Performing Feminist Resistance on Twitter: The case of #ParliamoneSabato in the Italian Twittersphere
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In mid-March, 2017, Italian public television channel RAI Uno aired the last episode of a popular show called Parliamone… Sabato. The episode discussed the romantic preferences of Italian men, and – particularly – why Italian men allegedly fantasize about Eastern European women as their ideal partners. Following the episode, a portion of the public rose in outrage for thesexist and racist content of the show. The protest obtained the cancellation of the show and a public apology by the RAI network soon thereafter. One of the key sites for the protest was the official Twitter hashtag of the show (#ParliamoneSabato). This paper offers a discourse-centered online ethnography of a corpus of tweets gathered from #ParliamoneSabato during the two weeks following the announcement that the show would be put off the air. Text circulated via Twitter was analyzed in light of its broader context thanks to online observation and limited ethnographic engagement in the analog realm. The protest tweeted at #ParliamoneSabato was analyzed through the lenses of Bennett and Sageberg’s ‘logic of connective action’ and Kelsey and Bennett’s ‘synoptic resistance’, as well as through the work of others involved in the study of the relationship between social media and social movements. This paper concludes that, despite its spontaneous character and its focus on singling out the misconducts of ‘the few’ running the Parliamone… Sabato, the overall features of the public involved in the protest (especiallythe narrowness of the user based) make it hard to characterize it as a self-organized protest of ‘the many’. In particular, it is crucial to notice that the protest might have originated somewhat spontaneously and mostly online, but almost immediately traveled into the analog world thanks to the brokerage of the Italian feminist movement “Non una di meno”. A closer look at the language used in the context of the protest highlights that much of the conversation betrays some level of anxiety on behalf of the Italian public because of a (real or imagined) growth in diversity within the country and its intertwining with gender issues and gender-related politics.
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