Background and aim
In the years following the #metoo movement, which upended many of the conventional ideas about Scandinavia as a gender-equal utopia, we have seen heated and rapidly shifting public conversations around gender in the Nordic countries. As such, the #metoo movement poked holes in the longstanding myths of gender equality as a “closed case” (Dahlerup, 2018) that are often rehearsed in and about the Nordic countries in particular. In addition (momentarily at least) we were having conversations about the role of social media in gender(ed) struggles, gender and (mis)representations, and power structures in media organisations that went beyond post-feminist narratives. In many regards, there has been a renewed interest in issues related to the deep-seated structures of gender inequality permeating society and the role of the media in reproducing or challenging these structures.
At the same time, we are also experiencing a considerable anti-feminist pushback and a general backlash against gender equality discourse and gender mainstreaming tools. A recent study from the University of Gothenburg showed that young men across Europe feel increasingly threatened by advances in women’s rights and gender parity and place Sweden among the top 10 countries in which these attitudes of “modern sexism” are on the rise among younger generations (Off et al., 2022). In Sweden, the backlash has mainly been orchestrated by non-institutional actors involved in the extensive web of alternative news media in the country who have been pushing anti-feminist ideas up the agenda as part of a larger campaign presenting “gender ideology” and “excessive feminism” as the root cause of mass immigration, and in extension, an alleged societal collapse of Nordic welfare states. In Denmark, on the other hand, the backlash has partly come from within institutional politics led by members of parliament from The Liberal Alliance and Danish People’s Party who have been ardently campaigning against institutions, programmes, and individual researchers in the area of gender studies and postcolonial and migration studies, many of whom have been singled out in the media and accused of being partisan or “activist” and who have consequently experienced online harassment and trolling.
Further, in the realm of gender dynamics online, numerous reports have been published documenting increasing online misogyny and the emergence of a distinctly “Nordic manosphere” (Mogensen & Helding, 2020) and “alternative influence networks” on platforms such as YouTube (Cybernauterne, 2020) who coalesce around anti-feminist, homophobic, and misogynist ideas (Fernquist et al., 2020; Mogensen & Helding, 2019; Ask et al., 2016). Other studies challenge these findings and point to the emergence of a more inclusive masculinity among young heterosexual men who increasingly reject overt homophobia and heteronormativity (Anderson & McCormack, 2016). Similarly, new studies question any straightforward relation between misogynist online forums, Inceldom (involuntary celibacy), and violent attitudes or behaviours towards women (see, e.g., Langeland et al., 2022 for discussion of “Incels” in Norway). More robust empirical evidence is needed to assess the implications of online misogyny and its potential contribution to toxic or harmful gender identities in contemporary societies. The mainstreaming of rapidly developing media technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) and virtual reality (VR) also raises important questions about gender (Korsvik et al., 2020). AI-generated content and AI recommendation systems build upon historical media with embedded biases, and both the training data and algorithms are largely developed outside of the Nordic region. VR and augmented reality interfaces, whether in real-life situations or as imagined in videogames and cinema, can make encoded assumptions about gender visible and actionable in new ways (Gunderson, 2021). Big Data and AI can encode gender as binary, creating or exacerbating existing societal biases.
With this issue of Nordic Journal of Media Studies, we invite scholars to explore the following questions: What new ideas, discussions, concepts, and methods are emerging in studies at the intersection of media and gender in the Nordic countries and beyond? How do they relate to developments in the field such as AI, algorithms, and processes of platformisation and datafication? However, while focusing on recent developments and trends in research on media and gender, we also encourage contributors to engage with historical perspectives, and not least with previous scholarly efforts to “offer a snapshot of contemporary debates on media and gender” (Hirdman & Kleberg, 2015: 12) in the context of the Nordic countries, for example, by revisiting some of the long-standing themes in the field such as representation and power (Carlsson, 1993). Potential themes include but are not limited to the following:
- Reinserting Gender Trouble (Butler, 1990) in the Nordic context – the renewed interest in queer, trans, and non-binary identities in public debate across the Nordics
- Gender and media representations, including comparative perspectives
- Gender and visuality – visibilities and invisibilities
- Gender and media production practices
- Gendered newsrooms and gendered journalism
- Journalistic practices post #metoo – reporting on gender and sexual violence
- Gender and racial biases in AI-generated content and in AI-based recommender systems (algorithmic bias)
- Gender and digital labour
- Gender in videogames and gaming communities
- Gender in Nordic politics and political communication
- Gender and generations in the media
- Women in digitalised sports cultures, including e-sports
- Online misogyny (including new perspectives on the manosphere, incel communities, etc.)
- LGBTQ+ and online communities
- Digital media and femonationalism in Scandinavia
- Hashtag activism and networks of race and gender justice
- New arrivals, immigrant women, media engagement, and transnational solidarities
We welcome theoretical contributions including intersectional perspectives, queer theory, trans theory, contributions to feminist media theory, and so on, just as we encourage interdisciplinary work and collaborative research produced with non-academic partners.
Those with an interest in contributing should write an extended abstract (max. 750 words) where the main theme (or argument) of the intended article is described. The abstract should contain the preliminary title, five keywords, and a rationale for how the article fits within the overall aim of the issue – to critically reflect on recent developments and trends in research on media and gender drawing on new ideas, conceptual discussions, perspectives, and methods emerging at the intersection of these fields in the Nordic countries and beyond.
Send your extended abstract to email@example.com by 3 April 2023.
Scholars invited to submit a full manuscript (6,000–8,000 words) will be notified by e-mail after the extended abstracts have been assessed. All submissions should be original works and must not be under consideration by other publishers. All submissions are submitted to Similarity Check – a Crossref service utilising iThenticate text comparison software to detect text-recycling or self-plagiarism.