Skip to main content

Othering Political Women: Online Misogyny, Racism and Ableism Towards Women in Public Life

Part of the Palgrave Studies in Cybercrime and Cybersecurity book series (PSCYBER)

Abstract

There has been much public debate about abuse aimed at women in public life on social media. Studies have made use of automated technologies to analyse the nature and extent of abuse received by prominent women revealing that women of colour are subjected to a disproportionate amount of misogynistic abuse and racial slurs. We analysed 12,436 tweets to examine the extent to which abusive and more everyday forms of sexism, misogyny, racism and ableism pervade Twitter interactions between politicians and citizens. The analysis identified four themes: gendered and racist abuse; silencing and dismissal; questioning intelligence and position; and ‘benevolent’ othering. Since communicating with constituents is an essential part of any political representatives’ role, it can be difficult to avoid receiving abuse online.

Keywords

  • Ableism
  • Gender
  • Misogyny
  • Online abuse
  • Politicians
  • Racism

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Buying options

Chapter
USD   29.95
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • DOI: 10.1007/978-3-030-12633-9_8
  • Chapter length: 24 pages
  • Instant PDF download
  • Readable on all devices
  • Own it forever
  • Exclusive offer for individuals only
  • Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout
eBook
USD   129.00
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • ISBN: 978-3-030-12633-9
  • Instant PDF download
  • Readable on all devices
  • Own it forever
  • Exclusive offer for individuals only
  • Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout
Softcover Book
USD   169.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
Hardcover Book
USD   169.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)

References

  • Abraham, B. (2013). Fedora shaming as discursive activism. Digital Culture and Education, 5(2), 86–97.

    Google Scholar 

  • Banet-Weiser, S., & Miltner, K. M. (2016). #MasculinitySoFragile: Culture, structure, and networked misogyny. Feminist Media Studies, 16(1), 171–174.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Braun, V., & Clarke, V. (2006). Using thematic analysis in psychology. Qualitative Research in Psychology, 3(2), 77–101.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Buckels, E. E., Trapnell, P. D., & Paulhus, D. L. (2014). Trolls just want to have fun. Personality and Individual Differences, 67, 97–102.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Childs, S. (2008). Women and British Party Politics: Descriptive, Substantive and Symbolic Representation. London: Routledge.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Crenshaw, K. (1989). Demarginalizing the intersection of race and sex: A black feminist critique of antidiscrimination doctrine, feminist theory and antiracist politics. University of Chicago Legal Forum, 1989(1), 139–167.

    Google Scholar 

  • Dahlgren, P. (2005). The internet, public spheres, and political communication: Dispersion and deliberation. Political Communication, 22(2), 147–162.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Evans, E. (2015). Diversity matters: Intersectionality and women’s representation in the USA and UK. Parliamentary Affairs, 69(3), 569–585.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Fox, J., Cruz, C., & Lee, J. Y. (2015). Perpetuating online sexism offline: Anonymity, interactivity, and the effects of sexist hashtags on social media. Computers in Human Behavior, 52, 436–442.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Garcia-Blanco, I., & Wahl-Jorgensen, K. (2012). The discursive construction of women politicians in the European press. Feminist Media Studies, 12(3), 422–441.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Garcia-Favaro, L., & Gill, R. (2016). ‘Emasculation nation has arrived’: Sexism rearticulated in online responses to Lose the Lads’ Mags Campaign. Feminist Media Studies, 16(3), 379–397.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Gershon, S. A. (2012). When race, gender, and the media intersect: Campaign news coverage of minority congresswomen. Journal of Women, Politics & Policy, 33(2), 105–125.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Gill, R. (2007). Gender and the Media. Cambridge: Polity Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Greenwood, M. A., Roberts, I., Rout, D., & Bontchieva, K. (2017, July 23). This is what the Twitter abuse of politicians during the election really looked like. Buzzfeed. https://www.buzzfeed.com/tomphillips/twitterabuseofmpsduringtheelectiondoubledafterthe?utm_term=.np9NZwnY9#.yujjwyZ2d. Accessed October 20, 2018.

  • Grue, J. (2016). The problem with inspiration porn: A tentative definition and a provisional critique. Disability and Society, 31(6), 838–849.

    Google Scholar 

  • Guido Fawkes. (2018). https://order-order.com/2018/05/22/kate-osamor-plagiarised-maiden-speech-wikipedia-local-newsletter-predecessor/. Accessed October 20, 2018.

