'GASLIGHT, GATEKEEP, GIRLBOSS': MEMEFIED FEMININITIES AND DISIDENTIFICATION IN TIKTOK YOUTH CULTURES
Keywords:TikTok, memes, feminism, youth cultures, disidentification
AbstractCatchcries of empowerment and enterprise have been documented and critiqued by a range of scholars, and continue to be invoked within the postfeminist mainstream (Negra 2014, Winch 2013, Adkins and Dever 2016, Banet-Weiser 2015, Dobson 2014). Yet, on the social media platform TikTok, a number of alternative feminist trends have emerged. Young users are increasingly disidentifying with, or even zealously rejecting, postfeminist ideals. This emerging form of online feminist consciousness, however, intertwines with existing regimes of femininity and girlhood, producing a fraught environment within which establishing a young, feminine identity is particularly precarious. Expanding on scholarship examining teenage girlhood on TikTok (Kennedy 2020) and the ‘memeified’ politics of Gen Z (Zeng and Abidin 2021), we consider how young girls on TikTok have developed ‘remixed’ feminine identities by positioning figures such as the ‘girlboss’, the ‘pick me girl’ and ‘that girl’ as imagined others. Throughout our analysis, we highlight a range of tensions and contradictions that are evoked within normative frames of youthful femininity. These include performing ‘wokeness’ (Sobande 2019); compulsory irony (Chateau 2020); navigating digital literacies (Nissenbaum and Shifman 2017); manufacturing relatability (Kanai 2019) and compliance with hegemonic feminine norms. Ultimately, we argue that through practices of humour, irony and disidentification, the ‘girlboss’, the ‘pick me girl’ and 'that girl' are evoked as feminine Others, producing a collective feminist politics that lacks positive identity markers, where the feminine self must precariously navigate practices of identification, disidentification, opposition and rejection.
How to Cite
Chen, S. X., & Zeng, N. (2023). ’GASLIGHT, GATEKEEP, GIRLBOSS’: MEMEFIED FEMININITIES AND DISIDENTIFICATION IN TIKTOK YOUTH CULTURES. AoIR Selected Papers of Internet Research, 2022. https://doi.org/10.5210/spir.v2022i0.12988