Feminist humor in the Ukrainian social media


Humour is instrumental in drawing attention to controversial topics like gender inequality. This empirical study aims to distinguish the culture-specifics of feminist humour in the Ukrainian social media sector by identifying women’s main techniques to overcome gender stereotypes and prejudices. The material for the study was humour patterns sampled in the Ukrainian social media sector from November 2022 to February 2023. During this period, 1803 posts were shared in these groups. In the first stage, we selected 698 posts with humour as their conceptual content. In the second stage, 121 patterns were selected, the main distinguishing characteristic of which is the use of gender terms and/or the presence of explicit gender categorical inferences. Attention was focused on those examples where the humour was aimed at gender deconstruction, achieved by criticism of discriminatory social norms restricting women’s and girls’ rights. Discourse-analytical research methods were used in the study. Feminist humour techniques used by women in the Ukrainian social media sector to challenge gender stereotypes and prejudices are as follows: 1. Positioning oneself as an irrepressible “bad girl”. This technique aims to develop and cultivate assertiveness, i. e. the ability to withstand the psychological pressure of traditional social norms attributed to a “real lady”, to regulate one’s behaviour and take responsibility for it. 2. “Confusion” of the gender binary. Humour is a platform for creating identities that do not follow the traditional concept of men or women and cannot be described within a rigid binary scheme. An important tool that enables women to challenge stereotypes is the genre of humour, such as banter, which makes it possible for women to experiment with different social constructions of what being a woman in the image of a man means. 3. Adopting the male tradition of disparagement humour. The recipients’ acceptance of disparagement humour means that they tacitly consent to the termination of typical serious or critical ways of thinking about socially problematic topics, thus ultimately destroying gender biases and stereotypes – if stereotypes do not apply to men, they lose their validity for women as well. 4. Cultivating self-compassion for oneself. Self-compassion fosters self-awareness that rejects normative gender stereotypes as factors that impede positive aspirations for growth and change. The concept of self-compassion is closely related to the positive perception of one’s body image. The results of this study have confirmed the basic conclusions made in the earlier publications that feminist humour is designed to address several psychological problems women face, the reason for which stems from their tendency to adhere to traditional beliefs about gender roles, but feminist humour is not man-hating. By identifying typical techniques employed to challenge gender biases and stereotypes in a particular country, we can understand the national and cultural specificity of feminist humour.

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