Between feminism and fun(ny)mism: Analysing gender in popular internet humour

Limor Shifman*, Dafna Lemish

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

64 Scopus citations


This paper presents a first analysis of popular Internet humour about gender. The focus is on the extent to which such humour encodes sexist, feminist, and postfeminist ideologies. Utilizing a novel sampling protocol, a corpus of 150 highly popular verbal and visual comic texts was retrieved from eight English-based websites. The findings of a content analysis suggest that although men and women are mocked to an equal extent, traditional stereotypical gender representations still prevail, along with the emergence of new postfeminist portrayals. The postfeminist, essentialist thesis of gender differences is revealed to be central, while feminist humour about gender inequalities is marginal. The discussion contextualizes these findings and argues they express backlash interpretations of postfeminism. Finally, the results are discussed in relation to the high hopes held for the potential of the Internet to be involved in women's empowerment and the transformation of gender relations.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)870-891
Number of pages22
JournalInformation Communication and Society
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2010

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank Ifat Maoz, Linda Renee-Bloch and Mike Thelwall for their useful comments and help, and Peter Lemish for his skillful editing. We are also grateful to the John Fell OUP Research Fund for providing funding for this study. Finally we express our gratitude to Emma Tinker and Marc Troughton for their thorough coding of the texts.


  • Gender differences
  • Humour
  • Internet
  • Postfeminism


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