Dissertations and Theses @ UNI


Open Access Thesis


Capitol Riot, Washington, D.C., 2021; Gender expression;


The January 6 Capitol insurrection was heavily documented with recorded videos and photos, across legacy and social media. Despite engaging in criminal acts, many participants recorded themselves participating in the attack and posted their videos to Parler, a right-wing alternative to Facebook and Twitter that gained traction among the far-right, QAnon conspiracy theorists, and white supremacy groups. These social media videos detail an interesting rhetorical dynamic at play, one that is not so recognizable in legacy media: performances of sex/gender. Analyzing videos uploaded to a conservative social media landscape provides a lens into performances of gender as it intersects with political identity, revealing new ways that communication studies scholars can understand how conservative arguments are constructed within gender performance.

By utilizing R.W. Connell’s concepts of hegemonic masculinity and emphasized femininity, I rhetorically analyze over 2,500 videos uploaded by the January 6 insurrectionists to Parler. I argue that both masculine and feminine insurrectionists perform alternative politically conservative gendered performances which grant them new rhetorical affordances. This thesis identifies four performances: two masculine, which I term delinquent masculinity and militarized muscular Christianity, and two feminine, which I term den mother femininity and matriarchal warriors. All these gender performances exist in a dialectic with each other, and ultimately showcase the way that the insurrectionists envision, construct, and perform their intertwining political and gender roles.

Year of Submission


Degree Name

Master of Arts


Department of Communication and Media

First Advisor

Catherine H. Palczewski, Chair, Thesis Committee

Date Original


Object Description

1 PDF file (vii, 129 pages)



File Format