Who's Laughing Now?
Feminist Tactics in Social Media
208 pp., 6 x 9 in, 14 b&w illus.
- Published: November 24, 2020
- Published: November 24, 2020
Feminist social media tactics that use humor as a form of resistance to misogyny, rewiring the dynamics of shame, shaming, and shamelessness.
Online sexism, hate, and harassment aim to silence women through shaming and fear. In Who's Laughing Now? Jenny Sundén and Susanna Paasonen examine a somewhat counterintuitive form of resistance: humor. Sundén and Paasonen argue that feminist social media tactics that use humor, laughter, and a sense of the absurd to answer name-calling, offensive language, and unsolicited dick pics can rewire the affective circuits of sexual shame and acts of shaming.
Using laughter as both a theme and a methodological tool, Sundén and Paasonen explore examples of the subversive deployment of humor that range from @assholesonline to the Tumblr “Congrats, you have an all-male panel!” They consider the distribution and redistribution of shame, discuss Hannah Gadsby's Nanette, and describe tactical retweeting and commenting (as practiced by Stormy Daniels, among others). They explore the appropriation of terms meant to hurt and insult—for example, self-proclaimed Finnish “tolerance whores”—and what effect this rerouting of labels may have. They are interested not in lulz (amusement at another's expense)—not in what laughter pins down, limits, or suppresses but rather in what grows with and in it. The contagiousness of laughter drives the emergence of networked forms of feminism, bringing people together (although it may also create rifts). Sundén and Paasonen break new ground in exploring the intersection of networked feminism, humor, and affect, arguing for the political necessity of inappropriate laughter.
Sundén's and Paasonen's unquestioned expertise in studying online porn, games, social media, and gender/feminist theory perfectly positions these scholars to undertake this work. The volume skillfully brings together multiple fascinating discussions of online sexism and harassment to consider the role of humor and laughter in speaking out and back against an increasing tide of toxicity. Innovative and highly recommended.
Mia Consalvo, Canada Research Chair in Game Studies and Design, Professor of Communication Studies, Concordia University; coauthor of Real Games: What's Legitimate and What's Not in Contemporary Videogames (with Christopher A. Paul)
A rich and original contribution to understanding humor as political resistance to the misogyny plaguing social media cultures. This smart, savvy study of laughter as feminist resistance not only advances the fields of affect, media, and feminist studies but also offers a pleasurable balm for our dark times.
Megan Boler, Professor, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education/University of Toronto; author of Affective Politics of Digital Media: Propagandaby Other Means and Digital Media and Democracy: Tactics in Hard Times
Who's Laughing Now? exposes the shameless hags laughing in the face of online misogyny. Sundeìn and Paasonen keenly note that laughter isn't always pleasurable, but it can be joyful and world changing. This book brilliantly weaves affect theory and activism, proving that contrary to popular opinion and online hot takes, feminists are funny.
Adrienne Massanari, Associate Professor, Department of Communication, University of Illinois at Chicago; author of Participatory Culture, Community, and Play: Learning from Reddit