Representations of Malaysian Female Motorcyclists in Online Newspapers and Magazines

Authors: Farrah Diebaa Rashid Ali, Nur Amirah Zakaria (International Islamic University, Malaysia)
Speakers: Farrah Diebaa Rashid Ali
Strand: Language Ideologies
Session Type: General Session


Motorcycling culture is often stereotyped to be outlaws and it is also a predominantly male arena, in which bikers are always assumed to be oozing with masculinity. It is often assumed that women’s roles in motorcycling culture are typically limited to bystanders, where they exist within the community as a form of support to their male partners and families instead of actively participating themselves (Plugfelder, 2009). Since women’s involvement in male-dominant motorcycling cultures and activities are still limited in country like Malaysia that placed high distinction between the expected roles played by men versus women, this study was set to uncover the representations of Malaysian female bikers in online newspapers and magazines. All 20 articles available online on Malaysian female bikers were analysed following Sack’s Membership Categorization Analysis framework. It was found that greater emphasize was put on the role of a mother and a daughter played by these bikers. Their role as a wife was also mentioned but with lesser emphasize. Apart from highlighting the career of these female bikers, they were also represented as successful professional racers and travellers. From the findings, it can be concluded that no matter how successful a woman is in a male-dominant activity, the media and the society will always anchor her back to roles that the society expected her to play which are as a mother, a daughter and a wife. The media should be applauded for portraying these women in their true spirit of being smart, brave and independent.

Keywords: Motorcycling cultures, Gender stereotypes, Female, Social roles, Membership Categorization Analysis (MCA).