Digital Discourse as a Stage for Social Change: The Real Voices of Holland

Activity: Talk or presentation typesOral presentationScientific


This study aims to dive deeper into The Voice of Holland’s incident and the sexual violence discourses it brought about in the digital culture. It analyzes memes and their politically humorous character to gain insight into the collective critique and the efforts for social change when it comes to sexual harassment.
After collecting a dataset of TVOH memes, qualitative content analysis is used to inductively classify the memes’ common themes, leading to five categories: strategical ignorance, victim blaming, emblematic play, social change actor, and uncritical rape jokes. Following that, critical discourse analysis is used to
assimilate theoretical insights within concepts of power, normativity, and social change into an empirical study of the memes’ key messages. After the analysis, the extent to which the memes’ messages resonate with the social change politicized by Grappenhaus’ sexual misconduct bill, which claims that all forms of nonconsensual sex must be punished by the law, is discussed. The results suggest that when a meme’s key message is critical of rape culture and recognizes the normative workings of power, it closely relates to the process of social change reflected in the sexual misconduct bill. When a meme’s key message is not critical of rape culture, but rather excuses it, its position in the process of social change depends on the uptake by the memes’ audience.
Period28 Apr 2023
Event titleAnela Juniorendag
Event typeConference
LocationAntwerp, BelgiumShow on map
Degree of RecognitionInternational


  • social media
  • memes
  • social change
  • qualitative content analysis
  • sexual abuse
  • normativity
  • power
  • critical discourse analysis