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.
In this article, Herring discusses her research into both asynchronous communication via discussion list and synchronous communication via IRC in which women were subject to harassment and demeaning characterizations by men. In both instances, the result was that the affected women fell silent or complied with the male behavioral normatives. I think it is important to note the forums chosen, as there may have been some issues inherent to the discussion which should be considered above and beyond the linguistic patterns. The discussion list was Paglia-L, a group dedicated to discuss the writings of the cultural theorist Camille Paglia, who is often referred to as an "anti-feminist feminist" and who often generates polemical discussions among women as often as in mixed company. The IRC channel was #india which is primarily composed of expatriates from India living in English-speaking countries, and as such, specific Indian cultural patterns may have also influenced the speech found on that channel. What is most useful to me from this essay is how Herring defines harassment online, shows examples of its resistance and escalation, and finally shows how the female participants accommodate or conform to the degrading situation. If these examples can be extended across the internet, it would indicate that male-female communication suffers from similar breakdowns as those that can occur on the job or in any face-to-face situation where harassment may surface and as such, that we have a long way to go to address gender equality online.
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.