Sporting women and social media: Sexualization, misogyny and gender based violence in online spaces

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Abstract

This study investigated gender-based violence targeting high-profile women in virtual environments through the case of women’s tennis. Using a netnographic approach and the lens of third-wave feminism, 2 popular social media platforms (Facebook and Twitter) were analyzed to examine social commentary and fan interaction surrounding the top-5-seeded female tennis players during the Wimbledon Tennis Championships. Athletes were exposed to violent interactions in a number of ways. Four themes were identified through data analysis: threats of physical violence, sexualization that focused on the female physical appearance, sexualization that expressed desire and/or proposed physical or sexual contact, and sexualization that was vile, explicit, and threateningly violent in a sexual or misogynistic manner. Findings demonstrate how social media provides a space for unregulated gender-based cyberhate targeting high-profile women in their workplace in a way that traditional sport media does not.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)552-572
Number of pages22
JournalInternational Journal of Sport Communication
Volume12
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2019

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