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Abstract

Pinterest, the theme-based image-sharing website, has seen a predominantly female usership since its launch in 2010. Unique in both its design and its demographics in the US, the site has generated distinctive patterns of use, posing new questions about how women are claiming this particular spot in social media as their own. Supported by both feminist linguistic and social science research, this article undertakes a discussion of Pinterest's implicit and explicit gendered protocols of usership, which result in what I argue is an emerging women's online rhetoric. Through the examination of images and accompanying comments taken from the site, I trace Pinterest's often conflicting outcomes. On one hand, its online community self-polices by discouraging its users from expressing dissent, thus frequently operating as a repressive mechanism. At the same time, however, the collaborative elements noted in women's speech— often criticized in traditional social linguistics as rhetorically passive—take on complex new meanings in the context of online communication. While still evolving, the discursive strategies evident on Pinterest have provided an alternative rhetorical zone for women engaging in social media.

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