Rape, Attack, Abuse, Assault: Representations of Women in the Far-Right using Corpus Linguistics

edl word cloud


In this post, I’m using a corpus of postings on Facebook by supporters of the EDL to study how women are constructed in far-right discourse. I’m using Sketch Engine, and in particular Word Sketch, a function which provides detailed collocational information of search words.

women and children

This post focuses on the words woman and women. When I looked at collocates which are the object of woman / women, the following table was obtained:

object of women


The collocates appear to suggest a high degree of negativity associated with women, a great deal of violence and oppression as the collocates include: rape, treat, attack, stone, cover abuse, assault, oppress, hate, marry, insult, see. Other collocates not shown above include force and beat, which further empathize the discourse prosody of violence, oppression and victimization which is associated with women in discourses produced by members and supporters of far-right ideology

In this post, I’ll  focus on the concordance lines of the more frequent collocates.







The concordance lines present a certain amount of context to the collocational information. In the first set of concordance lines there appears to be a discussion as to whether white men rape women, or whether this can be an issue for which Muslim men are solely responsible. The notion that women are victims appears to be accepted. The second set of concordance lines construct women as being treat badly by Asian men, and the third set depicts women as being defenseless and victims of physical attack.


muslim women


Word Sketch can also provide information of the modifiers of search words. The most common modifiers of women are as follows:

modifier of women

white women 2

muslim women 2

Both white women and Muslim women are constructed as victims. White women are constructed as victims of rape, whereas Muslim women appear to be constructed as the victims of oppression by Muslim men.

The depiction of women as victims, primarily of violence by Muslim men and Muslim culture, positions male supporters of the EDL as defenders of women and consequently of values and traditions of English culture.




Gender in the Far-Right: An Observation of Masculinities in the EDL using Corpus Linguistics


I’m interested in looking at gender in the far-right. I collected at a corpus of texts from the Facebook page of the English Defence League (EDL), a far-right, Islamophobic, street-protest group. I collected threads written by EDL supporters, cleaned them of images etc. and used WordSmith to analyse the data. The reason for looking at gender is that when I compiled frequency data of non-function words, I found the following:

edl frequency


I found it of interest that both man and woman were frequent within the data, and thought it would be worthwhile to study this further.

In this post, I’ll be focusing on man and men.

The most frequent collocates of man or men were as follows:

women (with men) 46, Muslim (with men) 39, Muslim (with man) 22, white (man) 17, woman (with man) 13

women (with men) 

When concordance lines are searched, the phrase men and women can be seen as follows:

concordance men and women

Men and women are described as brave, decent, great, real English and magnificent. It’s interesting that the phrase is used to describe non-Muslims. The data does not provide any examples of men and women used to describe Muslims. As the above concordance lines demonstrate, the in-group is constructed positively.

Muslim (with men/men)

muslim man

Muslim men are constructed as being violent, both towards Muslim women and men from other social groups. They are also constructed as being polygynous, and thus being culturally incompatible with with the accepted norms of British society. Furthermore, marriage to young wives is also focused upon, which is seen as unacceptable to British culture.

White man 

white men

The construction of white man / men  is more ambiguous than discourses found on white supremacist forums. In the concordances there does appear to be an acknowledgement that certain white men commit crimes. However, they are also constructed as being victims and less likely to commit a crime than a non-white male.


It is of interest that the EDL supporters appear to focus on sexual violence when defining and constructed masculinities.

muslim men






Threat from the White House: Using corpus linguistics to look at White House press briefings

nsa word cloud

Since the intelligence breach by Edward Snowden at the National Security Agency in the United States, I’ve been interested in the messages coming out of the White House to counter the claims made concerning the issues surrounding the widespread surveillance which has been taking place.

For this study, I have looked at a corpus of texts of transcription of press briefings given by the house from June 2013 until January 2014. This gave me a corpus of 1,142,774 tokens.

When I looked at the most frequent non-function words, I found the following:

president (8,315), people (3,122), house (2,335), congress (2,002), government (1,985), states (1,758), united (1,670), care (1,611), right (1,526), security (1,496), work (1,468), important (1,441), insurance (1,400), republicans (1,352), American (1,324), white (1,311), health (1,259), president’s (1,254), affordable (1,246), issue (1,171)

By looking at the most frequent non-function words, it appears that the White House briefings contained a large amount of information related to the health care insurance program which the Obama administration has been trying to implement. It was quite interesting that the issues related to the NSA revelations were not more prominent, although the word security may have been used in relation to this issue.



security interests

Although security was prominent, I want to focus on the usage of another word within the corpus: threat. Lemmas of this word occurred 629 times.



threat that

Not all threat were associated with terrorism, as economic issues and concerns were also discussed in terms of threat. However, when looking at the collocates of the lemma THREAT, terrorism does appear to be a major concern.

collocates of threat

threat is

By looking at the selected concordance lines above, threat is described as vague, current, changing, imminent, real, significant, ongoing, and global.

What the threat actually consists of is not apparent in these concordance lines, but the administration appears to consider them all good reasons to allow the NSA to keep going with its work.