Media @ McGill

Laura Dunn: The Impact and Reach of Humour in Feminist Media Online

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My research will explore the changing form and tone of feminist blogs from the early 2000s to today. The original tenor of earnest outrage is developing into a funnier, snarkier kind of cultural critique. For example, by taking aim at condescending men, the Tumblr account Mansplained mocks rather than protests a certain everyday form of patriarchy. On this tumbler account, users post their experiences of men explaining the obvious to women who are already experts in that field. The funniest and most obnoxious examples make it to a hall of shame. Earnest outrage makes any online group an easy target for trolling and mockery. In response, feminists have developed their own persuasive brand of humour to cut down their opponents. This research project will examine the relationship between emerging media platforms, rhetoric, power and women’s voices.

In order to look at the emergence and popularization of a sarcastic tone in online feminist communities, I will examine the timeline of Feminist blogs using online archives such as the Wayback Machine to determine prominent figures in the community’s origins and websites associated with its development. Second, I will focus on the origins and uses of humour in the online feminist community with the goal of locating pivotal moments of change in tone and the social platforms on which these changes occurred. Finally, by exploring the uses of humour in these communities I will explore how wit, irony and satire function to expand the popularity of feminist perspectives to broader online communities.