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Title: Feminist women's experiences of online gendered hate
Author: Smith, Jo
Awarding Body: University of Surrey
Current Institution: University of Surrey
Date of Award: 2019
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This thesis explores feminist women's experiences of online gendered hate: abusive, threatening or upsetting acts or comments which are often sexual, violent, or gendered in content, and which target women in public online spaces. This work draws directly on the experiences of feminist women in England and Wales, using data gathered during focus groups and interviews, and analysed within frameworks offered by feminist and hate crime scholars. The participants were feminist women who had directly received abuse themselves, or had experienced online gendered hate indirectly: through reading about this or seeing other women being targeted. Accounts given by participants showed the importance of the internet as a space in which they could practice, perform, and develop their feminism. However this was also a world in which women experienced a continuum of abusive acts. Setting this study apart from existing research is the finding that 'mundane' behaviours (often treated as trolling) were seen as abusive and harmful by many of the participants. Using these findings, this research develops a model for conceptualising online gendered hate. Analysis revealed that feminist women's participation in online spaces was disrupted by abusive behaviours. This thesis argues that the ways in which online abuse controls women's participation in the online world is wider than has previously been understood: women did not have to experience abuse directly to be constrained by it. In this, online gendered hate sends a message to all feminist women online about what is (and is not) appropriate performance of difference (Perry, 2001). This research examined how women attempted to fight back and resist online abuse, concluding that no one strategy was successful. Reflection is given to how the findings of this research contribute to contemporary debates on the inclusion of misogyny as a strand of hate crime in England and Wales.
Supervisor: Garland, Jon ; Harvey, Laura ; Harman, Vicki ; Hine, Christine Sponsor: University of Surrey
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral