A Discourse Analysis Approach to Understanding Negotiations of Misogyny and Street Harassment on Instagram
For several years, there have been issues in feminist discourse detailing the abuse women face in the public sphere. Street harassment is a common topic of discussion, as cat-calling is a problem faced by a great majority of women, intending to belittle and intimidate them. More recently, there has been an increase in the use of computer mediated communications, which created new forms of interaction. In an online setting, allowing for more anonymous correspondence, there was a tendency for less traditional forms of speech to be produced, which was more negative and antagonistic in nature. The aim of this study was to explore online discussions and negotiations of an offline phenomenon, widely discussed in feminist literature: cat-calling. This study collected data from a social media account on Instagram specifically dedicated to sharing instances where the user was cat-called. A subset of data was collected from a number of these posts and analysed using discourse analysis. A few key themes were uncovered in the negotiations surrounding these online discussions, such as: instances of dehumanising and objectifying language being used against women; efforts to frame victims of cat-calling behaviour as being to blame, rather than perpetrators and attempts to minimise this harassment, by questioning the authenticity of claims. It was found that even in a newer, online medium which has changed and developed methods of communication, the same old misogynistic prejudices remain, allowing for this harmful and abusive rhetoric towards women to continue being replicated.