Reinforcing or Resisting? A Study on the Influence of Internet Memes on Sexism Among University Students in Penang


Internet memes
university students


Today, the advancement of the Internet allows new forms of creative storytelling and information dissemination. Social media such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter defy the linear flow of information as the users can actively participate in the process of content creation and circulation. Social media users are granted instant interactivity. One of the Internet contents favoured by a large user community is Internet memes. Creating and sharing Internet memes have not only become a trend on social media but also a cyberculture that is capable of shaping public opinions and social media behaviour of its users. As an alternate information source, Internet memes are actively shared from one to another to gain engagements and attention, especially among the younger generation as a form of expression and to relieve themselves Being a digital storytelling tool, Internet memes are effective in conveying ideas, framing and providing interpretation on current issues, however not without the possibilities of discrimination and misrepresentations. As such, sexism continues to exist in the new media, particularly within Internet memes. The so-called humour in Internet memes is often manifests sensitive and offensive remarks as mere jokes and not to be taken seriously. Based on the Cyberfeminist theory (Cyberfeminism), this paper aims to look into the influence of Internet memes on sexism among university students. A quantitative research was deployed through the distribution of online survey forms to 200 university students in Penang. Then, the data collected were analysed in SPSS to test the reliability (Cronbach’s Alpha) and correlations (Pearson’s coefficient). The research therefore concludes that ideology of sexism is strongly reinforced through Internet memes amongst university students in Penang, in which, knowledge on digital literacy significantly helps to negotiate or contest the sexist notions communicated in the Internet memes.