Title

Re-Producing Masculinities on YouTube: A Cyberethnography of the MighTMenFTM Channel

Date of Award

2010

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Department

Media and Communication

First Advisor

Lynda Dixon, PhD (Committee Co-Chair)

Second Advisor

Radhika Gajjala, PhD (Committee Co-Chair)

Third Advisor

Michael Butterworth, PhD (Committee Member)

Fourth Advisor

Kimberly Coates, PhD (Committee Member)

Abstract

In this study, I examine the performances of masculinities on a YouTube transgendered collaborative channel. By investigating how female to male transgendered users produce themselves in a visual online environment, I explore the gaps created between the body, the interface, and being embodied in an online space. These gaps present critical spaces for communication scholars to investigate what effect the communicative properties of Internet technologies have on gender, and more specifically on masculinity. Now, with the affordability and accessibility of hardware, software, and other media production and dissemination tools, the nature of cyberspace has changed. Users are now becoming content producers through self and other re-presentation and re-production and are visually present and digitally embodied. I ask: How do such content producers become digitally embodied? Can digital embodiment contain properties that are transferable to offline lives? Does YouTube, a cyberspace very much rooted in visual representation offer a space and a means of experience for a group of people who’s bodies and performances of gender are constantly in flux. Or, do the visual aspects of YouTube merely reinforce hegemonic notions of gender—specifically masculinity? The major objective of my work is to explore digital environments, such as YouTube, as one of the technologically constituted layers of contemporary life in order to interpret the meaning making practices and to identify the political implications of living online. I am specifically interested in the role the body plays at the intersection of the interface and an online community. In order to analyze critically YouTube, and the role that the body plays, I look at YouTube videos produced by a transgendered community. Here I focus on the production and performances of masculinity.