Gender and politics in a digitalised world: investigating online hostility against UK female MPs
This paper investigates digital discursive practices of hostility against women in UK politics through quantitative and qualitative analysis of a corpus of Twitter data retrieved across the 3 weeks preceding the UK General Elections in December 2019. A mixed-methods approach was designed. First, we used quantitative semantic analysis to compare the large datasets of tweets about female and male MPs, with a view to detecting possible gendered patterns. We then triangulated our quantitative findings with an in-depth critical discursive analysis of the tweets mentioning female MPs. Rather than showing gendered patterns across the board, the results from the quantitative analysis brought out large inter-individual differences. Some female MPs received comments containing more lexis related to appearance, sexual history and violence, as well as more emotional or extreme language. Critical analysis of the hostile and abusive messages targeting women reveals them to be deeply embedded in a social perception of women's political activity as breaching the rules of gender performativity.