Hacktivism and the male-only stereotype

Tanczer, Leonie Maria
New Media & Society

This research explores hacktivism as a new form of online political activism. It uses qualitative interviews with a gender-equal sample of 10 self-defined hacktivists to address issues of gender and the discursive strategies used by males and females to handle the hacktivist community’s male-only stereotype. The semi-structured interviews are analysed using Foucauldian discourse analysis (FDA). The analysis indicates that male hacktivists relate to this dominant male-only representation through discursive techniques such as the suppression of gender (Male Oblivious Discourse) or mechanisms of vindication (Male Justification Discourse). Female hacktivists use the accentuation of gender and sexism to counteract male-dominant discourses and establish Female Discourses of Resistance (Emphasis Discourse; Negation Discourse). These gender-related argumentative positions and rhetorical mechanisms demonstrate how the male-only stereotype is created and maintained and how it affects not only hacktivists’ talk and sense-making but also their identity and the hacktivist actions they perform.