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Can Social Media Be a Place for Women? Effects of Aggressive Comments on User Engagement in Collective Action for Gender Equality in China

journal contribution
posted on 2024-03-25, 00:54 authored by Huanlin Li, Ziyang Xie, Jisu KimJisu Kim

Although social media have been the major platform for discussing gender issues and feminist activities in China, female users have often been subjected to incivility and aggressiveness as a backlash against feminist activities. This study examined the effects of being exposed to aggressive online comments on female online users’ gender identity salience, emotional reactions, and collective action, based on the social identity model of deindividuation effect (SIDE) model and gender identity. An online experiment was conducted using a 2 (level of aggressiveness: aggressive vs. non-aggressive) x 3 (target: against female vs. against male vs. against both) between-subjects factorial design. Although our analysis did not show the expected pattern that exposure to incivility against female online users’ gender group in online comments would make their gender identity salient, female online users still experienced negative emotions. Our analysis also showed only a marginal effect of being exposed to aggressive comments on engagement in corrective actions, but it revealed that female online users support corrective actions via social media page moderators and the government after being exposed to aggressive comments against their gender group. There was no significant effect on online and offline activism.


Journal/Conference/Book title

Asian Communication Research

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Jisu Kim

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