The field of web-based communication is constantly expanding. This trend is associated with the processes of globalization and informatization of society. In this regard, this communicative space needs thematic structuring of information in order to be able to highlight the information fragment demanded by the addressee. For the purpose of differentiating information on social networks, personal blogs and media platforms, the hashtag method is often used. So, in this study using hashtag tags in Russian, English and French disseminated by women in the web space, we will consider topical problems associated with the problems of modern women. Hashtags, due to their semantic and functional-pragmatic features, are interesting representative material for the study of modern linguistic and cultural trends. The purpose of the article is to describe the semantic and connotative meanings that are inherent in hashtags disseminated by women on the Web. The research material was 53 hashtags in English, French and Russian, the content of which dealt with urgent problems faced by women in modern society, published on the Internet for the period from 2018 to 2020. The work used methods of semantic, linguoculturological and content analysis. The combination of methods used allowed us to highlight the general and particular features inherent in the considered language variants of hashtags.
Keywords: Internet-communicationhashtaggender linguisticssemantics
In the era of the global spread of media resources, social networks begin to play the function of a global communication space, uniting participants with different geographical locations in a single virtual space (Gygax et al., 2018; Kharkovskaya & Krivchenko 2017; Malyuga, 2016). Communication in the virtual space acquires its own characteristic features, among which are: globality, internationality, time stability, as well as subject or thematic localization, mass nature of communication, synchronization of communication of several participants, multichannelism, etc. (Bem & Bem, 2018). The interconnection of all resources represented by media technologies allows us to create new types of global communication, attracting the attention of the masses to thematic communication messages in a world which is digitalized, globalized and multicultural in nature (Flores Farfán & Holzscheiter, 2015; O’Dowd, 2017).
This trend is associated with general issues of globalization of society, as well as with acute social problems, which may have the status of local or global trends. With the help of existing media platforms, such as social networks, personal blogs, personal profiles, and community profiles on various Internet platforms, a single tendency verbalized in the virtual space can resonate thanks to the updated theme (Rebellyon, 2018). Due to the tendency to reduce communicative acts to symbolic in some social networks, actualized messages are verbalized in the special form of hashtags, the main task of which is to introduce the main component of the significative code into the communicative code. The hashtag is the basic communicative code of the message, formulated according to the principle of keywords. Being integrated into the communication space, hashtag forms own communication space, its localization is determined by subject basis, i.e. corresponds to the main signifier of the updated message (Blaubergs, 2019). The space remains open by the principle of the key (keywords), where the key is the updated message label - the hashtag label. At the same time, the content of messages in this space is available for viewing by other users and is distributed using viral media technologies (Boroditsky et al., 2016). Due to the associated structure of media resources, the most popular trends emerging on the expanses of social networks leave virtual space and become objects of social advertising on a global scale (Gygax et al., 2012).
The specificity of the phenomenon of social advertising, as one of the components of the advertising discourse, lies in the conceptualization of acutely social images on a non-commercial basis. The transformation of Internet trends into a specific type of social advertising is a process of spontaneous mass communication with a basic subject-localized concept (Rajilić, 2017). The main features that allow us to determine the transformation data for advertising discourse are: the impersonal and social nature of the message, mass involvement, problematic, conceptual, viral distribution, polemic, involvement of organizations and communities in the polemic (Rebellyon, 2018). Virtual trends that have moved into the field of social advertising, as a rule, acquire the status of international trends and cause wave-like distribution across all segments (localizations) of virtual space (Stout & Dasgupta, 2011).
One of the pressing problems of our time is the problem of the image of a woman in the modern world. In developed countries, the trend of emancipation reaches peak values and has a number of well-established features and directions. At the same time, the term “emancipation” as the struggle of women for the existence of rights becomes irrelevant, since it is stipulated at the legislative level in most countries of the world that women have equal rights with men, or all citizens have equal rights. The term “feminism” came to replace emancipation in the 1960s, the main connotation of which is not the liberation of women, but the equalization of gender rights, which is a logical development of an old idea (Pradalier, 2016). However, nowadays the term “feminism” in some countries (Kazakhstan, Ukraine, Thailand, Pakistan, Iran, etc.) has acquired additional negative connotations associated with the activities of ultra-feminist or promatriarchal communities (Django Girls, Ru Ladies). The relevance of the ideas of feminism as a movement of female solidarity and the struggle for the rights of women can now be analyzed using the study of trends in the media space.
The selected material is divided into 3 main categories that correspond to the urgent problems of modern women: violence against women and issues of female appearance and health-beauty ratio and female sexuality. Let us consider each of the categories in more detail.
Purpose of the Study
In this study using hashtag tags in Russian, English and French disseminated by women in the web space, we will consider topical problems associated with the problems of modern women. Hashtags, due to their semantic and functional-pragmatic features, are interesting representative material for the study of modern linguistic and cultural trends. The purpose of the article is to describe the semantic and connotative meanings that are inherent in hashtags disseminated by women on the Web. The research material was 53 hashtags in English, French and Russian, the content of which dealt with urgent problems faced by women in modern society, published on the Internet for the period from 2018 to 2020. The work used methods of semantic, linguoculturological and content analysis. The combination of methods used allowed us to highlight the general and particular features inherent in the considered language variants of hashtags.
