"Mars and venus" in virtual space: Post-feminist humor and the internet

Limor Shifman*, Dafna Lemish

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Scopus citations

Abstract

This paper examines the ideologies encoded in popular internet humor about gender in the context of contemporary debates about post-feminism. Five major themes in genderfocused humor were identified in a grounded analysis of 150 popular internet texts. In addition to three traditional themes-sex, marriage, and blondes-the two post-feminist themes found were gender differences, referred to as "Mars and Venus," and individualism and empowerment, tagged as "Girl Power." While seemingly new as themes and genres, our interpretation leads to the conclusion that these are, in fact, symptoms of "backlash" (namely, innovative repackaging of old sexist themes). Whereas sexist and post-feminist notions are dominant in these exemplars of popular online humor, critical feminist texts were found to be nearly absent, as was concern for the public sphere or issues of ethnicity, class and sexual preference. The concluding discussion focuses on the mechanism that enables popular internet humor to be a sophisticated and powerful vehicle for naturalization of so-called "universal" stereotypes about gender differences.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)253-273
Number of pages21
JournalCritical Studies in Media Communication
Volume28
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 2011

Keywords

  • "Mars and venus"
  • Gender differences
  • Humor
  • Internet
  • Post-feminism

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