transfer 27(4) » Medieninhalte

#FrauenSagenNein – Bridging the Divide

Analyzing the Affective Network of #FrauenSagenNein as a Potential Platform for Gender-Critical Alliances

The influence of anti-gender movements is on the rise globally as they seek to prevent the expansion of transgender rights. In Germany, the anti-gender debate has gained renewed intensity in the wake of the publication of the draft Self-Determination Act in June 2022. Within this discourse, two prominent actors emerge: gender-critical feminists and right-wing populists. Despite their divergent ideological and political positions, the affordances of social media provide them with a platform for collaborative interactions. Thus, under issue-related hashtags, the boundaries between these actors are becoming increasingly blurred.
This study draws on affect theory and hashtag activism to investigate the complex dynamics within gender-critical protest movements in the digital public sphere, particularly under the hashtag #FrauenSagenNein (#WomenSayNo). Utilizing mixed methods, the study analyzed 44,196 tweets collected between June 30, 2022, and January 31, 2023. The Social Network Analysis (SNA) unveiled a polarized network comprising gender-critical feminists, right-wing populists, and queer feminists. Qualitative analysis through Grounded Theory method unpacked the narratives within #FrauenSagenNein, exposing a predominant theme focused on excluding transgender women from female spaces. Notably, the findings indicate the alliance of gender-critical feminists and right-wing activists in contesting the Self-Determination Act, utilizing affective language to bolster gender-critical narratives steeped in fear and anger. The discourse primarily revolves around the perceived exclusivity of women’s spaces to cisgender women, mirroring historical discourses against transgender rights expansion. While exposing alliances between disparate groups, the research highlights internal conflicts within feminism itself, presenting a rift between gender-critical feminists and queer feminists over the inclusion of transgender individuals. Thus, based on these findings, it is vital to critically monitor such alliances to counter the spread of binary gender norms and heteronormative beliefs.