Gendered and Sexualized Bullying and Cyber Bullying: Spotlighting Girls and Making Boys Invisible

Faye Mishna, Kaitlin J. Schwan*, Arija Birze, Melissa Van Wert, Ashley Lacombe-Duncan, Lauren McInroy, Shalhevet Attar-Schwartz

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Scopus citations


Drawing on semistructured interviews with Canadian Grade 4 to 12 students, this article uses a feminist lens to explore gendered and sexualized bullying and cyberbullying among children and youth. Our findings indicate that while boys’ roles and behaviors were frequently made invisible, girls were typically spotlighted, blamed, and criticized. Girls’ experiences were often minimized and normalized by peers and linked to gender norms and stereotypes that were largely invisible to participants. The central theme of invisibility emerged, which encompassed and interconnected the three subthemes: (a) gendered stereotyping, (b) spotlighting girls, and (c) gender surveillance and policing. Gendered and sexualized bullying and cyberbullying were found to be part of a socialization process wherein girls come to expect gender-based aggression, violence, and inequality in their lives. This article makes explicit how bullying and cyberbullying are linked to societal norms that put girls at risk of harassment, violence, abuse, and discrimination.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)403-426
Number of pages24
JournalYouth and Society
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 Apr 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2018.


  • bullying
  • children
  • cyberbullying
  • gendered
  • sexualized
  • youth


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