A body of text: Revisting textual performances of gender and sexuality on the internet

S. Wyatt, N. van Doorn, L. van Zoonen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


This article re-evaluates the relationship between gender identities, embodiment, sexuality and text-based, synchronous cmc (computer-mediated communication). A discourse analysis was conducted on two different irc channels: #cyberbar, a channel that hosts predominantly “straight” male/female gender performances; and #queer, a channel mostly visited by participants who articulate “gay male” gender identities. The notion of embodiment played a pivotal role in both channels, as demonstrated by the identification of three “interpretative repertoires” that involve the invocation of corporeal aspects in the participants' performance of gender and sexuality. This invocation reaffirms gender's status as connected to a binary sexed body, which limits the scope of gender performances in a text-based environment such as irc. However, the discursive interactions in #queer did articulate alternative interpretations of masculinity, which challenged traditional heteronormative standards governing “male behavior.” eventually, it is concluded that the discourse in both channels is constructed by participants who bring their everyday, embodied experiences online. Irc might be a textual environment, in contrast to many of the web's popular graphical spaces, but this does not mean that the body is any less present.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)357-374
JournalFeminist Media Studies
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2008

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