Is your gender and identity a performance or a platform on social media?


Is your gender and identity a performance or a platform on social media?

You Don't Know Me so Don't Try to Judge Me: Gender and Identity Performance on social media Among Young Indian Users is an article that my research colleagues and I recently released. In order to do this, we looked at how men and women interacted on social media on open Facebook pages regarding the hotly debated subjects of feminism and gender.

Our fundamental goal in doing this was to investigate these discursive tactics as normative, goal-directed social identity performances. We examined the data in light of the setting, which is characterised by shifting perspectives on gender, and discovered the rise of new types of discursive activism in online forums.

By employing both conventional and cutting-edge words that allude to the descriptive meanings of gender categories, we discovered that speakers expressed disputes about the language of feminism in a variety of ways. These included men's rights and fresh feminist discourses (such as faux and choice feminism) (Incels, MGTOW, etc.).

In certain cases of flaring, the historically contentious territory of sex and sexual preference was exploited to subvert evolving gender roles. Finally, through referencing intersecting identities, exchanges also highlighted a number of difficulties with the conventional understandings of feminism. This article presents our findings.

First, there was an effort to create an exclusive and distinct ingroup (feminist) and outgroup, in line with social identity theory (antifeminist). Members of the group would willingly repeat terms and meanings to ensure that their personal identity was recognised as belonging to the ingroup legitimately. This was used for both mobilisation and consolidation.

As evidenced by comments like, "It's completely their own choice and no one can dictate a woman what she should do!" members emphasised that women should have their individual freedom, wear the clothes they choose, and be free from societal pressure. They also stressed that feminism did not equate to "men haters." Members made their comprehension of the feminist ideology clear and assertive.

Our research identified three common themes in the broader antifeminist discourse: the first was the dearth of "feminists" who were open to criticism; the second was the notion that feminists are overly aggressive and reactionary; "Many of these feminists on this page will react very violently and aggressively if something will not match with their views." Finally, there were allegations regarding gender stereotypes in roles for women.

The discursive ramifications of preconceptions about female gender roles typically repeat that women should prioritise their marriages, blaming female liberation for divorces, doubting their ability to be mothers, and demonising them as "money diggers."

The term "feminazi," which has a negative connotation when combined with the "nazi" suffix, is now used in a casual context, making it the most frequent occurrence in our corpus. Leave these feminazis, people say. "Being a feminazi it's her birthright to be a hypocrite. These vultures constantly have problems in everything. So let her be" actually referred to feminism and radicalising women.

Though it was distinct from feminism, the discussion of men's rights and their place in a changing society was closely tied to it. Again, two main themes were at play: the first was the portrayal of the "manosphere," which was primarily done by women, and the second was the defence of men's rights, which was primarily done by men.

The manosphere was thought to be a sexist environment that was associated with unfavourable traits like violence and illiteracy in addition to obvious normative marks (misogynistic).

Men who have chosen not to pursue romantic connections with women are referred to as Men Going Their Own Way. Statements like "Feminism is a sickness, MGTOW is the treatment" serve as evidence that the discursive notion of MGTOW is fundamentally anti-feminist. This identity is boldly shown as a mark of preference and superiority, even in conversations with anonymous women online.

MRA and MGTOW, which up until recently were almost exclusively used in the manosphere, are now a part of a common language tradition on social media. This develops interpersonal ties, fosters a sense of camaraderie among various subgroups, and adds to the MRAs' intellectual resolve to reject feminism.

We also noted the frequent use of the term "Mansplaining." Our study found that women regularly used mansplaining to disprove assertions about the purported manosphere. By utilising hashtags like #Mansplaining, it is possible to draw from pervasive gender discourses that have a significant impact on online interactions.

Women used this phrase a lot to uphold ingroup norms and assert their strong identifying principles, which have become symbols of the widely accepted feminist discourse, particularly on social media.

Finally, we saw intersectionality in the Indian setting, which was especially evident between four aspects of one's social identity: caste (Upper castes are privileged, with SCs, STs, and OBCs bearing the brunt), religion (Hindu or Muslim), and political ideology (Right wing or Left and Liberal).

We identified a number of new themes that both challenge the power structures inside dominant narratives and signify the emergence of new identity standards (for feminism and gender identity). Here, terms like "Urban Feminism" and "Upper-Caste Liberal Feminism" were utilised to highlight distinctions within this common discourse.

The results thus confirm a complex and critical perspective of computer-mediated communication that simultaneously allows for gendered emotions and perpetuates gender-based fears that may lead to unsatisfactory and unfavourable social media experiences.

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