Language and Societies

ANT/LIN 5320 at Wayne State University

#NotAllMen and the Blame Game: A critical discourse analysis of a Twitter hashtag

#NotAllMen and the Blame Game: A critical discourse analysis of a Twitter hashtag

Laura Cunningham

Twitter has extensively been studied as an exchange between individuals, corporations, and political entities. In this paper I argue that this social media platform has helped develop online feminist theory through the interaction of two specific hashtags: #NotAllMen and #YesAllWomen. The purpose of this paper is to trace the evolution of the #NotAllMen hashtag from its beginning to a powerful aspect of feminism and rape culture in America. I will show that the original intention of #NotAllMen was as a simplistic conversation piece directed at the Twittersphere in general. Over time it became a tool to index users in one of two ways: as a supporter of men’s rights in the face of blame for rape culture or as a defender of women’s rights. I demonstrate this shift in usage through the critical discourse analysis of all original uses of #NotAllMen from its inception in 2009 until May 25th, 2014. The date is auspicious as it coincides with the Isla Vista shootings and the creation of the #YesAllWomen hashtag in response to that specific instance of sexist violence. I analyze this data set linguistically to illuminate how sexist language and linguistic power are employed in an online setting.


April 6, 2015 - Posted by | abstract


  1. This sounds really cool! A very large data set. Are you exploring the hashtags’ use in association with particular events or just the use of it in general? Did you find that the certain events led to and increase in use by either side? Did the nature of the event show an influence on this dichotomy?

    Comment by Kaitlin Scharra | April 19, 2015 | Reply

  2. Reading your abstract and listening to your talk at the graduate conference, I wonder whether it would be interesting to consider how #NotAllMen and #YesAllWomen exist as binary oppositions, related to and entwined in the politics of binary gender categories…

    Comment by Kathryn Nowinski | April 21, 2015 | Reply

  3. This topic is so incredibly relevant to American culture at this juncture. This is a very important issue to men and women everywhere. I was fascinated listening to your presentation at the Transformations graduate conference and look forward to the opportunity to read the finished paper and hear it preesented at the AAAs.

    Comment by Kimberly Oliver | April 21, 2015 | Reply

  4. Thats an amazing topic! I went into twitter to look in to the 2 hashtags you posted. You really can learn a lot about a culture of an issue through twitter nowadays. While reading the comments in the hashtags, I was surprised by the dominant tone or language used by some men in America. I knew it could be everywhere but I was still surprised!
    Men and women rights/issues are discussed abundantly in Twitter among Saudis too. In S.A, women voices are more vocal in Twitter, and I wonder why is it more vocal in twitter not in any other social media?! I am curios to know what was most salient in the discourse analysis findings? I look forward to reading your paper.

    Comment by Suha | April 29, 2015 | Reply

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