Advertisement

Decoding Memes: Barthes’ Punctum, Feminist Standpoint Theory, and the Political Significance of #YesAllWomen

  • Whitney Phillips
  • Ryan M Milner
Chapter
Part of the Palgrave Entertainment Industries book series (PAEI)

Abstract

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.

References

  1. ABC News (2014) ‘Elliot Rodger Plans for the “Day of Retribution”’, 28 June, http://abcnews.go.com/2020/video/elliot-rodger-plans-day-retribution-24346009.
  2. Barthes, R. (1981) Camera Lucida: Reflections on Photography, Farrar, Straus, and Giroux: New York.Google Scholar
  3. Boyd, d. (2008) ‘Taken out of Context: American Teen Sociality in Networked Publics’, http://www.danah.org/papers/TakenOutOfContext.html.
  4. Dawkins, R. (1976) The Selfish Gene, Oxford University Press: Oxford, UK.Google Scholar
  5. Gal, N., Shifman, L., and Kampf, Z. (2015) ‘“It Gets Better”: Internet Memes and the Construction of Collective Identity’, New Media & Society, Vol. 18, no.8 pp. 1–17.Google Scholar
  6. Gray, M. L. (2009) Out in the Country: Youth, Media, and Queer Visibility in Rural America, New York University Press: New York.Google Scholar
  7. Hall, S. (1973/1993) ‘Encoding, Decoding’, in (ed.) During, S., The Cultural Studies Reader, Routledge: London, pp. 90–103.Google Scholar
  8. Harding, S. (1993) ‘Rethinking Standpoint Epistemology: What Is “Strong Objectivity?”’, (eds.) Alcoff, L. and Potter, E., Feminist Epistemologies, Routledge: New York.Google Scholar
  9. Kendall, L. (2002) Hanging out in the Virtual Pub: Masculinities and Relationships Online, University of California Press: Berkeley, CA.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Kessler, S. (2014) ‘Hands up, Don’t Shoot’ and the Growing Power of Protest Memes’, Fast Company, 14 August, http://www.fastcompany.com/3034486/hands-up-dont-shoot-and-growing-power-of-protest-memes.
  11. Khatchadourian, A. (2014) ‘Infographic: Where in the World #Yesallwomen Is Being Tweeted the Most’, BDCwire, 28 May, http://bdcwire.com/infographic-where-in-the-world-yesallwomen-is-being-tweeted-the-most/.
  12. Knutilla, L. (2011) ‘User Unknown: 4chan, Anonymity and Contingency’, First Monday, Vol. 16, no. 10. http://firstmonday.org/ojs/index.php/fm/article/view/3665/3055.
  13. LadyJustice2188 (2014) ‘Santa Barbara Killer Elliot Rodger’s “Day of Retribution”, YouTube, 25 May, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_4w2NcJEepw.
  14. Leber, R. (2014) ‘Feminists’ Inspiring Online Response to a Misogynist Mass Murderer’, Think Progress, 25 May, http://thinkprogress.org/home/2014/05/25/3441489/yesallwomen/.
  15. Milner, R. M. (2013) ‘Hacking the Social: Internet Memes, Identity Antagonism, and the Logic of Lulz’, The Fibreculture Journal, vol. 22, http://twentytwo.fibreculturejournal.org/fcj-156-hacking-the-social-internet-memes-identity-antagonism-and-the-logic-of-lulz/.
  16. Milner, R. M. (2016) The World Made Meme: Public Conversations and Participatory Media, MIT Press: Cambridge, MA.Google Scholar
  17. Miltner, K. (2014) ‘“There’s No Place for Lulz on Lolcats”: The Role of Genre, Gender, and Group Identity in the Interpretation and Enjoyment of an Internet Meme’, First Monday, Vol. 19, no. 8. http://firstmonday.org/ojs/index.php/fm/article/view/5391/4103.
  18. Nakamura, L. (2002) Cybertypes: Race, Ethnicity, and Identity on the Internet, Routledge: New York.Google Scholar
  19. Pachal, P. (2014) ‘How the #Yesallwomen Hashtag Began’, Mashable, 26 May, http://mashable.com/2014/05/26/yesallwomen-hashtag/.
  20. Penny, L. (2014) ‘Let’s Call the Isla Villa Killings What They Were’, The New Statesman, 25 May, http://www.newstatesman.com/lifestyle/2014/05/lets-call-isla-vista-killings-what-they-were-misogynist-extremism.
  21. Phillips, W. (2015) This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things: Mapping the Relationship between Online Trolling and Mainstream Culture, MIT Press: Cambridge, MA.Google Scholar
  22. Ryan, E. G. (2014) ‘Your Guide to “Not All Men,” the Best Meme on the Internet’, Jezebel, 8 May, http://jezebel.com/your-guide-to-not-all-men-the-best-meme-on-the-interne-1573535818.
  23. Shifman, L. (2014) Memes in Digital Culture, MIT Press: Cambridge, MA.Google Scholar
  24. Shirky, C. (2010) ‘How Cognitive Surplus Will Change the World’, TED, http://www.ted.com/talks/clay_shirky_how_cognitive_surplus_will_change_the_world.html.
  25. Sterbenz, C. (2014) ‘Alleged Santa Barbara Shooter Wrote a Deranged Misogynistic Manifesto’, Business Insider, 24 May, http://www.businessinsider.com/elliot-rodgers-manifesto-2014-5.
  26. Van Zoonen, L. (2005) Entertaining the Citizen: When Politics and Popular Culture Converge, Rowman and Littlefield: Lanham, MD.Google Scholar
  27. Vie, S. (2014) ‘In Defense of “Slacktivism”: The Human Rights Campaign Facebook Logo as Digital Activism’, First Monday, Vol. 19, no. 4. http://firstmonday.org/ojs/index.php/fm/article/view/4961/3868.
  28. Weiss, S. (2014) ‘The Power of #Yesallwomen’, The New Yorker, 26 May, http://www.newyorker.com/culture/culture-desk/the-power-of-yesallwomen.
  29. Woolf, N. (2014) ‘PUAhate’ and “ForeverAlone”: Inside Elliot Rodger’s Online Life’, The Guardian, 30 May, http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/may/30/elliot-rodger-puahate-forever-alone-reddit-forums.
  30. Worland, J. (2014) ‘ALS Ice Bucket Challenge Donations Just Topped $100 Million’, Time, 29 August, http://time.com/3222224/als-ice-bucket-challenge-donations-million/.
  31. Zimmerman, J. (2014) ‘Not All Men: A Brief History of Every Dude’s Favorite Argument’, Time, 28 April, http://time.com/79357/not-all-men-a-brief-history-of-every-dudes-favorite-argument/.

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Whitney Phillips
    • 1
  • Ryan M Milner
    • 2
  1. 1.Mercer UniversityMaconUSA
  2. 2.CommunicationCollege of CharlestonCharlestonUSA

Personalised recommendations