In recent years, online misogyny has become a major concern for women. As a new wave of feminist / female bloggers, journalists, activists and gamers have attempted to assert their presence on the internet, there has been a concerted backlash against both feminism and women generally. This special issue of Feminist Media Studies seeks to identify and theorise the complex relationships between online culture, technology and misogyny. How have the internet’s anti-woman spaces and discourses been transformed by the technological affordances of the internet and social media? How are they being articulated and reproduced in diverse cultural contexts and / or transnationally? Are they borne of the same types of discontents articulated in older forms of anti-feminism or to what extent do they articulate a different constellation of social, cultural and gender-political factors?
Despite growing social concern about online misogyny, discussion and debate of this issue has been primarily journalistic to date. Moreover, the focus has been strongly western-/anglo-centric, and has tended to revolve around certain ‘flashpoint’ events. There is a need, therefore, for greater representation of how this phenomenon operates globally across contexts from non-anglophone, technologically advanced cultures to countries in the Global South. It is important to ask, for example, how internet access and local gender landscapes complicate our understanding of this subject. In addition to the more high-profile, anonymous attacks covered by the western media, there are also reports of intimate partner and acquaintance abuse online, which often takes the form of ‘revenge porn’ or unauthorized distribution of sexts by men known to their victims. Moreover, misogyny can and does operate in the more formal contexts of the technology sector. All of these examples should alert us to the importance of progressing academic inquiry on this issue not from a point at which we assume online misogyny to be a stable, recognisable phenomenon but rather by inviting contributions that will expand current knowledge and understanding beyond western experiences, gender-political contexts and epistemological frameworks.
What is significant about all of these phenomena is their very real impact on the lives and safety of real women, as well as their success in deterring women from expressing their opinions or putting their work online. Despite this, online misogyny remains under-researched in academia (Jane, 2014). There have, however, been important activist interventions such as #everydaysexism and #freethenipple as well as a raft of feminist groups organizing online to highlight and challenge misogyny. Given that activists, journalists, gamers and filmmakers have effectively led this charge, we consider it important to ask whether these new, more popular expressions of digital feminism are reaching new audiences and shaping new publics, and what impact this might have on theoretical understandings of feminism. Moreover, while it is important to consider the new misogyny in relation to older theorisations of anti-feminism (Faludi, 1991; Kimmel, 1995; Messner, 1997), it is also crucial to build reflexive criticism into narratives that have hitherto excluded non-western cultures as well as other, related forms of online hate speech such as racism, homophobia and transphobia.
Online Misogyny aims to give this increasingly important area of enquiry the impetus, attention and theoretical cohesion it requires. The increasingly amorphous and anonymous nature of online misogyny and the fluid and dynamic nature of online communication pose considerable challenges for data capture and analysis, and we expect methodological innovation to be a key element of this special issue. We also hope to publish at least one contribution from an activist, artist or non-academic.
Possible topics in relation to this theme may include (but are not limited to):
- Online misogyny and feminist media theorisations
- Forms of online misogyny (including threats, abuse, ‘revenge porn’, creepshots, sexting, slut-shaming, technology-enabled intimate partner and acquaintance violence, and others)
- Sites and contexts of online misogyny
- Discourses and visuality of online misogyny
- Global contexts and online misogyny
- Transnational travel / global pathways of misogyny
- Online misogyny’s articulations with racism, homophobia and transphobia
- Technological affordances: the role of algorithims, anonymity, governance, technical design, platform politics, etc.
- Social, political and personal impact of online misogyny
- Women’s / feminist responses to online misogyny
- Performative responses to online misogyny
- The role of social media corporations and community managers
- Workplace and institutional misogyny: misogyny in the technology / gaming / journalism sectors
- Legislation and corporate policy
- Digitally networked publics: the impact of online misogyny on democracy and the public sphere
- Online misogyny and the post-feminist context
Aims & Scope
Feminist Media Studies provides a transdisciplinary, transnational forum for researchers pursuing feminist approaches to the field of media and communication studies, with attention to the historical, philosophical, cultural, social, political, and economic dimensions and analysis of sites including print and electronic media, film and the arts, and new media technologies. The journal invites contributions from feminist researchers working across a range of disciplines and conceptual perspectives.
Peer Review Policy
All research articles in this journal undergo rigorous peer review, based on initial editor screening and anonymous refereeing by at least two scholars.
Please submit a 350-word abstract as well as a short (1-page) CV to Debbie Ging (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Eugenia Siapera (email@example.com) by 1st October 2016. Authors whose abstracts are selected will be notified by 15th January 2017 and asked to submit complete manuscripts by 15th June 2017. Acceptance of the abstract does not guarantee publication of the paper, which will be subject to peer review.