Empowered but Endangered? An Analysis of Hegemonic Womanhood in Indian Gender Advocacy Campaigns
This research examines digital gender advocacy campaigns in India during the 2010s. By employing thematic analysis and conceptual tools of the social representations theory into the analysis of 250 gender advocacy videos published on YouTube, we answer the following questions: a) How are dangers to women in India discussed in recent video campaigns? b) How is the topic objectified and anchored in multimodal narration? c) How is hegemonic womanhood constructed in the campaigns? The findings suggest that campaigns present two social representations of dangers with sexual harassment depicted as a danger for urban middle-class women and the issues of early marriage, lack of female education, and gender-biased sex selection as rural dangers. The primary solution suggested by the campaigns is to encourage women to actively claim their place in society, placing the main responsibility for changing the situation on women themselves. The secondary solution suggested is to encourage families to support girls and women. Thus, the analysis shows how social representations created by gender advocacy in India put responsibility on individuals and excuse social institutions from addressing inequality, while maintaining power relations and class disparities.