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Free Britney, Simone, and Meghan

This paper explores the rhetorical power of the word no through an analysis of how entertainer Britney Spears, Duchess of Sussex Meghan Markle, and US Olympic Gymnast Simone Biles – denied the oppressive structures of the patriarchy and gender-based objectification to obtain personal and professional freedom while contributing to social change and the global feminist movement. This paper argues that these women share privilege, power, and a public platform, and that no amount of societal advantage liberates women from the process of patriarchal Othering - and in the case of this paper’s subjects, liberates them from capitalistic commodity, spectacle, and profit.

Unfriending Liz Cheney: How Group Identity and Expectancy Explain Political Ostracization in a Polarized America

This paper examines the conflict between so called pro-Trump and anti-Trump Republicans in the United States through the lens of intergroup conflict theory and expectancy violations. It uses a critical thematic analysis of the language used by the five participants in the only debate afforded to Wyoming voters in 2022 Wyoming Republican Primary Election. The debate, which included anti-Trump, political legacy candidate Liz Cheney, was emblematic of the argument style and approach used to differentiate these two new types of Republicans, and as such, reveals how the current fight for the identity ownership of the modern Republican party has manifested in language and group identity. This analysis suggests that rather than oriented around specific policy stances or disagreements about political issues, the schism within the Republican party manifests through social identity markers and signals of belonging and legitimacy. We found five themes in ways this schism is reinforced: pro-Trump language; what now Congresswoman Hageman terms the “uni-party” (that Democrats and anti-Trump Republicans are one party); that the January 6th Select Committee is a distraction from the real issues the country is facing; that Cheney herself is not a true Republican (RINO); and that there are two versions of reality, one seen by the pro-Trump side, the other by the anti-Trump side. We argue that this focus on group membership over policy stances to differentiate candidates highlights ways in which the current political sphere is driven by identity over issue- or policy-based representational politics.

Conference Presentations

National Communications Association 2023: Unfriending Liz Cheney: Explaining political ostracization through social identity theory and expectancy violation theory

National Communications Association 2022: #Free Britney, Meghan, and Simone: A comparative analysis of how Britney Spears, Meghan Markle, and Simone Biles just said no

Western Social Sciences Association 2022: Who wore it better? It depends who you watch. A political economy analysis of ideologically based fashion statements

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