Insta-Girlhood: Selfies as Auto-Performative Responses to Sexism and Misogyny

Main Article Content

Silvia Schultermandl


In this essay, I attend to the affective aesthetic dimensions of feminist art projects which critically engage with the trope of the Insta-girl in an attempt to raise issues about the cultural constructions of girlhood on social media and in “real life.” With the help of two case studies – Noa Jansma’s Dear Catcallers and Amalia Ulman’s Excellences & Perfections, I will discuss the production and consumption of a particular type of Insta-girl which appeal to audiences via modes of fetishization and abjection. Jansma’s work consists of selfies she took with random men who catcalled her. The documentary character of her project supports her project’s aim to record the nature, extent and frequency of catcalling she experienced. In turn, Amalia Ulman’s Excellences & Perfections critiques the construction, circulation and consumption of the trope of the Insta-girl, a postfeminist, late-capitalist figure characterized by her “oversharing” of intimate details about her everyday life. Both artists’ auto-performative responses to sexist and misogynistic tropes in social media impel audiences to question late-capitalist and neoliberal constructions of “girl-hood.”


Download data is not yet available.

Article Details

How to Cite
Schultermandl, Silvia. 2022. “Insta-Girlhood: Selfies As Auto-Performative Responses to Sexism and Misogyny”. Journal of Contemporary Philology 5 (2), 9–21.
Selected Articles


Ahmed, S. (2017). Living a Feminist Life. Durham, North Carolina: Duke University Press.
Ahmed, S. (2014). The Cultural Politics of Emotion. London and New York: Routledge.
Caldeira, S. P., De Ridder, S. and Van Bauwel, S. (2020). Between the Mundane and the Political: Women’s Self-Representations on Instagram. Social Media and Society 6(3), 1-14.
Berlant, L. (2011). Cruel Optimism. Durham, North Carolina: Duke University Press.
boyd, d. (2014). It’s Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens. New Haven, Connecticut: Yale University Press.
Boyle, K. (2019) #MeToo, Weinstein, and Feminism. London: Palgrave Macmillan.
Butler, J. (1997) Excitable Speech: A Politics of the Performative. London and New York: Routledge.
Fileborn, B. and Loney-Howes, R. (eds.) (2019). #MeToo and the Politics of Social Change. London: Palgrave Macmillan.
de Kosnik, A. and Feldman, K. (2019). Introduction: The Hashtags we’ve Been Forced to Remember. In A. de Kosnik and K. Feldman (eds.). #Identity: Hashtagging, Race, Gender, Sexuality, and Nation, 1-19. Ann Arbor, Michigan: University of Michigan Press.
Dobson, A. S. and Harris, A. (2015). Post-Girlpower: Globalized Mediated Femininities. Continuum: Journal of Media and Cultural Studies 29(2), 143-144.
Friedman, M. and Schultermandl, S. (eds.) (2016). Click and Kin: Transnational Identity and Quick Media. Toronto: Toronto University Press.
Jansma, N. DearCatcallers: It’s not a compliment. Available from: dearcatcallers/?hl=en [Accessed: October 14th, 2022].
Jansma, N. (2018). DearHaters. Available from: [Accessed: October 14th, 2022].
Maguire, E. (2018). Girls, Autobiography, Media: Gender and Self-Mediation in Digital Economies. London: Palgrave Macmillan.
Manne, K. (2017). Down Girl: The Logics of Misogyny. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
McNeill, L. (2013). Digital Dioramas: Curating Life Narratives on the World Wide Web. Paper presented at the MLA Conference, January 3rd-6th, 2013, Boston, Massachusetts.
McNeill, L. and Zuern, J. D. (2015). Online Lives 2.0: Introduction. Biography 38(2), v-xlvi.
Ngai, S. (2010). Our Aesthetic Categories. PMLA 125(4), 948-958.
Ngai, S. (2005) Ugly Feelings. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press.
Paasonen, S. (2020). Resonant Networks: On Affect and Social Media. In A. Fleig and von C. Scheve (eds.). Public Spheres of Resonance: Constellations of Affect and Language, 49-62. London and New York: Routledge.
Papacharissi, Z. (2015). Affective Publics: Sentiment, Technology, and Politics. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Puar, J. (2017). The Right to Maim: Debility, Capacity, Disability. Durham, North Carolina: Duke University Press.
Poletti, A. (2020). Stories of the Self: Life Writing after the Book. New York: New York University Press.
Schultermandl, S., Aresin, J., Whybrew, S. S. P. and Simic, D. (eds.). (2020). Affective Worldmaking: Narrative Counterpublics of Gender and Sexuality. Bielefeld, Germany: Transcript.
Smith, S. and Watson, J. (1996). Introduction. In S. Smith and J. Watson (eds.). Getting a Life: Everyday Uses of Autobiography, 1-24. Minneapolis, Minnesota: University of Minnesota Press.
Ulman, A. (2014). Excellences & Perfections. 2014. Available from: exhibitions/view/amalia-ulman-excellences-perfections [Accessed: October 14th, 2022].
Warner, M. (2002). Publics and Counterpublics. Public Culture 14(1), 49-90.
Whitlock, G. and Poletti, A. (2008). Self-Regarding Art. In G. Whitlock and A. Poletti (eds.). Autographics, v-xxiii, special issue of Biography 31(1).