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‘Do not parade your ignorance’: Negation as a power tool of toxic geek masculinity in the Australian manosphere
  • Margo Van Poucke
Margo Van Poucke
Macquarie University

Corresponding Author:[email protected]

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Catering to a primarily male user population, Reddit is often said to be a breeding ground for toxic language use, which has led to the development of multiple computational classification models for the automated identification of toxicity in online conversations. Since negation can play a key role in cyberbullying, functioning as a popular stance marker in the dialogical exchange of dominating views in the digital sphere, it should not be ignored. Likewise, its use as a rhetorical strategy deserves more linguistic attention. Described as Engagement resources of disclaim in Appraisal theory, negated constructions may be employed by Reddit users to disalign themselves from divergent perspectives through so-called ad hominem attacks, not only resulting in a potentially detrimental impact on the users’ mental health, but also reproducing hegemonic relationships. Therefore, this paper examines the use of negation, in combination with various other interpersonal resources, to explore whether it is ideologically motivated. A computer-assisted appraisal analysis is conducted on 2,637 most upvoted comments and replies (49,866 words), extracted from the subreddit of r/AustralianPolitics between 11-14 April and 7-10 May 2022, during the period leading up to the so-called federal climate change election in Australia. The study appears to show evidence of a seemingly dominant negation pattern containing negative judgement and its findings tentatively suggest that some of the Australian users identifying as male may use negation as an ideologocially driven discursive strategy. This points to the possibility that the toxic language encountered on r/AustralianPolitics may be influenced by hegemonic masculinity.