  • Harmer, E., & Southern, R. (2018a). More stable than strong: Women’s representation, voters and issues. Parliamentary Affairs, 71, 237–254.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Harmer, E., & Southern, R. (2018b). Alternative agendas or more of the same? Online news coverage of the 2017 UK election. In D. Wring (Ed.), Political Communication in Britain.

    Google Scholar 

  • Harmer, E., Savigny, H., & Ward, O. (2017). ‘Are you tough enough?’ Performing gender in the UK leadership debates 2015. Media, Culture and Society, 39(7), 960–975.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Hill Collins, P. (1990). Black Feminist Thought: Knowledge, Consciousness, and the Politics of Empowerment. Boston: Unwin Hyman.

    Google Scholar 

  • Jane, E. A. (2014). ‘You’re a ugly, whorish, slut’: Understanding e-bile. Feminist Media Studies, 14(4), 531–546.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Krook, M. L. (2017). Violence against women in politics. Journal of Democracy, 28(1), 74–88.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Lawrence, R. G., & Rose, M. (2010). Hillary Clinton’s Race for the White House: Gender Politics 7 the Media on the Campaign Trail. Boulder and London: Lynne Rienner.

    Google Scholar 

  • Lewis, R., Rowe, M., & Wiper, C. (2017). Online abuse of feminists as an emerging form of violence against women and girls. British Journal of Criminology, 57(6), 1462–1481.

    Google Scholar 

  • Lumsden, K., & Morgan, H. (2017). Media framing of trolling and online abuse: Silencing strategies, symbolic violence, and victim blaming. Feminist Media Studies, 17(6), 926–940.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Mcloughlin, L., & Ward, S. (2017, April 25–29). Turds, traitors and tossers: The abuse of UK MPs via Twitter. Paper presented at the European Consortium of Political Research Joint Sessions, University of Nottingham, Nottingham, UK.

    Google Scholar 

  • Megarry, J. (2014). Online incivility or sexual harassment? Conceptualising women’s experiences in the digital age. Women’s Studies International Forum, 47, 46–55.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Norris, P. (1997). Women leaders worldwide: A splash of colour in the photo op. In P. Norris (Ed.), Women, Media and Politics. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • O’Neill, D., Savigny, H., & Cann, V. (2016). Women politicians in the UK press: Not seen and not heard? Feminist Media Studies, 16, 293–307.

    Google Scholar 

  • Papacharissi, Z. (2002). The virtual sphere: The internet as a public sphere. New Media and Society, 4(1), 9–27.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Ross, K. (2002). Women, Politics, Media. Cresskill, NJ: Hampton Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Ross, K., Evans, E., Harrison, L., Shears, M., & Wadia, K. (2013). The gender of news and news of gender: A study of sex, politics, and press coverage of the 2010 British General Election. The International Journal of Press/Politics, 18(1), 3–20.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Shaw, F. (2016). ‘Bitch I said Hi’: The Bye Felipe campaign and discursive activism in mobile dating apps. Social Media and Society, October–December, 1–10.

    Google Scholar 

  • Sloan, L., Morgan, J., Housley, W., Williams, M., Edwards, A., Burnap, P., et al. (2013). Knowing the Tweeters: Deriving sociologically relevant demographics from Twitter. Sociological Research Online, 18(3), 1–11.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Sreberny-Mohammadi, A., & Ross, K. (1996). Women MPs and the media: Representing the body politic. Parliamentary Affairs, 49(1), 103–115.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Stambolieva, E. (2017). Methodology: Detecting Online Abuse Against Women MPs on Twitter. Amnesty International.

    Google Scholar 

  • Ward, O. (2016). Seeing double: Race, gender, and coverage of minority women’s campaigns for the U.S House of Representatives. Politics & Gender, 12, 317–343.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Ward, O. (2017). Intersectionality and press coverage of political campaigns: Representations of Black, Asian, and minority ethnic female candidates in the UK 2010 General Election. The International Journal of Press/Politics, 22(1), 43–66.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Editor information

Editors and Affiliations

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

Copyright information

© 2019 The Author(s)

About this chapter

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this chapter

Southern, R., Harmer, E. (2019). Othering Political Women: Online Misogyny, Racism and Ableism Towards Women in Public Life. In: Lumsden, K., Harmer, E. (eds) Online Othering. Palgrave Studies in Cybercrime and Cybersecurity. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-12633-9_8

Download citation

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-12633-9_8

  • Published:

  • Publisher Name: Palgrave Macmillan, Cham

  • Print ISBN: 978-3-030-12632-2

  • Online ISBN: 978-3-030-12633-9

  • eBook Packages: Law and CriminologyLaw and Criminology (R0)