The Vilification of the ‘Squad’

The Discursive (De)construction of Women in U.S. Far-right Media

  • Margaret Rasulo "Luigi Vanvitelli" University
Keywords: the Squad, Breitbart, right-wing extremism, stimulus-response dynamic, gender vilification


Back in June 2018, four first-term Democratic women of colour were elected to the 116th U.S. Congress. Known as the ‘Squad’, these women have since been fighting against racism, white rage and resentment, xenophobia, and imperialistic arrogance towards all minorities. However, their presence on the House floor has attracted intense scrutiny and fierce opposition from the conservative establishment and affiliated (far) right-wing media outlets who have been trying to demonize these liberal, nonwhite, young, female politicians through a persistent use of discursive vilification strategies. Against this background, and by using a combination of quantitative and qualitative analytical approaches, the present study explores how these strategies are expertly deployed in the headlines, images, and reader comments of the popular far-right Breitbart News Network, and posits that this representation of the Squad intentionally provokes a vitriolic response from Breitbart’s readership. The study also provides evidence that the consequences of this aggressive stimulus-response dynamic are symptomatic of an unmitigated antifeminist misogyny, and a wider manifestation of an extremist right-wing ideology which rejects liberalism and favors a curtailing of constitutional and human rights.