“Game of Thrones' War on Women": Fandom and Feminist Discourse on Tumblr

Briony Hannell

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


Recent research has positioned Tumblr as a site at which fans are motivated to engage in “social justice” through their fandoms, utilising the object of fandom to participate in debates about issues such as racism, sexism, and homophobia (Hillman, Procyk, and Neustaedter 2014). This is concurrent with broader literature on contemporary feminist reception practices (Willson Holladay 2016; Ferreday 2015; Bourdage 2014).

This paper draws upon these debates to explore how fans of HBO’s Game of Thrones routinely mobilise feminist discourses within their fannish talk about the series on Tumblr. In order to illustrate this, I examine fans’ blog posts written in response to the controversial episode, “Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken” (S05E06), to demonstrate how they combine fan practices and feminist discourses. My analysis of fan’s reception of this episode positions their knowledge of feminist discourses as a form of subcultural capital within Game of Thrones fandom on Tumblr. Fans of the series must be well versed in matters not only relating to the series, but also in the popular feminist, or “social justice”, discourses utilised across Tumblr.

This paper therefore argues that Tumblr, through its popularity among girls and young women, and its prominence within the feminist blogosophere (Keller 2016), lends itself to performances of feminist identity within fandoms on the website. This feminist identity cultivates and provides a language for fans to critique media representations of girls and women in sophisticated ways, mobilising feminist discourses to comment on issues such as sexual violence, violence against women, and rape culture within popular culture narratives and representations. In doing so, this paper makes visible how Tumblr fandoms and their practices intersect with larger cultural narratives about girls’ and young women’s engagement with feminism and performance of feminist identities (Schuster 2013; Harris 2010; Keller 2012).
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusUnpublished - 2017
EventFan Studies Network Conference - University of Huddersfield, Huddersfield, United Kingdom
Duration: 24 Jun 201725 Jun 2017


ConferenceFan Studies Network Conference
Abbreviated titleFSN
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
Internet address

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