Feminist fire: embodiment and affect in managing conflict in digital feminist spaces

Julia Coffey, Akane Kanai

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


Digital spaces are crucial in enabling participation in contemporary feminism and activism, as key sites through which feminist knowledges are dispersed, taken up, and debated. However, little is known about how feminist learning is practically enacted, and how the potential for conflict and debate in online feminist spaces are navigated and have implications for feminist pedagogies. Through a qualitative participatory study with self-described “digital feminists”, this article contributes to some of the first accounts of the role and significance of politicised embodiment in digital spaces, andempirically explores women and non-binary people’s experiences and understandings of digital feminist practice. Participants described that the “feminist fire” which propelled participation in digital spaces could be difficult to manage in online textual-only contexts, where careful communication was required to mitigate the absence of bodily cues such as tone of voice and facial expression. We argue that bodies matter differently in text-based online interactions and explore how feminists manage the parameters of online architectures and strong affective embodied responses to conflict and difficult conversations online. We argue a focus on bodies and embodied sensations are crucial for understanding how contemporary feminist learning is navigated in digital spaces.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages18
JournalFeminist Media Studies
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2021


  • affect
  • anger
  • digital culture
  • embodiment
  • Feminism

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