Decoding Memes: Barthes’ Punctum, Feminist Standpoint Theory, and the Political Significance of #YesAllWomen
This chapter explores the political significance of internet memes, pieces of popular commentary that pepper forum threads, fill YouTube playlists, and enliven Twitter hashtags. It argues that people encode themselves – their race, class, gender, sexuality, and ability – into the digitally mediated content they create, circulate, and transform. Even memetic engagement that is ‘merely’ entertaining must be understood in political terms; regardless of specific content, these participatory behaviours point towards broader cultural and ideological flows. The chapter focuses specifically on the #YesAllWomen and ‘not all men’ memes popularised in 2013, which illustrate memes’ ability to spur meaningful conversation, as well as the inescapably political standpoint of participants.
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