Krolokke begins her essay by recapping recent research in gender and language in cyberspace, including the role of "grrrls" who specifically resist male domination. She then describes her study of 5 MSN channels of Internet Relay Chat (IRC): gay chat, lesbian chat, transgender/transsexual chat, politics2000 chat, and African-American chat for what she calls "playful chat". She analyzes the transcribed speech for 4 types of language play: abbreviations, paralinguistic cues, hybrid language, and insulting speech. Krolokke uses performance theory to explain gender play online such that she considers "linguistic gender" to mean performing a speech pattern that follows social and cultural expectations or stereotypes associated with the speech of that gender. She explains that in some cases, "IRC provides a space for participants to play out their most convincing performances of parodic linguistic identities." As such, she provides an argument away from earlier linguists who argued about the inherent differences in male/female communication and towards later "third wave" linguists who see all communication and all contexts as marked for gender, not the speaker him or herself.
Soukup's study focuses upon two chatrooms - one sports-related and male-dominated, and the other female-based and female-dominated. His results support the ideas cited by Tannen and others in linguistic studies of discourse, in that the male chatters were more aggressive, argumentative, and power-seeking than the female chatters. It's unclear to me whether the results can be viewed as reliable or representative, since there may be an inherent social context to a sports-related chatroom/bulletin board that goes above and beyond being merely a male-dominant community. For example, Soukup cites the fact that the sports-related chatroom essentially turned into a locker room replete with profane and sexist language, including sexual put-downs and challenges between male chatters. He goes on to note that when male chatters entered the chatroom of the female-based community, that there was frequent inappropriate behavior such that groups of male chatters would take-over the room with sexist remarks or propositioning of the female members.
Linguists such as Deborah Tannen and Robin Lakoff have sought to examine the conversational styles and practices between men and women in order to formulate theories of gender-specific discourse. In my final paper, I plan to take the theories of such linguists and apply them specifically to Internet venues (chatrooms, discussion boards, and Yahoo groups) to highlight differences in male and female user communication strategies. It is my theory that while online, female members employ more verbal deference mechanisms and more consistently defend the use of “netiquette” than male members of similar age and regional background in order to preserve group unity and cohesiveness while discouraging group divisiveness. From the theoretical readings assigned in class, I plan to cite from Republic.com by Cass Sunstein, and possibly also the 2 articles by Henry Jenkins, in addition to the other bibliographic citations.