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Gender and Intersectional Politics in Relation to Riots

            The association between rioting, civil dissent and protest on the one hand, and intersectional and gender politics on the other, is something which has been noted in the literature (White, 2007). Where there is mass civil protest such as was seen in London in 2011 and Ferguson in 2014, questions of race, class, gender and other intersectional socio-political categories come to the fore. There is often an opposition between those who riot and those who oppose the rioters, between the establishment (represented by the government, the police) and those who protest against it. In London in 2011 thousands of people protested, rioted and engaged in criminal activity from Saturday the 6th August through to Thursday the 11th of August. The killing of Mark Duggan, a black man, on the 4th of August in Tottenham was seen as the trigger for these protests. Likewise in Ferguson, the fatal shooting of African American Michael Brown by a white police officer on the 9th of August last year was seen as a catalyst for the events which followed. In both riots, gender and intersectional politics were both evident in the nature of the riots and in the discourse and language employed by rioters and the media. .
             The process of gendering occurs when males and females are constructed as masculine and feminine through social norms and discourse. In the case of the August riots in London, a gendering process was evidenced in some media oppositions of masculine aggression opposed by feminine domesticated ordering. This was evidenced in the ways in which the clean-up operation was constructed in gendered terms, as well as in certain figures of media attention such as Pauline Pearce, a 45-year-old woman who stood up to rioters and thereby earned the media soubriquet the Heroine of Hackney. The opposition of female, matriarchal and maternal peacekeeping with masculine, youthful aggression and violence is one which the media in Britain employed in its coverage of Pauline Pearce.

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