Feminist women’s online political participation. Empowerment through feminist political attitudes or feminist identity?
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Citizens in modern democracies have a continuously expanding set of tools at their disposal through which they seek to exercise influence on politics, including digital modes of participation. However, the usage of these tools is still gendered to the disadvantage of women. Feminist attitudes have been shown to have a positive impact on women’s political participation, yet this effect is deeply interwoven with the empowering effect of a feminist identity. Based on an online survey of more than 300 German female Internet users self-labeling as feminists, we develop a comprehensive measure of a feminist identity and analyze the interplay of three distinct sets of feminist attitudes and a feminist identity on online political participation. To gain a fine-grained understanding of the impact of feminist cognitions on online political participation, we differentiate general political online behaviors from those geared toward women’s rights and feminist objectives. We find a feminist identity to be a strong predictor of both types of online political participation, with a stronger effect on feminist online participation. Our findings provide important insights into the empowering role of a feminist identity on women’s political behavior on the Internet.