık tartışmalarda ikincil rol oynamayı kabullenmelerine sebep olmaktadır (Herring, 1999). Bunun bir sonucu olarak da çevrimiçi iletişim sırasında kadınlar kötü bir çerçevede resmedilmekte, bilgisayar üzerinden gerçekleştirilen iletişim ortamlarında, kadın-erkek karışık gerçekleşen tartışmalarda kadınlar, erkeklere göre daha iradesiz ve yetkinlikten uzak görünmektedir (Ferganchick-Neufang, 1998). ...
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Kullanımı doksanlı yılların sonunda yaygınlaşmaya başlayan internet teknolojileri ile Türkiye'nin ilk sanal toplulukları ortaya çık-mıştır. Bu topluluklar, internetin sunduğu örgütlenme biçimlerinden faydalanarak kendilerine özgü kolaboratif faaliyet modelleri geliştirmişlerdir. Gündelik hayatı yorumlamak için kurulan Ekşi Sözlük ve benzeri "sözlük" siteleri, bu anlamda özgün örneklerdir. 1999 yılından beri varlığını sürdürmekte olan Ekşi Sözlük popülerliğini yitirmemiştir. Sanal topluluklar, başlangıçta toplumdan özerk, özgürlükçü alanlar olarak görülmüş olsa da bugünkü gelinen nokta itibariyle içinde var oldukları toplumların yansımalarına dönüş-müşlerdir. Özellikle Türkiye'deki ataerkil yapının toplumdaki ve kadınlar üzerindeki etkisinin, sanal alemdeki yansımaları yadsınamaz boyuttadır. Cinsiyetçilik, sanal ortamlardaki arkadaşlık ilişkilerini zedelemekle beraber, toplu faaliyet yapılarını zehirleyen davranış pratiklerine de yol açmaktadır. Netnografik yöntemi kullanan bu çalışma Ekşi Sözlük sanal topluluğunda cinsiyete bağlı ilişkiler üzerine bir incelemedir. Bulgularımızın en önemlisi erkek topluluk üyelerinin bir kısmının Ekşi Sözlük kolaboratif faaliyet mekanizma-larını suistimal ederek baskı araçlarına dönüştürmeleridir. Yatay biçimde kolaboratif kültürel faaliyetlerini örgütleyen mekanizmalar, pratikte erkek kültürel hegemonyasını pekiştiren araçlar haline gelmişlerdir. Abstract Established in 1999, Ekşi Sözlük, the largest (and oldest) urban dictionary in Turkey, has consistently managed to retain its popularity with the online audience. It has a unique peer-production model for organizing cultural knowledge about everyday life in Turkish society. Although online communities were initially theorized as autonomous and libertarian spaces, they have turned into reflections of the societies in which they exist today. This transformation is perhaps best reflected in gender relations within online communities. Toxic masculinity and patriarchal practices commonplace in everyday life not only poison the fabric of online communities but also disrupt the dynamics of peer-produced cultural knowledge. Using the netnographic method, this study examines gender relations in the Ekşi Sözlük online community. The most striking aspect of our findings is that some of the male community members persistently abuse Ekşi Sözlük's peer production mechanisms, turning them into a means of harassing female users. Our findings suggest that the mechanisms that organize collaborative cultural activities have become in practice tools reinforcing male cultural hegemony in the community.
There is a history of feminists utilising ‘leaked’ information to facilitate progress. In the current age of feminism, compared to the kind of undercover work undertaken by feminists in the past, it is far simpler to ‘infiltrate’ groups that function predominantly online. The focus of this chapter is the chatlogs (both leaked and voluntarily released) that exposed a great deal of Gamergate’s planning. The chapter’s title should not be taken as a conflation of militant feminists and Gamergaters/MRAs, but instead as a reference to the chatlogs’ abundance of militaristic dialogue and planning, as well as their undoubtedly unintended rhetorical and strategic parallels with militant/radical feminism. In addition to the military discourse, the chapter also discusses Gamergate’s conception of a ‘PR War’, and how the careful construction of suitable ‘narratives’ is of increasing importance to anti-feminist groups, particularly in the ‘post-truth’ era. Not to be ignored, this chapter also includes a discussion on the feminist response and utilisation of the chatlogs.
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The Encyclopedia of Female Pioneers of Online Learning is the first volume to explore the lives and scholarship of women who have prominently advanced online learning. From its humble origins as distance education courses conducted via postal correspondence to today’s advances in the design and delivery of dynamic, technology-enhanced instruction, the ever evolving field of online learning continues to be informed by the seminal research and institutional leadership of women. This landmark book details 30 preeminent female academics, including some of the first to create online courses, design learning management systems, research innovative topics such as discourse analysis and open resources, and speak explicitly about gender parity in the field. Offering comprehensive career profiles, original interviews, and research analyses, these chapters are illuminating on their own right while amounting to an essential combination of reference material and primary source.
This study explains how the characteristics of a public electronic networking system (PEN) contributed to an unusually high rate of female early adoption. A survey of 303 PEN registrants indicated that PEN'S female adoption rate was attributable to the anticipated accessibility of PEN'S public terminals, as well as PEN'S compatibility with political participation norms. Qualitative interviews also revealed that female users took advantage of an opportunity for user input into PEN's design and reinvented the system to tailor it to their needs.