An in-depth analysis of the corpora revealed that misogyny and gender issues were intertwined in much of the hateful discussions.
The question of marriage was debated extensively both in the context of same-sex marriages and the nature and legality of marriages for heterosexual partners. Part of the discussion referred to the different kinds of marriages (civil vs. religious, temporary, mut’ah), their meanings and their perceived value or morality, and in some cases the fact that religious heads such as sheiks and pastors use marriage-related issues to wield power over their followers. There was also a line of discussion in which both men and women circumvented marriage laws to their advantage, as in the case of marriage tourism to Cypress.
Violence, Child marriage and “marry-your-rapist” laws were also analysed. Users claimed that as long as women lack rights, specifically in Lebanon, there would be no end to such incidents and various forms of violence. Marriage was also seen as the ultimate goal for women in Middle Eastern society, as middle-aged married women are more socially accepted than middle-aged single women.
Some users argued how Islamic and Christian religious leaders use marriage and divorce laws to control people. This created what is known as the phenomenon of “marriage tourism” in the Middle East, where both heterosexuals and homosexuals escape to Cyprus to get married, thus avoiding complicated marriage rules.
There was repeated discussion surrounding the status of women in Islam. Users traded insults over how repressive or how liberating Islam was for women. There was also discussion over whether this status was unique to Islam. For example, the requirement to wear certain attire, men’s ability to marry multiple times, unequal laws regarding rape and adultery, etc. People also framed this argument in terms of women’s choice, as opposed to forcibly following religious requirements. The supposed regressive nature of Islam was used to belittle users who supported Islamic traditions.
Often, the corpora highlighted women as the representatives of family honour, men, or country. For instance, some users cursed or shamed other users’ wives as a sign of hatred and disgust. The focus on shaming Saudi, Palestinian, and Syrian women was evident in the corpora. For example, Syrian women were often referred to as beggars, or as committing adultery in exchange for food. There were various discussions about women and Islam regarding the forced adherence to “unfair” laws.
Another element was gendered insults. Typically, language that involved denigration or violence towards females or the dehumanization of LGBTQ+ people was used to insult men.
Worth noting, though, was that this content was noticeably different across languages.
In the Arabic corpus, the content was mainly about politics and entertainment, and the words most significantly collocated with women were sexist, condescending and rape-promoting. Swear words—even those used by women—always involved violating someone’s mother, sister or wife. Furthermore, the negative comments and sentiments seemed to be layered in this context. While all women were portrayed negatively, whether referring to social norms where women are considered inferior to men, or whether they “deserved rape,” because they belonged to certain undesired groups—women of different backgrounds had different layers of tags.
Conversely, within the Arabic language subsample, discussions about gender were overtly hateful and, usually, outright offensive. Lebanese women, for example, were often referred to in sexist and/or predatorial terms, wherein women—whose virtue, according to users, was associated with their men’s and family’s honor—were framed as sexual objects to insult their families. Within this context, hateful discussions were frequently related to women and virginity.
The English corpora contexts were slightly different from the Arabic ones, as they revolved mainly around politics. Although the English corpora revealed similarly negative sentiments, they didn’t appear to have the multilayers found in Arabic.