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Indian Journal of Social Research Vol. 59 (3) (May - June, 2018) (355-367) 

Analysing Threads of Sexism in New Age Humour: A Content Analysis of Internet Memes

Nasrina Siddiqi

Research Scholar
Department of Psychology
 Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi

Anjuman Bains

Research Scholar
Department of Psychology
Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi

Arbaaz Mushtaq

Research Scholar
Department of Psychology
Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi

Sheema Aleem

Associate Professor
Department of Psychology
Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi

Abstract

Sexism, a threat to society since forever, has now become more widespread and profound with the inception of cyber revolution. It poses questions on the attainability of an egalitarian society and curtails gender parity by fostering gender divide. Despite unremitting efforts to mitigate gender biases, sexism remains embedded in our culture. When expressed under the garb of humour, sexism may seem less offensive, it nonetheless has more deteriorative repercussions in the long run. With the rise of social media, sexist humour has found a new medium to spread rapidly among the masses. Therefore, the current investigation explores the role of social media in spreading sexism via sexist humour. We analysed 50, randomly selected, sexist memes using a combination of quantitative and qualitative content analyses. Following social constructionism approach, we also examined the socially ascribed meanings of the images and text of these memes. The analysis revealed that sexist humour propagates baseless generalizations and gender stereotypes. Moreover, it often amalgamates demeaning language with humour to communicate sexist antagonism. Most interestingly, the images used in most of the sexist memes display young, confident and modern women which can be interpreted as a manifestation of the perceived threat associated with the aforesaid section of women. Overall, the findings indicate that sexist humour can cultivate tolerance of sexist attitudes by making it seem less offensive. Results of the present study have important implications for researchers and masses alike as they can provide insights into the complexity and duality of humour in everyday life.

Key words; Sexism, Humour, Memes, Social constructionism, Content analysis.


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