This article analyzes the most popular hashtags related to feminist trends and spontaneous movements in the fight for women's rights using semantic, linguocultural, and content analysis technologies.
The paper will consider hashtags in 3 languages (53 hashtags): English, Russian and French. The study base is as follows: social networks such as Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Reddit, the world's media (RT, Esquaire, Cosmopolitan, NY Times, Times, Le Monde, Le Figaro, etc.), and social facilities advertising disseminated both through physical media (banners, installations, etc.) and in the web space (internet advertising).
5.1. Hashtags relevant to violence against women
One of the most modern and discussed problems in the world is the problem of violence (physical, sexual and psychological), including the problem of violence against women. The actualization of this trend in 2018-2020 is directly related to the distribution of the hashtag
French-language localization hashtags acquired additional connotations of aggressiveness (animalize comparison
In the internet communities, the English language serves as the lingua franca for a number of international communities and projects. Therefore, the spread of trends on a global scale without reference to localization most often occurs through the English language.
The next hashtag under consideration
The next object under consideration is a hashtag with French-language localization
Another popular trend affecting violence against women is the #NousToutes French hashtag. Unlike the previous labels examined, this trend as the main signifier calls for the solidarity of women in the fight against violence. Here, the researcher's interest can be attracted by the form of the feminitive
The analysis of Russian hashtags of the Russian-speaking Internet space is also of particular interest.
The first object under consideration is the hashtag
Another example is the hashtag
5.2. Hashtags for women's right for their own sexuality
Let's move on to the following category: female sexuality and the right for it. This category is one of the fundamental issues of modern feminist movements, because the topic of female sexuality has long been a taboo in society, which undoubtedly is reflected in many cultural and linguistic phenomena. Modern society adheres to two paradigms in relation to open female sexuality: active and open support of women's rights to demonstrate their sexuality and, on the other hand, passive and hidden resistance to its manifestations. As a result of this, movements for the rights of women in their body and their sexuality are of great importance for both the legal and social spheres. Let us consider the manifestation of this trend in component messages, updated in the form of hashtags, which have gained wide public resonance and become an advertisement of women's rights to manifestations of sexuality.
As mentioned earlier, English-language tags have become most widespread in the Internet community due to the Englishization of the web space and the use of English as the language of universal communication.
The tendency also trends to originate in the English-speaking sector of the Internet due to the greater prevalence of feminist ideas in the countries of the Western sector and developed countries, as well as countries with a highly developed concept of supporting public initiatives, which include the central countries of the EU, USA, Canada, etc. Thus, one of the most popular feminist initiatives aimed at fighting women for the right to own a demonstration is the English hashtag
It is interesting to note the similarity of the Russian-language localization of the trend with the French. The hashtag
5.3. Updating the ratio of female beauty and health in the format of hashtags
Next, we consider the category of questions relating to women's appearance and the relationship between health and beauty of women, as well as beauty standards set by society. So, this tendency has a connection with the above category of women defending the right to their own sexuality, but in a different aspect. The body of a woman should not be exclusively the object of sexualization or be an example of beauty standards relevant to society. In this regard, the concept of the struggle of women for the right to independently solve issues related to their own bodies appears, including the following: issues of childbearing, pregnancy and abortion, issues of body modification, compliance with standards of beauty and painful conditions associated with resistance to public opinion (genetic or associated with social standards such as anorexia and bulimia).
The first hashtag to be considered in this aspect is
Another topic regarding the appearance of women and attitudes towards this general public is the topic of skin inflammation (acne), which is especially important for young girls with breakouts on the face. The hashtag
Also relevant is the trend associated with the ban of the naturalness of the female body: two topics will be addressed on such issues - stigmatization of hair on the female body. Let us consider them in more detail.
In the English-speaking sector of the Internet, the tendency to combat the ban of the naturalness of the female body first appeared in 2019. The first global flash mob launched on social networks in connection with this topic was a campaign related to the hashtag #
In the Russian-speaking environment, the attitude toward women outside the majority remains traditional both on the part of society as a whole and women in particular, and therefore the spread of trends related to the right of women to look the way they want is at a rather low level. Thus, we can say that the index of distribution of hashtags in the direction of the ratio of women's health and beauty on the Russian-speaking Internet is quite low.
We can meet special cases of the use of hashtags that relate directly to issues of female appearance and health. So, the hashtag
In conclusion, let us summarize: by increasing the global role of web resources in the modern life of society, many social problems are actualized directly in the Internet space, where they are subsequently disseminated using viral transmission technologies. One of the key points in launching such a mechanism is hashtag that update the message according to the principle of keywords, helping not only to spread the communicative message, but also to update it for representatives of the target audience.
