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Attack of the 50-foot social justice warrior: the discursive construction of SJW memes as the monstrous feminine

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journal contribution
posted on 11.09.2018, 00:00 by Adrienne L. Massanari, Shira Chess
This essay considers the origin and meaning of “social justice warrior” (SJW) memes. Despite each term within the phrase suggesting potentially positive connotations, we argue that as deployed within “alt-right” communities, it implies a kind of monstrous feminine: a woman who is unwieldy and out of control. We catalogue and analyze this meme using a visual discourse analysis of texts gathered through Google Images and Reddit. Our findings suggest that the SJW meme is deployed to emphasize opponents as having non-normative, problematic bodies, different brains (ones ruled by emotion rather than logic), and monstrous characteristics. We argue that such discourse is potentially dangerous, but that feminists may have the tools to recreate the SJW as an image of power.

History

Publisher Statement

Post print version of article may differ from published version. This is an electronic version of an article published in Massanari, A. L., & Chess, S. (2018). Attack of the 50-foot social justice warrior: the discursive construction of SJW memes as the monstrous feminine. Feminist Media Studies, 18(4), 525-542. Feminist Media Studies, is available online at: http://www.informaworld.com/smpp/ DOI:10.1080/14680777.2018.1447333

Citation

Massanari, A. L., & Chess, S. (2018). Attack of the 50-foot social justice warrior: the discursive construction of SJW memes as the monstrous feminine. Feminist Media Studies, 18(4), 525-542. doi: 10.1080/14680777.2018.1447333

Publisher

Taylor & Francis

Language

en_US

issn

1468-0777

Issue date

21/03/2018

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