An investigation into contemporary online anti-feminist movements
Nagle, Angela (2015) An investigation into contemporary online anti-feminist movements. PhD thesis, Dublin City University.
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In the early years of the popular internet, in the spirit of Donna Harraway’s Cyborg Manifesto (1985), many theorists then called “cyberfeminists” were optimistic about its potential for women’s liberation (Plant 1998, Spender 1995). This came as part of a broader wave of optimism about the information age and its democratic and economic potential (Wellman 1988, Castells 1996, Negroponte 1995, Kelly 1998). While a significant body of critical literature emerged in response to what was seen as a utopian narrative in general (Van Zoonen 2001, Henwood 2003, Barbrook and Cameron 1995), much of this early utopian and cyberfeminist fervour has seen a re- emergence in popular political and cultural discussion again in recent years, with the Arab Spring, framed as a series of social media revolutions, the emergence of the internet-centric Occupy movement, “hacktivism” and the explosion of online feminism (Penny 2013, Mason 2011).
However, along with this renewed feminist optimism, there had also been a less discussed growth of anti-feminist online cultures. Expressions of misogyny previously unthinkable in the public sphere now appear anonymously on popular social media platforms, such as Twitter. Interestingly, this new transgressive antifeminism identifies as countercultural more than conservative and pro-family or men’s rights based as it has done in the past, and its locus, an infamous taboo- busting forum called 4chan/b/, is also the point of origin of the hackers known as Anonymous and of the symbolism of the egalitarian Occupy movement. With reference to existing analyses on online misogyny and anti-feminism (Shaw 2014, Jane 2014, Penny 2014) on the relevant geek and hacker online spaces (Coleman 2014, Phillips 2012) and drawing on a wealth of literature about historical cultural parallels (Reynolds and Press 1995) this study aims to investigate this transgressive countercultural-identifying antifeminism, to locate it, understand its origins and to unpack its cultural politics.
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