Sue Ann Barratt


This paper demonstrates, through content analysis, how online audiences can enforce gender based violence (GBV) as a real threat in the online space through verbally aggressive speech acts that function as symbolic violence. I examine cases emerging out of the context of Trinidad and Tobago, to articulate, how, for example, prejudicial chastising of women is used as a discourse to not only shame and blame but construct femininity-as-fail, however that femininity is embodied. This symbolic violence I read as a spectre, a force that enforces, both in the offline and online, the reassertion of strict respectability and responsibility as standard. This is done through victim blaming and policing, especially of women’s bodies, voice and agency. I assert that such talk constitutes an online environment that serves as fertile ground for the reconstitution of traditional and limiting notions of femininity. Such an environment also facilitates constant backlash against feminist discourses and feminist activism to attain gender justice in the Caribbean region. The online environment is a force that breaches offline boundaries across the globe, thus its effect must be accounted for as we attempt to build the resilience of feminist consciousness and gender justice.

Author Biography

Sue-Ann Barratt teaches and conducts research with The Institute for Gender and Development Studies; The University of the West Indies, St. Augustine Campus.