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Gender Inequality on Social Media: An Analysis of Hashtag Trends

Analysis of Gendered Meanings on Social Media

In this class we have discussed many issues related to gender inequality (for example: manhood acts, cisnormativity, rape culture, sex education,  intersectionality, family, reproductive politics, and more). With these topics in mind, this assignment requires you to analyze  messages you see about gender on social media. You will pick one hashtag on the social media site of your choice, collect data (memes,  videos, comments, etc.) and analyze what your data reveals about gendered meanings on social media. The purpose of this assignment is for you to:

1) Apply the concepts you are learning in class to your everyday life

2) Work on critical thinking about gender and building a strong and coherent ANALYSIS, not summary, of the social world (i.e. make an argument and back it up with literature and data)

3) Exercise and hone your skills as a writer

Formatting for this paper is as follows: 12 pt. Times New Roman font, 1-inch margins on all sides, don’t add space between paragraphs of the  same style, put your name and course info single spaced in a header.

Specifically, in your paper you must answer the following three questions:

1) What does your data tell us about gendered meanings conveyed across social media? Think of some of the key topics we’ve covered, as well  as the broader gender meanings we’ve discussed in class. In answering this, be sure to briefly explain the hashtag you selected.

Your paper  should be 5-6 pages NOT including your references page and appendix. You must use a minimum of three class sources to support your analysis, and at least two of these sources must come from weeks 9-12.

a. What specific examples are you using to demonstrate this pattern (this is where your examples from Step 1 will come into play)? This means that when you are writing your analysis, you should clearly reference the specific memes/images/articles/videos/commentary you find online  and include in your appendix.

2) Do an intersectional analysis: how are the gendered meanings you find on social media shaped by other power structures [think: Frye -  birdcages] (e.g., sexuality, race, class, education, health, the prison industrial complex, etc.)? NOTE: you do not need to talk about all of these  power structures as they relate to gender. Instead, pick one or two that overlap with what you find (for example, perhaps you focus on race and gender, or sexuality and gender, or race, gender, and education, some other combination based on what we have covered in class, etc.).

a. Be sure to clearly state which structures [birdcages] are part of your intersectional analysis. When you address how these topics inform how  gender is portrayed on social media, you should make clear connections to our class readings to support your analysis. You should also clearly  reference your data in this section of your paper.


3) What role do you think social media plays in challenging and/or perpetuating the current social inequalities related to gender, and why do  you think this based on your answers to questions 1 & 2?


a. In this section, you want to build on your answers to the previous two questions to explain your answer. So, for example, if you saw some messages that were positive and some that were negative (in your assessment), explain how that shapes the way you think social media  challenges and/or reproduces social inequalities related to gender.

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