One of the trends of our time is the idea of feminism or women's solidarity in the struggle for their rights. Moreover, the struggle for rights involves a wide range of included components, such as: the right to one’s own sexuality, to a certain position in society, etc. At the same time, the problems of violence against women, both physical (and sexual) and psychological, have become much more acute. In this regard, one of the trends in modern feminism is women's solidarity and mutual support in their fight against violence and for the rights to their own bodies. In this article, we examined how the identified trend is implemented in the web space (social networks, blogs, media and other media resources) by including key hash tags in the communicative message on the basis of keywords. We examined hashtags in 3 languages: English, Frenchб and Russian, and also provided their semantic and comparative analysis based on the identified components. As a result of the study, we found out that the hashtags in English are most widely used on the Internet, because English is used as a lingua franca in web space. At the same time, many national hashtags have the format of localization of the initial English-language variants.
The main connotations of hashtag are solidarity, opposition, struggle, public appeal, and challenge to the existing order of things. It can also be said that the global female community is becoming the target audience for such messages; however, the trends examined in the study also spread to the web community and to men (to a lesser extent) with a basic connotation of solidarity with women. At the same time, such methods are often used as shifting (using personal and possessive pronouns, singular and plural), focus on the recipient of the message, using negative constructions, using imperative constructions, as well as using integral grammatical constructions in the hashtag format to maintain the integrity of the ideological component. Among national precedent phenomena, it is possible to distinguish: 1) for French-speaking variants, enhanced connotations of aggressiveness are characteristic (high frequency of using imperative constructions and offensive vocabulary); 2) for Russian-language constructions, connotations of passive aggression and victimization are more characteristic (using reverse transference and focusing directly on the result of violence, rather than its prevention); 3) for English-language variants, the use of incomplete constructions (without the main members of the sentence), as well as a greater creative potential (inclusion of word-making components) is typical.
- Bem, S. L., & Bem, D. (2018). Does sex-biased job advertising “aid and abet” sex discrimination? Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 3(1), 6–18.
- Blaubergs, M. S. (2019). An analysis of classic arguments against changing sexist languages. Women’s Studies International Quarterly, 3, 135–147.
- Boroditsky, L., L. A., Schmidt, W., & Philipps, W. (2016). Sex, syntax, and semantics. In D. Gentner & S. Goldin-Meadow (Eds.), Language in mind. Advances in the study of language and thought (pp. 61–79). Cambridge.
- Flores Farfán, J. A., & Holzscheiter, A. (2015). The power of discourse and the discourse of power. In R. Wodak, B. Johnstone, & P. Kerswill (Eds.), The SAGE Handbook of Sociolinguistics (pp. 139-152). SAGE.
- Gygax, P., Gabriel, U., Lévy, A., Pool, E., Grivel, M., & Pedrazzini, E. (2012). The masculine form and its competing interpretations in French: When linking grammatically masculine role names to female referents is difficult. Journal of Cognitive Psychology, 24(4), 395-408.
- Gygax, P., Gabriel, U., Sarrasin, O., Oakhill, J., & Garnham, A. (2018). Generically intended, but specifically interpreted: when beauticians, musicians, and mechanics are all men. Language and Cognitive Processes, 23(3), 464–485.
- Kharkovskaya, A. A., & Krivchenko, I. B. (2017). Konceptual'naja organizacija diskursa social'nyh setej (na materiale social'noj seti FACEBOOK) [Conceptual organization of social network discourse (based on FACEBOOK social network)]. Voprosy prikladnoj lingvistiki [Issues of applied linguistics], 3(27), 60-77.
- Malyuga, E. (2016). Exploiting the potential of ICT: assessment of students’ knowledge. Proceedings of SGEM2016 conference, 3, 319-325.
- O’Dowd, R. (2017). Virtual Exchange and internationalising the classroom. Training, language and culture, 1(4), 8-24.
- Pradalier, N. (2016). Sexe et genre en français. La linguistique, 1(46), 113-120.
- Rajilić, S. (2017). Is Serbian becoming Croatian? Nationalist counter-reactions to feminist linguistics in Serbia. Gender and Language, 11(2), 204–226.
- Rebellyon (2018). Pourquoi et comment féminiser les textes? [Why and how to feminize texts]. https://rebellyon.info/A-Lyon-comme-ailleurs-en-France-et
- Stout, J. G., & Dasgupta, N. (2011). When he doesn’t mean you: Gender-exclusive language as ostracism. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 37(6), 757–769.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
About this article
08 December 2020
Print ISBN (optional)
Linguistics, modern linguistics, translation studies, communication, foreign language teaching, modern teaching methods
Cite this article as:
Shkineva, M. A., Kalinnikova, E. D., & Borisova, A. S. (2020). Phenomenon Of Female Solidarity In Modern Web-Space. In & V. I. Karasik (Ed.), Topical Issues of Linguistics and Teaching Methods in Business and Professional Communication, vol 97. European Proceedings of Social and Behavioural Sciences (pp. 581-590). European Publisher. https://doi.org/10.15405/epsbs.2020.12.02.77